Hope’s story begins with a bit of mystery. We do not know what the first four or five weeks of her life were like. We do not know what happened to her mom, or her litter mates. What we do know is that Hope was alone much earlier than any kitten should have to be.
A very nice lady was driving down a lonely road in Cumberland County, North Carolina, when she saw a little gray and white blob moving on the shoulder. She pulled over and saw a little kitten - not older than five weeks - literally dragging herself down the shoulder by her two front paws.
While this kitten had no visible external injuries, she was completely unable to use any part of her body from the mid-spine down.
She was hurt, scared, and had a coat full of road gravel and fleas.
The woman immediately picked the kitten up and brought her to the Cumberland County Animal Services shelter. This kitten, as sweet as she was, was a candidate for euthenasia.
The shelter simply did not have the time or resources to care for a cat in this condition. The extent of her injuries was completely unknown. There was obviously some serious trauma, and the kitten had no feeling or reflex in her hind paws, but x-rays didn’t show any broken bones. She was bleeding internally, but it wasn’t clear if it would heal on its own, or if it would require surgical intervention.
And even assuming she regained some function, the bleeding stopped, and by some miracle she lived to the end of the week, how on earth could a munciple shelter find and vet an owner for her? The shelter was already so packed with cats that they were literally giving them away, and there would be no way to make sure that whoever adopted her was ready for the responsibility.
There were no available animal rescues to take her on, either. She was going to be months and months of work. Rehabilitation, physical therapy, acupuncture, possible surgeries. And all this just to get her adoptable - to say nothing of the ongoing care that a paralyzed kitten would require.
Her only real option was to be humanely euthanized. It just made the most sense.
Except I got to meet her. And I fell in love.
I didn’t stand a chance against this sweet kitten.
I convinced the shelter, against all advice, to let me take her home for a day or two. If nothing else, I just wanted to give her a few nights of love, a warm bed, and some good food. If all I could do was ease her suffering for at least a few days before she passed, it was enough.
This sweet little kitten decided to take the opportunity to worm her way into our hearts. We spent the next few days doing a lot of research, a lot of reading, and a ton of worrying.
At first Hope was not very mobile. We could not get her to play or do much of anything other than sleep and eat. But she had a huge appetite that never really faultered, so were were optimistic.
She had some pretty bad diarrhea and had to be bathed multipled times a day, and wiped down with baby wipes even more frequently. Kittens and diarrhea is normal, though, and didn’t cause any real alarm.
What did worry us, however, was her urine. It took her two days before she peed. You could see her bladder! The Veterinarian told us that we had to wait it out. While there was a chance the bladder could rupture, the fact that she wasn’t actually peeing showed that she might not be incontinent.
We had to take a chance and see if the pressure on her bladder would remind her how to pee.
Eventually it did just that.
She immediately took to my wife, and fell asleep in her lap
My wife was worried when this kitten did finally regain urinary function, though, because she was peeing blood almost exlusively. However, the blood was brown, thick, dark. It wasn’t fresh blood.
After consulting with the vet, we came to the conclusion that it was most likely bruising on the kidneys or bladder clearing up. We decided to give it a few days and see if she cleared it on her own.
We’re happy to report that she did!
Inside of two weeks, now, and Hope was peeing on her own, eating and drinking well, and beginning to get more active. We found some toys she liked and made sure she had plenty of opportunity to play.
We learned how to make diapers out of socks and sanitary pads so that she could come to bed with us at night, and have more freedom during the day.
The first night I was able to bring Hope to bed with us because she was diapered. She is the snuggliest kitten.
It was around this time that we noticed major improvements with this brave little kitten! She had endured many baths without much protest, was beginning to try and play with the older cats, and was learning how to scoot around the house.
After so much improvement physically, and emotionally, and after weeks of physical therapy, she started moving her legs. We noticed that as she would crawl around she would kick her little legs behind her. I promise you when we first saw her moving her legs, we both nearly cried.
It was at this point that my wife decided we should name her Hope. Because she had so much of it, and had encouraged so much of it in us.
Where we’re at now
After 3 weeks of fostering for the shelter, we went ahead and pulled the trigger and adopted her. Realistically, we would never be able to find a home for her. Special Needs cats are very hard to place. Besides, we love her to death.
She has outgrown sock diapers, but has not quite grown in to extra small size pet diapers, so we’re in a weird limbo.
However, she has regained feeling, and a nearly full range of motion in her hind paws and she even has control of her tail!
Her diarrhea has cleared up, and her urine is a nice pale yellow (no more blood!).
She has her first vet appointment with our veterinarian on August 11th, and I’ll be sure to bring you all along!
Keep her in your thoughts and prayers! And make sure you follow her on Social Media so you can keep up to date!