Two-faced cats have become a viral sensation in recent years, which probably doesn’t surprise feline fans that much. After all, any cat’s face is adorable and aww-worthy on its own, but just imagine seeing a kitty with two very different patterns and colors adorning each side of its face. And often, these distinctive marks are split perfectly down the middle. We don’t know about you, but we’d find it nearly impossible to look away. Watch the video above to see some of the most beautiful two-faced cats on the internet.
How did two-faced cats get their distinctive look?
Whenever a two-faced cat makes it big in the headlines, it’s often referred to as a “chimera” — a reference to a mythological creature that’s essentially a mashup of different kinds of animals. A true chimera cat is a feline whose cells contain two different types of DNA, caused by two embryos fusing together. So basically, every time you look at one of these two-faced cats, you’re looking at a pair of what was supposed to be nonidentical cat twins. Crazy, right?
Professor Leslie Lyons, PhD, who studies the genetics of domestic cats, told National Geographic that chimeras in the cat universe are actually not as rare as someone might think. Many male cats from the tortoiseshell cat breed are chimeras, wearing their fur as a sign that they have an extra X chromosome. But female two-faced cats are a bit different. Because they already have two X chromosomes to begin with, they can wear that famous coat without necessarily having to be a chimera. Only genetic testing could tell for sure.
Although tortoiseshell cats are usually the first breed that comes to mind when folks think of two-faced cats, these fabulous furballs can be found among many other cat breeds, too.
While lots of two-faced cats out there remain a bit of a mystery — especially ones with perfectly split designs — we think we like it better that way. It makes them even more magical!