The Kakebeen Klub

20th Oct, 2021

Yoda (left) and Mango (right)

Written by Brenda Groeneveld, team member at CatzRus

Professional photography by Cat Schramm Photography

CatzRus is a small but dedicated foster-based cat rescue organisation in Pretoria. Each year, we rescue and rehome 200 to 300 cats and kittens. Occasionally, we get to be part of a story that touches our hearts in an extra special way – a story that needs to be told. Such is the story of Mango.

Please help

Mango and his little family came into our lives one wet and rainy morning in February 2021. As usual, it all began with a “Please help!” message to one of our foster moms: “Please help. There are kittens lying in the middle of my lawn. I’m allergic to cats. I don’t know what to do.”

As any cat trapper knows, it’s never simple. Three days later, after many patient hours, we had a mom cat and her five babies safely in our care. The kittens were about six weeks old – old enough to eat by themselves. Mom was sterilised.

A typical rescue story; little did we know how much this one would grab our hearts…

His skull was fractured

Mango, one of the kittens, had old wounds on the side of his head and a droopy eye. A vet visit and some x-rays confirmed that Mango had suffered a skull fracture when he was really tiny, probably a bite wound from a dog or a tomcat.

But against all odds, this little guy was purring, playing and slowly recovering from his trauma. His worst issue was a really bad ear infection. Our vet’s advice was: “Let’s treat him and monitor him and see what happens as he grows.”

At CatzRus, once a kitten enters our care, we try to do all we can for them, guided by the wisdom of our amazing vets. At no point was Mango ill enough that euthanasia was considered to be an option, and so our journey with this little man began. The ear infection was a constant struggle with many antibiotics, creams and daily cleaning. His foster mom, Heleni Basson, deserves a medal, and so does Mango!

Another setback

Through all of this, Mango’s bright personality shone through. Every vet who treated him was amazed at his friendly, purring nature and the strength of his will to live.

But each time we thought Mango was almost ready for adoption, there’d be another setback. And so Mango stayed in his foster home long after all his siblings were adopted. He’s helped Heleni to tame and nurture other foster kittens. They all love him.

When he was about six months old, Heleni came home to find, to her horror, his jaw hanging loosely as if dislocated. It was time for a trip to Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH). A CT scan showed that a small bone was missing – a bone that was supposed to keep his jaw in place. This hadn’t been a problem when he had baby teeth, but his adult teeth placed enough pressure on his jaw to push it out of alignment. Fortunately, a simple tooth extraction fixed the problem.

The Kakebeen Klub

It was at this time that Helen took in another young cat with a broken jaw, a tabby named Yoda. These two became known as the Kakebeen Klub (Afrikaans for Jawbone Club). Mango and Yoda formed an instant bond. It was as if each knew some of what the other was going through. They snuggled up as close as possible and have been inseparable ever since. It was a blessing that Mango had such a snuggle buddy, because there was another big mountain in his future.

The CT scan showed that the damage to Mango's ear was more severe than we thought. He needed to have his entire ear canal removed in a two-hour specialised surgery at OVAH. We made a video of Mango’s story ( and it captured the hearts of our supporters too. Within a day, we’d raised enough money to go ahead with the surgery.

Mango’s ear canal was removed in a very complicated and risky operation. We were all a bundle of nerves that day, especially Heleni. Once again, Mango triumphed! He charmed the team at Onderstepoort and they all fell in love with our indomitable little boy. But after surgery he didn’t want to eat, and he couldn’t go home before he was eating properly. Heleni spent lots of time at OVAH. Mango would only eat if it was quiet and she was hand-feeding him. Finally, he ate a little bit and, at last, he could go home.

He was so happy to be back home with Yoda and his heating-mat bed and his own food bowl! I don’t think there was a dry eye among the CatzRus foster moms when we got that video of Mango chowing down his first meal back home after his ear operation.

Mango and Yoda are both recovering well from their respective surgeries. It would be the absolute best ending ever if the two “Kakebeen Klub Kinners” (“kinners” is a colloquial Afrikaans word for children) could find a forever home together! They’ll both be ready for adoption soon.

You can contact Heleni on 082 703 3931 to meet them, or email

About CatzRus

CatzRus was established in 2004 in Pretoria to provide a refuge to abandoned, abused and homeless cats and kittens until they could be safely rehomed. All their cats and kittens stay in foster care until they’re adopted so that they can receive the best care. CatzRus is a registered non-profit organisation (NPO 098-047) and Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930061086), and runs entirely on donations. To find out how you can get involved, visit and follow them on Facebook @catzrussa and Twitter @CatzRUsSA.

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