Little cat with a big quarterback name

Tebow the cat lying outside in a catio
Tebow was incredibly sick when he first came to Best Friends, but now he’s in a home and healthy enough to outsmart the dog.
By Jenny Agnew

In his new home, Tebow demonstrates the kind of athletic prowess one would expect from a cat named after a famous quarterback. But he wasn’t always this healthy. In fact, when he first came to Best Friends in Northwest Arkansas from Kitties and Kanines Shelter in Fort Smith, Arkansas, he was in rough shape.

Sick with an upper respiratory infection, Tebow refused to eat and began losing weight. Sarah Lorenzen, Best Friends lifesaving and care specialist, says they offered different foods to stimulate his appetite and used a nebulizer several times a day to clear congestion. Cats who can’t smell often lose their appetites, and it was critical to help Tebow regain his sense of smell. Sarah says they tried “all the things” to assist in his recovery: antibiotics, eye ointment and warm washcloths applied to his face to supplement the nebulizer.

Tebow finally dug into chunky tuna canned food and began to feel better. Because he couldn’t be around other cats at first due to his illness, the team often carried him wrapped in a blanket like a baby, something the affectionate kitty loved. Sarah says when they couldn’t find him they would just ask each other: “Who’s holding Tebow now?”

[Why kittens need us more than ever]

The close human contact wasn’t just good for physically warming Tebow up, but it was also good for his soul. Since he craved affection, Sarah is convinced carrying him around helped him heal more quickly, and recently she was recently gifted a cat sling in preparation for another Tebow-like cat needing some extra TLC.

The team also bathed Tebow several times at the lifesaving center and brushed his long hair regularly since he wasn’t grooming himself, something Sarah attributes to him not feeling well. But even though Tebow looked a little rough back then, his photo still caught Brittany Ramsey’s eye when her boyfriend, Blake, found it on the Best Friends website. There was something unmistakably special about Tebow, and Brittany couldn’t get him out of her mind.

Adopter sees double

Right around the time that Tebow came to Best Friends, Brittany’s beloved cat, Podrick, passed away. Looking at Tebow’s photo, both Blake and Brittany couldn’t believe how much he looked like Podrick. But despite the uncanny resemblance, Brittany wasn’t sure she was ready to adopt again. What if the spark she had with her other cat wasn’t there with Tebow? The only way to determine if her heart was ready for another cat was to meet him in person. And with that, she made plans to visit him.

[Kitty goes from scaredy-cat to snuggle bug]

The spark was there. Brittany was smitten and so was Tebow. As soon as he saw her sitting on the floor, he immediately hopped down from his cat tower and came to her. Through her tears, Brittany adopted him on the spot.

Cat quarterback

At home, Tebow is making up for all that time he felt under the weather. His best friends are a tortoiseshell cat named Turtle and a curly-haired goldendoodle named Jo. He also enjoys hanging out with Brittany and Blake’s four rabbits. Brittany says that one of Tebow’s favorite activities is hiding under the futon and then dashing out to bop Jo on the nose when the unwitting dog finds him.

Brittany describes Tebow’s play style as “parkour,” thanks to his high octane leaping and bounding through the house. No foot under a blanket is safe with Tebow ready to pounce at the smallest movement. But perhaps his quirkiest behavior, she says, is when Tebow sits on top of her back like a parrot, surveying the bathroom while she applies her makeup.

[Lesson from a cat: Hearts are made for love]

This month, Brittany and Blake will celebrate Tebow’s first birthday. They’re not sure exactly what his past was like or how old he really is. But they are absolutely positive that “Merlin the Magic Kitty,” as he’s sometimes called, fits perfectly into their family and has a future ahead of him filled with best friends, love and plenty of opportunities to outsmart the dog.

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