An adorable cat by the name of Lucy has gained a huge following on social media after a rare condition means she looks like a bat.
When owner Zilla Bergamini first saw Lucy in a video of from her friend - a cat breeder - she instantly became smitten with the unique-looking Sphynx cat.
Speaking to Meow AF, Zilla recalled how it was "love at first sight". However, her friend sadly informed her that the kitten was sick and not up for sale.
Zilla's friend revealed that Lucy was taken to a veterinarian and later diagnosed with hydrocephalus - a condition characterized by a build-up of fluid in the brain.
The vet revealed that some vets may be willing to operate on the cat, but that he believed it wouldn't be worth it. Undeterred, Zilla offered to adopt the special needs kitten, and the two finally met.
While waiting for Lucy to arrive, Zilla was sure to research all about hydrocephalus and all the possible outcomes that could come with her time with Lucy. Zilla researched the best veterinarian neurological center in the country, and even set up a fund to cover any surgery or medication.
On March 15, 2019 - when Lucy was just two months old - she arrived at her new home in Haifa, Israel. Despite being over the moon to finally have Lucy living with her, Zilla recalls feeling nervous because Lucy's "future was uncertain".
Sadly, Zilla's first few days with Lucy were filled with worry, as the kitten cried constantly in her new home. Zilla also realized that Lucy hadn’t emptied her bowels once.
Taking Lucy back to the vet that had been treating her since she was born, Zilla was informed that Lucy will need to take eye drops for the rest of her life. Although, the vet could not find a medical explanation about Lucy's bowel movements, and suggested that the kitten was probably just "hiding it".
But after seeking treatment from another Vet, Lucy was unable to stop emptying her bowels. Zilla recalls how she "practically leaked poop 24/7 for more than two weeks straight". Lucy was being put to bed every night in a tiny diaper and spent most of her time being held by Zilla.
It may have been unpleasant for both of them, but Lucy and Zilla formed a special bond in this difficult period - and the kitten remained happy and even started to respond to her name.
After Lucy's pooipng was under control, Zilla took the cat to see a specialist. She discovered Lucy’s hydrocephalus had caused her skull to grow in an unusual shape, which caused her eyelids to irritate her corneas. Amazingly, Lucy's eyes were saved and now she doesn't require eye drops.
Now, Lucy - although under a watchful eye - is enjoying her life in spite of her condition. Zilla says she loves watching the sea and the birds from the windows of their home.
She also loves being taken on walks in her stroller.
Zilla explains that many families who have cats with hydrocephalus turn to euthanasia due to the belief that the cat will need expensive brain surgeries. However, Lucy is living proof this isn’t always the case, explaining: "Every little thing could be a big problem for her because she is more delicate than a 'normal' cat, but it isn’t always a death sentence."
And now Lucy is even a social media star, amassing more than 22,000 followers on Instagram, with many of her biggest fans likening the cat to a bat (hence the handle LUCYTHEBATCAT).
If you'd like to follow Lucy's story, go give her a follow on Instagram.