When Sandra saw a photo of Bruce Willis, a 6-year-old ginger feline, on Instagram, she wasn’t in a position to get a pet, but she had to meet the handsome former street cat who was available for adoption through Animal Humane Society.
“I went to visit him just to look at him,” explains Sandra. “He looked so sad that I had to leave. It was too painful.” Sadly, Sandra’s landlord wouldn’t allow her to have a pet, and she wasn’t prepared to break her lease in order to adopt the sweet cat with the sad face.
However, she couldn’t stop thinking about Bruce, who had most likely spent the majority — if not all — of his life on the streets, unneutered, positive for the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and battling for food and shelter. “He was a tomcat until August this year,” says Sandra. “Because of that, he has scars all over his body from fighting with other cats.”
Thankfully, Bruce was brought into a Minnesota shelter as a stray, and he was eventually transferred to Animal Humane Society near Sandra’s home in Minneapolis. The handsome former street cat got a lot of attention on social media, so Sandra was confident he would find a home in no time, especially because he was such a sweet and gentle boy.
However, several weeks passed, and Bruce was still available for adoption. “I went to visit him a couple of times just to see how he was doing,” remembers Sandra. “He got a cold and started to look even sadder.”
Unable to bear the thought of Bruce spending his days unhappy and alone at the rescue, Sandra decided that if he was still looking for his forever home on a certain date, she would plead with her landlord to let her adopt him. “When that day came and he was still there, I kept my promise,” says Sandra. “Luckily, my landlord said that I could have him.”
On August 26, 2019, Sandra officially adopted Bruce, making him the second cat she’d gotten from Animal Humane Society. Years earlier, she’d lived in a home that allowed pets, enabling Sandra to adopt Cloudberry, a terminally ill cat who was a part of the rescue’s hospice program. “I wanted her last moments to be her best,” says Sandra, and she and Cloudberry enjoyed six wonderful months together. “Although it was so hard to say goodbye, I don’t regret for a second that I adopted her. She gave so much back to me.”
Consequently, Sandra wasn’t concerned about adopting a cat with FIV, a virus that can suppress the immune system, making it harder for infected felines to fight off illnesses and infections. “FIV+ cats can live long, normal lives, but there’s also an increased risk that they get sick,” explains Sandra. “I think that it’s even more important that cats like that get adopted so that they get to know what it’s like to have a loving home where they can live until the end.”
Even though he’d probably never had a real home before, it didn’t take long for Bruce to adjust to his new life with Sandra, and nearly two months later, he’s doing great! Despite spending years on the streets, he quickly got the hang using a litter box at the shelter, and Bruce hasn’t had a single accident since arriving at his forever home. “Bruce always uses the litter box and he never scratches any furniture, only his scratching board,” says Sandra.
Also, while some people might expect Bruce to be eager to go outside, having spent so much of life on the streets, he’s not the slightest bit interested in going outdoors. Instead, this handsome boy prefers the creature comforts of Sandra’s home, although he’s still adjusting to certain aspects of domestic life. “Sometimes he gets scared by ‘normal things’ and wants to attack them, such as the hairdryer, cords, and the vacuum cleaner,” explains Sandra.
Not surprisingly, Bruce, who didn’t get regular meals during his time on the streets, is obsessed with food, and he will give his mom the occasional love bite when he’s get really hungry.
Thankfully, his fixation on food has improved with time as he’s slowly come to realize he’s not in danger of starving, but his obsession with Sandra hasn’t waned over the last two months. “He always follows me wherever I go so that he can see what I’m doing,” says Sandra. “When I’m gone he lies by the door, just waiting for me.”
It’s obvious Bruce absolutely adores his mom, and he’s so fortunate to have such a wonderful home. While cats with feline immunodeficiency virus are more likely to have weak immune systems, making them more prone to illness, FIV is often understood, so it’s more difficult for infected cats to get adopted. “FIV cats can live long, healthy lives,” explains Sandra. “It’s also not as contagious as people often think.”
People and other types of animals aren’t at risk of contracting FIV, and the virus is usually transmitted through deep bite wounds or mating, not casual contact like sharing food bowls, grooming, or playing.
However, misinformation about the virus persists, which Sandra believes will make it harder for her to get someone to look after Bruce when she goes out of town. “Many of my friends have cats and don’t want to risk them getting FIV,” says Sandra.
While finding a cat sitter for Bruce might be a challenge for Sandra, it will be a small price for her to pay to be able to share her life with this sweet boy. After all, before she even adopted Bruce, Sandra felt a special connection with this wonderful cat, and their bond has only gotten stronger with time.
“I realized exactly how much he means to me since he just had dental surgery done and I was so worried,” says Sandra. “It hurts me so much to see him hurt and I just want what’s best for him.”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Bruce on Instagram.