When Debbee learned about Wedgefield Kitty Project (WKP), a program in her neighborhood designed to help homeless cats find forever homes, she visited their website, eager to see the felines who were available for adoption. “I saw a picture of Hubble on the site and contacted Jennifer at WKP,” remembers Debbee. “I went over to visit and fell in love with Hubble.”
While Hubble’s exact date of birth is unknown, he was approximately three years old when Debbee met him for the first time in July 2017. Hubble was one of the many cats Jennifer, the woman behind the Wedgfield Kitty Project, had trapped after discovering several kitties near her home in Orlando, Florida. “Jennifer woke up one day and found 16 cats in her backyard, hence the WPK,” explains Debbee. “She ended up trapping Hubble with catnip — fresh of course — and had him fixed.”
A medical examination revealed that in addition to Hubble’s unusual front limbs — caused by radial hypoplasia, a congenital condition that results in short and twisted forelegs — the young tabby and white cat also had feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). A lentivirus, FIV affects the immune system, making it more difficult for cats with the condition to fight off illnesses.
However, with proper care and nutrition, cats with FIV can often live happy and healthy lives; and as long as they’re sterilized and not aggressive, they can be in homes with cats without the virus because FIV is most commonly transmitted via mating and deep bit wounds.
Perhaps because of his unique front legs or his status as an FIV positive cat, no one had been interested in adopting Hubble until Debbee came along last summer. “I asked to do a week trial in my home,” remembers Debbee. “He came and never left.”
While Hubble quickly settled into his new home, perhaps the first one he’d ever had in his young life, the other cats weren’t entirely sure what to make of his unusual forelegs and distinctive walk, at least initially. “The other cats in the house were very nervous around him at first but have since treated him like another cat,” says Debbee.
More than a year later, Hubble is doing very well, and Debbee has found that while her adult cats took a while to accept him, this cute tabby and white boy has been a father figure to the many kittens she’s fostered over the past 13 months.
“They do not know any better yet and I think that is why he takes to the kittens so quickly when we foster; they accept him as he is right from the start,” explains Hubble. “They do not judge or think he is different as the adult cats did in the beginning.”
After all, even though Hubble looks and moves a bit differently from the average feline, he’s just as active as a typical kitty. “Hubble does the same as all other cats,” says Debbee. “He can jump on the bed, couch, climb up the stairs. Yes, he can climb stairs, including sprinting up them.”
However, Debbee admits that she’s worried about the stress Hubble puts on his front paws when he gets down from high places — “When he jumps down from something it is a very loud thud, unlike other cats who land softly,” explains Debbee, but she’s optimistic that it’s an issue they’ll be able to cope with if it ever becomes a serious problem.
Debbee is also concerned that as Hubble gets older, his FIV might make it harder for his body to fight off diseases and viruses. Fortunately, Hubble’s FIV hasn’t been much a problem over the last year, aside from a brief illness several months ago.
“The only issue we have had with Hubble is when he got sick this past winter; the FIV makes it worse,” says Debbee. However, this handsome tabby and white cat beat the sickness, made a full recovery, and is as active and affectionate as ever.
Not only does Hubble adore catnip, eating treats, playing with his toys, and cuddling with his mom and his girlfriend Finn, he has an affinity for the foster kittens Debbee frequently brings home, perhaps because he instinctively realizes that they need the same love and kindness he craved when he was rescued from the streets last year. “Hubble loves to foster the kittens that we take on,” says Debbee. “Out of all my cats, he is the best foster dad. He loves to play with them and clean them.”
Hubble, who everyone passed over until Debbee came along, has proven to be an incredibly unique feline with a friendly and loving personality, and his mom hopes that by sharing his story, other people will consider adopting special needs cats. “I have eight other cats in the house and Hubble stands out of the crowd,” says Debbee. “Please never shy away from a special needs cat — you might miss the best animal that you could ever have had.”
Thankfully, Debbee didn’t miss out on the chance to adopt Hubble, and after having him in her life for the past 13 months, she and her family have nothing but love and admiration for him and special kitties in general. “We find him adorable and love that he is different,” says Debbee. “If I could, I would have a whole house filled with special needs cats.”
For now, Debbee will just have to settle for having one special needs kitty, but Hubble has shown that he has the charisma and charm of several cats. “I could not think of life without him and his quirky personality — Hubble makes our cat family complete. The best part is he gives love unconditionally,” says Debbee. “Well, maybe for a little catnip.”
To learn more about this lovable cat, you can follow Hubble on Instagram.