Writing the Monday Miracle column is a weekly exercise in feeling heavy-hearted and uplifted at the same time. With an ambit of profiling special-needs cats, and also felines who’ve been involved in some sort of daring rescue mission, at times it’s a cause for despair when, say, you read about someone who shot an arrow at a cat; other times, you feel a cozy glow when you realize there are so many kindhearted people out there willing to step up and help out disadvantaged cats in need.
Here’s a roundup of our 10 favorite Monday Miracles from 2016’s vault. Disclaimer: They all deserve recognition. These are the 10 that stood out to me for one reason or another.
Olive is a wobbly cat who benefited from the power of a viral video. After she arrived at the Watauga Humane Society, it was noticed that she “walks with a tremor to her head and it shimmies all the way down to her legs. She wobbles when she walks with a kind of drunken gait.”
After video of Olive’s swagger was uploaded to Facebook, she secured a forever home with humans who have experience dealing with cerebellar hypoplasia cats. It seems like a good fit, with Olive — or Geordi as she’s been renamed — enjoying antics like “chasing the sound of paper and rolling on blankets.”
Mac ‘n’ Cheez is a bijou ginger kitten who was so named after he was dropped off at the Massapequa Pet Vet facility in Long Island inside a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, his back legs were paralyzed. That’s when vet tech Gabby Nania stepped in and offered Mac a foster situation that would involve copious physical therapy courses.
It seems the treatment is slowly working.
Other than a recent surgery to release a fluid pocket that was compressing Mac’s spinal cord, he’s been demonstrating “minor changes for the better” and “showing improvement with positioning himself into the correct postures.”
Mac’s also mastered the ancient art of climbing the scratching post, enjoys chasing his siblings around the house, and is proving himself to be “a very smart and loving kitten.”
Archie’s life is a lesson in the art of perseverance. The feral chap found himself living at the Mid-Hudson Animal Aid shelter in New York for a whopping 13 years — yes, you read the number correctly — before he was finally offered a forever home in Chicago. (His old shelter pal, Eddie the Lilac Lion, helped hip the world to his cause.)
Since settling into his new home, Archie’s savior, Jennifer Baird, says that they’ve experienced a bunch of firsts, including the cat discovering the joys of being petted, groomed and sleeping on his human’s bed. These days, Archie is truly living the snug life.
When Riley was hit by a car in April, his body was smashed up so badly that at first vets could not even determine his gender. The emergency vet on duty gave this gray-and-white cat almost no chance of making it. His list of injuries makes for gruesome reading: “A swollen brain that was enclosed inside a fractured skull, lungs peppered with contusions, a shattered femur, and a hip bone that had been ripped from its joint.”
Not that any of this was going to deter Riley. Incredibly, he managed to pull through and recover — with a little help from the folks over at the Tabby’s Place sanctuary.
As Angela Townsend, the organization’s development director, updates, “I am overjoyed to share that Riley is thriving. In fact, thriving is probably an understatement. Riley has become the most confident, happy-go-lucky cat in his suite at Tabby’s Place. He adores people and will race up to greet visitors, his tiny stub of a tail wiggling with glee.”
And should the spirit move you, Riley is looking for a forever home.
When first profiling Isabella, I wrote that her story resembled “an urban myth from the 1980s.”
Because when she was barely five weeks old, this sweet Tabby was placed in a microwave and blasted with harmful rays for five or so seconds. Isabella’s injuries included decimated paws, a hole in her ear, and losing half of her tail.
While the motivation behind Isabella’s ordeal isn’t known — it’s speculated that a young kid did the awful deed while his parents weren’t paying attention — the woman who later adopted her, Denise Walsh, has successfully developed “a bond that is unbelievable” with the cat.
Liz Kirkham found Booger outside her apartment complex in a deathly ill state. After taking him to the vet, Booger began a journey that saw him transform from feral to family. On the way, he benefited from the generous help of the online cat community, who chipped in to fully fund a campaign to rectify his entropion (a condition that “causes his eyelids to turn inward”).
In short, Booger can now see for the first time in his life.
“Booger is doing so great!” says Liz, adding that he’s now off all of his medications. “He plays with his toys every single day and is the most loving and affectionate cat. The fundraiser and support from everyone is what made everything possible for him to have a wonderful, healthy and hopefully very long life.”
Pretzel is a twisty legged little kitty who was dumped at the Kitten Rescue shelter in Los Angeles in such a nightmarish state that she was described as looking like “someone shook up kitten parts in a can.” Thankfully, after Michelle Harrison came across a video of Pretzel online, she offered to adopt the cat and also set up a fundraising campaign that helped kit Pretzel out with a custom wheelchair.
“Since her story was published, Pretzel has been thriving,” Michelle says. “Since getting her wheels, Pretzel has lost three to four pounds and has so much energy! Her confidence has grown as well, and she now loves to venture around the house, hang out with my roommates and spread the love.
“The change in Pretzel has been amazing, and we are forever grateful for the generosity and support we have received.”
Everyone loves a cat who resembles another animal. True to his name, Lobstah propelled himself to social media stardom by virtue of a front right paw that resembles the claw of that most delectable of crustaceans.
Oh, and there was also the small matter of Lobstah being originally found in such a precarious state that he needed a chest operation to literally prevent his intestines from falling out.
According to John Bigelow, who adopted him, 2016 was a banner year for Lobstah. He basked in media attention while coming through his various surgeries without any complications.
“On the contrary,” he says, “Lobstah almost seems to be a stronger and more active cat because of them. He has an amazing personality, interesting and quirky. And while he does get quite determined when he is hungry, he continues to shower us with affection, as we do with him.”
The case of Tommy was one of this year’s most graphic Monday Miracles: As a stray, this ginger cat was doused with acid by a bitter-hearted human and was left with half his face burned away. But thanks to the intervention of a kindly passerby, the Beverly Oaks Animal Hospital, and the Milo’s Sanctuary rescue, Tommy has traveled a road to recovery.
Katherine Agard, the PR director at Milo’s Sanctuary, reports that Tommy improves every day, with just a small head wound that still hasn’t totally healed.
“He’s grown some fur and looks very much like a small lion,” she says. “He’s also put on some weight and become more mischievous, playing with toys and his Milo’s cat siblings.
“Tommy’s vets feel he is doing great and is on his way to living a long happy life in Milo’s Sanctuary’s lifetime care program.”
Smurf’s start to life was horrific. Barely seven weeks old, this two-pound, gray kitten was dipped in indigo blue dye, used as a dog toy for some sick individual’s sociopathic thrills, and mauled to the point where he suffered 20 puncture wounds.
Mercifully, after the Nine Lives Foundation intervened and began to patch him up, two great things happened in Smurf’s life.
First, he bonded with a blind kitten named Wanda who also found her way to the rescue. (Smurf was captured on video giving Wanda daily paw massages.)
Secondly, the pair of them were adopted into a forever home — and these days look like entirely different felines.
“It was pure love,” says the cats’ human, Jessica Miller, of their first meeting. She adds that Smurf seemed “so fragile” when he entered his new home.
Jessica can now report that Smurf is “100 percent recovered,” other than a slight limp in his back right leg. It took around five months to remove the purple dye from his fur.
Wonderfully, both cats are flourishing in their forever home, with Wanda turning from a “shy girl” to a lap cat who also loves to dart up the cat tree, and Smurf proving to be “just the sweetest being you’ve ever met.”
So we end another year of recognizing cats in predicaments and the humans who have the grace and compassion to give them love and another chance at living happy lives.