I first met Radu in 1995 as a tiny kitten starving on the streets of Romania. He was scrawny, missing a lot of hair, covered in fleas and eating olives! No one would go near him because they were afraid they would catch whatever was making him sick. Even though I was traveling back to St. Thomas in a couple of days, I could not bear the thought of leaving him behind to die so I scooped him up and took him to my hotel room.
After bathing poor Radu, I placed a bowl of food and milk in front of him. As he lapped it up I watched in horror as the milk poured out of his nose. Upon closer examination I realized he had a cleft palate and was born with a hole in the roof of his mouth. It was obvious that Radu needed surgery but first I had to get him back to St. Thomas with me.
The next day I went shopping for a cat carrier so Radu could be put on the airplane. Imagine my surprise to learn there were no cat carriers anywhere to be found in Romania. The closest thing I could find was a birdcage. So my little Radu made his journey home with me on the airplane in a birdcage!
Radu loved St. Thomas. He lived in a condo at Bluebeard’s Castle and had a beautiful view of the harbor. He was fascinated by all of the hummingbirds and huge pelicans. Soon, while enjoying his new quality of life, his hair filled in and he started to gain weight.
Sadly, the deformity in his mouth continued to progress and needed to be repaired if he was going to survive. Two separate surgeons tried to peel some skin back from the top of Radu’s mouth to stitch up the hole but unfortunately neither operation worked. I was not about to give up on my beautiful sweet cat so a third surgery was performed by a specialist at Angel Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston. Finally, our dreams came true and the surgery was a success, now Radu would be able to eat and drink normally. While at the animal hospital, the doctor performed some tests and told me that Radu was short in stature and had some very special features because he had Down Syndrome. Hearing the reason why my affectionate little boy was so special made me love him even more and inspired me to develop a passion for animal rescue.
Radu crossed the rainbow bridge on October 27, 2012, he was 18 years old. He was the love of my life and a true “freedom fighter” for homeless animals everywhere. He is the subject of a children’s book that was written by my friend and Radu’s godmother Joyce Doumeng to benefit the Cat Café program. Pick up a copy at one of our many locations in St.Thomas or order one for $8.00 (which includes shipping) by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for caring. Your purchase of “Radu the Cat” helps us save many more like him!