When you first meet Bart the cat, you’ll see nothing but a handsome feline. He’s obviously well-fed and healthy, and his black and white fur is so soft, you just can’t resist petting him.
Although everything seems great, Bart actually had to endure a very rough past. And the only telltale sign? His missing left eye.
In 2015, Bart was dubbed by the media as “Zombie Cat” after his owner buried him when he was hit by a car and presumed dead. However, the cat was alive—he was just seriously injured.
Bart managed to claw his way out of the grave and returned five days later looking for food.
The cat ended up at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, where he was treated for his injuries for several months.
Bart was in really bad shape. His lower jaw was broken and had to be wired together, he needed dental work, and his palate was split from front to back. In addition, his left eye was infested with maggots, and it took about three hours to pull them all out. Eventually, that eye had to be removed.
Since his jaw was severely damaged, the cat had to be fed via a feeding tube. He also needed blood transfusions. The team at the shelter worked together to restore Bart back to health.
Following the cat’s reappearance, the nonprofit and Bart’s previous owner underwent a 20-month long custody battle. Ultimately, the humane society settled with his original owners outside of court.
Bart was then adopted by the shelter employee who had been fostering him.
His new mom, Valerie, described Bart as a “sweetheart,” even when he was still recovering from his injuries.
“Even in the worst of times when he had just arrived, he would head-butt people just to try and get some pets,” she told TODAY. “He’s always been a big, old love. He wants to be around people and to play and be loved, and that’s it.”
Valerie had three other cats, namely Max, Cecelia, and Jack. So when she first brought Bart home, she worried how they would react to their new sibling.
But as soon as she laid down the carrier in the living room and opened the door, Max started grooming Bart before he even got out. It was the cutest welcome ever!
“He wasn’t even out of the carrier and Max is in there going, ‘Hey, who are you? Welcome — come on out!'” Valerie recalled.
After starting his new life in Valerie’s home, the humane society gave Bart a more fitting nickname: “The Miracle Cat.”
At first, Bart didn’t have any idea how to play with toys or even how to play. So Valerie loved watching him learn new things while he adjusted to his new environment.
But now, he has perfected his play.
“He loves all toys — although he is a prankster at heart and loves to hide and jump out to scare the next cat that walks by or to sit on a coffee table and bop them on the head as they pass. He really is a character,” Valerie said.
Besides playing with other cats, Bart loves getting cozy and claiming cat beds, human beds, or a blanket on the floor. But his most favorite thing in the world is Boar’s Head chicken.
Valerie said that he’s doing amazing and has put on more weight than he probably should have. But the cat is “very, very hard to deny,” considering everything he had gone through.
Valerie couldn’t be more grateful to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay for helping Bart recover by funding his hefty medical bills and fighting the legal battle for his custody.
She noted that organizations like them rely solely on community donations to continue operating. She hopes that by sharing Bart’s story, other people will be inspired to support their local shelters and the animals under their care.
Valerie is also proud of Bart for having the will to live after his life-threatening ordeal.
“He has by far the best personality,” she described him. “He is the first one to go to the door and greet whoever comes through that door. He’s just always happy-go-lucky Bart. He’s just the coolest cat — he really and truly is. He’s a happy boy.”
We’re glad to know that Bart is now in good company! We hope this story inspires you to adopt an animal from your local shelter, just like Valerie.
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