Back in 2016, Liz Kirkham found a feral cat in a deathly ill state outside her apartment complex in Oxford, Ohio — and it was the start of a journey that would involve love, heartbreak, and the rescue of a second feline in need.
The cat Liz originally chanced across had badly matted fur, was missing his tail, and was making wheezing noises that “sounded like he was drowning.” After enticing the emaciated cat into a carrier, Liz took him to the vet where his recovery process began. She also adopted the cat and called him Booger.
In his new home, Liz realized that Booger never seemed to open his eyes. After another vet visit, it turned out he was suffering from entropion, a congenital condition that can cause a cat’s eyelids to turn inwards. Effectively, the pain from entropion meant Booger was blind.
At this point, Liz took the plunge and began a crowd-funded campaign to raise the money for an operation to reverse Booger’s entropion. It was a success — and Booger could effectively see for the first time in his life.
By this point, Booger had also amassed a cult following of fans on social media, who’d check into his Instagram account to see updates about this cat who loved Twinkies and fast food, had a predilection for farting, and carried some of his feral ways into the homestead while picking up the nickname Monkey Butt.
Unfortunately, earlier this summer Booger’s hardscrabble past caught up with him. Diagnosed with cancer, Liz began to post what were to become Booger’s last Instagram photos in August.
“Today I lost my best friend,” she wrote on August 7th, 2017. “I lost the best cat I’ve ever known. The bravest cat. My soulmate.”
Three weeks after Booger passed away, while Liz was grieving, she chanced across a picture of another cat in a high-risk kill shelter in San Antonio, Texas, who had been hit by a car and was suffering from a severe head trauma and a broken jaw. He was also feline HIV+. As if channeling the spirit of Booger, Liz decided to step up and adopt the cat, who would become known as Tony.
The adoption process involved the help of the San Antonio Care Services and two cat-loving Instagram users, Carol Moore and Martha Lewis. Working together, they colluded on a plan to transport Tony 1,300 miles from San Antonio to Liz’s home in Ohio. (The Rescue Round Trips organization were also involved.)
“I never thought I’d be ready for another cat after I lost Booger,” says Liz. “Booger’s death was traumatic and scary and he was my soulmate. Out last moments together were the hardest moments of my life so far.”
But, she adds, “I saw Tony’s picture, covered in mud and dried blood, and saw similarities to Booger. Here was a cat that had been through pain and suffering and had similar markings to Booger that needed help.”
In a curious coincidence, Tony was also diagnosed as suffering from entropion.
Liz is making plans to correct Tony’s entropion — but in the meantime he’s enjoying acclimatizing to his safe forever home. She says that Booger’s feral streak meant he wasn’t receptive to being held, but Tony has proved to be a laid back kitty who loves to act like a kitten during play sessions.
“After Booger passed away, my plan all along was to adopt a senior or special needs cat,” Liz says. “My hope was that Booger would help me find the right cat.” By bringing her and Tony together, the legacy of her dearly departed soulmate continues.