On June 1, 2020, the public was treated to news of a two-face cat that was claimed to be one of the most beautiful animals on the planet. Then again, we all know beauty will always lie in the eyes of the beholder, but in this case, this would not be the first time this cat has made headlines because of her unique look. She has even gone on to become a social media celebrity, so if you are wondering what makes her so unique, here are all the details.
From a stray to having a forever home
In 2009, Venus was nowhere near the kind of media attention she receives now; by then, she was a stray kitten surviving by hunting mice. When Christina Thomas saw a photo of stray cats on social media, she was blown away by the cat who looked like her face had been split down the middle. As she told The Sun, she was mesmerized. Being a cat rescuer, she knew that the two-face cat with different-colored eyes had to be hers. For Christina, it was like finally getting the daughter she always wanted because she already had three sons and two male cats.
She, therefore, packed a pink carrier, and along with her husband, flew from Florida to the North Carolina farm where Venus lived. The couple covered all the costs involved in the adoption and took the kitten by plane, back home. Christina said that even on the plane, Venus was attracting attention, but like most cats, she was not bothered at all. Little did Christina know that she was carrying a cat that would capture the entire world’s attention in a few months.
Becoming the planet’s most famous feline
Venus did not ask to be famous, and Christina was not interested in exploiting the cat for her looks, but her appearance is not one to go unnoticed. A teenage daughter of Christina’s friend saw the cat and posted her photo on Reddit. In less than 24 hours, that photo had garnered over 1.2 million viewers. While the haters claimed the image was photoshopped or she had dyed fur, Christina did not bother explaining.
On September 1, 2012, National Geographic published that Venus was the most famous feline on the face of the planet. By then, she was only three years old, but what led to the attention was a YouTube video that Christina posted on August 21, 2012. To date, that video has amassed over 3 million views, which goes to show that Venus’s popularity has been rising over the years.
As if that is not enough, the feline has an Instagram account with 2 million followers who like a cat that flaunts it was not born to fit in but rather to stand out. On the other hand, her Facebook page has over 1.3 million followers, which is not bad for a page that was created on August 15, 2012. To take advantage of the popularity, Christina thought about starting a line of merchandise. She even had a deal to make 1,100 plush toys, but things did not turn out as she expected. Venus had fierce competition from Tardar Sauce, who made a fortune so big that her owner quit her job within days of Tardar making her social media debut.
Why does Venus look like she does?
Most people have referred to Venus as a chimera cat, but geneticists beg to differ with good reason. A chimera, according to Greek mythology, is a monster that is comprised of different animal parts. However, in modern science, the name refers to an animal with two sets of DNAs resulting from the fusion of two embryos. According to Virginia, who talked to New Republic, Venus is not a chimera, but a calico cat.
Virginia, a professor of Genetics and Development, said that Venus’s appearance of half-ginger half-black with one green eye while the other is blue is the ideal example of X-inactivation mosaicism combined with a white spotting gene. The professor explained that females have two X- chromosomes, but one of them is inactive. Therefore for Venus to have the ginger color on one side and black on the other, it is because half of her X chromosomes express a version of the gene while the other expresses another version of the gene.
Regarding her eyes, Virginia explained that the white spotting gene was the cause. Blue eyes indicate a lack of melanin, and since Venus has white paws and white spots on the chest, the professor reasoned that the white spotting gene affected the eyes differently. Consequently, she got a standard green color in one eye while the other became blue.
Some still believe it is a mystery
While Virginia broke down the cause of the strange appearance, Leslie Lyons, another professor at the University of California, still claims it is a mystery. Although she agrees with Virginia that Venus is not a chimera, unlike Virginia, who talked about the X inactivation mosaic, Leslie said that the only way they could confirm the cause of the appearance is through a DNA fingerprint. She added that if Venus were a chimera, the DNA from each side of the body would be different.
Furthermore, Leslie claimed the two-face was pure luck. She said that the black color could have been randomly activated on one side and the ginger color on the other side; then, by coincidence, they met at the cat’s midline. Leslie further disagrees with Virginia concerning the blue eyes. While Virginia attributes the blue eyes to a lack of melanin, Leslie explained that such scenarios only happen to cats with lots of whites in them. Since Venus only has a white patch on her chest and paws, that amount is not enough to conclude she is a Siamese cat. Therefore the two-face cat is still a bit of a puzzle even to the scientists.