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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Caring for Special Needs Pets -- Guest Post

Today, Jill Redding from Pianissamma shares a compassionate story about her new pet and what to do with a special needs animal.

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Atticus the Cute! Photo credit: Tejaswi Kasturi


Meet Atticus. He’s a three-month-old kitten who is as cute as can be. To the casual observer, he might seem like any typical kitten, but take a closer look. Atticus is not a typical kitten at all. He is considered a special needs pet.

Just over a month ago, Atticus along with his mother and one of his littermates were trapped in a crawlspace when a fumigator tented a house without removing the cats first. The trapped kittens survived, but their mother died during the fumigation. Four other kittens from the litter were not caught in the tenting, and they are healthy, but feral. A friend recovered the two injured kittens, and took them in for veterinary care. It was then that she was told that his left paw was paralyzed, and would remain so forever.

Upon closer inspection of Atticus’ X-rays, the vets noted that his elbow was broken and fused together possibly before he was born. The other recovered littermate had a similar injury, same prognosis. Yet, it is not an uncommon injury with cats or dogs. Many an adult pet can get similar traumatic injuries. In the old days, it wasn’t heard of to just put the animal down when injuries like this happened. Today however, the common treatment of this type of injury is amputation, and the pets recover, going on to live full and healthy lives.

Before you ask, “Are you sure?” it should be noted that for Atticus, amputation has already been recommended by several different veterinarians. It will not reduce his quality of life at all. More likely, it will make it better. It will reduce strain and muscle fatigue on the shoulders and right front paw. He will not become less agile, as he already does not use the paw.

Atticus won’t be an outdoor cat, but that isn’t a loss. Indoor cats don’t have to worry about cars or coyotes. And honestly, Atticus isn’t interested in going outside anyway. He prefers a warm lap to sit on, or a cozy corner to curl up in. With a child and two other cats to play with, Atticus is never bored.

More, there are many other dogs and cats just like Atticus waiting for the perfect forever home. Unfortunately, many pets are looked over for adoption if they appear any less than perfect. Elder cats and dogs are left to languish in shelters in favor of puppies and kittens. Injured companions are seen as dead weight, even if they are able to fully recover. Yet while they may seem imperfect to the casual observer, they are almost always so full of love.

Since Atticus came into our lives, we have learned that not only is he sweet, but he’s very resourceful. While we did have to spend a little longer showing him how to use a litter box, and how to properly groom his face after eating, he figured out how to do so within the week. He even got a little help from one of our elder pet companions. More, he functions quite well with just the three paws.

I wanted to introduce you to Atticus, because I want to appeal to anyone hoping to adopt a pet. If you wish to welcome a companion into your home, that’s wonderful! Please don’t discount a potential companion because they lack a limb, have a disability or because they’re older animals. Rather, consider this. They will love you, for who you are- a companion. None of us are perfect, but we are unique and wonderful individuals. As we conclude “National Dog Day” today and await the arrival “National Cat Day” in October, I hope you will celebrate all dogs and cats with me.






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