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Chimera Cat: Vet Reviewed Facts, Pictures, History & Origin

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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A chimera cat has two distinct coat colorings on their bodies. Many have a divide along their faces, where each half of the face sports a distinct color, appearing like two cats sharing the same face.

Chimera cats result when two embryos merge in their mother’s womb in the early stages of development. This results in a single cat carrying two sets of DNA, instead of one, in their bodies.

Physically, the different genes manifest through coat color and eye color. However, not all chimera cats can be identified through these physical traits, and not all cats with two distinct colors are chimeras.

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The Earliest Records of Chimera Cats in History

Chimera cats are named after the chimera creature of Greek mythology. A chimera in Greek mythology is a fire-breathing monster with body parts from different animals. It usually consists of a lion’s body, a goat’s upper body protruding from its back, and a serpent’s head for a tail.

While chimera cats bear no resemblance to this monster, their genetic makeup and mixed physical characteristics make this a suitable name. Since they begin as two different embryos but end up as one cat carrying two sets of DNA, they can be viewed as two animals sharing one body.

Note that chimerism exists in other animals, such as dogs and donkeys. It’s also a genetic occurrence in humans, often when an embryo in the womb absorbs DNA from its twin. However, chimera cats are more common compared to other animals.

chimera cat with green eyes
Image Credit: Mikhail Leypounsky, Shutterstock

How Chimera Cats Gained Popularity

Chimera cats gained popularity thanks to their distinct look that sets them apart from other cats. This is especially the case with chimera cats whose colors are divided equally on their faces.

There are a few celebrity Chimera cats online, contributing to the rising popularity of these felines. The most popular chimera cat is named Venus. Venus has a two-colored face, with one side sporting black and the other orange. Further, she has different colored eyes: one blue and the other green. Not all chimeras have heterochromia like Venus, but the condition further enhances the split-face trait of these cats.

Another popular Chimera cat is Quimera, who also has the same black and orange coloring on her face as Venus does. Quimera, too, has different colored eyes (one green and the other blue). A famous chimera feline who doesn’t have heterochromia is Narnia, who has a black and pale blue face and blue eyes.

Personality & Traits of a Chimera Cat

When most people think of owning a chimera cat, they are driven by their admiration for its rare beauty. They may fail to realize that Chimeras have unique personalities, like every other cat.

Chimera cats occur due to an unusual phenomenon when they are embryos in their mother’s wombs. This can happen to a cat of any breed; hence, no personality type can be attributed to all Chimera cats.

chimera cat lying
Image Credit: Mikhail Leypounsky, Shutterstock

What Else Can Cause Unusual Color Combinations?

There are three ways that a cat can end up with seemingly impossible color combinations:

The first of these is a chimera. This embryo fusion can result in XY/XY genotype if 2 male embryos fuse, XX/XX if 2 female embryos fuse or XY/XX if both a male and female embryos fuse.  Chimeric cats are often fertile contrary to popular belief.

The second is XXY cats (Klinefelter syndrome in humans). This is a chromosomal condition characterized by an additional chromosome and these cats are usually sterile. Additionally, they often have other health problems and may have a shortened lifespan.

Thirdly is somatic mutation (mosaic) -one cell within the embryo mutates to produce a different color which shows up as a seemingly impossible color combination.

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Top 4 Unique Facts About Chimera Cats

1. Most Tortoiseshell Male Cats Are Chimeras

Male tortoiseshell cats are very rare; there is only one male tortoiseshell cat in every 3,000. But on the rare occasion that a male tortoiseshell cat is born, it’s most likely a chimera.

Normally, male cats only contain one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. The X chromosome can carry either the black or orange color associated with tortoiseshell cats, so male cats can only have one of these colors.

But when a male embryo fuses with a female embryo in the womb, they get an extra X chromosome, enabling them to acquire a new coat color. In the process, they become not only a tortoiseshell feline but also a Chimera.

chimera cat sitting
Image Credit: Annalisa Ideler, Pixabay
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2. Chimera Cats Can Have Two Blood Types

The characteristics of chimera cats go beyond their visible physical characteristics. The presence of two sets of DNA in their bodies can also be found in their blood, where they have two blood types.

This duality extends to their body organs; some organs will have different genetic makeup from others. DNA tests that reveal differences in the genetic makeup of a cat are the perfect way to identify a chimera.

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3. Any Cat Breed Can Be a Chimera

Chimeras are not a breed, and neither are their occurrence limited to any cat breed. They result from two embryos fusing in the womb, which can happen to any cat.

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4. Chimera Cat Breeding Is Almost Impossible

Since Chimeras are not a breed, purposely breeding them is very difficult. Often, a mother cat will have several embryos when pregnant, birthing multiple kittens at a time.

During their development, some embryos may fuse, resulting in a chimera. This genetic occurrence is out of breeders’ control and cannot be brought about by selectively breeding cats.

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Does a Chimera Cat Make a Good Pet?

Chimera cats can make good pets like any other cat. However, your experience with a chimera cat depends on several factors that determine whether they are a good fit for you and vice versa.

To find a chimera feline that’ll be an ideal pet for you, consider their breed, upbringing, your family composition, and home. Chimera cats have the same average lifespan of about 16 years as other cats. Therefore, if you want one, think about your ability to commit to their long-term care.

Appearance-wise, do you want a shorthaired cat or a longhaired one? This is crucial for grooming and maintenance. Attitude-wise, do you want a playful cat or one that’s calmer? If you have kids in the family, going for a playful chimera is more suitable.

chimera kitten hug by owner
Image Credit: Natalia Kokhanova, Shutterstock

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Chimeras cats are quite unique, not just in their appearance but also because of the process that leads to their appearance. They deserve the same care, attention, and love as their fellow cats.

If you wish to own a chimera cat, look for one in the same places you’d find any other since there are no Chimera breeders. Beware that due to their rarity and coveted appearance, they often come at a higher price than other felines.

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Featured Image Credit: Valeriana002, Shutterstock