Stories of Hope

Tilly | Pepper | Bitsy | Ali | Precious | Tiger | Scarlet

On Saturday, June 25th, someone abandoned a small, sweet, flame point Siamese mix in the night drop at Dallas Animal Services. She was friendly, but also understandably nervous. She was also paralyzed from the waist down. The caregivers at the shelter did their best to make her comfortable, but because of her injuries, she was scheduled to be euthanized after the requisite 72-hours if no owner came forward.

Molly DeVoss, a long-time Dallas Animal Services volunteer, first saw the kitty on Sunday – the day after she was abandoned. Molly’s seen a lot of cats come and go through the shelter, which handles nearly 9,000 stray and unwanted cats each year, but something about this particular cat caught Molly’s eye. “She was panicked” Molly said. “She’d turned her water over and couldn’t get off the wet paper lining her cage. When I opened her cage to change it out for her, she dragged herself over, threw her front paws around my neck, and mewled in my chest. I let her cling to me while I replaced her wet newspapers.” When she was done, Molly reluctantly placed the kitty back in her kennel and turned away, knowing the kitty would soon be put down.

Ali went to a Dr. Pam Montgomery who is a homeopathic veterinarian. No matter how hard she tried, though, Molly was unable to stop thinking about the desperate kitty with the penetrating blue eyes. She called Tawana Couch, a friend and local rescuer, to find out what the kitty’s chances of recovery were. The next day they met at the shelter hoping there was some way to save her. But right away they noticed blood spots on the newspapers lining her kennel. The vet suspected a urinary tract infection, which is not uncommon in paralyzed cats. A quick exam was conducted, which seemed to confirm there was indeed urinary tract blockage. The best thing to do would probably be to go ahead and put her to sleep, rather than let her suffer. Unless, of course, Molly wanted to take her home.

Molly didn’t hesitate. She had no experience with paralyzed pets, and no idea what she was getting herself into, but that didn’t stop her from loading the cat up and heading for Tawana’s vet. Before they could even get there, though, the cat peed all over her carrier. That might sound like a bad thing to some, but it was good news to Molly. It meant her new “Rescue Kitty” was mostly likely suffering from stress, and not a painful urinary tract blockage after all.

When they arrived at City Vet in Uptown, Dr. Effie Giannopoulos examined Rescue Kitty and immediately fell in love. Dr. Giannopoulos x-rayed her and confirmed nothing was broken, and there was no thrombosis – an obstruction of blood flow that would have meant the paralysis was likely permanent. So Molly took Rescue Kitty home.

According to Molly, it wasn’t long before reality began to set in. Rescue Kitty couldn’t use a litter box. She could barely drag herself around, so she used the floor under Molly’s desk instead. Molly bought newborn diapers and cut a tail hole in them. But that still meant dealing with the messes at least six times a day. “My life had turned into full time caregiver to a special needs infant”, Molly recalls.

For Molly and Rescue Kitty, the next few weeks were a tumultuous series of up’s and down’s. It was a celebration when Rescue Kitty showed she had an appetite. It was a celebration when she awoke some days and didn’t curl up in the corner in pain. But the vets were telling Molly not to be surprised if Rescue Kitty never regained use of her lower body, and Molly knew no one would adopt a paralyzed kitty who needed a diaper change six times a day. Still, Molly wasn’t ready to give up. She started taking Rescue Kitty back to City vet for acupuncture treatments with Dr. Jeanne Hill. And she spent lots and lots of quality time with Rescue Kitty. She held her, and cuddled her, and encouraged her. She manipulated her stiff legs several times a day, and held her hind end up with a sling to simulate walking. Molly’s business began to suffer and she felt like her life was on hold. And even though every day, Rescue Kitty showed small signs of improvement, Molly continued to wonder if she’d done the right thing.

Rescue Kitty quickly learned to get around using her front legs, dragging her back behind. Then the first week in July, just ten days after leaving the shelter, Molly noticed slight movements in Rescue Kitty’s back legs. By July 9th, she’d begun using her legs to push herself along the floor. But Molly had a dilemma. She would soon be leaving for Santa Fe, knowing she couldn’t leave Rescue Kitty with a sitter. Not wanting to jeopardize the progress they’d made, Molly flew Rescue Kitty to Santa Fe with her. Her hope was that the healing nature of Santa Fe, combined with a lot of one-on-one time together would be what Rescue Kitty needed. Everyone scoffed. The vets reminded Molly repeatedly that, considering the kind of injury Rescue Kitty had suffered, it was likely that the little movement she’d already regained would be all she would ever be able to do.

And yet Molly persevered, and each day Rescue Kitty got better and better. The dainty little feline was clearly a force to be reckoned with. Dr. Audrey Shannon, a Santa Fe vet who provides mobile acupuncture services, continued Rescue Kitty’s regimen. By July 13th, Rescue Kitty was able to stand to eat. By July 14th, she began to lift her pelvis off the floor ever so slightly as she slid around the floor. That day, she was able to use the litter box by herself for the first time since Molly brought her home. Fearless and determined, Rescue Kitty soon surprised Molly by teaching herself how to climb up on Molly’s bed for a nap. The next day she’d begun to raise her tail when she was happy, a sure sign she was regaining feeling in her back and legs.

And then she walked, and wobbled, and walked some more. By the end of the month, Molly and Rescue Kitty were back in Dallas. Rescue Kitty was beginning to trot, albeit very tentatively. This week the vet pronounced Rescue Kitty recovered enough to be spayed. Although Molly tried to keep her confined immediately after the surgery, and limit her food intake, this tenacious little cat had other ideas. She promptly climbed over the baby gate that was intended to corral her, ate not only her food, but all the other cats’ as well, and began begging for more. Rescue Kitty gets around on her own now, and has no problem using her littler box. She’s still a little wobbly, but that will diminish as time goes on.

As of now Rescue Kitty has found a forever home. She was adopted on August of 2011, and lives with three other cats and a loving family. They have given her the name Scarlett.

Rebecca Poling

For more on this story, including video of Scarlett ("Rescue Kitty"), click here...

Pepper's Story and Video
Pepper, a Shih Tzu dog, was rescued in 2001 from the City of Dallas Animal Shelter. His poor condition included ticks, fleas and burned skin. Pepper was diagnosed with a terminal disease and lost physical mobility soon after.

He is still alive and well. Pepper's recovery to a normal life is due to the alternative healing techniques in this site (see Pepper's Story).
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