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It’s hard to believe that a friendly, well-fed cat named Bart once had to claw out of a roadside grave after being buried alive.
Bart – referred to by the media as the “zombie cat” – gained international fame in 2015 after its owner reported burying his cat after being hit by a car and believed to be dead. Five days later, the badly injured cat came back looking for food.
The black and white cat ended up at the Humane Society in Tampa Bay, where he received veterinary care for months. His lower jaw was broken and needed to be wired back together. His palate was split front to back and he needed dental work. It took about three hours to pull all of the maggots out of his left eye, which eventually had to be removed. He needed a feeding tube and blood transfusions.
After being hit by a car and dug out of a roadside grave, Bart needed months of veterinary care at the Humane Society in Tampa Bay, Florida. Courtesy of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
While the team at the shelter was working to make Bart healthy again, a controversial custody battle raged between the owner of the cat and the charitable organization for over a year. Ultimately, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay settled the matter out of court, and Bart was permanently adopted by the shelter worker who promoted him.
His adoptive Valerie, who asked to keep her last name confidential, said that even when Bart was in really bad shape, Bart was a “sweetheart”.
“Even in the worst of times, when he’d just arrived, he hit people with his head just trying to get some pets,” she said TODAY. “He’s always been a great old love. He wants to be with people and play and be loved, and that’s it. “
When Valerie first brought Bart home, she worried that her three other rescue cats – Max, Cecelia and Jack – would accept him. But as soon as she put the porter in the living room and opened the door, Max stuck his head in and started grooming Beard before he even got out.
“I thought that was just the cutest thing, that it was his welcome to the house,” she said. “It wasn’t even out of the porter and Max is in there. ‘Hey, who are you? Welcome – come out! ‘”
Adam Goldberg / AGoldPhoto pet photography
During his recovery, Bart received letters and gifts from around the world. Now it is thriving in a new home. Courtesy Adam Goldberg / AGoldPhoto Pet Photography.
Bart, dubbed “The Miracle Cat” by the Humane Society in Tampa Bay, had no idea what to do with toys or how to play when he arrived. Valerie loved to watch him discover ways to have fun.
“Now he’s perfect his game,” she said. “He loves all toys – although he is a joker at heart and loves to hide and jump out to scare the next cat that goes by or sit on a coffee table and hit it on the head as you go. He really is a character. “
Bart not only plays with the other cats, he also likes to claim beds – whether it be cat beds, human beds or a blanket on the floor. But his favorite thing is Boar’s Head Chicken.
“He’s doing amazing,” she said. “He’s definitely gained more weight than he probably should have, but he’s very, very hard to deny as you can imagine after everything he’s been through.”
Courtesy of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay
Bart relaxes at home. Despite everything he’s been through, the cat is never dissatisfied and loves people petting him. Courtesy of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
Valerie is grateful to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay for funding Bart’s recovery and leading the lawsuit on top of his hefty medical bills. She noted that the Humane Society’s local animal shelters are independent of the national organization and rely on community donations and grants to keep their doors open. She hopes Bart’s story will inspire people to support their local animal shelter and the pets they save.
Of course, she is also grateful that Bart’s incredible will to live has brought him into her life.
“He has the best personality by far. He’s the first to go to the door and greet everyone who comes through that door, ”she said. “He’s just always a happy beard. He’s just the coolest cat – he really is. He’s a happy boy. “
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: