Despite his unusual appearance, it was love at first sight for owner Marty Stevens after laying eyes on newborn cat Frank and Louie, who has two faces, two mouths, two noses and three eyes.
“The first thing I said when the doctor was standing there holding it was, ‘Has anybody claimed it yet?’” she tells PEOPLE. “I said, ‘I’ll take him!’”
Stevens was working at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University when the Janus cat, named after a Roman god that bears two faces, was brought in by a breeder. Because of the complications that often result from this congenital disorder, known as diprosopus, felines face a life expectancy of no more than four days. But despite the stats, Stevens happily invited the adorable animal into her Worcester, Mass., home, naming him Frank and Louie – Frank for the left side, Louie for the right.
Aware that the condition generally proves fatal, she took extra care with Frank and Louie in his early life, opting to tube feed him for instance, wherein a tube with food is inserted directly into the stomach. But with each passing hour, she remained unsure of how much more time the two had together.
“I set my alarm every two hours throughout the night for his feedings. I’d wake up and literally think, ‘Oh my god, he’s still alive!’” Stevens says. “Then days passed and it was like, ‘Yay he’s still alive!’”
Against all odds, Frank and Louie managed to survive without much trouble, entering the 2012 Guinness World Records book as the longest-surviving member of his breed at 12 years old. Following a sinus infection as a kitten, his only other medical treatment involved surgery to remove the teeth growing in along the right side of his face, where he doesn’t possess a bottom jaw. The surgery ended up helping doctors locate an unbeknownst cleft palate, a condition normally considered fatal because of the chances that food or water may work its way into the sinuses.
“The fact that Louie doesn’t have a bottom jaw on that side actually saved his life,” says Stevens, “because he doesn’t eat out of that side.”
Since his adoption, Frank and Louie has adjusted nicely to life as an indoor cat, even making fast friends with Stevens’ other pets, Bengal cat Mo and Chow-Akita mix Buster.
“He’s very affectionate. He’s very playful,” she says. “He and Mo run around the house and chase each other and wrestle with each other and play.”
And while raising Frank and Louie has been a long, and often times nerve-wracking, road, Stevens says she’d “jump at the chance” to raise another Janus cat if given the opportunity.
“Every day is a blessing and a gift,” she says of her time with him. “He’s wonderful.”
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