It’s not often you find a one-of-a-kind creature in the animal kingdom. But Atchoum is so rare that experts believed he was totally unique. One day, however, they found he wasn’t alone in the world: another existed just like him. And now, Atchoum and Moony are two of a kind.
Atchoum is a Persian kitten, who came into the world on May 10, 2014, and was subsequently donated to a veterinarian in Quebec, Canada. From there, he was sent home with a groomer, Nathalie, for the weekend – but that weekend soon turned into forever after Nathalie fell in love with him.
It wasn’t long after Nathalie had adopted Atchoum as her own, however, that she realized something was different about him. In fact, thanks to the extremely rare condition he has, he was thought to be totally unique. Specifically, Atchoum was diagnosed with congenital hypertrichosis – or, in plainer terms, “werewolf syndrome.”
Congenital hypertrichosis doesn’t mean Atchoum is literally a werewolf, of course. Instead, it’s a hormonal condition, the symptoms of which are rapid hair growth, undersized teeth and exceptionally thick claws. And, in poor Atchoum’s case, his claws were so huge that they had to be removed for safety.
However, Nathalie does allow the kitty’s hair to grow, as long as it doesn’t get too unwieldy. According to the cat’s own website, in fact, she even approves of the “mad scientist” look he has going on. Nevertheless, she still has to groom the hairs on his face so that he can see, eat and breathe normally.
And even though Atchoum suffers from his rare condition, he’s otherwise just like any normal cat. Not only is he super curious, but he’s also incredibly smart – to the point that he can even recognize the theme tune to a French animal documentary. What’s more, he plays a cat-themed game on Nathalie’s tablet.
For a while, though, Nathalie and her fellow veterinarians all thought that Atchoum was the only cat in the world to suffer from congenital hypertrichosis. Certainly, they had never seen another feline like him. Then, one day, Nathalie decided to set up a Facebook page for her pet. That came about after Nathalie made a bet with her daughter, who believed the page wouldn’t even register 100 likes.
As it turned out, though, Nathalie’s daughter was totally wrong: Atchoum’s page went viral, amassing thousands of likes. Then news outlets all over the world began reporting on him, drawing attention to his super-rare condition as a consequence. And that’s when janitor Luc Michaud realized that his own cat Moony wasn’t quite as unique as he’d originally thought.
Back in March 2014, Michaud had found five-month-old Moony abandoned in a cat box in the street outside his apartment. He asked around to see if the poor animal belonged to anyone in his building, but it seemed that nobody knew anything about her.
Fortunately for Moony, though, her luck was about to change, as Michaud realized that it was love at first sight between the pair. “As soon as I saw those big yellow eyes, I was like ‘wow,’” he told the Daily Mail in 2016. “She was the most beautiful cat I had ever seen.” So, Michaud decided to adopt Moony as his own.
And it was immediately apparent that Moony isn’t like any other cat, either – well, apart from one. That’s because she shares Atchoum’s affliction of “werewolf syndrome” and sports equally long and wild hair. Furthermore, both felines were coincidentally found in Quebec.
At first, however, even a professional had no clue as to what Moony’s condition could be. “I had never seen a cat like Moony,” Michaud said to the Daily Mail. “I just thought she was a strange breed of Persian but even the vet couldn’t tell me – he’d never seen anything like it.”
In fact, it wasn’t until Michaud saw Atchoum on TV one day that everything fell into place. At first, he was understandably surprised to see another cat that looked so much like Moony. But when the reporters began discussing Atchoum’s condition, he then realized just what he was dealing with.
And despite her “werewolf syndrome,” the appropriateness of Moony’s name was entirely a coincidence. Indeed, in 2016 Michaud told website The Best Cat Page that her original name was Minou, the French word for kitty. But one morning, after being awoken by her whiskers, he cried out, “Stop that, Moony!” And the name stuck – not least because of her werewolf-like physical attributes.
Just like Atchoum, Moony requires lots of care and attention. As well as grooming to keep her hair out of her eyes and nose, Michaud has to give her daily eye drops. And he thinks this may be why her previous owners abandoned her in the freezing cold.
What’s more, looking after Moony initially proved difficult for Michaud. In fact, she wouldn’t even let him come near her for three days – but he refused to give up on her. Perhaps not many people would give her that kind of dedication, not least because of her appearance, “She has a very strange look to her,” Michaud explained to The Best Cat Page. “Many are afraid of her because she always looks as if she is angry or frustrated!”
Indeed, he has even revealed that Moony is a very polarizing kitty, despite his own love for her. “I showed her to my brother, who said she was the ugliest thing he’d ever seen,” he told the Daily Mail. “Some people love her, some hate her, but nobody stays indifferent to Moony.”
Meanwhile – and perhaps inevitably – both Atchoum and Mooney now have their very own fanbases. Moony’s Facebook page has swelled to more than 16,000 likes, for example. Atchoum, on the other hand, is present across basically every social media platform there is – and with more than 250,000 followers on Instagram, 100,000 fans on Facebook and 600 subscribers on YouTube. Basically, he’s a bit of an internet superstar.
It’s probably little surprise, then, that Atchoum is even the star of his very own children’s book, alongside fellow internet celebrity cat Oreo. In First Day of School, the dynamic duo learn all about kindness, friendship and, of course, what makes everyone unique – just like Atchoum is.
Unfortunately, the future is uncertain for Atchoum and Moony. After all, they’re both the only known cats with congenital hypertrichosis, so exactly how that will play out later in life is yet to be seen. For now, though, Nathalie has explained that Atchoum certainly isn’t suffering. In fact, he’s having plenty of fun with his family – and from the looks of his Facebook page, so is Moony. So, while they may not be totally alone in the world anymore, they’re each enjoying life in their own unique way.