- Calgary Citizen
- From domestic abuse survivor to runway model: Angus the cat shows off his custom-made clothing on social media while raising awareness
From domestic abuse survivor to runway model: Angus the cat shows off his custom-made clothing on social media while raising awareness
Angus the cat is celebrating one year as an Instagram model adorned in cute cat clothing, recently making an appearance on the runway as one of the guests of honour at the Humane Society’s Cocktails for Critters fundraiser.
But how he got there is nothing short of heartbreaking.
In July 2020, when Angus was just eight weeks old, he tragically became a domestic abuse victim.
Angus’ owner returned home after leaving the cat alone with her boyfriend to find the kitten badly injured with blistering burns. Thomas Clinton Edwards is serving 18 months for the incident and received a lifetime ban from owning animals.
Once reported to law enforcement, the kitten was seized and treatment was started for the suspected chemical burns that covered 30 per cent of Angus’ body, according to Calgary Humane Society (CHS) director of communications Weston Jacques.
“Over his lengthy recovery in CHS foster care, Angus lost skin, several toes, half his tail, and the tops of his ears,” he explains, adding the resilient kitten soldiered on.
“He eventually got to a point where, despite his permanently altered appearance, he was healthy enough to start enjoying life in an adoptive home. Angus is a sweetie pie.”
A cat called Angus
Since his adoption in late 2020, Angus has become a model, showing off his own personal line of cat shirts on his Instagram account, catcalledangus. He started wearing the clothes to protect his burns while recovering.
“Not solely fashion but also meant to protect his exposed skin from day-to-day risks most would take for granted,” Jacques adds.
Angus was one of the Rescues on the Runway at CHS’s annual Cocktails for Critters event, strutting down the red carpet in his custom-made cat tuxedo. The event is an important way to raise money to help treat animals like Angus.
At the event, the couple who adopted Angus—forensic veterinarian Dr. Margaret Doyle and Calgary police acting Sgt. Dennis Smithson—were featured in a video shown to the audience. (Editors note: The video features some of the cat’s burns and could be hard to watch for some people.)
Doyle treats animal abuse victims through the CHS and the police service, while Smithson is the subject matter officer for the Calgary police and conducts animal abuse training.
A miracle case
Angus wasn’t initially expected to survive, even with the extensive medical care he received.
The kitten needed nine anesthetics in the first two weeks of treatment, he needed regular bandage changes, and most of his back paws needed to be amputated as did the tops of his ears and tip of his tail, according to Doyle.
“Angus is a very good example of what happens when everybody comes together to do the right thing,” Smithson tearfully said in the video shown to the fundraiser attendees.
In fact, both Smithson and Doyle still get emotional sometimes when they think about Angus’ case. Both say it’s the one case that gets to them when they reflect on their careers.
‘He’s the cat that turned me into a cat person’
Doyle, a self-professed dog lover, never thought in a million years she would ever adopt a cat.
“He came to me as an abuse case, and he stayed,” Doyle tells Calgary Citizen, adding he needed 24-hour around-the-clock care.
It was a month before the veterinarian team realized Angus was going to survive.
“I knew that he’s not a normal cat and he would have some ongoing issues and considerations. And I didn’t want to worry about him being looked after later in life,” she says, adding that’s when she decided to adopt him.
“I’ve never had a cat before. I never wanted to deal with a litter box, cat hair everywhere in my life. I always had dogs… but he definitely won me over. He’s the cat that turned me into a cat person.”
A “cuddle bully” with a huge personality
Two years later, Angus is a “cuddle bully”.
“He likes to bully his way into people’s arms. Basically, you sit down at the table for any period of time and then he comes over quietly like he’s not up to anything and then just sort of throws himself into your arms,” Doyle says.
“He has a huge personality. To go through what he went through at such a young age, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he turned out to be a bit of a jerk or not like people. But he certainly has come out totally the opposite.”
Doyle and Smithson say Angus thrived on being one of the guests of honour at the Cocktails for Critters event.
“He was just thriving with all the attention. He wanted to be the centre of attention and wanted everyone to look at him,” Smithson says.
‘Crazy cat people’
Doyle laughs at the couple who went from not being cat people to being people who have a social media account for their feline.
“We kind of teased ourselves a little bit that we have totally turned into crazy cat people because we have a cat with a fairly big wardrobe,” Doyle says, adding he probably has more clothes than they do.
“When he was a baby and his wounds were healing, he had to wear a onesie to cover his wounds so he wouldn’t traumatize them. He never grew the hair back and the skin is quite fragile and badly scarred,” Doyle says.
Initially, they would buy Angus clothes from a pet store but as he got bigger, they needed something more, finding a woman in Quebec (Polocats cat clothing) who makes shirts for Sphynx cats that happen to fit Angus.
“She’s been absolutely fantastic. She sent me a bunch of trial shirts to try on him and then I sent her back photos and she basically designed the pattern for him for his body shape,” Doyle says, adding when they needed a tux, they went directly to Polocats for a custom fit.
“I said ‘hey, have you ever made a tuxedo for a cat?’ She laughed, she hadn’t but she was up for the challenge and she created a little tux for the event and it was super cute.”
An Instagram star
Angus is now two years old and his Instagram account has been running for a year.
“His story kind of spurred me into starting an Instagram just to get awareness out on animal abuse violence. He’s a domestic abuse survivor, he was part of a domestic violence case.” Smithson says.
“Domestic abuse violence affects everybody in the home, including animals. Animal abuse happens a lot more than people recognize or expect. It happens far too frequently.”
The couple has since adopted a second cat—or rather, Angus has.
“He was a barn cat that was only supposed to spend the weekend but Gus fell in love with him. He just curled up and they would sleep together all day long and groom each other,” Smithson says.
“We get a lot of animals through the house because of what we both do, and Gus is always great with tolerating whoever comes in, but as soon as Oliver came in he’s like, ‘This is my soulmate,’” Doyle adds.
While the Cocktails for Critters fundraiser is over, you can still make donations to the CHS to help animals like Angus.