A Home for Itty Bitty
In the winter of 2022, I learned of a young orange and white cat named Itty Bitty that had some disabilities and was in desperate need of a new home. He was rescued by a good Samaritan who frequently rescues cats in the St. Johnsbury area. They were doing all they could for this cat but did not have the time to devote to him that he really needed.
My partner and I had a house full of pets at the time and we were giving Hospice care to a wonderful old boy with a failing heart and kidneys named Sven who needed a lot of care. I knew that Sven was nearing end-of-life at this point and let Itty Bitty’s owner know that we would keep in touch and it was possible that we would take Itty at some point in the future.
Sven passed on September 1st (rest in peace, Buddy). After a month of mourning Sven and getting our lives back together, we contacted Itty’s owner and started discussing taking him in as a foster. We learned some more about Itty’s story and disabilities. Itty had been found nearly dead on the side of the road as a tiny kitten and that is where his name came from. He was nursed to health with kitten milk and after weeks of uncertainty about his future, he pulled through.
We also learned that Itty had been in some sort of accident before he was found and he has some disabilities stemming from that, including a possible spinal deformity from when he was a kitten as well as a cleft palate that makes eating hard. His rescuer also trained him to use pee pads as a kitten because he had to go everywhere with them when he was in critical condition. Attempts to transition him to using a box had not been successful.
We were very touched by this story and decided to take Itty into our home as a foster. We finally got him into our house in early October. He was very small but was also very skinny, weighing in under 5 lbs. He was a little scared at first and it must have been hard saying goodbye to the person who rescued him and who had bottle fed him and brought him back to health as a tiny kitten.
Caring for Itty was a learning experience at first. Cleaning up pee pads and scrubbing floors every time he ate because his cleft palate funneled the wet food we were feeding him into his nasal cavity which led to sneezing food all over.
We took him to the shelter to be seen by Dr. Sally and learned more about his health conditions. Itty’s spine seemed to be in good shape except for the beginning of some arthritis at the base of his spine. The theory that he had a deformed spine came from the strange way that he carries himself and how he walks, which resembles a crab scuttle. The cause for this crab scuttle movement turned out to be a result of having his right hip dislocated as a kitten. Having been dislocated for so long, putting it back was not an option.
Itty’s cleft palate is narrow at the front of the roof of his mouth and quickly expands to the whole roof of his mouth, which reduces the chances of a successful surgery. One more health issue we learned of is that Itty’s bladder and colon are fused together, likely caused by the impact that dislocated his hip. We also discovered that Itty had a urinary tract infection and that he will likely be susceptible to getting more of them.
Itty was found to be in good health, outside of the plethora of issues from when he was a kitten. Itty was very small and underweight at less than 5 lbs. So, we came up with a plan to enhance his diet, treat his UTI and monitor him.
It has been a long journey to figure out the best care routine for Itty but we are in a really good place with it now. His UTI was successfully treated, he gets urinary health supplements with his wet food and he gets dry food,which hasn’t been an issue. He still uses pee pads and box training does not seem to be something that will happen. He also sneezes his wet food around his room when he eats, due to the cleft palate, which requires constant cleaning. These things are a small price to play for having such a precious little cat around.
Most importantly, Itty is an extremely happy cat. He gets along with our dog and all of our cats and is full of energy. He gets the zoomies regularly and his hip issue does not seem to affect him much as he scuttles around the house, plays with the other cats and even climbs the cat towers. His favorite thing might be cuddling. He climbs me like I’m a tree multiple times every day and latches onto my shoulder so I can cradle him like an Itty Bitty baby. He is a favorite of my coworkers who see him frequently when I am on Zoom web meetings.
We fell in love with him after the first night he was with us and plan to adopt him after one more vet checkup to make sure he is gaining enough weight and that he isn’t getting dry food stuck in his nasal cavity. He is such a precious cat and we are so thankful to his rescuer and to the shelter for helping figure out the best way to care for him.
Itty is cuddling with the dog right now as I write this and he is in a content little ball. We are looking forward to many more years of cuddles and zoomies with him.
Hugs from Itty to you all,
Caleb, KAS Board of Directors