With his droopy eyes and sad face, the Brazilian cat has captured hearts of animal lovers around the world.
Sushi was born with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a condition that affects the connective tissues and causes his skin to be unusually stretchy. This explains his droopy, sad expression.
And yet despite this, for his owner, Larissa Yamaguchi, who adopted him in 2016, it was love at first sight.
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“My friend who rescues animals sent me photos of Sushi, he was a tiny black cat and right away I knew I wanted him. In the first picture I saw he looked like a normal black cat, but when he arrived, I knew that he had a different face. But I didn’t think it could be a genetic condition,” Larissa told the Daily Mail.
It was only four years later that his rare syndrome was diagnosed.
Determined to figure out what was wrong with him and try to make life a bit easier for her pet, Larissa spent the equivalent of R16 642 on medication.
"But nothing helped. After finding pictures online of a similar-looking cat, we found a cat dermatologist, and he was quite a shock even for her. She said the last time she had seen a cat like Sushi was more than 10 years ago!
“I was scared until we found out it wasn’t fatal, and was something we could handle.”
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Larissa says EDS affects each animal differently. For Sushi, it means the skin on his face is very flexible, especially his cheeks and his arms.
“The main issue is compulsive scratching, because the syndrome makes his skin dry and itchy, so he often tries to scratch the fragile parts. We have to be very careful or the wounds can get infected, and that takes a long time to heal,” Larissa says.
Since discovering his condition, she’s created an Instagram page for Sushi to raise awareness about EDS. The page already has over 2 600 followers.
While she’s used to his appearance, strangers are often shocked by Sushi’s droopy eyes.
“People say he looks sad all the time. Some people are shocked or scared, while some love his face at first sight and others laugh at him.”
His three cat siblings, on the other hand, love their brother, droopy eyes and all.
Sources: dailymail.co.uk, thesun.co.uk