From Paralysis to Hope: The Extraordinary Journey of HarPURR, the Resilient Rescue Cat

HarPURR is a unique rescue cat and a testament to the remarkable bond between humans and animals. As many have seen on his Instagram account, his journey from a fragile and paralyzed kitten to a symbol of hope and resilience is a tale that will inspire and uplift even the weariest of hearts.

To get the full story on HarPURR, we spoke to Shannon Basner, the compassionate founder of Mojo’s Hope, a foster-based rescue in Alaska dedicated to special needs animals, who opened her heart and home to this extraordinary feline.

A Chance Discovery

HarPURR’s journey began on the cold streets of Alaska when a Good Samaritan stumbled upon him at just three weeks old.

“They reached out to us and said, would you be able to take him into your program?” Basner says. “So we met up with these people and took him in, and then got him into our vet the next day.”

Despite his paralysis, this courageous kitten had miraculously survived the elements, a feat that left Basner in awe.

“His mom is the most amazing hero in the universe to me because she kept him alive outside in Alaska for three weeks,” Basner says. “It was in a really rough part of town too.”

A Mission of Compassion

Basner’s mission to provide special care to animals with unique needs at Mojo’s Hope aligned perfectly with HarPURR’s situation.

Mojo’s Hope is a bustling haven, sheltering 23 cats and two dogs, all of whom have found a place in the rescue’s embrace. Within the facility’s walls, a mission of caring for special needs souls takes center stage.

From diabetic felines who demand meticulous glucose control to those like Lady Purrl, who battles twisted leg syndrome, or Bridger McPurr, a recent addition with a paraplegic kidney. The roster also includes cats afflicted with cerebellar hypoplasia, or wobbly cat syndrome.

When new animals arrive at the rescue, “my first thing is to research and learn as much as possible, because I want to make sure we meet the needs of every single one,” Basner says. “Their quality of care is not just good but exceptional because they need to receive the best care possible.”

Basner has been involved in animal care for more than 30 years.

“As a child, I’ve always been involved with animals. And then as I got older, as soon as I was able to do things on my own, I started volunteering in various places like wildlife places,” she says.

In from New York, Basner volunteered with the SPCA in Manhattan, before moving to Alaska where she was able to work more closely with animals.

“It gave me that opportunity where I met Mojo,” she says.

Mojo was a special needs dog who was only with Basner for 10 months.

“He helped me really manifest my dreams of running a rescue,” she says. “I just want to make sure we go above and beyond in every single facet of their care. This is including, socialization, behavior shaping, positive reinforcement and daily enrichment. Ensuring that each one is living a fulfilling life.”

A lot of the rescue animals that come to Mojo’s Hope for help end up staying there because of their significant needs, Basner says. When HarPURR was rehabilitated, Basner considered putting him up for adoption. HarPURR made it clear he had other plans.

“He did not want to go anywhere else,” Basner says.

Unwavering Dedication

Early on, HarPURR’s tiny form bore the marks of a harsh life on the streets. Neglect had left its imprint – his once-pristine fur, now unkempt, and his belly bore the evidence of an unseen struggle. Caring for a paralyzed kitten came with a host of challenges, but Basner’s dedication knew no bounds.

HarPURR required round-the-clock care, including feeding every two hours and learning how to stimulate him to empty his bladder and bowels. This was more than a routine; it was a labor of love, a testament to Basner’s unwavering commitment to the well-being of the animals she cares for.

“Unfortunately, with cats who are paraplegic, it’s hard. They tend to get infections anyway just because we’re the proximity of the area,” Basner says.

Also a special education teacher, Basner had to get HarPURR into the vet clinic every day.

“So, I dropped him off at the vet clinic in the morning, went to work, came back after school, picked him up, got him home and then did the feedings throughout the night with him,” she says. “And then I also have a household of 25, so I have a lot of work to do.”

HarPURR added some welcome character to the mix, though Basner initially had to keep him separate, as he was yet able to be tested for feline leukemia or FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

It wasn’t long after before he started developing a relationship with rescue dog Cinder.

Cinder, a steadfast presence at almost 15 years old, became an unexpected guardian for countless fosters. Her nurturing nature extended to kittens, cats, and even dogs, making them feel cherished and secure. And then there was HarPURR, a spirited soul she welcomed into her fold with open paws.

Basner says HarPURR’s relationship with Cinder, who lives with cancer, has been extra special.

“What I loved about their relationship is that she just let him be,” she says.

HarPURR is typically feisty, and tough as can be, but Cinder found ways to gently redirect him and allow him to foster his own personality.

“Absolutely beautiful,” Basner says.

HarPURR learned how to get around on wheels when he was about two months old. It was a dance of adaptation, a testament to his resilience, compensating for the absence of his hind limbs.

HarPURR’s indomitable spirit has shone through as he’s adapted to his new life on wheels. Learning to navigate his specially designed wheelchair was a defining moment in his journey. It was a sight to behold as HarPURR fearlessly zoomed around, proving that even with physical limitations, he was a force to be reckoned with.

As Basner points out, not all cats are comfortable with this type of mobility. It only took HarPURR a week to master his maneuvering. From then on he was enjoying his freedom.

“He’s such a wild man,” Basner says. “I call him our feisty tornado of love.”

When it was time to upgrade, Basner got HarPURR’s second wheelchair from Eddie’s Wheels in 2020, a model he’s been enjoying ever since.

Spreading Joy and Positivity

HarPURR’s remarkable journey and resilient spirit caught the attention of animal lovers worldwide through his Instagram profile. What began as a way to share his story evolved into a platform for spreading kindness, positivity, and the belief that simple acts of compassion can make the world a better place. HarPURR’s daily adventures and mischievous escapades captured the hearts of thousands, transcending his role as a cat and becoming an embodiment of hope.

Rooted in an earlier venture, Basner’s drive for feline welfare found its voice through HarPURR’s resilience. From the dissolution of another project emerged a deeper purpose, a connection with Mojo’s Hope. HarPURR played a pivotal role in this evolution, intertwining his story with a mission that transcended boundaries, advocating for cats across Alaska.

Amidst the sea of online algorithms, HarPURR’s uniqueness shines bright. A cat in a cart, moving with unwavering determination.

“He just makes people feel good, and helps people who may have their own issues with confidence,” Basner says. “It may seem small to someone else. And it is a very small contribution. But to me, every single day when I can get on there and share something about him and his impactful nature, I feel like we make a little bit of positive change in this world.”

Those positive changes have led to an entirely new nonprofit organization focused on spreading HarPURR’s mission, “to insPURRire, advoCATe, eduCATe, encourage and demonstrate compassion!”

Facing Adversity With Love and Hope

In December of 2018, HarPURR was on the brink of death after crystals had developed in his bladder. The emergency vet was skeptical about his survival, but underestimated HarPURR’s tenacity.

“Hilarious,” Basner says. “They were like, ‘Oh, he’s not going to make it. He’s not going to bounce back.’ You don’t know HarPURR.

Within 24 hours, HarPURR had not only defied expectations but was causing a stir around the vet’s office. The staff had to call Basner in to pick up her cat earlier than expected,

HarPURR now lives with bladder cancer, which is not curable, but is manageable. Given HarPURR’s physical condition, Basner realizes his time on Earth may be limited, and that many people will feel the impact when he is gone.

“We just keep going,” Basner says. “As long as he’s eating. he’s zipping around and having fun, that’s what we do.

She encourages herself and others to “enjoy this moment because it’s so precious.”

HarrPURR’s legacy extends far beyond his unique circumstances. He has become a symbol of love, resilience, and the unbreakable bond between humans and animals. Through his story, Basner encourages us to embrace the present moment, cherish the relationships we hold dear, and believe in the extraordinary strength that exists within us all.

“Focus on the now because we just don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring,” she says.

A Future Filled with Hope

As HarPURR’s story continues to unfold, the future is a canvas of endless possibilities. Basner’s mission and HarPURR’s legacy serve as a beacon of hope, inspiring us all to embrace challenges, uplift one another, and contribute to a world where love and compassion know no bounds.

Let us all take a page from HarPURR’s book and approach life with the same fearless determination, and remember that even in the face of adversity, the human-animal bond has the power to uplift, transform, and create a brighter future.

See more of HarPURR in the video below!

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, spending time with his daughters, and coffee.
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