A twelve year old cat with two faces

September 28, 2011 • 1:01 pm

This is bizarre, but of course I’m compelled to post it.  There is a cat in Massachusetts that has two faces and two names: Frank and Louie. He (they?) has a congenital condition, craniofacial duplication that has caused part of his face to be present in in multiple copies: F&L has three eyes (only two of which can see), two mouths, two noses, but only one esophagus and brain. According to Reuters, such “Janus cats” usually live only four days on average, but F&L is 12.  And according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Frank and Louie is the world’s oldest two-faced cat.

“When he was first born, every day was a blessing,” Marty told a local radio station on Tuesday.

She immediately adopted Frank and Louie. The cat has one brain so both faces act in unison. Two of his eyes — the outermost ones — are normal, while the middle eye is larger but doesn’t function.

The cat eats on the right side, using Frank’s face, which is connected to his esophagus, while Louie’s nose twitches at the same time, his owner said.

Marty told the local radio station that the cat is more like a dog because it walks on a leash and loves car rides.”

And oh hai, there’s a video; do watch it because it’s sort of heartwarming and not traumatizing at all:

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.1004415&w=425&h=350&fv=videoId%3D1183512676001%26playerID%3D8583326001%26playerKey%3DAQ%7E%7E%2CAAAAAE-vADk%7E%2CvuSqBN3kbUe3u9TlDxXq61TKsCCyYXYv%26domain%3Dembed%26dynamicStreaming%3Dtrue]

The condition, called diprosopus, is also seen in humans (I’ll mercifully spare you the photos), and is apparently caused by an overexpression of the sonic hedgehog gene, an important control gene in patterning many parts of the body. The protein is involved in widening the face, and when present in larger-than-normal quantities can widen one face into two.

h/t:  Llwddythlw

31 thoughts on “A twelve year old cat with two faces

  1. Why, do religiosos say, would an omnipotent and omnibenevolent Creator not intervene to prevent such a condition in humans? (I gather that religiosos could not care less whether it happens to a feline or other non-human organisms.)

    1. I can’t speak for religiosos, whose thinking is largely influenced by scripture, its inferences [which go in a multitude of directions], and for conclusions that fit well within Poe’s Law. But those who would draw a conclusion similar to Epicurus’ dilemma/ trilemma [unwilling or simply unable] might consider another scenario.

      Earth has been set up as a realm for biological creatures to inhabit, but in view of widespread evidence, no intention of a Utopian existence, but of a competitive and challenging existence. Sentience is not intrinsic to the brain, but the result of a co-inhabitance, and therefore incarnate experiences are likely replicable.

      Due to transcription errors, environmental interfering factors [improper drug use for one], or simply hox6 gene mistakes, embryos fail to properly develop, and the unlucky ones progenate.

      Simply put, when a progeny is defective, it may not survive, may be euthanized, or it may survive, with or without subsequent surgery. It is a perfectly logical occasional outcome of a complex process that amazingly works at all, and we simply live with it.

      The question of PoE [problem of evil], is simply that for natural occurrences, we do the best we can, and for predator/ prey, parasite/ host and debilitating illnesses, we deductively infer ‘competitive intent’, which fits syllogistically.

      And finally, if there is an overseer [or active surrogates], simply put, they do notmicromanage this arena.

  2. I’ll mercifully spare you the photos

    The photo of Frank/Louie is creepy enough, thanks!

    But, yes, good that he is well loved and happy!

  3. I’ll mercifully spare you the photos

    Yeah, but I had to go look anyway, didn’t I? Not up close, thankfully…

    It’s interesting that we want to give Frank & Louie two names because he has two faces… even though he’s really only one individual, by any reasonable measure. I guess the eyes are the windows to the soul so he must have two souls? Or one and a half?

    1. Yeah, the video did help a bit. But, emotionally, it’s still a surprisingly disturbing birth defect.

      I’m glad he / they has managed to have such a long and happy life…but I’m just fine not being a part of that life.


    2. I was afraid of watching the video, as I thought I may have been mortally traumatized by the picture. I’ll un-traumatize myself now.

  4. I find that if I think of him as a cat with two noses and an extra eye it’s less upsetting. The video helped with that.

  5. I was trying to see if the middle eye blinked. I don’t think that it did. So, what happens to this eye? Presumably it would dry out, so would that be harmful? I would think other things would happen, like say, what happens if something gets in this eye and it can’t blink?

    Or maybe I just missed it and it was blinking?

    1. My guess is that the middle eye does not blink because there is no eyelid. If there was an eyelid it would have been sutured closed for aesthetic reasons.

        1. No, it seems obvious to me that the lachrymal duct is working in the middle eye. The cornea and lower lid is shown to be wet in the still and video.

          Doesn’t mean that the eye can close but it does mean that the surface is wet. So probably a foreign object can be pawed out in the same manner that a cat paws out its eyes and washes its face in a normal manner.

          Remember that cats have a third eyelid that can cover the cornea in times of danger. That third eye may well have a nictitating membrane that protects it in the normal way.

          I am a cat lover since forever and have nursed many cats through all manner of traumas and cry like mad when I lose one.

          This cat is in fine shape thanks to his carer! Thumbs up.

  6. Someone said: “It’s interesting that we want to give Frank & Louie two names because he has two faces”

    You missed the joke – Frank(en)louie. It’s a play on the name Frankenstein.

  7. Oh, oh, kitteh. I love him; his poor self makes me tear up and want to cuddle and love him. It reminds me of the time I went to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum in Niagara Falls, where they had a stuffed two-headed kitten on display (which had obviously died within minutes of birth). I burst into tears. . . it triggered some “protect the poor pathetic thing” emotion.

    I’d so adopt a cat like this.

  8. Life looks and sounds grand at Marty’s house! What a wonderful, caring person to have taken in F&L and given him a chance to have a long, happy, fairly normal housecat life.

      1. Very good, Dominic. I should have but didn’t think to look for a book like this.

        I don’t think I ever get freaked by things; I am usually so fascinated that I can’t stop. Oliver Sacks does it for me in brain oddities. Blumberg may well add that missing part.

        Having said that, I am glad to have two of everything where two is needed and one of everything else except for the plenitude of digits that allow me to use a keyboard etc. 🙂

        Ain’t life grand!!!!

  9. I looked at some pics of the human version. What’s odd is the way your face-recognition software goes into overdrive and can’t seem to hold onto the image as a whole. You tend to strobe back and forth between the faces. More dizzying than disturbing. There is an atrtist who draws his subjects with an additional set of eyes slightly above and overlapping the normally positioned eyes. Really hard to focus on. I suppose it would qualify as an optical illusion…

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