Tara Kawczynski works as veterinary technician at an emergency clinic in Salem, Massachusetts, but she’s no ordinary vet tech. She also saves cats that are considered “different” or “unadoptable.” Through her work, Tara noticed that not all cats end up in forever homes or even shelters. This was especially true if they had special needs. “I realized that tons of rescues and shelters take in healthy, adoptable cats,” she says. “And the sick, older, handicapped and shy ones were getting euthanized.”
Determined to help find loving homes for these deserving cats, Tara founded The Odd Cat Sanctuary. “I really wanted to create a safe place for cats that were deemed ‘unadoptable,’ a place that they got the care they needed to thrive and the chance at a forever home,” she says. “They deserve that shot, too.”
Recently, a cat in need came to Tara’s attention. Little did she know that he would change her life. Memphis, who had just turned 1, needed a home because his current owner couldn’t keep him. But there was an issue: Shelters didn’t want him. He had two noses!
He was also unneutered due to fears of using anesthesia for the procedure. This was enough to put Memphis at a high risk for euthanasia. A fellow vet tech heard about Memphis’ plight and promptly texted Tara for help. She didn’t hesitate to say yes. “Memphis, although gorgeous to me, has a rather unique face,” Tara says. “He has two noses, a mouth/palate deformity, all his teeth are going in different directions, extra fangs and his eyes are deformed — one pupil is larger than the other. His face is squished too. He can see normally and sniffs with both noses!” He’s healthy, although, she says, “He gets daily boogers in his left nostril.” But that’s easily taken care of.
At first, Tara started looking for a forever home for Memphis. There was an initial behavioral problem that was resolved as soon as Memphis was neutered. “Spay and neuter is the way to go!” she emphasizes. He was ready for placement, but Tara determined that Memphis was already in his forever home — with her.
Memphis, who doesn’t know he’s different, now lives a life of luxury with Tara. He’s happy, affectionate and loves other animals. “His face has not affected his personality,” Tara says. “I would say he’s really come out of his shell the last few months. With me, he’s snuggly and loving. He sleeps by my head every night on my pillow, and he chirps for attention.” Memphis has even landed a job and serves as ambassador for The Odd Cat Sanctuary.
“I think Memphis is a wonderful example of how you can overcome being different and still fit in,” Tara says. “He’s a wonderful example of an ‘odd cat.’ He brings people joy to their lives each day just by sharing his pictures with the world. It’s an important message to spread: that different is beautiful, and comes in all shapes and sizes and forms.”
Thumbnail: Photography courtesy Tara Kawczynski.
Elisa Jordan is a Southern California freelance writer specializing in pets. She has a terrier, Gidget, and a cat, Izzy.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.