After taking a much-needed mental health break from Meow As Fluff, I recently logged on to Instagram and one of the first cats who appeared in my feed was Otto. After learning about his incredible story, I knew I wanted him to be one of the first, if not the first, we featured after our hiatus. We reached out to his mom Chelsea and she graciously agreed to let us share Otto’s remarkable journey from a neglected senior cat who had been struggling to survive on the streets of New York City to a much-loved feline who is enjoying his golden years in his forever home in the Bronx.
In addition to highlighting Otto and his amazing mom Chelsea, as fellow New Yorkers, we also want to shine a bit of the spotlight on Little Wanderers, the organization that helped this senior rescue cat get the medical care he desperately needed. Founded in 2017, Little Wanderers has helped countless kitties in New York City, enabling cats like Otto to undergo incredible transformations like the one you’re about to see!
Meow As Fluff: Can you tell me a little bit about how you met Otto?
Chelsea: Otto was living on the streets and made his way into our apartment building. We found him laying on the steps in our building visibly frail and in rough shape.
We put out food and water and he took to it quickly. He was so hungry and thirsty. I approached him slowly to gauge his body language to see if he would let me pick him up and he didn’t try to run or avoid me. He let me pick him up so I brought him into our apartment bathroom to quarantine him from our other two kittens until I was able to get him to the vet to learn more about him.
MAF: Can you tell us a bit about the neglect Otto experienced?
C: Otto has clear trauma. He gets nervous when you stand near him when he is on the floor, if you reach over him or if someone walks by quickly. In the first few months of finding him, when you would pet him and he was asleep, he would jump and wince.
It seems evident to me that he was abused at some point either in a previous home or on the street. When we found him, he was terribly dirty, the water was runny grey from him when we gave him his first bath. His nails are really thick and were so long when we found him that he couldn’t stand for long because they were curled under.
MAF: What are some of the biggest misconceptions you think people have about senior cats and cats who have been abandoned, neglected, and abused?
C: People often think that cats who have been abandoned will be aggressive. People think that senior cats are too expensive to care for. When he was first found, everyone thought he was going to die anyway. Now 4.5 months later, he is thriving.
MAF: What are some of the challenges you and Otto have faced since you rescued him?
C: Otto’s eyes have been almost permanently dilated since I found him and we’ve tried a few things but I drop are finally working for him. He also struggles with digestion issues and had diarrhea on and off from the first few months but with probiotics it has almost resolved itself. The mental scars are the ones that are taking the longest to heal for Otto. He still carries himself very nervously and sticks mostly to our couch where he feels most comfortable.
MAF: What do you wish more people knew about senior cats and cats who have been abandoned, neglected, and abused?
C: I wish more people knew how sweet neglected cats could be, and that every cat, including senior cats can become great companions. I have two rescues that I had from two weeks old, bottle-feeding them and Otto it’s just a sweet as both of them as a senior who has trauma.
MAF: What are some of Otto’s favorite activities?
C: Otto loves hanging out on our couch, has started to play a little bit and eating snacks, especially Churus. And his first month, I bought him a catnip banana toy, and it’s become his companion.
MAF: Can you tell me the story behind his name?
C: I named Otto after the Syracuse University mascot, as well as the movie, A Man Called Otto. I grew up in Syracuse, and the fluffy orange mascot was one of the first things I thought of when I saw Otto. I also had just seen the movie A Man Called Otto and thought it was a funny coincidence that he’s also an old man who deserves a second chance at life. Plus, he finds a stray cat in the movie, and it quickly becomes his close companion.
MAF: What does he mean to you?
C: Otto has taught me a lot of lessons, including the fact that no matter how much you’ve been through, you can always learn how to trust again. Otto’s audience have also made me realize how many amazing people are still out there in the world.
Otto has become a close companion to all of us and our household. Each morning, he greets me with his meows and shows love to all of us. With Otto’s story, we have been able to make a lot of positive for many animals across the country, and I couldn’t be prouder of the impact that his story has had.