When Cassie Jarvis was volunteering Seattle Area Feline (SAFe) Rescue in the fall of 2016, she met Bobbi, a beautiful calico cat who had recently celebrated her first birthday. “Bobbi was wobbling and falling over when she stood up to walk,” remembers Cassie. Concerned for the young cat’s health, Cassie went searching for the nearest vet tech, worried that Bobbi might have had a medical emergency like a stroke.
When Cassie described the stunning feline’s symptoms, the veterinary technician knew right away that she was talking about Bobbi — who had been given her name by the rescue’s staff because she constantly bobbed her head. “I was told Bobbi and her siblings and cat mom were rescued from a bad living situation and had infections and fevers,” explains Cassie. “Bobbi was the only survivor from the litter and the mom also died. They said her brain was affected from the infection, leaving her wobbly and deaf.”
Having adopted Brody, an incredibly handsome grey and white kitty with radial hypoplasia (RH) and the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), Cassie — a speech therapist who works with children with special needs — was certain she would be able to provide Bobbi with the perfect forever home.
“I knew Bobbi would be a good addition to the family since I already had a cat with special needs,” says Cassie. “I also fear cats with special needs are overlooked and I’m happy to provide a home with some accommodations to meet their needs.”
On November 11, 2016, Cassie adopted Bobbi, and she quickly settled into her new home with Brody. For a year, this gorgeous calico cat was doing extremely well, but on January 1, 2018, Bobbi began having seizures. “I took her to the hospital and she had an MRI and spinal tap which indicated the more accurate diagnosis of cerebellar hypoplasia (CH) and hydrocephalus,” explains Cassie.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is a non-progressive neurological condition that occurs in utero when a pregnant cat is exposed to illness, malnutrition, or toxins, leaving her kittens with head tremors and poor balance and coordination.
Hydrocephalus, which is characterized by a buildup of fluid in the brain, can cause a number of different medical issues, including blindness, an enlarged head, behavioral changes, and seizures. Fortunately, Bobbie responded well to treatment for her conditions, and several months later, she is thriving. “She was placed on a seizure medication which she takes three times a day and hasn’t had a seizure since,” says Cassie. “I’m glad we found a medication to eliminate the seizures; however, three doses a day can be a little challenging.”
While Cassie has to wake up in the middle of the night to give this adorable calico cat one of her three daily doses of medication, she’s happy to sacrifice uninterrupted sleep for Bobbi’s continued well-being. To make it easier for Bobbi to get around her home, Cassie has placed a ramp by her bed which enables this wobbly girl to get up and down. “She needs to be lifted up to the couch when she wants to cuddle,” explains Cassie. “She will walk up to the couch and reach up to me with her front legs. It’s super cute.”
Even though Bobbi is deaf and she can’t run and jump like a typical cat, she still loves hiding in bags, playing with toy mice and pieces of string, watching bird videos, sunbathing, and following her mom around, proving she’s a fairly average feline.
“I think it’s a common misconception that people feel they will be ‘missing out’ somehow if they don’t have a cat that can hear them, or a cat that can jump, run, and play like a ‘normal’ cat,” says Cassie. “The thing is these cats don’t know any different, so their special needs don’t hold them back from being a wonderful pet.”
After all, Bobbi is just as loving and affectionate as cats without her conditions, and as far as her mom is concerned, this calico girl’s special needs not only make her unique, they allow Cassie to have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with her. “I think special needs cats are way more fun and rewarding then having a ‘normal’ cat,” explains Cassie. “Bobbi’s differences are what I love most about her!”
While Cassie knows kitties like Bobbi often have difficulty finding homes because people worry they’re too difficult to take care of, she hopes more families will consider adopting special needs cats. “I wish more people knew how fun cats with special needs can be,” says Cassie. “Their challenges don’t prevent them from having great characters and personalities.”
Without a doubt, Bobbi is an incredibly loving, funny, and resilient girl, and while her life got off to a very difficult start — losing her mother and her siblings when she was only a kitten — this remarkable cat has found the perfect forever home with a mother and brother who adore her just the way she is.
“Bobbi means so much to me; she reminds me to not sweat the small stuff and to be thankful for what I have,” says Cassie. “She shows me that you can’t let certain challenges get in your way — it’s about overcoming those challenges and living a happy life. She’s been a great friend for Brody and she adds so much love and light to my life. “
To learn more about this gorgeous cat, you can follow Bobbi on Instagram.