London - At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that this adorable cat has been to a face-painting party. But look closely and you will see her look is entirely natural.
The British shorthair’s appearance, with her face divided into halves of grey and black by a straight line, while the rest of her body is black, is down to a quirk in her DNA.
The two-tone cat, pictured at her home in France by animal photographer Jean-Michel Labat, is a chimera – the result of two embryos fusing together in the womb, merging non-identical twins.
Although rare, chimeras – which have two sets of DNA – occur in many species including humans, where signs can be subtle, such as having different-coloured eyes.
The word comes from the fire-breathing female monster of Greek mythology that had a lion’s head, goat’s body and serpent’s tail. Chimera is also used to describe something illusory or impossible.