A short-lived kitten born with three eyes has grabbed attention online after its owner shared one of the only pictures of it to Reddit.
The image was posted to the popular Subreddit “Oddly Terrifying” and captured the unique birth deformity which sees the cat born with two eyes merging into one in the same eye socket.
Being born with three eyes is extremely rare for an animal, and there’s little research into just how often it can happen.
Titled “My newborn kitten was born three-eyes,” the post received over 17,000 votes in just a day, with users left as equally confused as in adoration for the unique feline.
The tiny pale kitten appears freshly-born in the photo and is smaller than the palm of the hand in the image. According to comments left by the owner, it was also born with a cleft palate.
Hearts were broken however when the owner disclosed that the kitten needed to be euthanized shortly after birth. “Along with its deformed eye it had a cleft palate, there was nothing I could do to help it,” they wrote.
“He would have needed surgery for removal of the eyes and to fix the palate, not only would it have totaled around $10,000 but I would have had to take an extended vacation from work so I could shove a tube down its throat so it could eat every two hours since it could not feed because of the palate,” they added.
“I certainly showed love to this little guy the best I could, I loved him in the short amount of time he was alive.”
Although little is documented on kittens with three eyes, there are reports over the years of kittens born with two heads. These kittens are also thought to be caused by a deformity and end up with three eyes with the two middle ones often merging into one.
Dubbed “Janus” cats after the Roman god portrayed as having two faces, many have made it into mainstream attention, but like this Reddit cat, rarely live long.
Frank and Louie holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest Janus cat and passed away at 15 in 2014. Duo is also a Janus cat who has gained attention online at two years old, with over 42,000 Instagram followers.
For cat-lovers, the Reddit story was equally heartbreaking and heartwarming, with many expressing relief that the cat was loved during its brief time on earth.
“Poor guy, breaks my heart seeing this kind of stuff,” wrote one user.
“It breaks my heart to see little ones born into this harsh world with no chance at life. Take peace knowing that the energy that gave this kitten life will be recycled into something new,” added another.
Some pointed the grieving owner to a poem by Laura Gilpin titled “Two-Headed Calf” which recounts the story of a two-headed calf’s first and only night on earth.