Residents of Worcester, MA, might have to look twice when spotting Frank and Louie the cat. With one body and two faces this record-breaking ‘duo’, seen on MassLive.com, is one of a kind –for being the longest surviving cat with the condition. At twelve years old they are unlike other Janus cats (named after the Roman God with two heads) because most will die shortly after birth.
Diprosopus is the medical term used to describe facial duplication, and it can occur in many animals, even humans. In 2008 a girl from India was born with the same congenital disorder, though sadly died of a heart attack a few months later. Although the predicament is often said to be a form of conjoined twinning, some research points to the interestingly named ‘sonic hedgehog homolog’ (SHH) protein. Scientific investigations show that when this is produced in excess, the duplication of facial structures can occur.
But now on to a compelling question: Are Frank and Louie of one mind or have two brains managed to fit into their/his skull? The answer is that the two faces share a brain. This means it is one cat with two faces rather than two cats sharing a body. The cat should technically then be referred to as ‘him’, instead of as ‘they’ or ‘them’. This likens these special types of cats to the god Janus even more, because he is also recognized in the singular form.
See Frank and Louie the cat in the Guinness Book of World Records 2012.