In early 2020, Kerry Denman and her partner decided if they were ever going to adopt another cat, it would be best to do it while they were both at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially because they were concerned about how their blind cat Louie would react to another feline. “He had never really known other cats since he was a kitten and his litter mates and mother rejected him,” explains Kerry.
Initially, Kerry began searching for a cat at rescues near her residence in London, but she quickly discovered she wasn’t considered a good candidate because her home lacked a yard. “It’s still a massive thing in the UK that cats are given outdoor space,” says Kerry. “I know it’s somewhat the opposite in the USA.”
Discouraged but not dissuaded, Kerry started looking at rescues outside of the United Kingdom, eventually finding Safe Haven Egypt (SHE), an organization dedicated to helping Egyptian felines in need. Kerry was already communicating with someone from Safe Haven Egypt when she learned Kamel, an adorable grey and white cat who had been subjected to horrific cruelty, was still searching for a forever home.
“He had been a stray cat in the streets of Cairo and had his right leg cut off by a butcher for attempting to steal some meat,” explains Kerry. “A good Samaritan saw and contacted Safe Haven Egypt who found him and rushed him into life saving surgery.”
Tragically, the abuse left Kamel, who was estimated to be around a year old, with two broken front limbs, one of which had to be amputated in February 2020.
Following the surgery, the resilient three-legged cat spent the next eight months at the rescue, patiently waiting for a forever home until the day Kerry and her partner saw his face, read his story, and knew Kamel was the one they had been searching for. “It was a massive deal bringing another cat into Louie’s space,” says Kerry, “but when we saw Kamel, we both just knew.”
Smitten with the gorgeous grey and white feline, Kerry and her partner adopted him, and in October 2020, Kamel made the long journey from Egypt to England. After quarantining with one of the rescue’s volunteers in the UK, Kamel arrived at his new home in London, a moment Kerry will never forget. “He came out of his carrier — full of cat flu, shuffling toward us — and my heart kind of broke,” remembers Kerry. “I knew he was a boy in need of a lot of TLC. But from the very start he was loving towards us, he wanted to be loved.”
Thankfully, Kerry and her partner had plenty of love to give the incredibly affectionate rescue cat who seemed to bear no ill will towards people despite the senseless cruelty he’d experienced while living on the streets of Cairo. In addition to being extremely loving, the three-legged feline also proved to be much more agile than anyone had anticipated.
“When we did our home video check with Safe Haven Egypt, I showed them the guard I had at the balcony door which is sufficient to keep Louie safe, and we both assumed it would be fine for Kamel too, that he wouldn’t be able to jump over it,” explains Kerry. “We moved it inside when we were introducing Louie and Kamel and Kamel just jumped straight over it.”
The couple replaced the safety gate with a full mesh screen, which allowed Louie and Kamel to get to know one another without being in direct physical contact. Nearly a year later, Kamel is doing very well, and this handsome three-legged boy definitely feels comfortable in his forever home. “He goes on the kitchen counter — Louie never has — and just runs around like a firecracker,” says Kerry. “Missing a leg does not slow Kamel down in any meaningful way.”
In addition to racing around his home and jumping up to high places, Kamel enjoys bird watching, playing with foil balls, trying to catch the red dot, and occasionally chasing after his adoptive brother Louie. This sweet grey and white feline also loves snuggling with his parents, and Kamel — whose name means perfect in Arabic — sleeps with Kerry and her partner every night. “He is so affectionate,” says Kerry. “You would think his experience with humans would have removed that, but not at all. He seems grateful to be alive.”
While the cruelty Kamel suffered hasn’t affected his ability to love and trust people, it did permanently alter his body. After having one of his front legs amputated, Kamel developed phantom limb syndrome, a condition that causes amputees to experience sensations in limbs that don’t exist. “He tries to cover his food with his missing leg and he does the same in his litter tray,” explains Kerry. “That was very odd to witness at the beginning, but it’s not a challenge, just an interesting fact.”
The attack damaged both of Kamel’s forelegs, and while he was able to keep one of his front limbs, it suffered permanent damage, making it impossible for this three-legged feline to retract one of his claws. “We call it his claw of death,” says Kerry. “It is super sharp and in the early months I worried he would accidentally hurt Louie.” Fortunately, Kerry’s concerns have proven to be unwarranted, as Kamel allows his parents to trim the claw and he has never caused any sort of injury to his adoptive brother.
Surprisingly, Kamel’s most significant medical issues aren’t related to the severe trauma he suffered to his front legs, but instead are a product of the diseases and infections he was exposed to while living on the streets of Cairo. “He suffers the consequences of being a long term carrier of calicivirus or something similar,” says Kerry. “One of his eyes is poorly and his gums are inflamed. He has stomach issues due to parasites he had whilst being a stray.”
Thankfully, Kerry and her partner are committed to giving Kamel the care he needs to have a happy and healthy life, and they encourage other people to consider opening their homes to special needs cats. Not only are blind and three-legged cats easier to care for than people often assume, they are incredibly resilient and inspiring, especially cats like Kamel who have survived the unthinkable. “He has blessed me with the knowledge that things can continue and be OK after real suffering,” says Kerry. “That with time, healing and love things must go on. He is light.”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Kamel on Instagram.