How does one small cat capture the hearts and imaginations of people around the world? Well if you’re George the One-Eyed Cat, you do it easily and with style and grace.
In the fall of 2014, ten-year old George was surrendered to SAFE Team Rescue in Alberta, Canada because he had developed a mass over a quarter of his face and his owner could not afford the treatment. Because she did not seek help soon enough, what started as a relatively minor issue turned into a nasty growth. And since SAFE Team Rescue believes “every little soul counts,” and their mission is to “save animals from euthanasia,” they rushed him to the vet where he was put on anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and pain meds, with the plan of getting the infection and inflammation under control so that he could have surgery.
Just imagine the pain this little guy was in, yet as it is with cats, he was still full of purrs and love. “We met George about 4 days after he was surrendered,” says Nikki West. “We saw the post on SAFE Team’s Facebook as I am on their Board of Directors. That weekend we stopped by our vet to buy some food and I inquired if George was there so they let us meet him. It was heartbreaking, but at the same time, all he wanted was love and attention. We fell in love with him.”
Surgery to remove his eye and surrounding damaged tissue was in October 2014, but unfortunately, it was discovered that the tumor was a cancerous lymphoma. Though the vets were as sure as they could be that the cancer hadn’t spread to his brain, they thought it had most likely spread to the bones. If only treatment had been sought sooner, this sweet boy could have had a much better prognosis.
Sadly, the vets gave Georgie approximately four months to live. But they weren’t aware that this boy was much stronger than his disease. He wasn’t going anywhere soon cause now he had a wonderful new family of humans and other kitties to spoil and love him.
Even though the prognosis seemed bleak, Nikki and her husband had no doubts, and officially became George’s “forever foster” family. With hearts as big as the sky, Nikki’s family looked forward to making his time left the best ever. Why a foster family you ask? Only because SAFE Team Rescue wanted to retain the right to make decisions on George’s behalf to assure he would never again go through the drama he had already endured. But honestly? Nikki and her husband truly became George’s mum and dad.
Since Nikki’s extended family lives 2,000 miles away and were interested in George’s progress, a few days after surgery Nikki launched George’s Story on Facebook to keep everyone informed on the progress of this valiant little guy. Soon George had thousands of followers, and his page became a place for cat lovers to interact with George and Nikki, to offer support and share their own stories. George’s fans became a family who were inspired by him and looked forward to his daily dose of humorous antics and fashionable attire. Along the way George became a celebrity and a beloved SpokesCat, using his Facebook page to help spread the word about SAFE Team Rescue and special needs cats who are still waiting for loving homes. After all, though George was now a special needs cat, he was certainly not broken!
Soon months ticked by, and Nikki watched for signs of cancer, but to her delight there was none! The four month post-surgery anniversary approached with some hesitation but King George showed no signs of slowing down. The vets were amazed, his fans were hopeful and each day was celebrated with joy and love. And, of course, toys and cards as George was showered with gifts from people around the world, getting more mail every day than his human family!
Sadly every story doesn’t necessarily have a perfect ending, and sweet George finally lost his battle with cancer, though an astonishing six months and eight days after the prognosis date. But that is certainly not the end of his story – because Nikki lives her life with such love and grace, she has continued to post messages of George from the Rainbow Bridge in order to continue his mission to save homeless cats and bring joy to the fans who still love him. Because George and Nikki made such a connection with so many his page is still acquiring fans and has surpassed 12,000 followers. But most amazing, through her grief, Nikki is able to post with such joy and happiness, she allows everyone to remember her boy, our boy, the way he lived his life, because Love is Never Broken!
By Cindy Hauff
Cindy grew up in rural northwest Ohio and currently lives along the Maumee River in Toledo with her husband, Keith and 8 rescued fur babies of her own ranging in ages from 4 to 23 years. She has rescued cats and volunteered for many animal rescue organizations most of her life.