With a rough election day — and even more trying campaign season — now in our collective wake as a nation, I got up this morning needing a little levity. Thanks to Herman the cat, a handsome ginger tabby with a one-of-a-kind face, severe cerebellar hypoplasia, and a particularly memorable snaggletooth, I knew exactly where to look.
Back in January, the wobbly five-year-old feline announced that he was running for president — or “purr-esident,” if you will. Since then, he has provided surprisingly uplifting — and often hilarious — political commentary on his Facebook page, called Herman’s Hangout. In addition to drawing attention to animal cruelty, Herman also espouses his pro-catnip views and expresses confusion over why Donald Trump would want to grab people’s cats (ahem).
Last night, Herman didn’t hesitate to express his opinion about the election.
“Well, dudes, it’s Election Day here in the United States, and this campaign has taken every last little bit of energy out of me,” his post reads. “I am pooped! Which, as my mom pointed out, is better than actually pooping in my bed … but hey, the day is young, ya know? I might just produce some pungent political commentary if I’m feelin’ it.”
Herman’s mom is Patsy Lethore-Larson, who adopted Herman more than two years ago after the cat was transported to Milo’s Sanctuary & Special Needs Cat Rescue, a nonprofit rescue group in Burbank. Patsy is on Milo’s Sanctuary’s board and has known owner Michele Hoffman for nearly 30 years, so naturally Michele trusted Patsy and her husband to care for Herman. Cerebellar hypoplasia is a neurological disorder that causes jerky movements, tremors, and a lack of coordination. Herman’s case is so severe that he cannot walk and requires help eating and using the litter box. He also needs a little help staying entertained.
“The last thing we want is for him to be languishing in a corner somewhere,” Patsy says. “Cats go off and find their own amusement – but he can’t. We’ll put his bed in the room wherever we are, where there’s activity, because he’s very social. He’s a quirky guy.”
Herman’s distinctive personality led Patsy and her husband to become Herman’s permanent foster family through Milo’s Sanctuary’s lifetime care program, which provides permanent homes for special-needs cats who require ongoing medical care. At first, they planned to keep Herman only for a couple of weeks — but today, Patsy says she and her husband are his “mom and dad.”
“We didn’t want to give him up,” Patsy says. “We were like – ‘Oh my God, we love this cat.’ We absolutely just adore him.”
As Patsy got to know Herman, she realized the cat had been through a lot. She also noticed that Herman did not seem to know he had a disability. Watching Herman embrace each day, Patsy developed her motto: “Don’t pity the kitty.” This has become the motto at Milo’s Sanctuary as well.
“We do not feel sorry for him – he’s very capable,” Patsy says. “If he is struggling to pull himself forward, at first I’d be like, ‘Oh God, I feel so bad,’ but now I’m like, ‘Come on, you can do it. Keep going.’ And he just keeps on going. He’s unfazed. He doesn’t let things bother him. He just is so even-keeled, and he is opinionated and he’s very smart.”
Herman also gets along well with his adopted brother, Bear, who also has severe cerebellar hypoplasia. Patsy’s other cats tend to avoid Herman, but he and Bear have developed a special relationship.
“Watching these relationships is really interesting for me,” Patsy says. “We got Bear when he was three months old, and Herman was like, ‘Oh God, really?’ Herman is about five. Bear will often get out of his bed and sit in front of Herman’s bed. They have a really interesting friendship, because they’re not going to be play buddies, but they just want to be near each other.”
When Patsy began sharing her special kitties with the world through Facebook, she didn’t know what to expect. But she quickly realized that people responded well to Herman — as well as his burgeoning political career, which Patsy says will probably continue spreading the positivity after this election, inspiring more people to “feel the Herm.”
“He has all of these challenges – some that you can see and some that you don’t know – but he just keeps on going,” Patsy says. “He’s like, ‘It’s all cool.’ When I started doing his [Facebook] posts, this sort of laid-back surfer dude came out. He is unflappable, but he has opinions – there’s no doubt about that. His social media persona is a reflection of who he is.”
All photos courtesy of Herman’s Hangout. Follow Herman on Facebook for more adorable and inspiring updates.