Have you ever heard of a “split-faced cat” or a ” two-faced cat”?
If you’ve spent time watching cats on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve likely seen one. These are names often used to refer to a chimera cat, and there are some very famous on the networks.
The best example is Narnia, a one-year-old kitten with a perfectly symmetrical half black and gray face and pretty blue eyes taking Instagram by storm.
Narnia is a British shorthair cat, and we are surprised by her exotic split face. Narnia is an actual chimera cat, a feline with two sets of DNA resulting from the fusion of two embryos.
What is a Chimera cat?
At first glance, a chimera cat is a feline with one color scheme on one half of its face or body and another on the other half. Occasionally, the line separating the colors is straight, making it appear as if two cats are in one, which is not far from the truth.
If you know anything from Greek mythology, Homer’s Iliad chimera was a fire-breathing monster with the body of a goat, the tail of a snake or dragon, and the head of a lion.
But the feline chimera is a much more real creature with a logical scientific explanation.
What causes Chimera cats?
A chimera is an animal that is made up of cells from at least two different original embryos. Suppose they fuse early enough in the mother’s womb. In that case, they will become a single organism whose genetic input comes from two completely different individuals. So split-faced kittens are born with their DNA, plus DNA from a second embryo. Some like to say that a chimera is its identical twin.
Newborn kittens can be born with slight differences in coloration that are not noticeable or with differences that cannot be seen. Occasionally, however, one will show a difference that is so dramatic that it is surprising. A chimera is an unusual and unlikely event.
Why do some Chimera cats have different colored eyes?
The cat’s two sides often have different colored eyes. This may be one of the most remarkable characteristics of these cats, and it is a phenomenon called heterochromia.
Most cats with “different eyes” are not chimeras, but it is more likely to occur with them because of the two sets of DNA these cats have. They get one color from their own DNA and another from the second.
Is a Calico cat a Chimera cat?
The cats calico and tortoiseshell often appear chimeras, but most are not. Most of these cats are female, but occasionally a male will be born. The chances are good that this male is a chimera.
This happens due to the XX chromosomes carried by females and the XY by males. The mother and father pass a chromosome to the offspring.
Like humans, the mother cat can only contribute an X, but the father can pass an X or a Y. If she contributes the X, the offspring will be XX or female. If he contributes the Y, the offspring will be XY or male.
The gene for calico and tortoiseshell coats is only carried on the X chromosome. Therefore almost all cats with these color patterns are female (X from mom and X from dad equals XX or female).
Famous Chimera cats
You are probably familiar with famous chimera cats that have become popular through Instagram and other social networks.
However, you should know that it is impossible to know if these cats are chimeras in the scientific sense without DNA testing.
Either way, they are lovely! Here are some of them.
Venus is an American tortoiseshell cat. It has a striking two-color face, orange on the left and black on the right. He also has heterochromia with one blue and one green eye.
Narnia, the kitten
Narnia is a beautiful British shorthair cat raised and owned by Stéphanie Jiménez in France. His body is black, but half of his face is blue (a color that looks more like slate gray), and the other half is black. Both of his eyes are blue.
The Chimera cat
Chimera is, curiously, almost the mirror image of Venus. His face has black on the left and orange on the right.
He also has green and blue eyes.
Yana is another tortoiseshell cat with chimera characteristics. It is owned by a woman named Elizabeth from Belarus, who found her through a classified ad when she was just a kitten. Yana also has her face color divided, but unlike Venus and Chimera, her eyes are green.
Where can I buy or adopt a Chimera kitten?
The simple answer is that you probably can’t buy or adopt one. Again, because chimera cats are not a breed but just a genetic quirk, it will be very difficult for you to get hold of a specimen.
No, there is no such thing as a chimera breeder. You can look in shelters and see classifieds, and one day you might be lucky. Elizabeth found Yana through a sale advertisement.
But finding an actual chimera cat (or even a cat that looks like one) is probably more difficult than finding a five-leaf clover in your backyard.
If you are lucky and find one, it would be impossible to predict its price. Due to its rarity, the price of chimera cats will likely be very high.