When Trina and her boyfriend were walking past a restaurant a few blocks from their home, the couple spotted a homeless grey and white kitten. Having recently lost one of their cats, the couple wasn’t planning to adopt another pet, much less a kitten, and yet they both felt instantly drawn to the energetic feline when they saw him for the first time in May 2013. “[He] was bonkers, all over the place, playing and jumping around,” remembers Trina, “so, of course, he was the one.”
Immediately, Trina and her boyfriend brought the kitten home with them, and it didn’t take them long to choose the perfect moniker for the spunky young feline. “We named him after a favorite Doctor Who character played by the outspoken LGBTQ activist, John Barrowman,” explains Trina, “Captain Jack Harkness, Cappy for short.” It didn’t take long for Cappy to settle into his new home, although the couple’s other cat wasn’t thrilled with having a kitten as her new roommate.
“She must have swatted at him and he got a big cut behind his ear,” explains Trina. “We took him to the vet and he got stitched up.” However, shortly after Cappy returned home, he pulled the stitches out, and what had started as a relatively minor cut quickly turned into a major laceration. Right away, Trina sensed something wasn’t right, and she brought Cappy back to the vet’s office. “The vet had no idea how or why the laceration was so bad,” says Trina. “Then, it happened again!”
Over the course of several weeks, Cappy developed multiple cuts, bruises, and abrasions, and his parents and vet were completely baffled, unable to determine how the young cat kept getting his injuries. Fortunately, the couple finally got answers when a veterinarian who was filling in for Cappy’s regular doctor recognized the young cat’s symptoms and was able to offer a diagnosis.
“She said he had feline cutaneous asthenia, AKA Ehlers-Danlos syndrome,” remembers Trina, a rare inheritable connective tissue disease. “Basically, his body doesn’t produce enough collagen, so his skin doesn’t adhere to his muscles. This results in super elasticity of the skin, making him prone to injury.”
Trina listened as the vet explained that there is no cure for feline cutaneous asthenia, but she was stunned when she learned that cats with Ehlers-Danlos symptoms are often put to sleep. “She said most people would choose to euthanize,” rememebrs Trina, an option she immediately rejected. “No way, no way! Not happening.”
Instead, Trina and her boyfriend decided to research ways of helping Cappy cope with his condition, and they began giving him vitamin C twice a day after learning it might help him produce more collagen.
In order to stop this handsome boy from hurting himself, Trina and her boyfriend also made the difficult decision to have Cappy’s back claws removed, and they regularly trim his front claws so that they don’t become too sharp. “Our vet said his case is the only time she would do a full declaw if we wanted to,” says Trina, but she declined.
The couple also made a number of adjustments to their home, removing sharp objects from their house, including window cranks that injured Cappy when he rubbed against them.
Due to his condition, Cappy isn’t allowed to go outside under any circumstances, and after their other cat passed away from old age, the couple decided it was in this special boy’s best interest to be an only kitty. Thankfully, these accommodations have paid off, and more than four years later, Cappy — who recently celebrated his fifth birthday — is doing well. “It’s been a very long time since he had an injury,” says Trina. “Special needs just require special adjustments.”
While Cappy has some visible signs of feline cutaneous asthenia, including patches of missing fur that didn’t grow back after injuries and some saggy skin around his eyes and belly, he’s a pretty typical cat.
“He loves boxes, tissue paper, ricocheting off the walls, eating fresh grass from the yard, playing with his toys, eating catnip off his scratching pad, and napping,” says Trina. However, she admits that Cappy is unusual in other ways. “When I come inside from doing garden work, he has to smell my hands,” says Trina.
Even though Trina and her boyfriend have had to make a lot of accommodations for Cappy, the cat they rescued when he was a homeless kitten, they’re so glad they decided to make these adjustments instead of putting this special boy to sleep.
By sharing Cappy’s story, Trina hopes to raise awareness about feline cutaneous asthenia, as well as to encourage other people to open their minds and their homes to special needs cats. “Don’t give up on them just because they might take a little more effort,” says Trina. “Everyone deserves love.”
Fortunately for Cappy, the couple who found him on the streets five years ago is more than willing to give him the love and help he needs to thrive, and Trina is certain that she’s just as lucky to have to this unique cat as he is to have her. “As I tell him everyday, he’s my buddy and my pal and my best friend!” says Trina. “He’s such a weird, fun cat. [He] takes after me.”
To learn more about this amazing cat, you can follow Cappy on Instagram.