A two-faced kitten born about two weeks ago in a shop off Woodville Road died last Wednesday.
Mike Tawil, owner of Woodville Auto Finance, across from the Woodville Mall in Northwood, was crestfallen by its death.
He noticed the kitten had appeared to be weak Wednesday evening.
“It seemed tired. The mother was wandering around the garage. We realized that it wasn’t going to make it, and saw it die,” said Tawil.He plans to sell the body for about $700 to a medical oddities museum in California for display, and donate the money to charity.
While some might have considered the kitten’s deformity grotesque, Tawil called it a blessing.
“The kitten was a present from God. So whatever money I get, I will give it to the poor,” he said.
The kitten, named “Twinkie,” lifted Tawil’s spirits, and everyone that came in contact with it, if only for a brief time.
“I am happy this happened to me. It was a big surprise,” he said.
The shop hadn’t been quite the same since his three-year-old tabby, Simba, gave birth to the kitten sometime on July 30-31.
When The Press spoke to Tawil about the kitten last Tuesday, hopes were high it would survive. The kitten was drawing visitors to the shop hoping for a peek of the unique feline.
“People were coming over and bringing their kids in just to see it,” he said.
The kitten had four eyes, two noses, two ears, and two mouths, though just one mouth opened. The mother had nursed the otherwise healthy kitten throughout the day.
Tawil wasn’t aware the kitten had two faces until his brother stopped by the shop last Monday.
“My brother said, `Hey, the baby has two faces.’ I said, `Yeah, yeah, whatever.’ And he said, `No…for real.’” Tawil went back to the garage to take a look.
He took the kitten to the East Suburban Animal Clinic in Northwood, where he was told it was healthy.
He, his wife Hiba, seven-year-old son Nabil, and two-year-old son Kareem, had planned to keep the kitten.
As word spread about the kitten, the shop had become overwhelmed by curious onlookers.
Tawil was worried all the attention would frighten the mother and cause it to abandon the kitten.
“A lot of people were coming over and taking photos,” he said. “I was frustrated because I didn’t want the mother to leave and not take care of it.”
He had even put up a sign in the shop saying visitation was limited to 1 p.m.
East Suburban Animal Clinic would not return calls to The Press for comment.
Dr. David Boudouris, a veterinarian at Country Squire Animal Hospital, 3243 Navarre Avenue in Oregon, said the kitten likely had other congenital defects that may have contributed to its death.
“Even the anomalies were probably not very functional,” said Boudouris. “For example, if you have a kitten or puppy with a cleft palate, they can’t nurse well because they can’t get the pressure to draw in the milk. If this kitten with two faces was trying to nurse on the one side, it probably couldn’t get enough suction to nurse well because maybe it just couldn’t create that pressure.”
Two-faced kittens are uncommon, he said. He’s never before seen one in his practice.
“I did see a Cyclops kitten about 20 years ago,” said Boudouris. The kitten had one eye in the middle of its forehead.
“They’re really very, very rare,” said Boudouris. “They don’t survive.”
According to Wikipedia, two-faced animals are indeed extremely rare. Known in medical journals as “craniofacial duplication,” the disorder sometimes includes other congenital disorders. Oftentimes, the animals perish just days after birth.
Sarah Hartwell, in “Feline Medical Curiosities,” notes the following accounts:
• A two-faced kitten born at the turn of the 20th Century in Bromhead, Saskatchewan, Canada, where it died a short time later.
• A two-headed Red Persian kitten born in September, 1946, in El Paso, Texas, where it survived for five days.
• A two-faced kitten called “Gemini” born in June, 2005 in Roseberg, Oregon, where it died after four days.
• A two-faced kitten called “Tiger” born on July 12, 2006, in Grove City, Ohio, where it had vanished four days later in the middle of the night. It had been bottle-fed at Midnight on July 16, but disappeared when the owner had checked on it at 4 a.m. It was believed to have been stolen, since one of the doors to the house was unlocked.
There is a report of a two-faced kitten born in Millbury, Massachusetts in 2000 that is still alive today. The cat, named “Frank and Louie” has two mouths, two noses, two eyes, and a “central eye” that doesn’t function.
The owner states that the cat has a “sweet personality,” plays with other cats and likes walking on a leash.