Rare kitten with two faces dies four days after birth

Close up of kitten with two faces
(Image credit: KSPR)

A kitten with two faces born in Harrison, Arkansas, has sadly died four days after its surprise entry into the world.

Ariel Contreras was doing the laundry when her cat began to give birth to a litter of kittens. Calling for her husband to help her, the pair soon noticed that there was something very different about the second kitten they were helping to birth.

"My husband said, ‘honey, it has two heads,’ and I went ’no way!'” Contreras said.

The couple decided to name the unique feline, Harvey, after the fictional two-faced villain from the Batman series. 

Little Harvey is an example of a Janus cat, which gets its name from the Roman god of transitions who represented the dualities of life. 

Extremely rare, only a handful of cases have been recorded in modern history, the condition is caused by a genetic mutation that is caused by excess protein being produced in the womb. 

"It has one of everything except for the skull," said Dr. Tim Addis of Alley Cat Animal Rescue in Arkansas.

While Janus cats tend to have a much shorter lifespan than cats born without the condition, Harvey initially appeared to be doing well and both Addis and the Contreras’ had high hopes that he would survive. 

“Its odds of making it are just as good as its siblings if you’re feeding it with a bottle,” Addis explained.

"There was one that made it 12 years, and then one that made it 15 years," Contreras added. "I'm really praying this one makes it that long, and we will do whatever it takes."

Unfortunately, this is one story that doesn’t have the happy ending we’d all hoped for, with little Harvey dying four days after his birth. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.