Fact: If it weren't for cats, the internet would have died out a long time ago. OK, there's no way to prove that, but there's no doubt that over the past decade the little fuzzballs have been enjoying their biggest celebrity status since Ancient Egypt. And it goes without saying that everyone's favorite type of cat is the kitten. Comedians Key & Peele have figured this out, and that's why their new movie Keanu stars a kitten. And the movie takes their kitten love one step further, because in it, Keanu will remain a kitten forever. But is this really possible? Can a kitten stay a kitten forever?
In a way, they can... sort of. A few cats do retain kitten-like features throughout their entire lives, and are commonly referred to as perma-kittens. However, it does not appear that perma-kitten is an actual, scientifically recognized phenomenon. Instead, it seems to be a nickname for some cats who suffer from severe cases of dwarfism. Without a doubt, the most famous perma-kitten is internet sensation, Lil' Bub. Bub is regularly called a perma-kitten, but she actually suffers from a serious disorder called achondroplasia, which causes disproportionate dwarfism, giving her short limbs and an enlarged head — like a kitten. However, the disorder often leads to mobility problems, and really shouldn't be encouraged. Thanks to Bub's celebrity status, she can afford treatment that alleviates her symptoms, but most dwarf cats aren't so lucky.
Despite that fact, there are some breeds of cat that are intentionally bred to promote similar disorders in order to maintain a kittenesque look throughout their entire lives. The most notable is the Munchkin Cat, which is an official breed recognized by the International Cat Association. It has been bred to be very-short legged; which is sometimes referred to as pseudoachondroplasia. This keeps the size of the cat quite small throughout its life due to its tiny limbs, though everything else about the cat is regular-sized. However, due to the health issues associated with their stunted legs, and the ethical questions surrounding the purposeful breeding of a detrimental genetic disorder, several animal rights groups oppose the proliferation of the breed.
So there are some cats out there who maintain a kitten-like appearance throughout their lives, but it's due to either a rare genetic mutation or selective breeding to promote a genetic mutation. And unlike Lil' Bub, most don't become celebrities, and instead lead difficult lives due to their disability. So the next time you're thinking that you'd like your kitten to stay a kitten forever, just remember that adult cats are pretty awesome, too.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures; giphy.com