The driver couldn’t believe what she was seeing; was that really an animal at the side of the road? Covered in blood, the creature was barely recognizable, but it was definitely alive and in need of help. The driver scooped up what she realized was a cat and sped off in search of help.
On January 9, 2015, a kind-hearted woman called Melissa set out for a drive. She took her car down a highway in Belize, but the road was to lead her in a very different direction. In fact, her trip was to prove the start of an exciting, unexpected adventure.
Unfortunately, adventures don’t always begin in the happiest of places. Sometimes they start in altogether darker situations. Melissa’s encounter was a case in point after she spotted something just off the highway. Whatever the strange shape was, it was alive and suffering.
So it was that Melissa stopped to investigate. On closer inspection the shape turned out to be an animal – a male kitten to be precise. It’s unclear what had happened to him, but considering where he was found, he may have been hit by a car. Regardless, a brown substance covered the injured cat’s face.
A closer inspection revealed the dark crust to be dried blood. Whatever the kitty had been through had resulted in a badly shattered jaw. The injury was horrific: not only were bones visible through the kitten’s gums, but the wound was infected too.
As a result, it’s unlikely the kitten had eaten anything since the injury. Quite apart from the pain the animal must have been in, it’s unlikely his jaw could have coped with chewing. Melissa’s heart broke for the stray, and she bundled him into her car in order to get him medical attention.
However, as Melissa drove the cat away from the scene, a wonderful thing happened. “He had been purring the whole time in the car,” she told The Dodo on July 10, 2016. “Like he was glad to be safe, finally.” But the cat still wasn’t out of proverbial woods.
After a vet assessed the injured stray, the prognosis didn’t look good. It appeared as though the animal’s jaw had been shattered for a fair few days. It was actually broken in two places, but that wasn’t even the worst of it.
The puss was too small for surgical treatment, and in the vet’s opinion, euthanasia was the best option. After all, the kitty couldn’t eat properly with a broken jaw and would likely get weaker and weaker as a result. But Melissa wouldn’t hear of it; she had already fallen for the little cat’s charms.
Furthermore, Melissa noticed a spark of life in him that she couldn’t bear to see extinguished. So she put forward an alternative idea. “I randomly had a tin of cat food in my purse, the kind with the gravy,” she recalled. “So we said, ‘let’s see if he can eat.’”
Despite the vet’s fears that the animal’s shattered jaw would prevent him eating, the moggy devoured the bowl’s contents. So the medical team knew that the cat was capable of recovery, at least in theory. The only thing left to decide was what they should do with him.
Melissa had already made it clear where she stood on the subject. So who better to care for the mog while he fought to regain his health? Consequently, the vet gave Melissa some antibiotics to treat the cat’s infected wound, then she took her new pet home.
Melissa revealed that she decided on a name for her new companion as soon as the moggy caught sight of his new surroundings. “Immediately when he got home, his eyes became so bright and huge,” she revealed. “He looked just like Smeagol from Lord of the Rings.”
And Smeagol proved as hardy as his fantasy namesake, as within two months his injuries had healed. So well, in fact, that the animal clinic decided against taking any further medical action. The only sign of Smeagol’s one-time wound was a permanently protruding tooth.
But that isn’t the end of Smeagol’s story; in fact, it’s just the beginning. You see, his life with Melissa introduced him to his human’s ten other pets – five dogs and five cats. Now Smeagol has a fellowship of his very own.
He also proved to have an appeal his fictional counterpart could only dream of. After Melissa uploaded Smeagol’s story to social media, the cat’s popularity skyrocketed. People can’t get enough of the adorable cat, as his Instagram account confirms.
Over the course of his internet career, Smeagol has amassed more than 13,000 followers on Instagram. His Facebook’s achieved a further 7,288 followers with 6,926 likes. But when you see the astounding transformation the plucky puss has gone through, his popularity is understandable.
Gone is the malnourished, broken kitten suffering by the side of the road; in his place is a beautiful adult cat safely ensconced in a warm, loving home. It’s wonderful to see how far he’s come since his initial introduction on social media. But some things never change, and Smeagol still has some recognizable characteristics.
For instance, the shine that Melissa saw in Smeagol’s eyes when she first brought him home remains. He also retains a love for food, no doubt having discovered what true hunger really feels like. But most of all, his loving nature has never faltered.
For her part, Melissa is just happy she could help bring Smeagol back from the brink. “I can’t imagine what it would be like without him now,” she told The Dodo. “I almost didn’t make it,” Smeagol’s Instagram account, which is written from the cat’s point of view, elaborates. “But human believed in me.”