Back in September, a tiny cat was found all by herself and brought to Young-Williams Animal Center. Weighing in at just 14 ounces, we initially thought she may be about four weeks old, but the development of her teeth indicated she was probably closer to six weeks old. It quickly became apparent that something was a little off.
This tiny cat, named Ruthie, couldn’t walk on her own, and her front legs curled inward, preventing her from getting to her food and litterbox. Although her head bobbled and wobbled, she was alert and able to maneuver enough to eat and drink as long as they was close enough to her.
We weren’t sure if she had been injured, if she was ill, or if this was something she had been born with. With no evidence of vestibular disease (ear problems, which can cause balance problems) or broken bones, our vet clinic suspected Ruthie had a neurological condition called cerebellar hypoplasia.
Thank goodness for one of our very experienced medical fosters who took home the adorably wobbly kitten to get a better understanding of her condition, thinking this would be a temporary placement. Ruthie bobbed her little head right into her foster’s heart, where she stayed for the next five months.
“My roommate and I took turns making sure she got fed separately from our other foster kittens, cleaned her bedding if she had soiled it, or put her in teeny, tiny litter boxes so that she could practice digging,” says Ruthie’s foster. “I knew all kittens were a little wobbly and that they gained better coordination as their muscle strength developed. I figured Ruthie would be similar, even if she also had CH.”
The foster engaged Ruthie in lots of play therapy. Ruthie was always willing to wrestle with toys and practice the “bunny kick” reflex by pressing on the bottoms of her feet. She didn’t know (or care) that playtime doubled as physical therapy. As she got bigger, Ruthie graduated to the bathroom with a baby gate at the door. Creating a safe padded place out of rugs and towels, the bathroom became Ruthie’s Romper Room where she learned even more muscle control. Ruthie always wants to be involved with what’s going on, whether it’s wrestling with her fellow foster kittens or wiggling her way to the edge of the “Ruthie Zone”. Eventually the baby gate came down and the area covered with rugs extended out to the hallway and into each of the bedrooms.
After months of thoughtful attention and endless love, Ruthie was finally strong enough to live independently, with a few modifications, and had an interested adopter. Ruthie’s foster walked the adopter through these simple steps that would make life easier for Ruthie, like how carpet would be easier for her to get around on and rugs make great pathways.
Ruthie has seen firsthand how a little love, and a lot of hard work, can change a life. Last weekend, Ruthie embarked on a new love story. During the “Keys to My Heart” adoption special, sponsored by Grayson Subaru, Ruthie and 50 others pets found their forever homes. We are so thankful for partners like Grayson Subaru who go the extra mile to find a home for every pet.
Check out the bonus video from her foster here!