Sometimes life hands you what you wanted all along, even if you didn’t know you wanted it. Such was the case with Rachel Krall, who was casually skimming pet adoption sites with the intention of adopting “eventually.” She had a lot to consider before seriously considering a companion. Her demanding job was a factor. So was apartment living. She had always been a dog person but had begun to wonder if a cat might better suit her lifestyle. Then the decision appeared to be made for her.
While scrolling through adoption listings, Rachel happened upon an Instagram post by San Francisco Animal Care & Control (SFACC). A googly-eyed cat the shelter had named Belarus stood out, and it was love at first sight. “His adorable eyes and unique name caught my attention, and I shared the picture with my sister and mom for their thoughts,” Rachel says. “They both encouraged me to reach out and try to meet him.”
Rachel wasn’t the only one enamored with the unique cat. “The shelter had received 500,000 impressions on his adoption photo and hundreds of interested emails and calls, so [they] mentioned I would need to act fast,” she recalls. Rachel was determined. She rearranged her meetings at work so she could visit him at the shelter that same day. “They mentioned they would need to run a lottery, given the large amount of interest but then informed me later in the day I won!”
Rachel was thrilled. “I picked him up and brought him home later that day.”
Rachel kept his unique name, but things weren’t perfect at the beginning. His tail was broken in two places, he was underweight, and he came home with some sneezing and coughing. Things have since looked up for Belarus. His coughing and sneezing went away “a few days post leaving the shelter.” His tail hasn’t left him with any lasting pain and he has since filled out with fluff and gone from 12 pounds to 16 1/2 pounds. “It’s possible he was still growing,” Rachel says.
But what about those trademark crossed eyes? The condition is called strabismus, and it doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on his vision. “We’ve also been assured by vets that cats’ eyes operate differently than humans’ and that they do not present any long-term health risks to him.”
Now the picture of good health, it was time to meet the demands of his growing public, so Rachel started an Instagram account. “We had a lot of folks reach out to us right as we were adopting him, asking that we please start an account so that they could continue to follow his story. In addition, when we picked him up from the shelter, we were provided the names of a few reporters that wanted to do interviews about him, and there were a few articles that had been written online about his adoption posting and the happy ending of him being adopted!”
With a dedicated Instagram account Belarus has gone viral. Rachel uses his high profile to benefit other animals. “We’ve raised money through his account for the last two years,” Rachel says. “Last year we donated $6,000 to shelters through merchandise sales. That included $4,000 to his shelter SFACC, $1,000 to Cat Town of Oakland and $1,000 to Sonoma Community Animal Response Team. We also have worked with certain brands to donate supplies to shelters. Most recently we had Litterbox.com work with us to donate some supplies to SFACC and brought Belarus with us to drop them off!”
Fans will also be happy to know that Belarus is just as fun in real life as he is on Instagram.
“His personality is even better than his looks,” says Rachel, who also believes Belarus is even cuter in person than photos. “He’s pretty much the ultimate entertainer,” she says. “He’s very confident and social. When I have friends over, he wants to be part of the party and in the middle of the action. When I bring him to my parents’ house for the holidays, he wants to be part of anything we’re doing. If we play games at the table, we need to give him his own chair to sit in and watch. He loves playing with balls and will dribble them around the house. He’s learned a few tricks and can do both sit and high-fives.”
Belarus has a quiet side, too. Rachel says he really only meows on occasion. He’s also a real cuddlebug. “He’s extremely cuddly and will cuddle with me on the couch when I do work at night.”
Follow Belarus on Instagram: @my_boy_belarus
Top photograph: Erica Danger Photography