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This story's got legs

A kitten named Stockings had mobility problems, but a lot of heart

From Animal Sheltering magazine September/October 2014

A concerned citizen heard about a sick, deformed kitten living in a suspected hoarding situation. He managed to get the kitten and brought him to Tree House for urgent care. Stockings had a severe birth defect that left him unable to stand or walk. His legs were shaped like a “W.” But despite his backward legs, he showed an exceptional will to live and a zeal for life—even greater than most “normal” kittens. He put so much heart into his attempts at running and playing that we knew we had to try everything we could to help him.

Our director of veterinary services, Dr. Lynda Ewald, consulted with Dr. Steve Neihaus from Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center (CVES), and they came up with a plan. He had his first surgery—on his left back leg—and later a follow-up procedure on his right.

At first, Stockings’ right leg did not respond as well, and he underwent two additional surgeries. “We went forward with surgery knowing we could never make him normal,” says Dr. Neihaus. “Our goal was to make his feet functional so he could live a happy, pain-free life.”

Stockings’ energy and enthusiasm never waned throughout his recovery. The procedures worked even better than we anticipated! At first he struggled to walk, but to even see him take a few steps was breathtaking to all who had seen him when he first arrived, when he was unable to even stand. Soon, he was chasing his dog “brother” around the house and jumping onto furniture with no problem.

Then the inevitable happened: His foster mom, Priscilla Cherry, one of the vet techs at CVES, fell in love and decided to adopt him just in time for Christmas!

He still wobbles around a bit, but he’s learning how to use his “new” legs quite well. At a recent visit to the shelter, he even showed us that he’s learned to jump! We are proud at Tree House to specialize in the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured, abused and neglected stray cats like Stockings.

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About the Author

Director of development/community cats program director
Tree House Humane Society
Chicago, Ill.