You’ve probably ooh-ed and ahh-ed over photos of Venus, the two-face cat, who has been an Internet sensation for several years. Her half-black, half-orange face appears to be split straight down the middle, and her eyes are striking as well: One is green, the other blue.
Venus has been plagued by rumors that she was the result of elaborate Photoshopping or some kind of hoax, even through her Facebook page states very clearly: “0% Photoshopped, 100% Born This Way!” She appeared on the ‘Today’ show in 2012, which would seem to confirm she is a real cat who just happens to be amazing.
And now Chris Brown, a veterinarian and television personality in Australia, has weighed in on the cat’s beautiful and unusual markings.
“The search for the answer to Venus’s appearance started with the assumption that she was a ‘chimera, the result of two fertilized embryos fusing inside her mother to create a true 50/50 cat with two sets of DNA. But testing has shown that Venus isn’t this at all,” he wrote on Facebook. “Instead, her face is, in fact, pure luck. When her genes unleashed her color scheme, by pure chance they landed on a perfect split of black pigment on one side of her face and orange on the other.”
Brown’s post prompted his many fans to share images of their own uniquely marked pets.
This kitty is a foster that needs a home.
The speckled dog has bright blue eyes.
Another kitty with special markings.
As Brown noted, many reports about Venus refer to the cat as a “chimera.” In mythology, a chimera is a monster made up of parts of different animals. A feline chimera is a cat whose cells contain two types of DNA, caused when two embryos fuse together.
In the cat world, chimeras aren’t all that rare. In fact, most male tortoiseshell cats are chimeras. The distinctively mottled orange-and-black coat is a sign that the cat has an extra X chromosome. However, according to geneticist Virginia Papaioannou, who spoke to the New Republic about Venus, the two-tone cat is a fairly straightforward example of X-inactivation mosaicism, with the addition of a white spotting gene.
The white spotting gene is likely the cause of Venus’s one bright blue eye, which normally doesn’t occur in a cat with her coloring (on the tabby side).
“At birth, all kittens have baby blues. If their eyes change color, it generally occurs at four to five weeks of age,” veterinarian Marty Becker tells Yahoo Beauty. “They’ll start to darken as natural pigments are deposited in the iris. Cats with points — light body color and dark markings, like the Siamese — will keep those blue eyes. White cats will have blue, green, gold, or copper eyes — or one of each. Other cats with blue eyes at birth will develop green, gold, or copper eyes as they leave infancy behind.”
So yes, Venus the two-face cat is all real and all natural. And, as her 1.3 million Instagram followers can attest, very beautiful.
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