UPDATE: As of midday on Friday, May 20, the fundraising campaign to help Booger had exceeded its goal of $778 and reached $947. This will go toward surgery that will help Booger regain his full ability to see.
“I found Booger outside of my apartment complex on my lunch break in early July,” says Liz Kirkham of the cat who’d eventually go from feral to family. Booger was curled up, his fur was matted, and he was wheezing so badly that “it sounded like he was drowning.”
After Liz brought him a bowl of water, she called animal control and returned to work in what she says was “a very emotional state.”
As she returned to her Oxford, Ohio, home that evening, she noticed that no one had called to pick Booger up, and he’d moved under a tree. At that point, she decided that she needed to step up and help the cat — and she successfully lured him into a cat carrier with some turkey.
At the vet the next day, Booger underwent a detailed examination to find out what was ailing him. Along with being emaciated and covered in mud and fleas, he was severely congested. His tail was also missing, and he seemed to have lost all of his teeth but two, because of gum disease.
“While waiting for the vet, I was sitting on the floor and Booger climbed onto my lap and held on with his claws,” says Liz. “This was the beginning of our bond.”
After undergoing a series of tests, the vet decided to place Booger on a course of antibiotics. (There was also an “aggressive” tapeworm situation, but let’s gloss over that ickiness.) After a month of the pills, the vet added daily antiviral medication to Booger’s regime.
Three months went by, and Booger put on weight and seemed to be improving, although now Liz had noticed that he never seemed to open his eyes. “He would only open them if he heard loud noises,” she says. “Otherwise, it was like having a blind cat.”
Another trip to the vet diagnosed Booger with entropion, a condition that “causes his eyelids to turn inwards.” Liz adds, “This is a congenital disorder that causes his fur to come in contact with his eyes, which, as you can imagine, is very irritating.”
They discussed a future surgery to cure Booger’s entropion, and in March of this year he experienced a “rusty red fluid” oozing from his eyes. Further investigation revealed ulcers in both of Booger’s eye sockets, which were being caused by his viral infection.
These days, Booger is continuing with his antiviral pills and antibiotic ocular ointment, and they seem to be having a positive effect. “In the last week, he’s started to show major improvement,” says Liz, adding that she’s even noticed both of his eyes being open in the last couple of days.
“Some days are much worse, and I can tell when he’s in a lot of pain,” she continues. “He will hide under the bed and ignore his food, rub his eyes with his paws, and whimper. This breaks my heart.”
“But as long as the vet considers his case treatable, I’m in it for the long haul.”
Liz says that for the first time in 10 months, she’s optimistic that Booger’s surgery will be a success. “It helps knowing that he’s had this his entire life and probably doesn’t know how much better it could be,” she says.
Summing up her relationship with the formerly feral Booger, Liz says, “He’s my confidant and true love. It sounds stupid, but it’s true. He’s costing me a fortune, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Last night, I told him that every day he is with me is a gift. I’ve always had healthy cats in my life, but after this experience with Booger, I know that I will always adopt special needs kitties or senior cats that need lots of love.”
“He’s completely changed my life,” she says.