A cat who suffered a facial deformity after being “attacked by another animal” has become a viral sensation online – thanks to his cheeky appearance and loveable nature.
Two-year-old domestic shorthair cat Figaro lives with owners Meagan Licari, 36, and Gregg Licari, 37, in Queens, New York.
The adorable furball was born on the streets of the city and was severely injured at a young age, leaving him with a disfigured face.
Doctors are unsure as to what caused the deformity – which means his tongue now hangs out of the side of his mouth at all times – but believe he may have been attacked.
Luckily, he was found by a stranger and taken to hospital before eventually being taken in by Meagan and Gregg when he was just seven weeks old.
While the couple had initially planned to foster him, they soon fell in love with Figaro and he is now firmly part of the family.
Despite his condition, the feline is thriving and has become a big hit on Instagram, where he has 45,900 followers.
“The day I took him from the hospital he was about seven weeks old, tiny, and scared,” Meagan, a pharmaceutical employee, told Jam Press.
“Figaro’s tongue hangs out of his mouth because he was found severely injured.
“Doctors think he either bit a wire or was attacked by another animal and it caused permanent damage to his face.”
Figaro has undergone two surgeries in an effort to fix his face but doctors don’t think they will ever be able to fully correct his issues.
Meagan said: “He had his first surgery after being in the hospital for two weeks so he was about six weeks old we estimated.
“He also had surgery at four months old, the same one he had when he was younger.
“Figaro had what’s called a ‘flap surgery’, where they stretch some skin from his neck to cover the opening in his face.
“Both surgeries only partially worked and we decided with his surgical team that it wasn’t fair to put him through additional procedures, so he hasn’t had any since.”
While there are obvious physical differences to Figaro, the feline doesn’t let his condition affect him and is determined to live his best life.
Meagan said: “He is as happy and healthy as any other kitty.
“He loves eating and while he does drop food out of his mouth sometimes, he really has no issues getting food.
“I have met a lot of cats and Figaro is truly special”
“He is outgoing, extremely chatty and you always know when he enters the room.
“Figaro chirps, chants and has a really strong meow.”
The cat is also very playful and likes to hunt toy mice.
Meagan said: “Once he is in play mode with a toy, he does this scream to let you know he has brought you his killed prey.
“He also likes to cuddle with me.”
Meagan started the cat’s Instagram account in April 2019 in the hopes of sharing his remarkable story with others and find him a “forever home”.
She said: “That was the initial plan but then we quickly fell in love with him.
“Although his appearance is super cute, he also is doing silly things like stealing lettuce off my plate and sleeping with his legs in the air and I think that’s why he’s become so popular.
“I also think his resilience and story really touches people”
His owners regularly share photos and videos of Figaro and they’re always inundated with thousands of likes and comments.
A recent video of the kitty enjoying a piece of lettuce garnered over 3,300 views, as users flocked to share their love for him.
One person wrote: “He is so adorable.”
Another user said: “I just love the tongue!”
“Good job figgy,” someone else added.
Figaro has truly changed Meagan’s life and she’s in awe of his resilient spirit.
The pharmaceutical employee said: “I love Figaro and all my cats so much.
“He truly brings joy and laughter to our lives every day, we don’t even need to watch TV with a character like him!
“Seeing him heal and grow up has been such a rewarding experience that I will cherish forever.
“I’m in awe of how these animals heal and recover from such trauma, it’s truly amazing.
“I’m so grateful I was a part of it.”
For more cute animals check out this year funniest animal pictures from the The Pet Comedy Awards