Two-Faced Kitten Dies
June 11, 2000 3:28 AM   Subscribe

Two-Faced Kitten Dies
And the original AP story (with pictures) lead me to believe that it would survive. Too bad — I have a soft spot for this sort of "abomination" (a two headed/brained-snake was the subject of my favorite paper on cognitive ethology). But seeing this story made me remember the most remarkable case of human conjoined twins [more >>]
posted by sylloge (9 comments total)
(That was the source of the AP story, but not the AP story itself — sorry.)

I saw the Hensel Twins on Oprah (just a fluke, I swear) about five years ago and was blown away. In nearly every respect how I'd imagine a two-headed person: two heads and brains, two arms, two hearts, three lungs, two stomachs, but the spines join at the pelvis and there is only one set of intenstines, one colon, one bladder, one vagina, two normal legs. Very self-possessed girls with distinct personalities (one, as I recall, wanted to be a airline pilot and the other an engineer or something).

I remember trying to find something — anything — on these twins to show to a friend to establish that I wasn't making this up, but I wasn't able to find anything on the web back then. This Time magazine story dates from 1996 though — wasn't Pathfinder around by then?
posted by sylloge at 3:41 AM on June 11, 2000

I hope I wasn't the only one to think of Spider Jerusalem's cat when I saw the picture.
posted by harmful at 9:00 AM on June 11, 2000

i understand that the kitten really had one head with two faces while the hensel twins actually have two heads -- but still i find it interesting that in the various articles the cat is referred to in the singular while the humans are refered to as two -- even though they share, essentially, one body.

posted by palegirl at 12:10 PM on June 11, 2000

It all comes down the the brain, baby. Or, the life, if you
posted by sylloge at 3:23 PM on June 11, 2000

It all comes down the the brain, baby. Or, the life, if you
posted by sylloge at 3:23 PM on June 11, 2000

Goddamn. (The result of a new mouse with lots of crazy buttons which don't necessarily do what I intend).

ANYWAY, as I was trying to say, you can make a compelling case that there is only one life in the case of the kitten(s). There is one metabolism, one CNS; one "face" can't die without the other dying.

One the other hand, if one of the Hensel twins died, the other could live (though some medical intervention may be necessary) -- they look like they share a body, but in the most significant places, they each have their own organs. There are two lives going on there, and if you count identities by counting lives (as you ought to, IMO) then there are two people. Their lives may be fused at a certain point, but they have two CNSs, two metabolisms (or one and a half?) and operate as independently as you could expect two people who share legs to do.

(My thesis supervisor wrote
a book about this topic where the point is argued, and, being quite susceptible to the influence of the influential, I'm compelled to agree.)
posted by sylloge at 3:32 PM on June 11, 2000

You know, surly misanthropic bullshit aside, that damn cat made me cry. Poor little thing.
posted by Ezrael at 3:43 PM on June 11, 2000

Surely, Stewart, you have been to the Mütter Museum (official site here; much more fun site here), the apparent future resting place of said two-faced kitten? If you haven't, you should rush to Philadelphia and see the sights...
posted by judith at 7:03 PM on June 11, 2000

As my friend said regarding the museum in Philadelphia, who on earth would want to look at the thorax of president Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth anyway?

posted by Mocata at 5:35 AM on June 12, 2000

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