June 16, 2021

5 Special Needs Kitties Make a Special Home in Croatia



by Mirna and Ivan Markovina


The story of our unique family was not planned. We didn’t go and search for special need cats.  They have a way of finding us. It all started when we fell in love with Zlayo. Our first adopted cat. He was sweet, smart and playful. Everything you would want from a cat. Little did we know that he has a condition called HCM. Basically his heart is thickening.  We learned it the hard way on a quiet Sunday night when we discovered he was barely breathing.  One short trip to the vet, and a whole lot of tears later, he is stealing food and cuddling like it’s nobody’s business. Since the vet visit he has needed daily heart pills in order to maximize his quality of life and longevity.

Zlayo in the catio

Soon after Zlayo we felt that we were ready for another cat. And since we like all cats, no matter what color their fur is, or how long their hair is, we said to our local cat shelter give us the one cat that is most likely to never get adopted. And so we ended up with Keko. Keko is at first just a plain gray house cat. And he is also blind. Which was very scary to us. We didn’t know what to do with a blind cat, how to teach him where to pee, where to go if he is thirsty, hungry. We basically knew nothing.



We did not realize how cats use all their senses. It turns out that one would need to spend quite some time with Keko just to notice that he is blind. He orientates space without a problem. He exactly knows where he is, where his food and water is and even his litter box. You name it, Keko will find it. Granted he does have some trouble with running into things that are not usually there, so it is important to keep the home tidy and everything in its proper place.


Keko snoozing


People say when one loses one sense the other senses are boosted. Not only has Keko boosted his other senses but also his love for his humans. He is by far the cuddliest of all our cats, to the point that it is somewhat irritating. Especially on a Sunday morning when I just want to lie in my bed in peace and quiet, but Keko’s plan is to lay on top of our heads…for hours if we let him!


Schmitcka is our third adopted cat. Again all it needed was one picture of her to know that we already loved her! When she came to our family she took all of us by surprise. Everybody was playing with her, and I mean everybody. Grumpy Zlayo, Keko, even one of our dogs, Moly, fell in love with her and wouldn’t leave her alone for a minute. And just as we were getting used to her she started feeling ill and having constant diarrhea. For a kitten that was very troublesome. Soon after we found out that she has  Feline Leukemia Virus, FeLV. That came as a big shock to us and after many many tears (notice the pattern) we simply decided to give her the best life a cat can have, no matter for how long, or short.




Next is Twix.  Our friend asked us if we could take care of her just for a couple of days given she trusts us and Twix is a very special cat. After seeing a video of her on the streets of Zagreb, we knew that she would be our cat, and that was confirmed after spending only a single day with her. Being born on the streets she was traumatized by a car or a human, and the result of that trauma was a crushed pelvis and inability to move her back legs. At first it was a big struggle with her, she didn’t know us, we didn’t know her and things didn’t go so smoothly as we expected. But little by little as time went by we learned her ways, she learnt ours and again it turns out she doesn’t need almost any special attention.  And although her movements are limited she still plays with other cats and likes to sleep beside us. Just like any other cat.




Last but not least, is our smallest cat Lisa. She is our only cat that is allowed to go outside because she is the only one we didn’t adopt but took in as a feral cat with great effort and patience in order to domesticate her.  She suffers from severe allergies and because of all the scabs and bald patches, at times looks like something from some post-apocalyptic movie. But some pills and ointments later she has transfered to our cuddliest cat. Except for Keko. But he is unnaturally cuddly so he does not count.


Twix and Lisa









In sharing our story we hope to show that a special needs cat is as beautiful a cat as any other.  Granted at times they do need more care than the average cat,  but in the end it’s all worth it. Because I believe they do appreciate what we are doing for them and they repay us with more love and affection…like sleeping on your head!




See more at their Facebook page, Our Unique Cat Family

Mirna and Ivan Markovina live with their five furballs in  Zagreb,Croatia


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