When Kritika Khadka, a volunteer at For Animals Inc., saw a video on Facebook about Sylvester — a handsome black cat with hind leg paralysis who had been rescued in October 2017 from a river bank in Kathmandu — she desperately wanted to help the special needs feline. “Sylvester had wounds and scratches all over his legs as he was dragging himself in the rough streets of Nepal,” says Kritika, who lives in New York City.
She knew — being from Nepal herself — that Sylvester would have a very difficult time finding a home in the country, and not just because he had hind leg paralysis. “I grew up learning that cats are not usually kept as pets and black cats represent bad luck,” explains Kritika. “While this is not true, many people still have this belief back home.” Given Sylvester’s color and condition, Kritika was certain that he needed to be transported to the United States or Canada in order to have a chance at getting adopted.
“I reached out to For Animals Inc.,” says Kritika, “and they supported me wholly and agreed to help him.” The non-profit, which helps cats in need all over New York City, worked with the rescue in Nepal and Sylvester’s foster mom, Reema, to get the special needs cat all of the vaccinations and documentation he needed to fly to the United States.
On November 15, 2017, Sylvester landed in New York, having left behind Reema, his amazing foster mom who had given him the care and love he desperately needed after he was first rescued. Shortly after Sylvester — who was born in June 2017 — arrived in the United States, For Animals Inc. had him examined by a team of professionals to determine what had caused the handsome cat’s paralysis, as well as what — if anything — could be done to treat it.
While doctors weren’t able to determine how Sylvester received his injuries, radiography revealed a fracture of his spinal vertebrae at T11 and T12, indicating some sort of trauma. “We don’t know what happened to him,” says Kritika. “There are high chances that he fell or was thrown from a height.”
Initially, Sylvester went to live with his first foster mom, Jordan, one of the volunteers who had worked tirelessly to get him to the United States, but because she lived alone, she had a hard time keeping up with the demands of looking after an incontinent cat. “Taking care of him is a two-person job,” explains Kritika, “especially when changing his diaper and giving him a bath.” Thankfully, Kritika, who has been volunteering with For Animals Inc. since June 2016, stepped up: “I decided to foster him as my husband helps me with his care.”
Kritika had never taken care of a paralyzed cat before, and she admits she really didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she offered to foster Sylvester. Fortunately, the incredible volunteers and staff at For Animals Inc. provided Kritika with the advice and financial assistance she needed to give Sylvester the best care possible.
“They were very encouraging and supportive in advising me on how to take care of a special needs cat,” says Kritika. “They also voluntarily agreed to raise funds for his treatment and agreed to take care of him when I am traveling.”
With the rescue’s help, Kritika and her husband learned how to give Sylvester a bath and change his diaper — something neither of them had ever done to a cat before — and it didn’t take long for the three of them to develop a routine. “He is pretty much adjusted and lets us clean him without much struggle on most days,” says Kritika. “However, it is definitely a two-person job.”
It also didn’t take Sylvester long to settle in with his new foster parents, nor did he waste any time showing Kritika and her husband that he is an incredibly capable and fun-loving boy. “Even with his injuries, Sylvester is one of the most active cats I have ever seen,” says Kritika. “He is very energetic and has a huge personality.”
Like a typical cat, Sylvester loves chasing after the laser pointer, watching bird videos, and playing with his toys, but this handsome special needs cat also likes sitting next to the heater — enjoying the warmth — and lurking near the kitchen door in hopes of getting a special treat.
Sylvester also enjoys playing with the two other cats who live in his foster home, but he’s probably at his happiest when he’s with Kritika, napping on her lap while wrapped up in a fleece blanket. “He is not picky at all as long as he has company,” says Kritika. “He is fine just chilling on my lap or playing with me and his siblings.” However, unlike the average cat, Sylvester actually enjoys going to new places, and he is perfectly happy to accompany Kritika when she has to stay somewhere overnight.
Over the course of the last few months, Kritika and her husband have formed a strong bond with Sylvester, and the couple has learned a lot about the challenges of caring for a cat with special needs. “Special needs cats, particularly those with paralysis, do come with additional responsibility,” says Kritika. “These cats don’t have any one in the world except you and are so dependent on your love and care.”
Not everyone is willing to make the sacrifices and allowances required to have a special needs cat, but for this who are, Kritika is confident they will receive something invaluable in return. “The love these cats give you is unconditional,” says Krtika. “They reward you with love that surpasses what you may get from other cats.”
While Kritika and her husband will definitely miss Sylvester when he finally finds his forever home, she’s making the most of the time she has with him. “He is one of the most important parts of my life now,” says Krtika. “I feel like we have a connection — I miss him at work and he is the first thing I want to see when I get home.”
There’s no doubt that For Animals Inc. — who are currently sponsoring Sylvester’s physical therapy and acupuncture sessions — will find him an incredible family that is truly deserving of a cat who is as special as this stunning boy who traveled thousands of miles to New York City. “Sylvester is much more loving and friendly than my other two cats,” says Kritika. “I think it is because of his personality that he got himself from Nepal to the US.”
To learn more about this incredible cat, you can follow Sylvester on Instagram.
If you’re interested in adopting Sylvester, please contact For Animals Inc.
If you would like to make a donation to help cover the cost of Sylvester’s rehabilitation expenses, you can check out his YouCaring page.