When Missy’s coworker told her a mother cat and her six kittens were living in an inaccessible part of his garage, she knew she had to help the feline family. “The kittens started walking in the road and he lives across the street from a fire department,” explains Missy. “He was also worried about the coyotes and foxes in the neighborhood.”
Missy — a volunteer at Purrs and Whiskers, an animal rescue near her home in Utica, New York — visited her coworker’s house in July 2019 to get a better understanding of the situation. Right away, she realized the mother cat was feral, and while she was frightened of Missy, she refused to leave her kittens, even for a moment. “I laid in a spider-filled garden for over three hours, encouraging the kittens to come out with food and mom cat sounds on my phone,” remembers Missy.
While Missy was able to catch two of the kittens with this method, the other cats were too wary of her, so she had to use traps to safely and humanely rescue the mother and the rest of her litter over the course of a few days.
Because it was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, Missy decided to give the cats NASA-themed names, including Delta for the mother cat and Buzz, Leap, Launch, Booster, Hubble, and Stellar for the kittens.
Even though Purrs and Whiskers was at capacity and Missy didn’t really have space at her home, she agreed to foster Delta and her kittens, unsure at the time of what would eventually happen with the feral mother cat. “If Delta hadn’t shown progress in socialization and remained feral, we had plans to give Delta a home on a farm that Purrs and Whiskers works with,” says Missy.
However, shortly after she was rescued, a thorough examination revealed Delta was born with brachydactyly, a congenital condition that causes humans and animals to be born with unusually short digits.
“Delta is also missing portions of her front paws,” explains Missy, making it harder for the beautiful tabby to hunt, climb, and defend herself from danger. “Surviving as long as she did outdoors — and with six kittens — had to constantly be a challenge for her!”
Consequently, Missy knew there was no way she would ever allow Delta to live outdoors again, even if it was on a farm that caters to feral cats. “We decided Delta is staying with us until she finds her forever home!” says Missy. Over the past few months, Delta has made incredible strides, and while all of her kittens — except for Leap — have been adopted, she’s still waiting for the right family to come along.
While living on the streets with brachydactyly must have made it more difficult for Delta to survive, she has thrived in her foster home without needing a lot of special accommodations. “We just make sure to provide her with carpeted flooring to soften walking for her and low hiding spots that she can easily hop into if she wants to seek privacy since she can’t use her claws or feet to climb,” says Missy, “But from what Delta has taught us, with a little bit of help and love, she’s just like any other cat!”
However, because of her unusual front legs, Delta rarely puts her forelimbs on the ground, causing her to look and move more like a kangaroo than a kitty. Thankfully, this gorgeous girl isn’t in any pain, and having brachydactyly doesn’t prevent Delta from enjoying her life. “Delta loves playing with toys and loves playing and chatting with other cats!” says Missy. “I wish more people knew special cats can live extremely happy lives, but more frequently than not, they need our help to get there.”
Because Delta adores spending time with her feline friends, Missy wants her to find a forever home with a family who already has another cat. Also, while this stunning tabby has made a lot of progress over the past few months, Delta’s adoptive family must be willing to continue socializing this formerly feral feline. “She has come a long way from the feral cat she used to be and watching her grow has been so rewarding,” says Missy.
If Missy and her husband hadn’t come to her rescue, Delta’s chances of survival would have been very low, and her kittens would have struggled as well, becoming six more innocent victims of America’s pet overpopulation problem.
Fortunately, Missy, her husband, and Purrs and Whiskers saved Delta and her kittens from this terrible fate, and now this beautiful special needs cat will be able to find a forever home, instead of becoming yet another statistic. “Delta means the world to us, as does every rescue and foster,” says Melissa, “And that is why ensuring she finds the perfect home and family is the most important thing to me.”
To learn more about this stunning cat, you can follow Purrs and Whiskers on Instagram.