This post includes photos some people may find upsetting.
Nathalie was browsing the website for Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA), a French animal rescue, in September 2018, when a picture of Mike, an adorable ginger tomcat with floppy ears, caught her attention.
“I instantly fell in love with him,” remembers Nathalie, and as she learned more about Mike’s background, she became certain she had to adopt him. “Mike had been found super skinny and starving on the street with a huge wound on his neck and his flesh was literally rotting.”
Thankfully, Mike was rescued and taken to SPA, and Deborah, a member of staff at the shelter, immediately took him to a veterinary clinic to determine if his life could be saved. A thorough examination revealed he was approximately 10 years old and, as Deborah already suspected, the large wound on his neck was severely infected. “The smell was so awful they thought he wouldn’t make it,” says Nathalie. “One of the vets thought Mike was in such a bad condition that it was better for him to put an end to his suffering.”
Mike also tested positive for the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a retroviral infection that can weaken a cat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses and secondary infections. However, he had an excellent appetite and seemed in good spirits, so one of the vets, Isabelle, wanted to give him a chance and decided to foster him. “He stayed with her for several months and after a lot of medication, love, and care, his wound healed up,” explains Nathalie. “Mike is still alive thanks to Isabelle and her assistant Hélène.”
By September 2018, the wound on Mike’s neck had become a small scab about the size of a coin, and it was time for him to find his forever home.
Fortunately, Nathalie’s adoption application was approved, and she made the 450 mile trip to La-Roche-sur-Yon to bring Mike back to her home near Dijon. “I met Mike at Isabelle’s house where he was staying,” remembers Nathalie. “She was very emotional that he left, but I promised we would keep in touch.”
Nathalie and Mike’s journey to her home near Dijon went very smoothly, and it didn’t take long for the former street cat to adjust to his new environment. More than three years later, this sweet senior cat is doing extremely well, although Mike’s fur never grew back once his wound healed.
“He has to keep wearing a scarf to protect his skin from the sun and because he could scratch himself and rub his neck against furniture,” says Nathalie. “I love to make colorful crochet scarfs for him that enhance his ginger fur and his beautiful and expressive eyes.”
Aside from wearing scarves and taking supplements to support his kidneys, Mike is a pretty typical cat who enjoys opening locked cabinets to play with his mom’s yarn and keeping an eye on Nathalie while she works in the garden.
He also likes playing with banana peels, eating fresh fruit and vegetables, and even taking his daily supplements. “He runs up the stairs and jumps on my bed to take his medicine,” says Nathalie. “He purrs and licks his lips with delight! He’s so excited about it that he often meows and waits for me down the stairs telling me to hurry up!”
Despite being 13 years old, Mike is still incredibly active, and he often gets the zoomies after using the litter box and adores playing games of chase with his mom. Over the past three years, Mike and Nathalie have formed a very special bond, and this affectionate boy can usually be found by his mom’s side. “I love waking up and seeing his beautiful face staring at me,” says Nathalie, and when she returns home, Mike is always at the door to greet her. “He doesn’t like me being out for grocery shopping, so as soon as I’m back home, he always shows me how much he missed me.”
Nathalie — who is disabled — doesn’t leave home very often, so Mike and his mom don’t spend a lot of time apart, which is just one of the many reasons these two are so close. “I had senior cats before Mike and they are so special!” explains Nathalie. “I think that being an abandoned child myself, and having been a victim of bullying during middle school, made me want to give a forever home to overlooked cats. I’ll always be on the side of the underdogs.”
Plus, while some people prefer to adopt younger felines, assuming they will adapt to the lifestyles of their families, Nathalie believes it can actually be better to adopt older cats because their personalities and habits are more established than those of kittens. “I think they already developed their own personality, so it’s easy to find out if our lifestyles and personalities can match,” says Nathalie. “They deserve a loving home like any other cat and just because they already have a past doesn’t mean the remaining time they have left to live has no value.”
Consequently, she hopes more people will consider opening their homes to senior cats, as well as former street cats and cats with FIV. After all, with good nutrition and medical care, FIV cats are capable of having happy and healthy lives. “I have had Mike for three years and despite what he’s been through on the street and the horrible condition he was found in, he’s been incredibly resilient,” says Nathalie.
While it’s impossible to know what Mike’s life was like before he was rescued, it’s also impossible to imagine him having a better home than the one he shares with Nathalie. If it wasn’t from Deborah from SPA, Isabelle the vet — who still gets regular updates about Mike — and Hélène the veterinary assistant, this special boy might not have gotten a second chance, which would have been a tragedy not only for him, but for Nathalie as well. “Mike is my emotional support,” says Nathalie. “He brightens my day everyday and my life wouldn’t be the same without him. He’s such a character — he’s so funny and smart!”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Mike on Instagram.