One of the highlights of our recent trip to Best Friends was a visit with the cats of Quincy House. Quincy House is home to cats with special needs many severe including mobility and neurological issues as well as paralysis. Although I consider myself a seasoned special needs pet advocate, I was not prepared for the beauty and courage of these cats as well as the devotion and compassion of their human caretakers.
Our volunteer duties included taking the cats for stroller rides and shorts walks. As we took our first cat (Tiny Tim) outside, his caretakers warned us that he liked to catch lizards. I admit, I briefly questioned how a paralyzed cat would catch a lizard or anything else. Tiny Tim spent the next thirty minutes proving me wrong. No lizards were harmed, but we had several close calls. In many ways, the Quincy House cats are like any other cats: they love to cuddle, play, hunt, explore, and sunbathe. They just do everything with a little extra spunk and a whole lot of heart. Here are just a few of the extraordinary cats of Quincy House.
Shelly is a healthy fourteen year old, FIV positive beauty. She arrived at Best Friends in 2012 after being rescued from the streets of New York. Don't let her grumpy face fool you! This street smart former city girl is an absolute sweetheart who loves visitors.
Eliana is a spunky, tortie girl who doesn't let her paralyzed hindquarters slow her down one bit. With her strong front legs, she climbs to the top of the cat trees and moves with the speed of a panther.
Duke was living as a stray in Phoenix before arriving at Best Friends. He has Cerebellar Hypoplasia and probably also suffered head trauma during his past life on the streets. He doesn't get around as much as the other Quincy House cats, but he has a heart of gold and never gives up. Duke can usually be found on a nice blanket right in the center of the lobby ready and waiting to greet all visitors.
Tiny Tim (otherwise known as Happy Feet) has a spinal deformity that has twisted his lower back so he sits side saddle. Whether he was born with this condition or it was a result of a past injury, is unknown. But don't be fooled - this kitty is super fast, playful, and a skilled hunter.
Hermes was found as a stray kitten with paralyzed back legs. He is a big friendly orange boy who loves sun puddles, laser lights, and walks with volunteers.
Connor has Manx Syndrome, a genetic spinal deformity caused by overbreeding. As a result of her condition, she has her own special way of walking - kind of sideways hop like a rabbit.
Snowflake (also in the first picture) is one of the most famous cats at Quincy House. She was found living under a trailer with her two kittens. Her back legs were badly injured after being hit by a car and yet each day, she dragged herself around looking for food to bring back to her kittens. Once rescued and safely at Best Friends, her back legs were amputated. Snowflake now has fans around the world who send her beautiful handmade dresses and blankets.
And last but not least, our personal favorite, Aramis. This doe-eyed, handsome kitty was born paralyzed, but he doesn't seem to notice or care that his back legs don't work quite like other cats. Aramis loves to explore and go for walks and charmed us almost instantly with his sweet, gentle nature.
The Quincy House cats are spirited, affectionate, and independent and go about their daily feline routines without notice of their limitations. Spending time with them was both humbling and inspiring and truly changed the way I look at the world. Sadly, most of these amazing cats would have been euthanized in traditional shelters. But against all odds, they survived and now have much to teach us about compassion, kindness, gratitude, and the beauty of celebrating each moment.
Many of the Quincy House cats are available for sponsorship and ALL are up for adoption. You can also send care packages directly to Quincy House at Best Friends. Rosie has kindly agreed to share her BlogPaws cat swag with Aramis and friends and we will be sending a special care package soon.
Thanks to all the Quincy House Caretakers especially Kristen, Barbara, and Felicia for making us feel so welcome and taking such amazing care of all of these beauties!