There’s nothing quite like Belarus. The cross-eyed rescue cat earns thousands of dollars for animal charities with his adorable goofy eyes. To look at Belarus just once is to fall in love with him. The thing is, it’s impossible to know for sure if Belarus is looking back at you, but it really doesn’t matter. Looking at Belarus just makes you smile a lot. As of February 7, 2020, Belarus has more than 257,000 followers on Instagram who smile, too.
The beautiful long-haired gray cat has bright yellow eyes that usually look in two different directions. Belarus can’t help it. He can’t control his eyeballs because he has strabismus. The condition can affect one or both eyes. In Belarus, it affects both eyes. Veterinarians describe the condition as a deviation of one of the four rectus muscles inside the eye. These muscles control eye movement, and when one has an abnormal position, it causes tension and that causes displacement of the cat’s normal gaze.
Belarus usually gets around just fine with his googly eyes. He can see well for most activities. He only occasionally will paw at his water bowl. The rest of the time he’s as curious as any other cat and spends plenty of time exploring new places.
The Friends of San Francisco Animal Care & Control gave Belarus a Donor Salute.
That’s because Belarus helped his mom, Rachel Krall, to create a Belarus t-shirt fundraising drive. Belarus was adopted at the San Francisco Animal Care & Control shelter in June of 2018. One year later, Rachel decided that she and Belarus should give back to the shelter, so she partnered with the company Bonfire to make t-shirts using Belarus’ sweet face. A tag line, “Love isn’t blind; it’s cross-eyed”, was added to the shirts and they were sold online. The proceeds from sales went to the Friends of the San Francisco Animal Care & Control. Next, Belarus’ face appeared on a winter sweatshirt with a message included on the back which was, “Adoption: The Best Pedigree”. The proceeds from the sweatshirt fundraiser were split with 100% shared between Oakland’s cat Town and the Friends of the San Francisco Animal Care & Control. But Rachel wasn’t done yet. She started a donation of supplies from litterbox.com and hand-delivered the lot to the shelter in December. She wanted to help the shelter after she discovered Belarus there.
Belarus did have a forever family before he arrived at the San Francisco shelter. Unfortunately, his previous family had to surrender him to the shelter because of some issues with their landlord. Belarus spent about a month at the shelter. But, photographer Josh Norem (@furrtographer) took a series of photos of Belarus and posted them on the shelter’s Instagram account. That’s how Rachel found Belarus and knew that she wanted to see him in person. Rachel had already been looking for a companion in her own home. She had already poured over the shelter photos for three years looking for just the right one. Belarus was described as needing a loving, quiet home, and Rachel knew that she could provide that for him. She made an appointment to meet Belarus at the shelter and was give permission to take him home to her home in San Francisco.
Rachel made certain the Belarus has his own Instagram account. His fans can find him @My_Boy_Belarus and enjoy all the photos of his googly self on the site. Rachel says that Belarus is a very curious cat. He really enjoys playing with balls, he’s intelligent, and he doesn’t slow down just because his eyes are googly.
Anyone who loves Belarus can purchase his official merchandise online at bonfire.com. He has his collection, named Belarus The Cat. Fans can buy the now famous “Adopted: The Best Pedigree” crewneck sweatshirt for $36.99. It’s available in gray, black, blue, purple, and red. There’s also a pullover hoodie for $38.99 available in the same colors as the sweatshirt. A unisex t-shirt is sold for $24.99 in black, purple, blue, pink, and green. A sleeveless, classic unisex tank top can be purchased for $26.99 and comes in grey white, green, blue and purple. Rounding out the selections are short and long-sleeved t-shirts, too. Bonfire promises to donate 50% of the profits for merchandise sold to the San Francisco shelter where Rachel met Belarus. As reported by People, Rachel told the Daily Mail that she originally pledged 50% of profits toward shelters, but she ultimately donated 100% of the proceeds.
Rachel was told that she won a lottery the shelter held to decide which person would be allowed to adopt Belarus. She received a phone call the evening she visited him with the news that she had won the lottery. Rachel still doubts that a lottery was ever held. When Rachel adopted Belarus, he wasn’t in prime condition. He had a broken tail, a bald spot, and a bit of a cold. He was a bit nervous around Rachel for about six months. But she fed him well and he gained four pounds. His tail also healed, and he became even more sociable and friendly. Rachel wasn’t really a cat person either. But Belarus won her over because he was so sweet. She decided to keep his name, though she never learned who gave it to him. What she does know is that he likes to watch birds in the morning, and he likes to cuddle by her at night. He snuggles next to her on the sofa.
Belarus has become a celebrity. People contact Rachel often to tell her that seeing Belarus has helped their depression, helped them to smile, and helped them through tough times. Because artists have created fan art of Belarus, Rachel has partnered with them to create pins and buttons which she has sold to generate money to help California’s wildfires relief efforts. From t-shirt sales alone, more than $6,000 has been donated to local animal shelters in 2019.
Belarus has become an international phenomenon. As Rachel continues to share the details of his life through social media, his photos have gone viral. Not only that, but the residents of the country of Belarus have discovered the cat who carries the country’s name. They have contacted Rachel with messages to tell her that they enjoy the Instagram account and all the news about Belarus the cat. While Rachel reports that Belarus’ favorite hobbies “include looking in two directions at once”, the truth is that he also tries to bury coffee and other things he thinks smells bad. Belarus is undoubtedly a very goofy, very special cat.