Jan. 17, 2006, Austin American-Statesman
Like a perfect amber marble smooshed into its forehead, the eyeball rests in the kitty’s face. With no eyelid to blink it, the eye glistens and stares, evoking a comic book Martian or, naturally, the Cyclops of Greek myth, a towering, fearsome beast that wore the largest monocle in recorded history. Wags on the Web have dubbed it the “cyclops kitten,” musing with by turns pity, laughter, skepticism and freaked-out fear about this botched job of nature. The solo orb, writes one poster, “peers deep into my SOUL.”
The kitty and its creepy eye are captured in a startling Associated Press photo, and it’s no hoax. Scientists say so, terming the facial mishap “holoprosencephaly.” Named Cy by its owner, it was born Dec. 28 in Oregon and died the next day. It was also born without a nose, making it look to some like a one-eyed monkey. Cy was one in a litter of two kittens. Its sibling came out normal and is presumably destroying furniture as we write.
With that impressive peeper, Cy was the kitten’s pajamas last week. Its image held Net surfers in the queasy thrall of morbid fascination. The photo of the pink and white feline — laying on a bed of horror and pathos, the outsize uni-eye centered in its downy head — shot through the blogosphere.
The picture was one of the most viewed and most emailed photos at Yahoo on Thursday and Friday, and “cyclops kitten” was one of the most searched keywords. Soon, a meticulous and loving painting of Cy, complete with the epigram RIP, was posted at 7deadlysinners.com. Other sites ran poems to Cy. (I bet you woulda made a great pet/woulda scared everybody at the vet.) While sympathy reigned, nasty people let loose with monikers like “devil cat.” One poster wrote, “That cyclops cat scared the bejesus out of me.”
That’s glib stuff when deeper reflection is demanded. Cy represents the crazy fragility of life, the cruel caprice of Mother Nature. And it throws into question Cy’s mother’s taste in tomcats.
Cy is gone now. A fleeting oddity that ruffled us for a moment. A sideshow distraction that made us feel and think. Cy’s owner did what anyone would do with such a gift and learning tool for humanity. She put it in the freezer.