When Jenn and Adam Burningham saw a photo of a 12-week-old Siamese/Ragdoll kitten with radial hypoplasia (RH), they were instantly taken with the young special needs cat who had been rescued by Pet Samaritan Fund, an animal rescue in Salt Lake City, Utah. “We took in Kobi and his siblings,” says April, a volunteer at Pet Samaritan Fund, “and they went directly to the foster home.”
Kobi — who was born in July 2015 — ended up at the animal rescue when he was only a few months old after he and his litter mates were rescued from a home where the owners didn’t believe in spaying and neutering their pets. “There were a couple other cats that were born with fatal diseases,” says April, “so it is likely the cats were inbred.”
Thankfully, just a few months after Kobi was rescued, Jenn and Adam learned about the adorable special needs kitten through a local Facebook group that helps connect foster parents with animals in need. While the Burninghams had lots of experience with cats, they’d never cared for one with RH before, and they weren’t sure what to expect when they brought Kobi home in October 2015.
However, they quickly discovered that cats with RH — a congenital condition that causes short and twisted front legs — are pretty much the same as their fellow felines. “They want to scratch, climb, play, hunt, and snuggle as much as the next cat,” explains Jenn. “They just find a way to do it a bit differently.”
Not only were Jenn and Adam impressed by the way Kobi refused to let RH stand in his way, they were won over by his sweet demeanor and affectionate personality. “He charmed us pretty quick with his standing, purring, and love,” says Jenn. The Burninghams have had Kobi for nearly three years, and during that time, he’s proven time and time again that he is a happy, healthy, and extremely determined cat.
In fact, aside from the occasional achy “elbow,” Kobi doesn’t experience more discomfort than any other feline, something a lot of people don’t seem to realize. “Many people with RH cats are told that they are awful for letting their poor cat live in misery when surgery and splints would fix them,” says Jenn.
However, cats like Kobi aren’t in pain, nor can splints or surgery correct an RH kitty’s short and twisted front legs, and it’s best to simply allow these special felines to remain exactly as they were born. “Kobi doesn’t know he’s different,” says Jenn. “Cats with RH are just like any other cat.”
Like a typical cat, Kobi absolutely loves to play, especially with his sisters Winnie and Katniss, and he is obsessed with sitting in, on, and even just near cardboard boxes. “He takes good care of his boxes,” says Jenn. “He even grooms them to keep them clean.” In addition to a good old-fashioned box, this handsome RH cat loves people, and he’s particularly enamored with Adam, Jenn’s husband.
“Kobi adores him,” says Jenn, “and will cuddle and groom him every chance he has.” However, Kobi’s affection isn’t just reserved for Adam, and this adorable kitty with unusually short front legs has a special way of showing his favorite people just how much he loves them. “Kobi is a hugging cat,” explains Jenn, “and will hug your legs until you pick him up to let him hug your shoulder.”
This remarkable cat, who had an incredibly difficult start in life, has taught his family a lot about overcoming obstacles and handling setbacks with a positive attitude, life lessons the Burninghams are very grateful their special needs kitty has been able to teach them.
“Kobi is one of the happiest cats we’ve ever met,” says Jenn. “Kobi is a reminder that no matter how different, or challenging [the hand] you were dealt in life, you can choose to be happy.”
To learn more about this remarkable cat, you can follow Kobi on Instagram.