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To rescued hyperplasia kitty Percy, Stefan and Valerie Killen are heroes! (Photo by Stefan Killen)

To rescued hyperplasia kitty Percy, Stefan and Valerie Killen are heroes!

Photo by Stefan Killen

NYC Eartips: Fall 2008

The Best Cat in All of Brooklyn: The Harrowing Rescue and Happy Ending for Percy

by Stefan Killen

I first saw Percy as I was biking past an abandoned and walled-off pedestrian triangle near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was around 9:00 p.m. on a late July evening, and though dark out, I was still able to see him. My first assumption on observing his pained-looking gait was that several of his legs were broken. He certainly looked vulnerable. After arriving home, I decided I had to go back and take him some food. I returned and found him in the same location. It wasn't easy to get the food to him because as soon as I got close, he bolted awkwardly away. So I left the food in the general vicinity and hoped he would find his way to it.

By the time I was getting back onto my bike, around 11:00 p.m., two police officers stopped and asked me what I was doing. I told them, and they offered a few words of care for the cat, but encouraged me to get out of there. This neighborhood, abandoned at night, was apparently more dangerous than I'd thought.

When I returned the next morning, the food was gone and Percy was lying asleep underneath a tree. I left more food and water, and returned again at lunchtime. He was still there, though this time the food was untouched.

I realized I had done as much as I could, and that it was time to get more help. I Googled cat rescue organizations in Brooklyn and e-mailed the NYC Feral Cat Initiative. Within twenty minutes I received a call from Valerie Sicignano, who said she was sending TNR Coach Susan Wright to rescue Percy and take him straight to an animal hospital. A half hour later, I met Susan at the location. She and her colleague caught Percy — with a lot of difficulty — and took him to the hospital for a thorough exam. He seemed so traumatized, wild, and physically challenged that I fully expected the veterinarian to euthanize him.

In spite of his physical challenges, Percy is an active cat with lots of energy for games with Stefan and Valerie. (Photo by Stefan Killen)

In spite of his physical challenges, Percy is an active cat with lots of energy for games with Stefan and Valerie.

Photo by Stefan Killen

So I was surprised when Valerie called the next day to say Percy had no broken bones, he was not in any pain, and he was purring contentedly in his veterinarian's arms! She went on to say that Percy was six months old, had hyperplasia — a neurological condition that affects motor skills — and a deformed front left leg. A week later, Valerie asked if we would be willing to foster Percy and see if he would fit into our lives permanently. She briefed us on what to expect and how to set up our home to accommodate his special needs. He cannot climb into a litter box, but instead uses a baking sheet and puppy wee-wee pads. Susan came over the next day to help us set up properly and answer our questions. Valerie stressed that Percy had normal level intelligence and that we should play and interact with him daily so as to bond with him and help him develop into a sociable adult cat.

Although my wife Val and I weren't looking to take on a cat, we decided to give Percy a try. It didn't take much. Though still skittish around new people, terrified at the sight of cars (when I hold him up to the window), and very wobbly on his feet, Percy is an amazingly alert, responsive, and playful cat. He loves string games, he loves to chase and be chased, and he enjoys the television. He's very much a floor cat, though even there he falls over many times a day. But he finds his way, adjusts as he needs to, and, unfailingly, wins us over again and again with his many charms and trust. He's the best cat in all of Brooklyn!