When the band Chumbawamba sang, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, You are never gonna keep me down” in the 1997 hit tune “Tumbthumping,” they probably didn’t have Toby the cat in mind, but they may as well have.
You see, 7-year-old Toby has had a real hard-knock life: He had been abandoned by his original owners and given to a new family, then walked over 12 miles back home only to be rejected again and turned in to local animal authorities to be euthanized, according to WRAL.com.
When PEOPLE caught wind of the feline’s sad story, we reached out to the SPCA of Wake County in North Carolina to learn more about this determined kitty — but we weren’t the only ones concerned about him. Communications manager Tara Lynn told us, “This has been crazy! He’s gotten so much attention, but it’s certainly very, very cool.”
Lynn said Toby was turned in to a county shelter before he was brought in to them. “It’s funny,” she says. “He’s very sweet, but he didn’t get along with his [feline] roommate. We thought he’d need to be adopted out as the only cat in a home, but his new family has two other cats and he’s fine with them. He’s just been through a lot and wasn’t settled yet.”
Luckily, according to Lynn, Toby “clicked with his new family, as if he’s always been there.”
This is especially positive news for the FIV-positive cat. Lynn doesn’t know if the original owners gave him up because of the medical condition; Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a slow-acting disease that affects a cat’s immune system, severely weakening it, and making the animal susceptible to other infections. According to WebMD Pets, “infected cats who receive supportive medical care and are kept in a stress-free, indoor environment can live relatively comfortable lives … for years.”
Lynn concurs with this and tells PEOPLE that most vets say as long as FIV-positive cats get an immune boost of vitamins (other vets say the cat can be okay even without this treatment), they can still live a long healthy life.
“It’s cool, people were interested in him despite his FIV,” says Lynn, including his new family, who originally learned about Toby through a post on Beth Stern‘s Instagram.
Stern’s post was seen by the adoptive mom’s sister in New Hampshire, who sent it to her relatives in North Carolina, and the rest is a happy ending for all involved — especially Toby. The extended family members have all welcomed him into their hearts with open arms (and open paws). He even has his own Instagram account now, with over 14,000 followers!
Lynn isn’t exactly sure why Toby’s story went viral, telling PEOPLE “it’s special but not unique”— which is why the local SPCA is capitalizing on its kitty representative’s newfound fame and continuing to promote his tale to attract attention to an upcoming local dog walk for charity. Animal lovers can now make a donation in his honor; to support Toby’s Team for the SPCA of Wake County Dog Walk on May 6, click here.