Eagle Harbor vet loses special member

Published 10:57 pm Saturday, November 19, 2011

The tomcat in a wheelchair, Funyun, was often seen patrolling the halls at the Animal Clinic at Eagle Harbor. He was wounded as a kitten when a toddler stepped on him, and his owners never got him proper care. He died recently of a seizure.

The halls at the Animal Clinic at Eagle Harbor are going to be a little quieter and less fun now that the staff has lost a special member of its team.

Two weeks ago, the animal hospital lost its resident mischief-maker — an orange tomcat named Funyun, who used a wheelchair as his only transportation.

Clinic manager Ellen Norris said 2-year-old Funyun passed away after he had a seizure, and the hospital staff was unable to revive him.

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“It’s very weird not having him around here anymore,” Norris said. “He was a fun little monster.”

Funyun came to Eagle Harbor a year ago after his owners turned him over, but he was in bad shape when he got there.

When Funyun was only two months old, a toddler stepped on him, injuring his spine and legs.

Instead of taking him to a veterinarian, his owners left him in a garage for eight months before bringing him to Eagle Harbor.

By the time of his arrival, doctors weren’t able to fix his legs, so the staff rallied together and raised money to buy a custom wheelchair for the cat.

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

Although the clinic was looking for a home for Funyun, staff members were smitten with the cat and his mischievous behavior around the office.

With his big personality, Funyun earned a celebrity status with hospital staff and clients.

Norris said Funyun’s amazing recovery served as an inspiration to a lot of people.

Before his death, the clinic staff brought Funyun with them to a visit at a kindergarten class.

“There was a little boy there who was in a wheelchair, too,” Norris said. “And he was so excited to show Funyun his wheels.”

She said they told the boy how Funyun had ended up with a wheelchair and how strong he was to overcome his circumstances.

A few weeks later, Norris said, the teacher called them to say the boy had drawn inspiration from Funyun to do his physical therapy and gain strength.

“It changed his life,” Norris said. “(Funyun) really made a huge difference.”

While Funyun’s death was sudden, the staff had noticed a change in the fun-loving kitty in the weeks leading up to his passing.

“He was getting odd,” she said. “He was always cantankerous — that was just Funyun — but he had gotten really bad.”

Norris said she wonders if he had more problems than his spinal injury from his accident that might have led to his death.

“It’s all kind of guessing,” she said. “It’s a possibility it could have been more to it than just that. We think there was something else going on in his head.”

In memory of Funyun, the Eagle Harbor staff has decided to keep the Funyun Fund to raise money for pricey surgeries and treatments for animals and owners that can’t afford them. The fund started to help raise the money for Funyun’s wheelchair.

“He got a lot out of everything the people did for him,” Norris said. “That’s why we started the fund so he could give back to other people and animals.”

The team is also donating his wheels back to Eddie’s Wheels, the company that made them, so they might be donated free of charge to another cat.

After losing the office mascot, the clinic staff still is getting used to not having the speed demon kitty under foot or making trouble while they are seeing patients.

“It’s weird not having him around,” she said. “He was a huge part of our lives.”

Norris added, “He was our mascot, and we were his staff. It was definitely his hospital.”