This post includes a photo some people may find disturbing.
Shortly after Vanessa heard a dog outside her home in Istanbul, Turkey, one of her neighbors came to her door to tell her a cat had just been hit by a car. Concerned for the feline’s health, Vanessa rushed outside to help the injured animal. “When I went outside I found her under a car,” remembers Vanessa, “but when I pulled her out I saw that her injuries weren’t of a car — she was bitten so badly that her left back leg was almost torn apart.”
Vanessa immediately realized the black and white cat was Zekiye, one of the many homeless felines she cared for near her home. “She came to my colony when the previous neighbors who took care of her moved away,” explains Vanessa. She also realized Zekiye had been attacked by a dog, not hit by a car, and the injured feline was in desperate need of medical attention.
Vanessa rushed Zekiye to the vet, and while the doctors were able to save her leg, she was left with severe spinal injuries, rendering her paralyzed and incontinent. “After the attack she was at the vet’s for some weeks and then in foster care, but I always supervised her condition,” says Vanessa.
When Zekiye was finally healthy enough to be adopted, Vanessa tried — unsuccessfully — to find the beautiful special needs cat a forever home. “Zekiye was an unwanted cat,” says Vanessa. “Many vets rejected her and no one wanted to adopt her.”
Even though she was overwhelmed by the prospect of caring for a cat with incontinence and hind leg paralysis, Vanessa knew no one else was likely to give Zekiye the forever home she needed to thrive, so she officially adopted the energetic special needs cat in May 2019.
More than a year later, Zekiye is doing great, and while she needs more care than a typical cat, Vanessa has found she’s easier to look after than people often assume. “Cats with special needs have a routine,” explains Vanessa. “Some of them can’t poop or pee, and others like Zekiye don’t control it at all, but as soon as you solve some time management issues according to their needs, they are not much different than other cats.”
Aside from developing a routine that works well for her and Zekiye, the biggest challenge for Vanessa has been earning this former street cat’s trust. “She trusts me more than at the beginning, but still not 100%,” says Vanessa.
While she’s still working to earn Zekiye’s trust, Vanessa has found caring for this resilient special needs girl to be very rewarding. In fact, over the past year it’s become extremely apparent to Vanessa why this black and white kitty’s former caregivers gave her a name derived from zeki, a Turkish word that means intelligent. “She is one of the smartest cats I have ever met,” says Vanessa.
Zekiye is also incredibly determined, so while she may not move like a typical cat, having paralysis doesn’t stop her from enjoying life. “She loves to use her wheelchair and go out and explore,” says Vanessa, proving paralyzed cats are often a lot more active than people assume.
When Vanessa rescued Zekiye from underneath a car in May 2019, she wasn’t planning to adopt another pet, much less a cat with special needs. However, over the last year and a half, these two have built a very special bond, and Vanessa’s life has changed for the better thanks to Zekiye and her tenacious spirit.
“She never gave up, no matter how much pain she had. No matter how many barriers that were put in front of her, she would fight,” explains Vanessa. “She has inspired me in many ways.”
To learn more about this beautiful cat, you can follow Zekiye on Instagram.