Maloos04.26.12.jpg9:40 PM: The new owner of a cat rescued off the streets of Tehran 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 Wednesday night after she won a lottery last week held by the San Francisco Animal Care and Control, who 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 today 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 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.”

12:10 PM: An Iranian cat that was found injured on the streets of Tehran earlier this year has a new lease on life after being flown to the Bay Area and treated, then adopted by a Napa family this week, a spokeswoman for San Francisco Animal Care and Control said.

Maloos, a small 2-year-old orange-and-white tabby, was found stuck to the pavement in Tehran in April, 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, Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Rebecca Katz said.

A concerned woman in Tehran 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.

On April 15, Maloos was picked up at San Francisco International Airport, and under the care of ACC, he has undergone several surgeries and is now outfitted with a “wheelchair” to give him mobility.

Katz said that despite a missing back leg and congenital deformities, Maloos is growing accustomed to his wheelchair and is “playful, spunky and very congenial.”

After hearing news of Maloos’ arrival in the Bay Area, residents became smitten with the Middle Eastern cat, expressing interest in adopting him and donating money for his care–allowing the city shelter to provide for him without dipping into taxpayer money, Katz said.

“We normally don’t take animals out of county, let alone out of the country,” Katz said.

The ACC held an adoption lottery last week after a growing list of families said they wanted to take care of cat, Katz said. Napa resident Laila Aghaie and her family won the lottery, and took Maloos home on Wednesday.

Coincidentally, Aghaie and her family are of Iranian descent and Aghaie has already started working with the Iranian-based animal rescue group.

Aghaie apparently had a special connection with the cat, who responded well to some Farsi phrases, and the tabby seemed to enjoy playing with Aghaie’s 10- and 12-year-old children, Katz said.

Katz said Aghaie is contemplating publishing a children’s book about Maloos’ tale, with proceeds from the book going to international animal care and rescue efforts.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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  • Iona Derman

    This is the sweetest story. I love the SF Appeal!! Kudos to the editors for caring enough to print this lovely, uplifting story. Humanity lives on despite a world that is seriously going in the pooper.

  • Iona Derman

    This is the sweetest story. I love the SF Appeal!! Kudos to the editors for caring enough to print this lovely, uplifting story. Humanity lives on despite a world that is seriously going in the pooper.