One kitten was so deformed that people thought that he was “too ugly” to adopt. As a result, the poor little cat sat unwanted in the street with no one to love. However, his fortunes would eventually turn around – and now, happily, he’s had the last laugh.
That kitten is named Romeo, and it’s fair to say that he had a rough start in life. That’s because the little ginger cat was heartlessly abandoned and left for dead on the streets of Spain. And perhaps most cruelly of all, it’s believed that Romeo was ignored in favor of his littermates when the other animals were adopted.
Indeed, it appeared as if no one wanted Romeo. So, the plucky feline ended up having to fend for himself while struggling to stay alive in the street. And the likely reason that nobody had given him a forever home is heartbreaking.
Specifically, Romeo had been born with a severe facial deformity – something which it’s suggested had led to him being abandoned in the first place. Because of his deformity, moreover, the little cat’s nose is slightly flattened and his eyes are further apart than normal. However, these atypical features make Romeo no less adorable.
It’s not known what caused the kitten’s unusual looks; indeed, feline facial deformities can occur for several different reasons, just as they do in humans. But however they had first developed, one question still urgently needed to be answered: could anyone see past Romeo’s face and see a tiny kitten in need of some love?
Well, it turns out that staff at the Santuario Compasión Animal in Valencia, Spain, did just that. And that’s despite the fact that the facility doesn’t usually rescue cats; instead, it focuses on saving animals from the meat industry. In fact, the sanctuary’s employees ended up smitten with Romeo.
And Laura Llácer, the co-founder of Santuario Compasión Animal, explained as much on Facebook. She wrote, “They told us that no one wanted him because he was ugly.” She added, “But for us, Romeo is not ugly. He’s a lovely little kitten who likes to play like the rest of the cats. And their differences make them special.”
Indeed, Llácer and her team would commit themselves to looking after Romeo. “While we were headed to a rescue, we dealt with the case of this kitten whose appearance was different from the other cats, and that’s why the whole world rejected him,” the animal shelter said in a statement.
So Llácer gave Romeo a new home at the sanctuary, and the staff welcomed him with open arms. Finally, the kitten had somewhere he belonged with people who actually cared about him. And, fortunately, it didn’t take long for him to settle in.
While at the facility, moreover, Romeo soaked up the pets and cuddles given to him. And, before long, the kitten’s carers had fallen head over heels in love with him. They had been able to overlook his out-of-the-ordinary appearance and had been duly rewarded with the most adorable companion.
After getting to know Romeo’s personality, meanwhile, Llácer was even more shocked that the kitten had gone unwanted for so long. “We were surprised that people did not see that this was someone special,” she explained in an interview with The Dodo in October 2016.
In contrast to his time on the street, though, Romeo was now never alone. He even made friends with the cows, ducks and turkeys at the sanctuary. However, some attention was also reserved for Llácer herself, who has gone on to describe Romeo as her “best friend.”
“Romeo is very, very affectionate and behaves differently than other cats,” Llácer explained while talking to The Dodo. “He remains a cat, but there’s something adorable in his behavior that reflects that lovely abnormality in appearance.” She continued, “Of course, he suffers a deformity, but that makes him different. That makes him unique.”
And as staff at Santuario Compasión Animal were keen to share Romeo’s cuteness with the world, the sanctuary posted a video introducing the kitten on its Facebook page. In it, he can be seen playing with his toys and cuddling up to his favorite bunny toy – just like any other cat might do.
What’s more, the clip proved to be quite a hit with the shelter’s 213,000 followers. Since going live in October 2016, in fact, 13,000 people have reacted to the footage, while more than 10,000 have shared it. The post’s comment box also soon began filling up with gushing comments for Romeo.
“This kitty is beautiful,” one Facebook user wrote. “I would love him forever. Thank God he has a loving place to call his forever home.” Meanwhile, another fan said, “I do not see anything wrong with him. [He] is a beautiful little animal.”
“I do not understand anyone that would reject a little kitten in need because it does not look right,” another person added. “These are not the kind of people I would like to be friends with. Thank you, Santuario Compasión Animal, I will be sending [a] PayPal donation.”
Now, the shelter hopes that Romeo’s popularity will help other unique animals get another chance. “He spends his days playing and calling the attention of the volunteers to listen to him. It seems Romeo was a kitten to which no one wanted to give a home because they said he was ugly,” a spokesperson for Santuario Compasión Animal told the Daily Mail in 2016.
“Now people from all over the world have written us to ask for him,” they added. “We hope that the story of Romeo will help to end up with a lot of prejudices and teach us that what is important, what unites us, is the desire to live.”
Indeed, Romeo’s story reminds us that beauty is only skin deep: to really find the worth of an individual, then, we must look beyond their physical appearance and into their heart. That’s what Llácer and her colleagues did, and they’ve since been rewarded with the most endearing friend.