SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

October 2, 2011

Familiar with a Janus cat?

Two-faced cat defies the odds for 12 years

Frank and Louie was only supposed to live 1-4 days

Two-faced cat turns 12: Meet Frank and Louie

STEVEN SENNE ASSOCIATED PRESS    Frank and Louie has a name for each face. The 12-year-old cat is the longest-living of a group of cats known as Janus cats, named after a Roman god with two faces.

WORCESTER, Mass. — Frank and Louie the cat was born with two faces, two mouths, two noses, three eyes — and lots of doubts about his future.

Now, 12 years after Marty Stevens rescued him from being euthanized, the blue-eyed rag-doll cat has made it into the 2012 edition of Guinness World Records as the longest-surviving member of a group known as Janus cats, named for a Roman god with two faces.    “Every day is kind of a blessing; being 12, and normal life expectancy when they have this condition is one to four days,” Stevens said. “So, he’s ahead of the game; every day I just thank God I still have him.”

Frank and Louie’s breeder had taken him to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, where Stevens was working at the time, to be euthanized when he was just a day old. Stevens offered to take him home, but experts told her not to get her hopes up.

Janus cats almost never survive, and most have congenital defects, including a cleft palate that makes it difficult for them to nurse and often causes them to starve or get milk in their lungs and die of pneumonia.    Stevens used feeding tubes to nourish the cat for three months, hoping that would also save him from the danger of choking on food going down two mouths.    It turned out she didn’t have to worry about him choking, because Frank and Louie used just one of his mouths to eat.   

Frank and Louie’s two faces have a complicated relationship. Both noses work, but one mouth does not have a lower jaw and isn’t connected to his one esophagus, so he can’t eat with it. Stevens discovered that only after the cat got an MRI later in life.    The animal can see out of only two of his three eyes. The middle one can’t blink and makes Frank and Louie appear to be staring when his other eyes are closed.

Frank and Louie does not seem to be bothered by his condition and has developed a friendly personality.    He is “very, very laid back, not afraid of people, very friendly, and he’s actually more of a dog than a cat,” Stevens said.

(What a thrilling story.  And what an adorable cat.  Rag dolls are wonderful.   J)

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