Two heads are better than one and, apparently, two faces are cuter than one. A South African kitten born with two faces is taking the internet by storm.
Bettie Bee, born on December 12th, was one of three kittens in her litter. When her owner noted that she had two faces and that it was making it very difficult for her to feed, she brought her to a nearby cat rescuer with experience helping special-needs cats.
The kitten has a rare condition called craniofacial duplication, where part or all of the facial features are duplicated on the head. We still haven’t pinpointed the exact genetic cause of craniofacial duplication, but geneticists believe that it’s related to the sonic hedgehog (SHH) protein, which is involved in facial development in utero.
Colloquially, cats with this disorder are called “Janus cats,” after the two-faced Roman god of doorways. Janus cats often face difficulties feeding and breathing that shorten their lifespan. But some, like the famous “Frank and Louie” who died in 2014 at fifteen years old, are able to live long, full lives.
When Bettie Bee’s rescuer initially brought her to the vet, he suggested that she put the cat down. But her rescuer wanted to give the “feisty” kitten a chance at life. And so far, Bettie seems to be following in Frank and Louie’s path. Her rescuer (who wishes to remain anonymous) says that she is “thriving, growing like a normal kitten.”
Because of her facial abnormality, her rescuer needs to tube-feed her, but she’s able to eat with both of her mouths. “Taking care of her isn’t much different than taking care of other newborn kittens,” her rescuer told TODAY. While Bettie will need further scans and x-rays as she grows, she appears to be healthy.
Due to popular interest in Bettie Bee, her rescuer has set up a Facebook page to document her growth. She posts regular pictures of the now 16-day-old kitten and assures followers that she’s in good health. “She’s amazing — I still look at her and can’t believe she’s real,” she told The Dodo. “I’m taking it day by day and hope she will continue to thrive and be with myself and my husband for many years. It’s wonderful to see how many people are rooting for her.”
Bettie Bee is still doing great, 2 weeks today and eyes are open
Posted by Bettie Bee on Monday, December 25, 2017
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