Alex Guida never knows what to expect working as a vet tech. Her days are filled helping the animals that cross the threshold of Sunshine Animal Hospital in Florida. Her nights are spent surrounded by felines of her own and fosters through a local rescue organization. But on April 17th, 2019, a litter of stray kittens was dropped off at the hospital. One of the baby kittens, only 3-weeks-old, was in very rough shape. Her back legs were completely limp and lifeless, but she refused to give up on life. Over the next few months, Alex and the micro kitten would embark on an amazing journey. It would change both of their lives in unimaginable ways.
When the partially paralyzed micro kitten was brought into the office, her outlook did not look promising.
The tiny girl was extremely underweight and flea anemic. There was so much blood loss from the bug bites, she was essentially being drained of her life force. She was thin and dehydrated from her bleak existence on the streets. Both her hind legs were completely limp and the muscles in her lower spine and legs were atrophied.
Her temperature was so low that it wouldn’t even register on the thermometer.
Alex begged her boss/veterinarian to let her try to save the kitten. Never WANTING to give up on a life, they agreed to let her rehab the kitten if possible. But the kitten had to be able to poop on her own to ensure her quality of life. Thankfully she was able to defecate, however they still needed to express her bladder 3-4 times a day. Many special needs cats require this and it’s nothing that would cause her life to be in jeopardy though.
Alex named her Violet and welcomed her into her home as a St. Francis Society Animal Rescue foster kitten. Happily, everyone could follow her progress on Alex’s Instagram page @professionalcatfoster. More so, she shared TONS of adorable cat photos of her fosters.
Within a week, Violet had gained weight, her eyes and nose had cleared, and she was showing use of her back legs.
The left leg doesn’t hyper-extend, but it drops underneath her. Her legs bend but they would get stuck in positions, so I started bandaging them to her body and it’s helped SO much. She 100% has feeling in her legs!
Each day micro kitten Violet grew stronger, but then a setback in early May halted her progress.
As with ANY neonatal kitten, weight loss is a very serious matter. Things can change in just a moments notice and you must act immediately for these delicate souls.
She had lost some weight overnight and within hours was declining significantly to the point where we didn’t think she was going to make it. We placed a central line (jugular catheter) and kept her on IV fluids for 24 hours. She improved and got over what the radiologists called a “severe gastroenteritis”.
Her biggest issues were diarrhea and and the gastroenteritis. The poor kitten wound up in the bathtub regularly to keep her backside clean. But this was something that would prove beneficial in the months to come.
For Violet and Alex, no one was going allow them to take on this challenge alone.
Social media followers helped raise more than $1000 to help cover her initial vet bills. That generosity was instrumental in saving Violet’s life.
I’ve consulted with many vets about Violet’s case and basically her status is unknown right now. Since she is so young, she could recover and walk again. But there’s also a big possibility that she will remain a special needs cat and her adopter needs to be aware of that.
This is my first time taking care of a special needs cat and I never thought it was something I would want to do. Violet has completely changed my perspective of that and if I were not moving out of the country for vet school in 3 months I would keep her in a heartbeat.
Violet is worth all of the effort spent, and once we got in a routine it has been easy to take care of her even with a full time job and 7 other fosters (plus my own animals). She plays with the other kittens and has no idea that she’s any different from them. She is so affectionate and will sleep in my lap for hours. She’s an amazing little kitten.
By June, Violet was well enough to begin physical therapy on her paralyzed legs.
The micro kitten was still only weighing in just over 1 pound at 9-weeks of age. They wanted to correct all they could during her growth to avoid issues later.
Her therapy began with a visit to an acupuncturist. Alex was determined to learn all she could about helping little Violet through the traditional Chinese treatment. Even though the kitten wasn’t showing any clear indicator of pain from her legs, if it helped relieve any pain at all, it was worth it.
Today we started acupuncture. She sat the entire time in my arms with her little needles. Our acupuncture doctor thinks her lesion is localized to L4/L5 based on the neuro exam she did today. I’m going to learn where to place the needles so we can do this weekly and give it a good shot!
She now receives acupuncture twice a week from her foster mom. She’s also doing physical therapy as well. Check out this adorable video of little micro kitten Violet working on “sling-walking”.
Violet walking update! Her legs are starting to get the motions down but when she wants to get somewhere fast she’s definitely still scooting there. She clearly has been skipping leg day.
And if that wasn’t enough to make your heart happy, her acceptance of water led to another form of therapy–hydrotherapy!
It was with all the baths she required as a kitten and her calm demeanor that Alex realized water didn’t bother this feline.
In fact, she seems to think splashing in puddles is a fun past time!
A rainy Violet high on catnip. Yes, she likes to splash around in the rain water on the catio. And yes, she got a bath shortly after.
So with her formerly paralyzed legs beginning to get stronger, hydrotherapy was the next step…no pun intended.
And as Violet slowly walked her way slowly into a new life, Alex discovered something just as amazing.
It was July 1st that she posted a special update on the micro kitten.
Today’s hydrotherapy is brought with a special PSA! Are you guys ready? So, after careful consideration and her co-owner’s approval–Violet is officially a foster fail!
Violet was brought into the hospital I work at when she was 3 weeks old half dead and completely hind limb paralyzed. I’ve had her for about 3 months now and through many ups and downs, blood, sweat, lots of tears and lots of money, she continues to improve on her journey to walk again. Violet needs routine bladder expressing and the occasional bath. Some days just aren’t pretty when you have a special needs kitty, but I’ve never felt a bond like I feel with her.
Apparently everyone knew I was going to keep her and deep down I think I did too, but today I officially decided that she’s already home! <3 Thank you to all who have send kind wishes and prayers along our journey.
Congrats to Violet and Alex on their new happy life together! We can’t wait to see all the cavity-inducing sweet photos of Violet as she grows. Or even if she doesn’t grow much bigger, we’re sure our hearts will as we follow her journey! Be sure to follow on Alex’s Instagram account too!