Encountering a two-faced, or Janus cat, is a very rare occurrence, even for a vet who is experienced with all things cat-related.
However, Dr. Ralph Tran had this exact experience a little over three months ago when a friend of his showed him a tiny kitten her cat had just given birth to.
Dr, Tran happened to be right in the middle of an interstate move from New York to San Diego, when as luck would have it, he got a flat tire. I say luck, because while waiting for help he received a text he might not otherwise have read from a friend regarding a “Janus Kitten.”
“We were stranded just half an hour away from where [my friend] lived,” Tran tells PEOPLE. The woman’s cat had rejected the all-black kitten, likely because of the little one’s health condition, so the two-faced neonate would need round-the-clock human care to stay alive.
As a vet, Dr. Tran had years of experience looking after and taking care of neonatal kittens, previously working at the ASPCA kitten nursery in Manhatten. To help out he agreed over the phone with the kitten’s owner, who had named the kitten Duo, to take this little kitten with him on the journey to join the rest of his feline family (8 other cats in all, as well as avian friends) in California.
Although experienced Dr. Tran was not sure what to expect when he first saw this unusual kitten. He knew of the condition but not all the ins and outs of it. He had expected a typical Siamese twin, which she clearly was not.
Duo’s has a very rare congenital defect known as diprosopus or craniofacial duplication – she like all cats, has one body, but that is where any similarity ends, as she has two fully operational faces. Both mouths meow separately, and both noses breath separately.
All Dr. Tran had to do now was get her to his new home safe and sound.