When Kelly’s brother showed her a picture of an adorable grey cat who was standing on his hind legs, she thought he was a cute kitty whose image was making the rounds on social media. However, when she realized the cat, who was named Mr. Bojangles, was in her area and in need of a home, she was immediately interested in helping the unique feline.
“My brother told me his friend was fostering this cat from the SPCA, and he also had dogs and they weren’t getting along and he asked if I would want to take over fostering him, as I had two other cats and no dogs,” remembers Kelly. “I immediately said yes!”
Kelly learned Mr. Bojangles, or Mr. B for short, was born with radial hypoplasia (RH), a congenital condition related to the polydactyl gene that causes some cats to have unusually short and twisted front legs. “I believe that Mr. B is a Russian Blue, a cat that can fetch a lot of money for breeders,” says Kelly. “And so I believe that Mr.B’s parents were inbred and overbred in order to make money selling Russian Blue cats, and that’s why he was born with RH. He was most likely abandoned as he wouldn’t sell.”
Born in May 2009, Mr. B was five years old when Kelly and her partner Ben brought him to their home in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, on September 5, 2014. Initially, the couple had intended to keep the stunning grey feline in a separate room, giving Mr. B plenty of time to adjust to his new environment, but this the curious kitty had other ideas. “Right away he wanted to explore and the other cats seemed more curious than threatened during their short times seeing and smelling each other,” explains Kelly. “So within days, he was out in the rest of the house and quickly became a part of the family.”
While they had intended to foster Mr. B until he found his forever, Kelly and Ben knew almost immediately that they wanted to adopt him, especially because he got along so well with their cats at the time, Max, an orange tabby boy, and Lynx, a grey female tabby. “We waited to make sure he integrated well with the other cats,” remembers Kelly. “He did, and so we made it official!” Even though she’d never had a special needs kitty before, being an experienced cat owner, Kelly was confident she would be able to give Mr. B the care he needed to thrive.
Despite being eager to explore, Mr. B was a bit nervous when he first arrived at his new home, especially when he was around objects like blankets, coats, mops, brooms, and sticks. Mr. B also got very anxious when his mom and dad walked towards him, causing Kelly to assume he didn’t have a happy home before he ended up at the BC SPCA North Cariboo District Branch. “I don’t know where he was for the first five years of his life, and he doesn’t show signs of trauma or extensive abuse, though he did clearly have to fend for himself as he was very obsessed with food and eating extremely quickly — and everything he could — when we first got him,” explains Kelly.
Over time, Kelly and Ben were able to win this special cat’s trust, giving Mr. B the reassurance he needed to know he was safe and loved. Nearly five years later, this 10-year-old boy — who now lives in Nanaimo, British Columbia, with his family — is doing great, proving Kelly was right when she thought she’d be able to help him cope with any challenges he might face.
Due to Mr. B’s unique front limbs, it can be a bit difficult for him to get down from high places, so Kelly and Ben have placed pillows and rugs in strategic locations around their home, giving this handsome cat lots of soft places to land. He also needs a bit of help with his grooming, but they are more than happy to lend Mr. B a hand. “His weight management is really important, as he has more balancing going on and more weight on his back legs,” says Kelly, “but in general, he’s just like a non-special needs cat in many ways.”
While he might look and move a bit differently from a typical cat, Mr. B has no trouble using a litter box, although his parents make sure to keep it very clean because he takes the occasional spill while relieving himself. However, he’s definitely not in any pain, and radial hypoplasia certainly doesn’t prevent this gorgeous feline from enjoying his life.
“At first, when people see him — even when I first saw him — they feel bad for him and feel like he must be struggling and having a hard time,” says Kelly. “But he was born this way and he doesn’t know any different, and he doesn’t feel bad about his disability. He just does things a little differently, but he’s like any other kitty.”
Like the average feline, Mr. B loves to play, especially with his Rainbow Cat Charmer, soft bouncy balls, and ribbons, and he can’t resist biting the feathers off of his toys. This senior kitty also adores being brushed, and getting groomed by his mom and dad is usually the highlight of Mr. B’s day. “He has a special platform he likes to sleep on and he also loves to be brushed on it because he can grip the edges with his front legs,” says Kelly. “He loves it so much and he asks to be groomed daily.”
Even though Mr. B requires some special accommodations, Kelly has found this adorable boy to be fairly easy to look after, and she hopes other people will be inspired to open their homes to cats with conditions like radial hypoplasia. “They just want what all cats want — love and cuddles and treats,” says Kelly.
Fortunately for Mr. B, who most likely had a difficult life before he was rescued by the SPCA, he has a home where all of his needs and wants are met, and Kelly and Ben considers themselves very lucky to be his mom and dad. “The way he trusts me and accepts my help with certain things is so special,” says Kelly. “I have loved all my kitties in my life, of course, but Mr. B has a special place in my heart. He’s one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever met.”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Mr. B on Instagram.