Caution: This post contains graphic photos.
When Catster first met Tyrone, a blonde-ginger tabby from Pennsylvania, his owners Maria Romano Trampe and Beth Kauffman Ashcom figured their special kitty would be making his journey over the Rainbow Bridge any day. After being rescued from a feral colony, Tyrone had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, which caused severe facial deformity and left his eye obscured with infected, necrotizing tissue.
He was given only a few weeks to live. Maria and Beth tried to keep him comfortable, knowing that any day might be their cat’s last. But that fateful day never came.
“There was just something, we can’t explain it, but something telling us he is NOT ready to leave,” Maria wrote on Tyrone’s blog.
Then something amazing happened: Tyrone started to get better. He was receiving regular Reiki treatments, and Maria and Beth were cleaning his wound and administering medications daily. The cat was making marginal improvements, but no one could have predicted what happened next. The next step in Tyrone’s journey was sudden, drastic, unexpected — and completely incredible.
“In November we started noticing a difference in Ty and that he would react to the movement of your hand near the injured area. As if he were seeing it,” Maria wrote. “Two weeks later Beth frantically texted me and sent a picture and said, ‘I think Ty’s eye is there.’ The area where the wound was had opened slightly, and the eye was beginning to reemerge.”
A follow-up appointment with the vet revealed that not only did Ty still have his eye, but he could actually see out of it. Specialists also confirmed that Ty did not have cancer after all. The catalyst for the sore on his face is still unknown, but vets believe it could have been caused by an extremely aggressive herpes virus. Ty continues to have infections around his eye, which are being treated with antibiotic ointment, but in just a few short months, his progress has been nothing short of stunning.
These days, the cat who everyone believed would be dead soon is happy and thriving — and Maria can’t see him heading over the Rainbow Bridge anytime soon. For her, the most impressive part of Ty’s recovery has been “the absolute will that he had to survive, and of course the miraculous discovery that his eye was not only still there but [that he] actually has sight.”
As Ty has continued to improve and blossom into “a pretty complacent boy with a big attitude,” Maria and Beth’s nonprofit organization, All Souls Connected, has also come into its own. The two women founded the group around the time they rescued Ty, aiming to promote trap-neuter-return programs, care for feral cats, and provide palliative care, as well as address critical issues for animals and the environment.
The group just hosted its first annual Rescue Me event to promote education and awareness in the rescue community.
Bestselling authors Gwen Cooper (Homer’s Odyssey) and Larry Levin (Oogy) attended the event, as well as presenters from the Jersey Shore Animal Foundation, New Leash on Life USA, and PSPCA. Sixteen local rescues also brought adoptable animals, helping All Souls Connected achieve its mission of networking to “facilitate the rehoming of as many animals as possible.”
“Awareness and education was our main goal, and I think we achieved both,” Maria says. “In the near future we plan on implementing educational programs in the local schools to teach children compassion and responsible pet ownership.”
To show off his healthy new appearance, Tyrone also attended the Rescue Me event, and he even posed for snapshots with Gwen Cooper. As always, Maria shared the photos on Tyrone’s Facebook page, where more than 7,000 people follow the cat’s progress. Maria aims to keep the page fun but also inspiring, often writing status updates in Ty’s own unique voice.
“Ty’s page is a lighthearted, comical page with some education and rescue mixed in,” she says. “We have received many personal messages on a daily basis stating how Tyrone’s page puts a smile on their face, and many have expressed how it has actually helped them cope with situations by giving them a little levity and inspiration.”