Just five months after Georgina Price and her fiance Christopher Lardner adopted their first rescue cat, Herbie, the senior feline passed away at 16 years old, having made a huge impact on the people who’d loved and cared for him at the end of his life.
While they’d only known Herbie for a short time, the couple was devastated by his passing, and Georgina and Christopher both found their home in Stroud, England, to be far too quiet without the cuddly senior cat. “I just kept thinking about all the animals that might only have five months left and would spend the whole of that time in a shelter,” remembers Georgina, “so we decided we would look for an extra special cat that might take a little longer to find a home.”
While searching online in October 2018, Georgina spotted Toby and Quinton, a pair of bonded cats who needed to find a home together. “I saw them on the RSPCA website and fell in love with their sweet little faces,” says Georgina. Quinton, a 7-year-old fluffy black and white cat, was missing all of his teeth, while Toby, a handsome 6-year-old short-haired cat, had very saggy skin, giving him an adorably distinctive appearance.
Georgina learned Toby had been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), or feline cutaneous asthenia (FCA), a congenital condition that can cause animals and people to have unusually stretchy, loose, and fragile skin due to a lack of collagen. “We’d never heard of EDS before we found him, we just knew that he needed a loving home and we have so much love to give,” explains Georgina.
Smitten with the unique pair, Georgina and Christopher visited them at the RSPCA where they were being housed in a special unit. “They were both terrified and huddled right at the back,” remembers Georgina. “Toby just hid behind Quinton the whole time, trembling.”
While she was able to pet Quinton, Georgina didn’t get to touch Toby because he was just far too scared. However, she and Christopher were confident they were up for challenge of caring for the exceptionally nervous special needs feline, so they adopted Toby and his brother Quinton.
While they were both very skittish when they met Georgina and Christopher for the first time, it didn’t take long for Toby and Quinton to settle into their new home. Seven months later, these bonded brothers are doing well, although Toby’s delicate skin makes him prone to injury, even when he’s just grooming himself or playing with Quinton. “Toby and Quinton are inseparable and Quinton tries to clean up Toby’s face when possible,” says Georgina, “and when they play, Quinton knows to keep his claws retracted.”
When he isn’t romping around with his brother, Toby enjoys bird watching, playing with bouncy balls, and snuggling with his parents. “He loves belly rubs and will plop himself next you and look at you, waiting for you to rub his belly,” says Georgina.
Because Toby’s Ehlers-Danlos syndrome causes his skin to lack elasticity, his stomach hangs down to his knees, and his mom and dad are understandably concerned about the effect the weight of this extra skin might have on his overall long-term health.
“EDS can cause joint problems and the excess weight of his skin makes us think that he will have problems in later life,” explains Georgina. In order to minimize potential stress on Toby’s joints, his parents do their best to prevent him from jumping up or down from high places. Even though he might require a bit more extra care, including having his wounds cleaned — which he hates — Toby is a very happy cat, and Georgina and Christopher are so glad they decided to adopt him and his brother Quinton.
While a lot of people don’t know about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, even fewer people know that it can affect animals, and Georgina hopes sharing Toby’s story will not only raise awareness about this rare condition, it will encourage others to consider adopting special needs cats.
“It doesn’t take anymore to love them,” says Georgina, “And despite whatever it is that may make them ‘special needs’ they are still beautiful animals with their own amazing personalities, likes, dislikes, and the ability to love you back.”
Without a doubt, Toby adores both of his parents, and Georgina and Chris are so thankful that after losing Herbie, their first rescue cat, just six months after adopting him, they found the strength and courage to open their home yet again, this time to two kitties in need.
After Herbie’s passing, their home felt quiet and empty, but thanks to Toby and Quinton, it’s now filled with life, love, and fun. “I get a warm feeling thinking that I get to go home to them every night,” says Georgina. “They’re a part of our family and we really couldn’t imagine life without them.”
In fact, these brothers have come so far in such a short time, Georgina and Christopher want to foster cats in the future, because they’ve seen just how much of an impact a second chance can have, especially on the life of an animal with special needs like Toby. “He really is just a beautiful little ray of sunshine,” says Georgina.
To learn more about this adorable cat, you can follow Toby on Instagram.