After their cat, Nene, gave birth to a black kitten with two faces last week, Nash Hand and his wife, Amanda Forsythe, of Port Charlotte, Florida, turned to the internet. The response they received was far from helpful: As Forsythe says, they were told to put the kitten down and
“…that it is an abomination, that I am an evil person because I would let such a thing live like that. It’s a beast because it’s a black cat with two faces.”
Hand and Forsythe instead got in touch with Dr. Greg Fluharty of the Animal Clinic in Port Charlotte and were told that the kitten’s lungs, respiration and heart rate were normal for a cat of its age. They named him Harvey Dent, after the character in Batman with a “two-faced personality.” Forsythe noted how Harvey’s two faces worked together at once: “When he eats on one side it looks like he is eating on the other. When he meows it comes out of both sides,” she said. (A video of Harvey is here.)
According to WWSB, Hand and Forsythe had actually been watching a TV show about a cat with two faces (the scientific term for the condition is diprosopus) prior to Harvey’s birth. Another “Janus cat,” Frank and Louie, indeed lived to the age of 12. Janus cats are so called after a Roman god, Janus, who was depicted with two faces because he was believed to look to both the past and the future simultaneously. Janus was the god of gates and doors (ianua is the Latin word for “door”), and also of beginnings and transitions. His name can be heard in that of the Roman month Ianuarius, which was actually at the end of the year in the ancient Romans’ calendar.
Sadly, Harvey died last Wednesday of medical complications. The little black kitten was only two days old. Had he survived, Nash and Forsythe were prepared to take care of a unique animal, as Forsythe said:
“We are definitely not going to kill it. I am not going to let somebody tell me that it needs to be done. It shouldn’t be killed just because it is a little different.”
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