A kitten in Oregon was born with a rare genetic quirk: two faces attached to one body. The adorable feline was born on Wednesday and has been named Biscuits and Gravy by her family. The baby cat’s siblings and mother are all doing well.
Owner BJ King expressed his surprise at seeing the two-faced cat to CNN.
“My wife went out to look at them and found five normal ones and one with two faces,” King explained.
“We were pretty shocked. It was so odd looking, we didn’t even really think much of it until later in the day when we realized this was actually pretty rare,” he added.
Two-faced cats, known as Janus cats, are indeed rare. They are named after the Roman god Janus, whose two faces would look both to the past and to the future.
Scientists believe that the condition is caused by an excess of sonic hedgehog (SHH) protein, which helps form animals’ faces during development. When scientists performed experiments exposing chick embryos to excess SHH, a number were born with two beaks and eyes that were spaced abnormally apart, as reported by National Geographic.
A majority of Janus cats die shortly after birth, with a few surviving more than one day. Those that do survive are often abandoned by their mothers for their deformities.
However, that does not mean that a long life is impossible. As recounted by National Geographic, one ragdoll Janus cat named Frank and Louie managed to live 15 years despite the condition.
That said, caring for a Janus is not easy, and King has described the intense routine that he and his family have begun to make sure that Biscuits and Gravy stays healthy.
“It’s like having a newborn baby,” King said.
“We set the alarm for every two hours to feed him during the night and feed him every two hours, 24 hours a day. We are very careful to keep him warm at all times and he snuggles inside my wife’s shirt for most of the day,” he finished.
Unsurprisingly, the novelty of a two-faced cat has taken social media by storm, with an account for the newborn racking up more than 10,000 followers in a day and thousands of likes. At least 200 followers were gained in the past hour alone, and the number is only growing as the story makes its way across the internet.
Though the family has received numerous offers to adopt Biscuits and Gravy, the Kings have decided that the adorable two-faced kitten will remain part of their family.