Shortly after Sharon Edwards moved from Sydney to her new home in Melbourne, Australia, in February 2015, she discovered a handsome grey cat who lived on her block. The feline, who her neighbors called Smokey, was a community cat who had been living in the area for approximately five years when Sharon saw him for the first time.
After speaking with her new neighbors, Sharon discovered that Smokey had been neutered, and at least two people — who were unable to provide the beautiful grey cat with a permanent home — were providing him with food and water. “I had two elderly cats when I moved in,” says Sharon, “one in kidney failure who passed away in early March 2015.”
A few weeks after Sharon’s beloved cat Funny succumbed to kidney failure, Smokey started visiting her home, and it wasn’t long before she started caring for the lovable — but bedraggled — community cat, too. “He was so dirty,” remembers Sharon, “that my hands would be black from patting him.” Not only did Sharon arrange for Smokey to get groomed, she also began cooking chicken jelly for the cat who was a bit sick and malnourished when he started visiting her. “He started to gain weight,” says Sharon, “and started coming inside to visit when my 19-year-old, Moolie, was asleep.”
When winter arrived in Australia a few months later, Smokey began spending more and more time at Sharon’s house. “The visits got longer and turned into sleepovers,” explains Sharon, “as I didn’t want to put him out in the cold.” By June 2015, Sharon had developed a strong bond with the handsome senior cat, and she changed his name to Mr. Chino, got him microchipped, and made him an indoor only feline. “The neighbors wanted him to stay a street cat, so they could pat him now and then,” says Sharon, “but I fought for him to be mine.”
When Sharon adopted Mr. Chino, he was in bad shape from years of living on the streets, and it wasn’t long before she had take him to have one of his eyes removed. “At some point in his past he’d suffered some trauma to the eye,” explains Sharon. “There was nothing that could be done to save the eye.”
Sharon also learned that Mr Chino — a senior cat whose exact age is unknown — had a polyp in his mouth, which he had surgery to remove, and he suffered from stomatitis, a condition that causes cats to have inflamed gums. As a result, Mr Chino — who only had nine teeth when he was rescued by Sharon — had to have several teeth extracted, leaving the handsome grey kitty with just three fangs.
Sharon also noticed that Mr. Chino’s ears were bald, due to insect bites and sun damage, and when they developed sores, a biopsy revealed the senior cat had skin cancer. As a result, Mr. Chino had to have his ears removed, but unfortunately, this aggressive form of cancer had already spread to other areas of his body. “The prognosis isn’t good,” says Sharon, “but he has a strong will to live, so I’m managing his symptoms daily now until the cancer gets too bad.” While Mr. Chino has required a lot of attention and medical care, Sharon doesn’t regret rescuing him nearly three years ago. “[Senior cats] have so much love to give and are very appreciative of luxuries like a bed, couch and heater,” says Sharon.
There’s no doubt Mr. Chino is loving his new life, especially when Sharon indulges him in one of his favorite activities: going for walks in his stroller. “I take him around the Merri Creek Trail so he can see and hear birds and the creek,” says Sharon. Recently, Sharon discovered her senior cat also loves going for car rides, so she takes Mr. Chino for scenic drives when she has the time.
However, there’s no place Mr. Chino would rather be than with Sharon, enjoying the safety, security, and affection she provides. “His other favourite thing is sitting on me for hours,” explains Sharon. “Most higher needs cats are super loving and smoochy and I find they tend to be very easy going, have a sense of adventure, and have great personalities when you get to know them.”
While Sharon has to provide Mr. Chino with more care than the average kitty, putting lotion on his remaining eye to stop it drying out and making sure his food is in pieces that are small enough for this cat with three teeth to eat, she says the affection he gives her in return more than makes up for the extra effort he requires. Mr. Chino, who has lost an eye, his ears, and several of his teeth, hasn’t allowed his many medical issues to dampen his spirit, and this formerly homeless senior cat makes sure his mom knows how grateful her is to her for rescuing him from the streets. “Mr Chino is a little bundle of pure unconditional love,” says Sharon.
To learn more about this incredible cat, you can follow Mr. Chino on Instagram.