Michael and Bailey: Balcony Accident Strengthens Bond Between Rescue Cat and Dog

10th Apr, 2024

Written by Marketing & Public Relations Manager of BackaBuddy, Zane Groenewald

Professional photography by Des Featherstone Photography

Newlyweds Amber Jade and Calvin David Jempson from Sunningdale, Cape Town, are devoted fur-parents to Michael, a rescue cat, and Bailey, their rescue Dachshund. The remarkable and unlikely bond between Michael and Bailey, celebrated on their Instagram page, has captured the hearts of their humble following.

Tragedy struck on the 2nd of January 2024, when Michael, just a year old, accidentally fell from the fourth-floor balcony of their apartment building. This unfortunate incident left Michael with fractures in both of his right legs, necessitating urgent medical attention.

Amber’s neighbour rushed to her aid where they rushed Michael to a veterinary specialist who quoted R85,000 for his operation. After receiving the amount, we felt so helpless. Amber and Calvin spent the rest of the day calling all organisations to see if they could help, but unfortunately Michael’s operation required a specialist.

Sunset Beach Veterinary Clinic was our saving grace! Dr Bogner was able to do the operation for much cheaper.

Amber recounted the heartbreaking details of the accident, saying, “We were on the balcony for our morning sun and coffee. We’d put safety mesh up, but Fynbos Lifestyle Estate had made everyone remove it for aesthetic reasons. I looked away for a split second, and something caught Michael’s attention on the little ledge. I didn’t want to scare him, so I called him back inside because I thought if he got safely out there, he’d be able to bring himself safely in. He was doing great until he got his hips stuck and panicked, and in a normal cat reaction, he tried to reverse. He pushed too quickly and I started running towards him, but I wasn’t able to grab him in time.

Michael was awake and crying. Thankfully, there was no blood, but that cry will stay with me forever! I could see his front paw was broken but had no idea the back had snapped too.”

The estimated expenses included R2,500 for an emergency vet visit, over R40,000 for surgical procedures, and more than R8,000 for a second operation.

Amber and Calvin, feeling helpless but resolute in their determination to save Michael, launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy (https://www.backabuddy.co.za/amber-van-broekhuizen-5800058015425599212).

The campaign aimed to raise R65,000 to cover the hefty medical bills. So far, it’s garnered tremendous support, with 10 generous donors contributing over R17,400 to help Michael on his road to recovery.

Michael underwent a successful seven-hour surgery at Sunset Beach Veterinary Clinic, where screws and wires were expertly placed to mend his broken bones. The joy of his family, and especially Bailey (exuberantly wagging her tail), was immeasurable when Michael finally returned home.

Michael’s inseparable companion, Bailey, had been deeply affected by his absence. She refused to eat and showed signs of depression until Michael’s return. The pair, accustomed to doing everything together, are now temporarily separated by a crate as Michael undergoes an eight-week recovery process.

Amber shared the heart-warming details of their friendship, saying, “They just instantly clicked; Bailey would follow Michael and mimic everything he did; they have to eat at the same time and go for walks together. They hate being apart and can be caught napping or play fighting on the couch.”

The response from the Cape Town community has been nothing short of heart-warming. Friends and complete strangers, moved by the unlikely friendship between Michael and Bailey, have stepped up to donate and send their good wishes. Amber and Calvin have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

Amber shared her gratitude, saying, “We thought we were going to lose our beautiful boy. We were so overcome with emotions, but to see strangers who’ve never even met Michael donating and sending good wishes, it was just so heart-warming.”

Michael’s journey began when Amber and Calvin were on a trip to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) on the South Coast for their wedding. Amber shared the heart-warming story, saying, “My husband and I had made the journey back to KZN for our wedding, and on the way down, my mother sent us a few photos of kittens. The mother had been rescued and had given birth to six beautiful kittens who were looking for homes. We saw the photo of Michael and it was instant love at first sight! He had the most beautiful blue eyes and white whiskers. We bought all the supplies needed and drove back to Cape Town as a family of three.”

Currently, Michael is on the mend, having completed two of his eight weeks in the crate. His bandages and stitches have been removed and he’s yearning for cuddles and attention. While he can walk, his recovery is ongoing as his legs are still a bit stiff.

In about seven months, Michael will have to have another operation to remove the screws and plates, as he’s still growing, and if he doesn’t have the operation, it will affect his ability to walk.

Looking ahead, Amber and Calvin are determined to move to a safer home for Michael and Bailey, away from the dangers of a high-rise apartment where safety mesh isn’t permitted. They’re actively searching for a new home where Michael and Bailey can enjoy a secure and happy life together.

To contribute to Michael’s ongoing recovery, consider donating to his BackaBuddy campaign: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/amber-van-broekhuizen-5800058015425599212.

For updates: Michael and Bailey’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/michealandbailey/.

Campaign Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJSTQi9rw00.

Amber shares more...

It’s been two and a half months since Michael’s fall. Every day he continues to get stronger and bossier!

Bailey and Michael are more attached to the hip than ever before.

Our biggest fear was that our beautiful boy would lose himself, but if this incident has proven anything, Michael is the toughest cat you’ll ever meet, and he’s come out better than before.

Our biggest goal after Michael’s fall was to move to a ground floor apartment, although we couldn’t find one within our budget. We did find a first floor, which is close enough to the ground that Calvin and I don’t need to sleep with one eye open. It has a nice big balcony with the view of Table Mountain. We still have our morning coffee out on the balcony but with a slight twist: Michael is carried the entire time and, when he’s gotten his sun and fresh air, we go back inside.

The BackaBuddy campaign is still active; we have until July to raise any more funds to help cover the initial operation and the second operation to remove the metal plates and screws. If they’re not removed, it will unfortunately hinder his ability to walk. He currently walks with a slight limp, which Dr Bogner has advised will go away after the metal plates and screws are removed.

Michael has developed this really cute habit since the operation... the metal plates unfortunately make the cold something he now feels a lot worse than before. We often find that he’s tucked himself into our bed with his head on the pillow and his body snuggled under the blanket. Not a single day goes by where you won’t find Michael in our bed acting like he owns it.

Michael’s eight weeks in the crate were the worst few weeks for all of us; Bailey didn’t leave the side of the crate and Calvin and I were waking up constantly during the nights to check on him. He absolutely hated being in there and just wanted to be held and cuddled. At some point his meows just become too much, so the habit of carrying him around like a child was created. He couldn’t walk yet, but that didn’t stop him from getting carried around like the little king he is!

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