Brain-Damaged Rescue Cat Shares Magical Bond With Toddler: ‘Baby Brother’

A brain-damaged rescue cat has developed a special bond with her owner’s toddler.

Lilo the cat had about as tough a start to life as you could possibly get. She lived feral in difficult conditions with a litter of eight kittens over in the U.K. Soon after she was found, her rescuer made the shocking discovery that all but one of the young cats had died.

Lilo and her surviving kitten were eventually adopted by a family, but that was not the end of her troubles. During a routine operation to have her neutered, Lilo suffered complications. Her brain was starved of oxygen, resulting in brain damage.

In the end, she was returned to the shelter while her kitten remained with an adoptive family. Adult cats face an uphill battle to be adopted. A study conducted by the website Priceonomics, which used adoption data from Petfinder, found that while 81.9 percent of kittens listed on the website ended up being rehomed, that percentage dropped to 59.5 percent among adult cats.

The odds of Lilo finding a home were seemingly further stacked against her due to her brain damage. When her eventual owner, who asked to be referred to simply as Gemma, expressed an interest in adopting Lilo, staff said: “Whenever people ask about Lilo and hear her background they don’t want her.”

She was not put off though. “I insisted they took my details as I was adamant I wanted to take her in,” Gemma told Newsweek. Taking Lilo home, she quickly understood that the rescue feline had “experienced significant trauma” and would take time to adjust.

“When we first got her she wouldn’t even let us stroke her,” she said. Over the past five years together, Gemma has helped Lilo go through a lot of rehab.

Some of the things you would associate with cats remain alien to her. “She doesn’t jump or play,” Gemma said. “She bumps into things and scares really easily.” But others remain second nature to Lilo. “She loves to snuggle with us and loves to go on walks in her backpack,” her owner said. “She loves to just sit and chill!”

Lilo is a truly unique cat and if there’s one thing that highlights that best, it’s her relationship with Gemma’s young son. It’s a relationship that began when he was in the womb.”She knew I was pregnant before I did,” Gemma said. “She always used to snuggle and sleep curled up under my chin but ‘randomly’ she started to curl up on my tummy. Not long after, I found out I was six weeks pregnant and realized why she changed her sleeping position.”

Lilo was by Gemma’s side throughout the pregnancy. “She spent the remainder of that time on my tummy and even felt him kick for the first time,” the cat owner said.

Incredibly, Lilo’s connection to the young child has continued to grow since his birth. Before Gemma’s son arrived, Lilo didn’t play all that much but now regularly enjoys playtime with her “baby brother.”

“It was amazing to see their bond grow as he grew!” Gemma said. “She loves being in the same room as him, she watches him and he always boops her nose and she lets him! He tries to give her his pacifier and he chases her laughing his head off.”

While Lilo has clearly taken a shine to the young tot, it’s clear that the feeling is mutual. Gemma regularly uploaded footage to TikTok under the handle lilo_rescue_cat showing her son playing ball games and chase with Lilo.

“We moved her food bowl to the top of the stairs to give her more exercise and he loves helping us feed her,” Gemma said. “He’ll crawl up the stairs and she goes up a few steps, turns and waits for him and they do this repeatedly until they get to the top.We do makaton and baby sign with him and he says/signs ‘Lilo, food.'”

While Gemma is enjoying the attention her son’s interactions with Lilo are getting, she hopes people take away the key message that “anything is possible” and that every rescue pet is worth of love.

Do you have funny and adorable videos or pictures of your pet you want to share? Send them to life@newsweek.com with some details about your best friend, and they could appear in our Pet of the Week lineup.

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This story was originally published December 18, 2023, 9:49 AM.

source: star-telegram

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