A cat with wheels

Published 9:31 pm Saturday, August 13, 2011

Funyun: Even though he is unable to use his back legs, 2-year-old Funyun the cat gets around just fine with his custom-made wheelchair, which came complete with off-road tires.

Funyun makes a remarkable comeback

There’s a mischievous kitty cruising the halls of the Animal Clinic at Eagle Harbor in Carrollton.

He might act sneaky, but he’s hard to miss when he makes his way into the room, with a bright mohawk between his ears and color-coordinated pants covering his bottom half, which is perched upon his only means of transportation – his wheels.

Two-year-old Funyun is famous at Eagle Harbor. People come in daily to visit the kitty that has a speed demon attitude to go with his set of wheels.

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“He’s a cat with a mohawk and an attitude,” said Ellen Norris, the clinic’s manager. “He pretty much runs the place.”

His burly front legs pull him along, with his wheels spinning behind him, as he makes his rounds every day.

Norris said the cat lives up to the mohawk shaved into his fur.

During his days at Eagle Harbor, he loves to make trouble for the staff by getting under foot, tearing into paper work and intervening when he thinks other cats are in trouble while receiving care at the clinic.

“He’s very, very sneaky,” she said. “He definitely gets into trouble.”

Norris said she thinks Funyun believes the staff works for him, and they even call themselves Funyun’s pit crew.

But the orange tomcat hasn’t always been a troublemaker with a big personality, Norris said.

In fact, when he first arrived at Eagle Harbor last November, he was meek, quiet and in big trouble.

When Funyun was only 2 months old, a toddler had stepped on his tiny body, smashing his back legs. But instead of getting the cat immediate care, the owners left him in their garage for eight months before surrendering him to the clinic.

“When we got him, he was to the point he couldn’t do anything,” Norris said.

After the lack of care for such a long period of time, Funyun’s legs were beyond repair – he would never be able to walk unless there was a different solution.

The staff found Massachusetts-based Eddie’s Wheels, a company that specially designs pet wheelchairs, and set about to making Funyun mobile again.

“We were convinced he’d take to it,” she said. “He wanted to walk; he always wanted to be involved with things.”

In fact, the clinic staff was so confident in Funyun, they requested a cart with off-road tires, so he could be an outside cat.

When his wheels arrived in January, the staff members gently placed Funyun’s orange body into the cart, with his limp back legs strapped in beside him.

“By the time he got his wheels, he just went crazy,” Norris said. “He just started running.”

And he has been on the move ever since.

Even when he spends the weekends at the home of Norris or pet assistant Alicia Sallas, he loves to be outside.

“We live on 10 acres, and he will run all over,” Sallas said. “It’s like he owns the place.”

Norris said the birds and squirrels in her yard hate Funyun, because he loves to chase after them while he’s outside in his wheels.

She said she thinks Funyun inspires people to see how animals can bounce back from anything.

“To look at him as an outsider, he’s very inspirational,” she said. “I think we set limits to what we can and cannot do. It’s amazing what (animals) can do compared to what we can do.”

And while he might not know it, Funyun also does his part to help other animals, too.

The Funyun Fund was established to raise money to get his wheels, but the clinic continues to collect money in his name to help pay for procedures for rescued animals.

Funyun has become the mascot at Eagle Harbor, but the staff still continues to look for someone who will adopt him, knowing it will take a lot to take care of him.

“It’s a huge commitment,” Norris said. “It’s not just getting any cat. He’s very different than most cats.”

Still, Eagle Harbor staffers admit they would miss seeing him everyday.

“It would be weird to come in every day and not say hi to Funyun,” Sallas said.

Norris said Funyun makes her laugh every day, and she sometimes looks at him and thinks how amazing it is that he’s done so well.

“Before this, he spent his time in a garage,” Norris said. “Now, look at him. He’s a star.”