Australian kitten rescuer, student, and mom Jessica Ruf, shared the story of Hildy, who arrived with a collapsed lung and swimmer syndrome. She was dealt a very challenging hand when she came into the world. However, she received a special name, Hildy.
Jessica fosters cats and kittens with The Kitten Carer Rescue in Melbourne, Australia.
“Welcome little Hildy! Norwegian for ‘battle women’! A strong name for a strong girl. 🧡🧡”
When Hildy arrived in late February 2022, the rescuers suspected the 3-week-old grey and white kitten had flat-chested kitten syndrome (FCKS), caused by a collapsed lung. When this happens, a kitten can have a flattened chest, difficulty breathing, and problems like swimmer syndrome.
Kittens that swim? What is that? Put simply, it means kittens crawl flat with their legs out to the sides. As they crawl, they appear to be swimming on the carpet. In Hildy’s case, her hind legs were affected.
“When she first came into care, she looked like a starfish,” Ruf stated.
To help the kitten’s lungs, she would wear a special chest plate. Also, they would try to remedy the kitten’s splayed legs by taping them. At the same time, they would work with a Miracle Nipple, which helped her learn to suckle on her own for the first time.
Vet Confirms Health Issues
Next, she would go to see the veterinarian for X-rays. Afterward, they confirmed the rescuer’s suspicions.
“Our sweet girl will need splinting done every 3 days (as she grows), putting pressure on the ribcage, to create the effect of positive air pressure, gradually re-inflating the lungs by pulling them open rather than pushing them open,” wrote Jessica. “This sweet baby also had splinting on her front and hind legs to correct her swimmers syndrome (splayed legs). She will need these on constantly so the legs can gradually correct themselves. 🧡🧡”
Due to the need for ongoing veterinary care, the rescuer could only hope supporters would help cover an intensive care unit and frequent vet checkups. To cover everything, the costs would go well over a thousand dollars. Even then, Hildy might not survive.
Fortunately, the tiny kitten survived the week and even started eating some wet food along with her formula. Then, a successful raffle raised enough to buy a special “Humidicrib” to help Hildy recover.
“She no longer needs to waste energy keeping warm and can focus on growing, as well as supporting her breathing with only one lung!” Ruf posted to Facebook.
Hildy Quickly Improves
Despite the uncertain prognosis, Hildy was making rapid improvements by early March. Already, her swimmer syndrome was much-improved, and she could move around without her legs taped.
“Hildy no longer has her leg straps on her front, and hind legs as her legs are now healing and growing in the normal position instead of splaying outwards! When she first came into care, she looked like a starfish. She does sometimes sit funny, or her legs give way, but we hope as she grows, her legs will grow normal 🤞🧡”
Later, she would see a specialist to monitor her progress.
As she grew, Hildy became confident and ever-hungry, demanding her breakfast.
“Someone was starving this morning!! How dare I take so long to prepare little Hildy’s breakfast! 😆😆😻😻🧡🧡🧡”
A Wonderful Hildy Update
After seeing a specialist in mid-March, Ruf shared a wonderful update. Thanks to the Humidicrib, she was overcoming all of her problems as her lung began to re-inflate. With daily exercise on a soft carpeted surface, they expected her legs to grow strong.
“Good morning from baby Hildy 😻😻”
On March 16, the rescuers shared another wonderful update about Hildy.
“Hildy had her specialist appointment today. We have some amazing news! The specialist vet says Hildy’s collapsed lung has started to re-inflate though her ribs cage is still very abnormal. The vet says this is no concern unless she starts coughing or has breathing issues. Her legs are also doing so well, and will continue her daily exercises and “outside” ( out of humidicrib) time to be on a soft surface like carpet 🧡🧡”
“Hildy’s specialist said the Humidicrib has helped save her life!!! She is so shocked and said little Hildy is a miracle! I’m just amazed 👏 😻”
A Happy Life Thanks to Rescuer and Donations
Thanks to Jessica Ruf and help from supporters, Hildy is growing into a beauty. Caring for foster cats is a full-time job, but she managed to do it while balancing life as a student and mom. Plus, she had to try and keep all Hildy’s fans updated for more updates. When you rescue kittens, you have to be a social media whiz and kitten publicist too! It can be overwhelming, but in the end, you have changed lives, for kittens and people.
“Jess you’re amazing!! An earth angel!! Thank you for everything you’ve done for animals. 🙏💖💕💜❤️🦋” said a follower.