Başak Yilmaz was working as a vet nurse near her home in Istanbul, Turkey, when she met a beautiful white cat who was suffering from severe injuries to her spine, teeth, and mouth. While the cat’s family didn’t reveal the exact causes of her injuries, Başak soon discovered the young feline was most likely the victim of abuse. “Because of the fact that her dad often traveled, there was a caretaker in their house; however, the caretaker also killed their former cat by throwing it from the balcony,” says Başak.
Tragically, the injuries to her spine left the stunning white cat — who was approximately four years old when she arrived at the clinic in September 2019 — paralyzed and incontinent, and despite surgery and medication, Başak and her colleagues were certain she would never be able to walk again.
Even worse, after she recovered from the operation and was ready to be discharged, the staff at the clinic was unable to reach her family. “Actually, they never called us to ask about her situation,” remembers Başak. “I already felt sorry about her story, but when she was abandoned, I also felt an unbreakable connection between us.”
After all, during her stay at the vet’s office, Başak helped care for the paralyzed and incontinent feline, giving her lots of extra attention to ensure her muscles didn’t atrophy due to spending most of her time in a cage. However, after she was abandoned by her family, the owner of the clinic was unable to find a family or a shelter that was willing to take the special needs cat, so they recommended euthanizing her. “I could not let that happen, therefore, I decided to adopt her,” explains Başak. “A human caused her life to be like this, a human did this to her, so then why not have another human lick her wounds?”
Wanting to give the special needs cat a new name to go with her new life, Başak chose Kiana, which means “world” in Laz lazuri nena, an unwritten language spoken along the coast of the Black Sea in Georgia and parts of Turkey. “I’m from this region and I love lazuri,” says Başak. “Therefore, I like to give names from that language to my animals. I wanted to make her a new world, so I chose Kiana for her.”
Initially, Kiana was very temperamental, especially when Başak tried to handle her, causing her new mom to suspect she may have been the victim of prolonged abuse prior to arriving at the veterinary clinic in September 2019. “When she came to our home, she did not allow me to touch her front paws,” explains Başak, “And she even bit my cheek the first time I held her.”
Several months later, this gorgeous girl is much more comfortable with being touched, although Başak still has some difficulty changing Kiana’s diaper and expressing her bladder and bowels. However, it has gotten much easier over time, and now it only takes Başak a total of six minutes to express Kiana and put her in a fresh diaper, proving incontinent cats are a lot easier to care for than people often assume. “It is not hard and I think this is the biggest delusion,” says Başak. “To me, people dramatize this situation.”
Still, Başak has to make sure her schedule allows her to express Kiana’s bladder and bowels every 12 hours, and she has to closely monitor her urine, stools, and water consumption, as cats with paralysis and incontinence are more at risk of health issues, including constipation, urinary tract infections, and chronic kidney disease.
Thankfully, Başak doesn’t mind giving Kiana the extra care and attention she needs to thrive, and she hopes more people will consider taking on the added responsibility of adopting a cat with special needs. “If someone who works as hard as me can do it, then many people also can do it,” says Başak. “There is going to be a huge love connection between you and them. I think everybody deserves to have that kind of love.”
Without a doubt, Kiana and Başak have a very deep and special bond, and while this beautiful cat didn’t like being touched when they first met, it’s now her second favorite pastime after eating. “[Her second favorite activity] is to be scratched, especially her head and neck, because she cannot do that by herself,” says Başak. “Also, she loves watching our rescued rats’ cage too.”
While she didn’t set out to adopt a cat with paralysis and incontinence, Başak is so thankful to have Kiana in her life. Even though she may need extra time and attention, Başak believes caring for Kiana is very rewarding, making her more than worth the added effort she requires to thrive.
“To me, Kiana is my child who never grows and the most wonderful responsibility,” says Başak. “She is the reason that I try to come home early. Although I am exhausted at work, the time I come home and she puts her head into my hands to scratch her, I forget all of my tiredness. She has that kind of magic. She is the innocent side of me.”
To learn more about this beautiful cat, you can follow Kiana on Instagram.