What is “Less Adoptable” Anyway?

This guest post was written by Claudia Tietze, an amazing woman I had the opportunity to meet in the flesh in DC last year, after several months of corresponding online.

I often wonder what “less adoptable” means.  As the owner of a differently-abled cat, Tiny Timmy who has neurological damage from over-the-counter flea and tick products, I think it means wanting the perfect cat as seen in Cat Fancy.

Isn’t that similar to the perception of human beauty in as a size 2 air brushed supermodel? Imagine if we didn’t associate with people who didn’t fit that specific narrow definition of beauty. It’d be a pretty lonely and boring existences don’t you agree? It’s our “imperfections” that make us special in our own way (Right now the song “Vogue” is going through my brain, kitty style!).

Tiny Timmy’s story is one of an extraordinary Healing Journey, which we have shared to inspire and educate thousands across the globe.

When we rescued Timmy we were told that he had a “muscle disorder.” The people in what we now call The Bad Place claimed the vague diagnosis of “muscle disorder” came from a vet, but when pressed for the records they admitted never having taken him.

Timmy was so ill when we rescued him; he could hardly keep his head up, could not stand and could not walk. We flea combed then bathed him while he hung limp in our hands. Despite their claim of “no fleas” and having used a cat flea spray on him to the point where we could feel it on his fur, we pulled over 350 fleas off of Timmy’s tiny body.

One of the few photos of a baby Tiny Timmy at “The Bad Place”


They’d give us the flea spray bragging it was “two bucks at Wal-Mart.” It was clear to us that Timmy’s issues had less to do with a “muscle disorder” and might be some sort of illness. We bathed him, removed the fleas and rushed him to the vet, bringing with us the bottle of flea spray and the soap we used to bathe him.

The vet took one look at Timmy and asked about the flea products. She said Timmy had a classic toxic reaction to the spray. She did not believe that Timmy would make it 48 hours even with care at the ER because of how severe his reaction was.  Instead of taking him to the ER, we took him home to comfort him and watched for signs of major seizure.

Timmy had a spark in his eyes that said he felt his life was not ending, but just beginning. He surprised us all. The little kitten not given two days to live has just celebrated his two-year birthday and rescue anniversary! He not only survived, but he thrives!


To the critical eye, it might seem that Tiny Timmy has “imperfections.”  He’s a gray and white harlequin tuxie and will never be featured on the cover of Cat Fancy. He wobbles when he walks, has small focal seizures and minor tremors – all much improved from when he first came to us. I can honestly say that Timmy is PERFECT in every way just the way he is. Not one day goes by that Timmy doesn’t bring warmness to our home and a smile to our hearts. He is very open and loving, playful, happy, fun and such an inspiration to us, and thousands of others across the globe.

Timmy is my hero. He has done so many things that no one believed he could do. He’s climbed up to the top of his four-foot scratching post, leapt up onto the bed and learned to run nearly without a wobble. He is a great bug hunter. He continues to amaze us and make us grateful for him every day.

We had never had a disabled cat in our home, but now we could not imagine a life without Timmy. His determined tippy-tapping marching across the floor, or his singing when he wants noms or an “airlift,” or the way he cuddles by our heads at night, falling into a deep and restful sleep, dreaming kitty dreams. We are blessed to have an excellent holistic vet who believed enough in Timmy to try acupuncture for some of his issues, but also to help him regain functioning (Thanks Dr. Jeff at Hawthorne Vet Clinic!).

Tiny Timmy for Kitty President!


Timmy has also opened my eyes to the widespread manufacturing of toxic flea and tick medicines that are legally on the marketplace.  Because of Timmy I am fueled by a new purpose to raise awareness of this problem and have been meeting with the EPA and other key stakeholders to try to get these products off the market and make manufacturers and retailers more accountable.

Thousands of pet owners have unknowingly treat their pet with products they assumed were safe only to learn the hard way they were sorely mistaken. Literally, tens of thousands of cats & dogs have adverse reactions to these flea & tick products every year.*  Timmy is now a Spokes-kitty educating pet owners and advocating safer alternatives. Along the way, I’ve meet thousands of kind, amazing, generous animal lovers both on and off-line. All thanks to Timmy, our adorable differently-abled kitty.

When you decide your home needs another cat or dog, I hope that you will look to those animals that truly need you. The ones who are blind, deaf, FIV +, have limbs amputated or are wobbly for whatever reason. You will find your life is richer and heart is fuller for having allowed these precious ones to bless your life. We would not hesitate to adopt another kitty with special needs. Timmy has been a true gift to us.

* The EPA said it received 44,263 reports of harmful reactions associated with topical flea and tick products in 2008, up from 28,895 in 2007. Reactions ranged from skin irritations to vomiting to seizures to, in about 600 cases, death of an animal. Source:CBS News online (March 2010)

MORE INFORMATION: Learn more about these products & find a list of safer alternatives at http://www.tinytimmy.org/fleas/alternatives/

To learn more about Timmy’s Story http://www.tinytimmy.org/timm or see his videos http://www.tinytimmy.org/timmy-tv

Also, please join Tiny Timmy’s Healing Journey on Facebook and be a part of our interactive tribute to the human-animal bond with our new project at http://www.timmystones.com


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  • Thank you for this post! Not only is it a great story of a “less adoptable” cat, it’s also a cautionary tale about those cheap, evil over the counter flea treatments. I just hope the humans who originally had Timmy and put that junk all over him never got another cat.

    • Sadly, I bet they will continue to breed “Drunken” kitties 🙁
      But thank god TT was saved and I agree, Claudia’s piece is extra special because it educates us all about the dangers of those terrible treatments !=^^=

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much Sparkle! We actually reported the people we got TT from to the “animal cops” at the Humane Society (that’s who runs the program here in Portland). We have tried to get the location of the original breeder, but he lives off the radar. We have a 10 mile radius around a city. One day I want to go and hang out in the seediest places and see if I can’t “happen” to run into him so we can report him.

  • Juani

    This was such a beautiful post,and trust me,if I didn’t already have 4 cats, I would adopt a special needs cat in a heartbeat.My heart holds a special place for all cats in need.

    • I think now that I know more about cats (I never had them growing up), i will make sure my next cat (s) are specially abled ones 🙂

    • Anonymous

      We were not sure we could handle a cat with the needs TT had, but there you go! It takes a village and now our future cats will all be specially-abled in some way. BTW our vet just said up to 5 cats is good. 🙂 *ahem*

  • Kid Sister

    For everyone reading about Timmy’s survival…. DO NOT USE HARTZ FLEA AND TICK PRODUCTS!  They can kill you cat…  I was lucky that my cat survived me putting the stuff between his shoulder blades.  There was way too much of it and rolled down his back.  He started wheezing! I quickly rinsed it off him using a wet rag full of vinegar and water and prayed and prayed.  He recovered, thank God.  I told my vet about it and she said that many cats have died under her care from Hartz products…  AND THEY ARE STILL ON THE MARKET!??!!  How disgusting.

    Katie Kat

    • Why don’t VETS warn their patients is what I’d like to know. Because so many of them don’t seem all that surprised about it when it happens to animals under their care! it is very upsetting indeed. I’m sooooo glad you were right there and able to help your kitty immediately and that he recovered. how frightening. you must have been so upset!

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to post and share your story. I hope you follow TINY TIMMY and his Mom online.

    • Anonymous

      I am so glad you hear your cat survived! I have a “what to do if” on TinyTimmy.org. Good that you reacted straight away. It isn’t just Hartz products either. Sergeants, Sentry (part of Hartz), Farnam, Wellmark, Biospot, Adams, Zodiac, yada yada. Pretty much all of them are very bad and cheaply made with harmful pesticides in them.

  • Dats amz terrible how deze products are given to kittiez.  Thank Daddy God dat Timmy Survived.  Him waz  a miracle fur sure! – Katie Kitty Tooz Mommy.

    • I know right Kat-Rennee Kittel? It’s so sad how many kitties and pups have been killed or injured…the grief and pain/guilt/anger those pet mom and dads must have felt/gone thruogh.
      TT was a very lucky little kitty. Thank you for sharing his story and spread the word so we can save more pups and kitties! =^^=

    • Anonymous

      The timing of us finding and rescuing TT was so perfect that I feel it was meant to be. He was not meant to die alone in a kennel, or in The Bad Place or in the forrest area they were going to dump him in. He is such an amazing kitty!

  • Dsavory

    Well done Claudia! Special kitties make wonderful companions. We have two in our gang, Jack (one-eye FIV +) and Nikita (one year with reoccurring vestibular dysfunction).

    • Hi Donna – you a heart of gold. Thanks so much for your support of I HAVE CAT and Tiny Timmy and for all your comments! =^^=

    • Anonymous

      DONNA!!! I was so sorry to have missed you in DC. Soon, though, we will meet in person. You can count on it!

  • mimi

    Oh Claudia .. you showed my favorite picture of Timmy… the “Timmy for President ” picture.
    What a blessing and life changing journey he has given you .. love  ya .. mimi


    • I love that photo too! i asked her to pick her favorites and she said these were her favs of the moment…that it’s like picking a favorite chocolate out of the chocolate box! ha!

    • Anonymous

      It’s my favorite too! L says it looks like he is addressing the United Nations. For me, he for some reason reminds me of Donald Trump saying “You’re FIRED”… only better looking, nicer and with better hair!

  • Timmy’s story is amazing, but sadly it’s not unique.  So I thank him and thank his humans for all they do to make sure that this story DOES have an ending.  

    • So true Rumpy Dog….it is nice to hear a story with a happy ending.  not only is has his life changed the better but he has been the impetus for change….for a rising up against harmful OTC medicines!

    • Anonymous

      Rumpy you ROCK!

  • Kizzie

    Timmy is a beautiful cat.  Well done to all concerned for getting him so far and hope he continues to make good progress.

    • Hi Kizzie! Thanks so much for stopping by and for taking the time to comment! =^^=

    • Anonymous

      He continues to make improvements – sometimes small but often it’s the big ones that astound us. It was only recently in the past few months that he started to be able to leap up onto the bed! He sets his mind to something and keeps going and going, figuring out how he can best do it himself, and then one day he does it!

  • meowmanor

    This is such a wonderful article on our Tiny Timmy!!! He is soooo adorable and loveable…everyone RAH’s for Timmy!!!! <3<3<3

    • lots of RAHs for TT!!!! thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Anonymous

      RAH!!! (Thank you so much!)

  • Tiny Timmy is beautiful and has a real warm loving home. We, too, give our love back and more to whom loves us, special needs. Purrs to you and your mom.

    • He certainly has amazing “peeps” as he would say 🙂
      Thanks to commenting – we LOVE TT!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much! Timmy is amazing and an inspiration to me!

  • what a great story tamar 🙂 i love tiny timmy!

    • Hi sweetie – he is amazing. How ya doing?

  • We loves us our TT! Such a handsome guy! I don’t usually post comments to your posts, but I always read them. But, TT’s handsome mug just deserves a W00T W00T!!!!

    • Hi Mandy! Thanks so much for posting! I agree, TT is extra special!

    • Anonymous

      THANK YOU!!!

  • Morriganbf

    Tiny Timmy and Claudia have been friends of mine for what seems like forever and there isn’t a day when one or the both of them give me the courage to move forward in my life.  The fight to get OTC off the shelves for “$2.00” a can is a worthy cause. 

    • How lovely – I would like to meet them both in person. How lucky you have been to have them in your life for so long. I’m so thrilled I know them now! Thanks for visiting IHC and posting a comment! =^^=

    • Anonymous

      You ROCK Morrigan! And Timmy says he loves yous mostishly!

  • i have been friends with claudia and timmy for over a year now and i agree he is a special kitty i admire their strength and determination
    and they are an inspiration to us all
    flea and tic product safety is an inoortant subject and i think it is
    awesome that in sharing his story timmy is helping make more people keeo theor pets and families safe
    loves you timmy

    • Anonymous


  • Dawn

    Claudia, what a beautiful tribute to Timmy.  My Lola came from a “bad place” and although she may never make the cover of Cat Fancy with the goop in the corner of her eyes and licking her runny nose, she is perfect to me.  This story should be published EVERYWHERE!!! It really brings to light that there is no such thing as “unadoptable”.

    • Thank you Dawn for reposting Claudia’s piece about TT.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much and it’s very true! Thank you also for sharing the story and creating a ripple!

  • kittensaustin

    OMG…Tamar….Thank you so much for posting this! I know of not buying this crap from stores. Our vets through the years always told us never to buy it. Even way BEFORE the days of “Revolution” or “”Advantage” our vet’s always gave us the “flea dips” for the cats..the cats hated them because the poor things had to get wet…but it worked for our kitties…and of course this was way back in the days also when vets never told you that it was okay to let your kitty go out and travel the outdoors and get all the sickness’ that other cats carried…My heart<3 goes out to Tiny Timmy and for his Mom Claudia to write this for all of us. @Claudia: You have a beautiful angel that will bring love and joy to your world. One of my friends will only adopt "special needs" kitty cats and each and everyone of them have their own little personality and thier own special way of giving their love to you. I am typing this with tears of joy because you are a great lady along with Tamar who never stops fighting for our beautiful felines<3 I will share your article with everyone that I know and about these deadly/  debilitating medicines…Love U

    • Thank you Kittens Austin for your kind words and for sharing this post! Mwah! xo

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much for the kind words. It really isn’t anything extraordinary I have done but Timmy sure is! If you look at TT’s YouTube (his channel is TinyTimmySpeaks) you will see a video pre-DC called Be The Wave. Congrats! You are now making a ripple by sharing Timmy’s story!

  • Kgalmiche

    Claudia this is such a beautiful story of love.  God Bless you for being there for Timmy.  If it weren’t for Timmy (and of course you) I would not know about these toxic products!  Please continue to move forward on your quest.  Count on me for anything I can do to help.

    • Thank you for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment 🙂 We love TT! 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for posting this story from Tiny Timmy’s mom!

  • Aladdinbooturek

    I just love Tiny Timmy’s story..I have been following hos progress and will never cease to be amazed by his determination and his wonderful success stories. He has a wonderful family who along with giving him a loving happy home, fight for the rights for other animals to have the same opportunities as Timmy…He is just the cutest little guy too!!

    • HI ALADDIN! Thanks so much for reading and posting and supporting TT! He is truly a wonder!

    • FROM TT : “For some reason I could not post under Aladdin but wanted to say I have been reading these comments to TT and he immediately perked up and said “BESTIE!!!”

  • Pupepause

    We just adopted a wobbler and I could not agree with you more! He is pure joy, determination and love!

  • What a beautiful story.  I adopted a 3 legged cat who has since passed.  The most appreciative, loving creature who was saved from the depths of hell and given a loving home.  She’s gone now but I’m glad I was able to give her a good life and lots of love.

    • Hi Janet! Thanks for posting….awww…..do you have photos of your tripod baby? Do post to the I HAVE CAT FB Page we’d love to see her. Thank you for saving that sweet soul.

  • Becca

    It’s interesting for me to find that you can buy such toxic flea and tick preventatives in America (I’m from Sydney, Australia). We’ve been treating our cats with a once a month solution (Advocate, Frontline or Revolution) for years, and I’ve never even heard of such toxic treatments. I guess it’s another case of not having good enough checks and standards for animals, where most companies would baulk at treating humans in the same manner.

    • It’s so true…please do check Tiny Timmy’s website out for all the facts about all the different products on the marketplace – it’s truly shocking. even some brand names we trust!
      thanks for visiting and taking the time to post Becca! 

      •  I bet they have them in Australia too sadly

        • Becca

          Definitely. I’m hoping I haven’t come across them, but I’m now researching the ingredients and effects of the treatment that we use. After reading this story I want to make sure that I’m not treating my fur baby with something that is going to harm him.

    • Anonymous

      You do have the same products in Australia. In fact, the US has “banned” organophosphates for use in pet products but Australia still has a lot of them on the market. Organophosphates are akin to dioxin used in Agent Orange and are very harmful to people even in small amounts. These products are in most countries under different names. Here, Frontline was responsible for the most adverse reactions in 2008 and 65% of children’s adverse reactions.

      • Becca

        Just saw your reply after posting above, thanks for the info! Frontline is now definitely out as far as I’m concerned, I’ve thrown myself into researching Revolution, which we’ve been using, and considering just managing the apartment as a flea-unfriendly zone instead of using any chemical treatment.

        • Becca

          Also wondering if you’ve come across any similar problems with worming treatments? Obviously the topical ones that do both fleas and worms are prone to problems, but any others that should be avoided?

  • What an inspiration Timmy is! It is so unfortunate, that as pet owners, we think we are doing the right thing by our pets, only to find out we are harming them. Why are life threatening and dangerous products even put on a shelf? All kitties are beautiful to me and each is precious and endearing in their own special and unique ways.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much! We try to not only share Timmy’s story but to do so in a realistic and inspirational way.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you don’t mind that I answered that Tamar – they are in Oz as well. 

    • Anonymous

      of COURSE not! i want you to answer/respond as you wish!

  • Anonymous

    For some reason I could not post under Aladdin but wanted to say I have been reading these comments to TT and he immediately perked up and said “BESTIE!!!”

    • i reposted under his comment for you! xo

  • Abby

    We too have followed Timmy for some time and we think of him as a hero and also his Mom and Dad are heroes too for saving him from that Bad Place and believing in him. YOU ROCK Timmy!

    • Thank you for posting and for loving and supporting TT and his peeps! 

  • Milo and Alfie

    What a beautiful special cat Timmy is ~ we ae so glad her found his loving forever home in time.

    • Hi Milo and Alfie, 
      Thanks so much for reading Claudia’s post and taking the time to leave a comment. TT is a very lucky and special kitty for sure!

  • Sachie+Goma

    timmy i just love you!!!

    • Hi Sachie (and Kuma and Goma!). Sachie i loved your SKYPE posts! You are so very creative!
      Yes we all love TT! 

  • Sideview

    did you know a treatment of salt on affected carpets, then vacuum it all up dessicates the flea eggs and they don’t hatch. be careful to clean the vaccum afterwards as salt is corrosive

  • Sideview

    I nominated you as a VERSATILE BLOGGER here

    • oh my goodness!!! i’m sorry i have been so late in replying! thank you so much for honor! 

  • Hi Timmy.  I’m a very proud member of the differently-abled brigade.  How proud you must be of yourself having improved so much.  Nothing stops us, does it?  xoxoxo from Lily in Australia

    • Hi LILY! Thanks for visiting and posting. You are a special kitty too! xoxoxox

  • This story brought tears to my eyes! I decided long ago, when I’m ready to adopt another cat, I will be getting a “less adoptable” cat, either old or with special needs. It breaks my heart that so many people just walk right past cats like that, they need just as much love as perfectly healthy little kittens! 

    • Me too! I didn’t know as much as I do now when I first got my kitties. I love TT and his peeps are the bestest! 

  • Zoe Spumoni

    Yayayayay, Timmiful an Mommiful!

    Is dae wike one uf da bessest, or wat!?

    Wellw, I not need to say awl uf us at mi howse was be da ‘undeboptables’ too! Isnt dat wuckiful?! Now we gots eben awsumifuller homes! Heehee! Yah! I ebrybunnies! Mwah!

    •  Hi sweet zoekins! I’m soooooo sorry it took me ONE MONTH to reply to your post. I read it and it made me smile (as you always do) and then silly things got in the way and I didn’t reply!
      Please forgive me and thanks for posting love!

  • Stuart

    Thanks for posting this. It is not possible to take cats back into the UK (where I am from) without giving them medicine (my cat would throw up later and act really sick) so I have moved overseas permanently now.

  • Angelina

    Most people will NOT adopt animals with special needs and/or NOT pedigree breed. Tried, tested and proven over and over again. Last month, I “rescued” a domestic cat with her 3 kittens. (The mother cat brought her kittens into the back of the office, and I was the one feeding and cleaning them on a daily basis, even on weekends). I advertised for help at certain website and groups on FB page. Nobody wants to foster them, let alone giving them a permanent home. All in all, it took me a month to find them a permanent home. On the other hand, when I see cats/kittens of pedigree breed are looking for a permanent home, suddenly those who say they are unable to care for another cat/kitten due to space constraint etc, they are the first one to post and want to adopt them. If domestic/common cats/kittens are having difficulty finding a fosterer, let alone a permanent home, it will be even more difficult for those with special needs to find a place they can call home. Sad, but true.

  • Cynde

    Good for you and Timmy for working with the regulators to force them to look at the potentially harmful effects of these substances on our companion animals. People forget that if this stuff is hurting their animals (which is itself bad enough), it has the potential to harm us, since we are in contact with our animals all the time. It took EPA a long time to force industry to tell it what is in pesticides and herbicides that are used on crops, but once it did, several items came off the market because the producers couldn’t demonstrate they were safe. Let’s hope the same is true for flea products. Besides, there are so many effective natural flea fighting compounds that I see no need for us to continue using petroleum-derived ones. Bravo to you both for taking on the bad guys!