A Napa woman who is the earlier this year and brought to San Francisco to be treated said she feels a connection with the feline who hails from her father's homeland.
Laila Aghaie took white-and-orange tabby Maloos to her family's Napa home last week after she won a lottery held by the San Francisco Animal Care and Control, which had received numerous requests to adopt the Middle Eastern cat.
Maloos' tale began on a Tehran sidewalk in April where a passerby found him stuck to the pavement, soaked in gasoline and mud and covered with abscesses. He had been shot in the face and had deformed hind legs and spine problems, rendering him immobile, ACC spokeswoman Rebecca Katz said.
The concerned woman who spotted the cat called the Sayeh Animal Guardians, and someone who was part of that organization happened to know a person who was about to fly to San Francisco and could take the cat.
The group reached out to San Francisco Animal Care and Control for help in treating the injured feline, whose name means "cute" in Farsi.
Word of Maloos' arrival in San Francisco spread and that is when Aghaie became part of the story. She recounted reading an article online about a Tehran street cat brought to the Bay Area and thinking, "I have to at least meet him."
She made the trek into the city and visited the cat, with whom she instantly bonded. She put her name in as an interested adoptive family, understanding the chances were slim.
Aghaie, whose father was Iranian, was born in America but moved to Isfahan, south of Tehran, when she was 8 years old. She was there through 1979, when she returned to the U.S.
While in Iran she saw the rough life street animals faced and the few resources in the country to help feral cats and wandering dogs.
She said she had adopted a kitten from a Tehran animal shelter as a girl and saw Maloos as her connection to her past in the Middle East.
"Yes, he's just one cat," she said in a phone interview, "but he has this huge story that seems to resonate with people. There are so many dark stories about Iran...that this just gives everyone a little brightness."
Last week while chaperoning a school camping trip in the mountains with little cellphone service she received a belated message that she had won the ACC lottery and could take Maloos home.
"I almost cried," she said. "I've never won a lottery of my life."
This was the lottery to win and last Wednesday evening she brought home Maloos to start his life with her husband Jim and their two children.
"This isn't just any cat, this is more than that for me," she said.
Aghaie, who is the director of the Napa Valley Writing Project, part of a nonprofit organization that works with young students to publish their own writing, has decided to turn Maloos' story into a children's book that can educate the Iranian community about animal rescue.
She said the ACC connected her to the Iranian rescue group and she has been in contact with them but U.S.-Iranian restrictions make it difficult for her to support their efforts, even for charity.
As for Maloos, Aghaie said he is adjusting well to life in wine country. When he first arrived in San Francisco he underwent several surgeries and is now outfitted with a "wheelchair" to give him mobility; however, Aghaie said he has been managing without his wheels by scooting around -- and quickly.
She described the 2-year-old tabby as "unusually friendly and not afraid of people."
Aghaie has determined his near-death experience has shaped him into the playful, three-legged cat he is today, "He's been through the fire and come out the other side of it. He has no fear left."
For more about Maloos, please see "" and "."
By Bay City News Service
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