As you may have noticed, he is missing a common cat part: a set of pointy, triangle ears. Unfortunately, Otitis had to have his ears removed after developing Otitis externa, a condition that caused the feline to develop large cysts on his ears and also gave Otitis his name.
His previous owners did not treat the issue and, unable to afford the surgery to remove Otitis ears when it became untreatable, ultimately surrendered the pet. Feline Rescue Association of Baltimore stepped in to cover the sweet kitty’s surgery and work on finding him a forever home.
This is where Molly Lichtenwalner becomes part of the story. Over a year ago, the Baltimore native endured a serious car accident, which left her with severe anxiety. In March 2016, she went on Petfinder.com to look for a comforting companion to help her through these hard times, and in a few clicks found Otitis. She instantly new he was her destiny.
“I grew up on a farm and always had animals around me that gave me so much happiness. I helped train my parents’ deaf Old English Sheepdog, and when I came across Otitis, I just knew he was meant for me. I always wanted to adopt an animal that was older and had some special needs; the ones the least likely to find a home (unlike kittens),” Lichtenwalner told PEOPLE Pets.
The special needs cat, who has lost some of his hearing because of the surgery, has exceeded her expectations.
“He has been nothing but amazing. He immediately adjusted to his new home with me and he truly saved me from my own anxiety. He loves to play and snuggle, and nothing is better than coming home to him and experiencing true unconditional animal love. I didn’t rescue him, he rescued me,” Lichtenwalner added.
Hoping to inspire others to give homes to traditionally less adoptable animals, Lichtenwalner started an Instagram for Otitis where he can show off his sweetness and unique look.
The @adventuresofotitis account now has over 16,000 followers, who all adore watching the feline snuggle, snooze and offer up the occasional sassy remark.
But Otitis and Lichtenwalner’s mission to raise awareness about special needs animal adoptions doesn’t end here. The pair recently celebrated a successful Kickstarter campaign. With the funds, Lichtenwalner and her roommate, who are both speech therapists, are creating a children’s book about Otitis, his journey and how his differences make him unique and beloved. Through his story, Lichtenwalner hopes others will learn to embrace their differences as some of the most beautiful parts of who they are.