Duncan was 3-weeks old when he first arrived at the Esther Neonatal Kitten Alliance in Asheville, North Carolina. Rescuers there love helping the “underdogs,” or should we say “undercats” faced with “the most gnarly injuries.” Unfortunately, Duncan was born with severely twisted back legs. (see video below)
Months of Therapy
According to the Alliance’s Director Andee Bingham, it’s not uncommon for kittens to have twisted legs. However, Duncan’s condition was particularly difficult to correct. After four months of working with the kitten, his legs remained twisted.
“We have helped more than a dozen kittens with twisted legs this year,” Bingham recalls. “They usually come to us at just a few days old, when their legs are malleable enough that we’re able to straighten them with massage and physical therapy. Unfortunately Duncan’s legs were already very seized up by the time we met him. We spent several months trying everything — massage, physical therapy, water therapy, splinting — nothing worked.”
A Plan to Straighten Duncan’s Legs
After Duncan arrived in March, Bingham took the kitten to meet with multiple veterinarians, surgeons, and specialists. However, none of them had a plan to fix his legs.
“It was frustrating, to say the least,” Bingham recalls. “Duncan had grown into such a sweet, loving boy. Everyone who met him fell in love. We just wanted him to have the quality of life he deserved. It was heartbreaking that there seemed to be no answers.”
Finally, in September, a specialist in Asheville proposed a treatment plan, but it wouldn’t be easy.
“The procedure and recovery he proposed wasn’t going to be easy,” Bingham says, “but it gave Duncan a good chance at eventually being able to run and play with his friends.
Fortunately, Duncan’s easy-going personality went a long way to helping him with what came next. In the meantime, he was enjoying life despite it all.
“Duncan loved playing with a ribbon! If he can’t use his legs to get to the fun, we’ll bring the fun to him! We’re still waiting to hear back from the surgeon about scheduling his leg surgery, but hopefully, it’ll happen within the next week or so 🤞”
Enjoying Life Each Day
Finally, surgery was scheduled for October, and Duncan enjoyed some time in the grass and playing like any other cat.
“Today he spent some time laying in the grass, batting at bugs, and feeling the breeze on his face. Before we know it, he’ll be zooming all over the place, so we’re taking advantage of this time when we can bring him outside without him being a flight risk 😻”
Duncan Undergoes Two Separate Leg Surgeries
Then, Duncan’s faced two surgeries a month apart, straightening one leg at a time. After surgery, he wore a cast for several months. Each time, Duncan was a champ, recovering quickly. Next, it was time for daily physical therapy.
“We’re grateful that he is, by nature, such a gentle and happy-go-lucky guy,” the Alliance writes.
Standing for the Very First Time
Before surgery, Duncan could never before stand up. Now, his foster mama worked to help him feel comfortable in the standing position, slowly strengthening his leg muscles.
“Duncan’s foster mama is getting creative with his physical therapy! Here he is being propped up with a box so he can learn to stand up on his legs to eat 😻”
The Ultimate Reward: Seeing Duncan Play with the Other Cats
Now, Duncan is slowly learning in baby steps, but each step makes him stronger.
“Once he’s stronger and more confident we’ll start teaching him how to walk. A lot of us will definitely cry happy tears when he does that on his own for the first time!”
For Bingham, it will be the ultimate reward to see Duncan playing with the other cats.
“It’s been a long journey, and I’m so excited to see him run and play like his other cat friends,” she said.
Amazingly, they helped over 400 kittens this year, with over half treated for critical injuries or illnesses.
You can help save kittens like Duncan by contributing to their year-end fundraising campaign at www.kittenalliance.org/savekittens. Donations will be matched until the end of December.
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