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A Two-Faced Cat Became a Freak Show Exhibit, and That Makes Me Sad

Deucy lived only two days but during that time got 17.8 million Google results. Why? For the same reason people went to carnival sideshows.

 |  Jun 21st 2013  |   40 Contributions


The thing I love about the Internet is that news of weird and fascinating things can spread around the world in a matter of hours.

But sometimes that’s also the thing I hate about the Internet.

Deucy really was kinda cute. Image: Screen capture from ITN video

Take Deucy the two-faced kitten, for instance. She was born on June 11 in the tiny city of Amity, Oregon, about an hour southwest of Portland. Her guardian, Stephanie Durkee, took the poor little thing to the vet, who said that everything seemed to be okay. The only issue at that point was that Deucy’s mother had rejected her, so Durkee had to feed her kitten milk replacer every two hours around the clock.

I don't know how the media first got hold of the story, but from what I can tell, TV station KGW was the first to report on Deucy.

What Durkee might not have counted on, though, was the Internet’s vast, deep yearnings for the latest odd -- or might I even say freakish -- sensation. Within 24 hours, Deucy’s story had pretty much traveled the globe, appearing on TV stations throughout the U.S. and on Britain’s ITN TV network, not to mention on high-profile websites like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post.

Poor Deucy got turned into a freak show exhibit. Carnival freak show entrance by Shutterstock

People like me who have been blogging for a long, long time are used to trolls, sensation-hunters, and haters, and we pretty much know what to do about them. But if you’re not familiar with being in the glare of worldwide publicity (“Hello, this is George L. Tweedypants from the The Daily Screamer in London. I’d like to talk with you about your cat.”) and therefore a target for people who are just dying for a chance to judge you (OMG ALL U WANT IZ MONEY AND U DON’T CARE ABOUT THE CAT!!!!!111) for everything and anything, despite the fact that they know nothing about you (OMG U $#@!!ING STUPID $%^^ WHY DINT U GET THE CAT SPADE?!?!), I imagine this can be pretty disconcerting.

Two days later, Deucy died, despite Durkee’s best efforts to keep her alive. It’s not surprising: Very few two-faced cats live to see their first birthday. Still, it must have been difficult. It’s very hard not to get emotionally involved when you’re working so hard to save a kitten’s life.

One of the Durkees holds Deucy, who is wrapped in a towel to preserve her body heat. Image: Screen capture from ITN video

And then there was a giant sucking sound as Deucy’s fame disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

Don’t get me wrong: Being an Internet sensation can make very good things happen. Just look a the story of Freida, a cat left in a ditch to die, whose worldwide fame allowed the tiny rescue group that saved her life to pay for her medical expenses and raise awareness about the ongoing problem of abandoned, abused, and neglected cats. But when a cat becomes “Internet famous” because of the same voyeuristic urge that drove people to watch circus freak shows, that’s just wrong ... and sad.

Did Deucy’s story fascinate or enrage you? Did you care at all? If Deucy had been your cat, what would you have wanted or hoped for? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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