My Soul Cat, Boo

19th Jun, 2024

Written by Jess Levitt, Feline Adoptions Co-Ordinator – Rescue is Life

Professional photography by Des Featherstone Photography  

Vesna came to us when she was only five weeks old. The tiny white-and-tabby kitten was dumped in someone’s yard in Tafelsig, Mitchell’s Plain. She was absolutely filthy, covered in her own urine and faeces, riddled with fleas, and it was very evident that something was terribly wrong with her back legs.

This person then contacted us for assistance and we immediately went to fetch Vesna, as we named her. She went straight to our special-care foster, Jane Blyth, who cleaned her up, treated her for worms and fleas, etc.

It was evident that neither of her back legs worked, but she still had control of her bowels and bladder, which is always a good sign! Jane had Vesna evaluated by a physiotherapist who worked with her for a few sessions to see if we could get her legs to build up strength and mobility.

Sadly, after a few weeks, Vesna’s legs began to stiffen in place more and the physiotherapy became redundant. However, this didn’t stop her from living her best life. She’s a very happy little kitten, full of life and energy.

Kyla Hennig has adopted special needs kittens from us in the past, and when we showed her Vesna, she immediately fell in love!

Kyla, Vesna’s new mom, shares...

Meeting Vesna, now named Boo, was nothing short of pure serendipity.

I’ve been fostering kittens for many years and have been able to home them with very little heartache, although the goodbyes were always a little bittersweet, I knew that their new families would be able to give them a better life than I ever could.

I do, however, seem to have a natural affinity for the little souls who are differently abled or have special needs, and I fell in love with my first special-needs kitten back in 2018 whilst I was living in Durban and working for a veterinary practice. The connection I felt towards him was instantaneous and I had a strong inkling that my attachment to him would result in a “foster fail”. Since then, I’ve opened my home and heart to a few differently abled kitties, absolutely loving every moment of watching them grow and THRIVE.

Boo was an unexpected addition to my family. I’d initially enquired about another special-needs kitten from Rescue Is Life who reminded me so much of a male kitten I’d taken in just over a year ago. He had deformities in all four limbs, but with these visible congenital defects came internal abnormalities too. He had an underdeveloped kidney and, merely a month later, I lost him to renal failure. He’d crept into my heart so quickly with his larger-than-life determination and he was simply made out of pure love, because that’s exactly what he’d given me.

I’ve been going through a period of healing in several aspects of my life and with this had come the realisation that adopting an imperfectly perfect soul would be just what I needed in my journey. So, when I saw Rescue Is Life’s post on Facebook advertising this kitten for adoption, I took it as a sign to reach out (even more so because I’m not active on social media). I was told that he may already be reserved because he was booked for a meet-and-greet for the very next day, BUT that there was another kitten available – who’d not even been advertised yet – and she’d need the absolute best home, with someone who’d be patient and provide additional care. In essence, the ladies at the organisation were hinting that Vesna and I would be the perfect fit for each other. I was only too happy to meet her, because they know me best!

As soon as I laid eyes on Vesna – with her wide eyes and strong vocals – I was consumed by an overwhelming mix of POSITIVE emotions. Her inability to make use of her hind legs just didn’t stop her from terrorising her foster siblings, climb up whatever she could sink her claws into, or slide into her litter box. She’s absolutely no different from any fully abled feline. The fearlessness and resilience I saw in her that day, and have seen every day since, is exactly what I’ve come to see in myself, so I believe our souls are alike, hers and mine. It was definitive in that moment of meeting her that I’d be taking her back home with me, so the adoption was finalised right then and there.

It goes without saying that life since Boo has been nothing short of incredible. The strength of our bond grows daily. I miss her when I’m away from her because I could just sit and stare at her for hours in pure awe. She fits in so perfectly with my cats and dogs, so much so that they accepted her the very second I walked her into my house. She really does adore the attention that she gets from everyone in the family, but she’s content with keeping herself entertained too. I’m greeted with purrs every night when I get home from work, her little voice insisting that I pick her up so she can perch on my shoulder whilst I sort out evening tasks. Boo cuddles up in my lap, and when the TV is on, music playing, she’ll talk to me when I sing along. Bedtime is her favourite time of the day – she’s determined to climb up onto the bed by herself and will snuggle right up to my dog or my ginger cat (he’s become a big brother to her) then purrs herself to sleep – and all of this happening before I even have a chance to climb into my own bed!

She goes a little wild for the sunny weather, making her own way into the enclosed patio to soak up the warmth, and she cackles at the insects buzzing around. When the “zoomies” kick in, there’s no piece of furniture too big for her to tackle. You’d think it impossible, but like an obstacle course she makes her way up onto the couch then uses the arm to get a lift up onto the very top of the scratching post where she can observe everything.

Just like our disabled practice cat, Sir Pounce, at TAH Table View, she’s happy to scoot around on her bum and nothing holds her back from scaling objects like a monkey to get to where she wants to be. Although Pounce has difficulty with urinating on his own, Boo is fully capable of using a litter box and instinctively knows where it is at all times. Many people sympathise over animals like Boo and Pounce, questioning their quality of life but never fully understanding that there really isn’t anything wrong with them. A cat with a healthy appetite is a sure sign of a happy feline and, let me tell you, Boo eats enough food to feed a pony!

My experience with the challenges that come with taking care of a disabled cat such as Sir Pounce was by no means an accident, and this has now prepared me to be able to handle such obstacles that may arise with Boo’s health or mobility in the future. All that matters is knowing that I’m equipped to give her everything she needs and more, and in return, she puts a smile on my face daily (even when it’s been a tough one). I’m looking forward to a very long life with her now in it. She is, after all, a living miracle and my soul cat.

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