When Georgina Price and her fiance Christopher Lardner adopted their first rescue feline, Herbie, the 16-year-old cat, was near the end of his journey. Sadly, Herbie died just months later. And even though the couple had only known him for a little while, they were heartbroken by his passing. The loss, however, had opened their hearts for someone new.
“I just kept thinking about all the abandoned animals that might only have five months left and would spend the whole of that time in a shelter,” Georgina said. “We decided we would look for an extra special cat that might take a little longer to find a home.”
While browsing the web, Georgina stumbled upon Toby and Quinton. “We found them on the RSPCA website when they were looking for a home,” Georgina told Bored Panda. Quinton, a 7-year-old black and white cat, was missing all of his teeth, and Toby, a 6-year-old short-haired feline, had a lot of loose skin. “They’re a bonded pair, the RSPCA advertised them together. And we thought if we can help two adorable cats rather than one, then that’s the best possible outcome.”
Eventually, Georgina found out that Toby had been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) or feline cutaneous asthenia (FCA), a genetic disorder that can cause unusually stretchy, loose, and fragile skin due to a lack of collagen. “We’d never heard of it before we found Toby,” Georgina said.
Georgina and Christopher visited the duo at the RSPCA where they lived in a special unit. “They were both terrified and huddled right at the back. Toby just hid behind Quinton the whole time, trembling.”
Georgina was able to pet Quinton, but she couldn’t touch Toby because he was just too scared. All things considered, she and Christopher were still confident they were ready to take good care of the exceptionally nervous special needs feline, so they adopted both Toby and Quinton.
Toby and Quinton took a little while to find peace in their new home. “They were just so scared and were living under the bed for weeks but food and love eventually got them out,” Georgina said. “And Now they own the place. They just do whatever they want and act mad when you turn the light on if they’re asleep on the bed or something.”
Toby’s delicate skin elasticity condition, however, makes him prone to injury even when he’s simply grooming himself or playing with Quinton. “He seems oblivious to it. His biggest problem is probably us trying to make sure he doesn’t get hurt or cleaning his wounds (he hates that).”
Because of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome symptoms, Toby’s stomach hangs down to his knees, and Georgina and Christopher are concerned about the effect the added weight of this extra skin might have on his long-term health. For example, the excess weight of his skin might cause joint problems.
“We’re very lucky that his hypermobility condition seems to be mild and we manage it very easily,” Georgina added. “His skin is just weaker than it should be, so he gets lots of tears, especially around his neck and head.”
“We’re always telling him off for scratching or cutting his nails to reduce the chance of injury and you can see he just thinks ‘leave me alone, I can take care of myself.’”
“He seeks Quinton out to help him clean himself so Quinton will lick his face and head, particularly any cuts.”
Minimizing stress on his joints, Toby’s owners also try to prevent him from jumping up or down from high places. “We’re always telling him off for scratching or cutting his nails to reduce the chance of injury and you can see he just thinks ‘leave me alone, I can take care of myself.’” but even though he requires a bit more extra care, Georgina and Christopher couldn’t be happier with Toby and his bro Quinton.
His condition aside, Toby is just your average kitty. He enjoys bird watching, playing with bouncy balls, and snuggling with his owners. “He loves belly rubs and will plop himself next to you and look at you, waiting for you to rub his belly,” Georgina said.
The woman hopes that sharing Toby’s story will not only raise awareness about his rare condition but will encourage more people to consider bringing special needs cats into their lives. “It doesn’t take any more to love them and despite whatever it is that may make them ‘special needs’, they are still beautiful animals with their own amazing personalities, likes, dislikes, and the ability to love you back.”