The idea of a chimera cat might bring up fairy tales and legends in your head, but chimera cats are more real than you might think. They might sound exotic (and they are, to a certain extent), but chimera cats are simply cats with a face split into two different colors. One of the most famous chimera cats of all time is Narnia, a five-year-old cat with a perfectly symmetrical half black and half gray face. Narnia also has beautiful eyes, and this French feline has won the hearts of thousands of fans.
While Narnia might seem exotic on his own as part of an exotic British shorthair breed, he mostly receives attention for his much more exotic split face. Narnia is a true chimera cat—a result of two embryos fusing together. Basically, chimera cats are two fraternal twins combined into one cat.
How Chimera Cats Occur
Columbia University Professor of Genetics and Development Virginia Papaioannou explained to New Republic how a true chimera is born in the animal world.
"A chimera ... is a composite individual that was made up of cells from at least two different original embryos. If they fuse together early enough, they will become a single organism whose genetic input is from two completely different individuals. In a mosaic, there's only one individual and it just happens to have different genetic components active in its cells. A chimera would be a much more unusual and unlikely event."
Male tortoiseshell cats are typically chimeras, noticeable by their mottled dual coloring caused by fusion of two embryos with different genotypes, i.e. coloring. A cat with perfect different fur color symmetry, however, is relatively rare.
Born on March 28, 2017, Narnia the two-faced house cat lives at the Cattery of Grace in France. Animal photographer Jean-Michel Labat started sharing photos of the kitten, instantly winning people over.
Mythological chimeras are creatures made up of different monsters. Narnia, however, is the cutest modern monster on the Internet. Narnia follows in the footsteps of similarly two-faced feline beauties Venus and Quimera, which means chimera in Spanish. Quimera has two different colored eyes, which Papaioannou explains:
"It must be the white spotting gene that's affecting her eyes, because the blue eye has a lack of melanin. This cat has white spots on the chest ... the white spotting gene, the piebald gene, is probably affecting the two eyes differently. One has a sort of normal color and one is blue, which is basically a lack of pigment."
The boy kitten was bred by Stephanie Jimenez, who referred to Narnia as "a real small miracle, blue and black (with locket)." The "locket" is a nod to Narnia's tiny patch of fluffy white fur on his chest.
While chimera cats might sound like monsters, we all know that the real monsters are people who don't think these felines are simply adorable.
This article was originally published on November 23, 2019.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.