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Meet Renley, The Formerly Paralyzed Kitten Who Learned To Walk With The Help Of His Amazing Foster Mom!

When Jessica Ruf was contacted by Vivian, a veterinary nurse, about Renley, a paralyzed kitten who was in desperate need of a foster home, she knew she had to help the 4-week-old special needs cat.

ginger and white special needs kitten
Image via @myc8tslife_ on Instagram

However, she also knew she would need assistance with Renley’s medical bills, so she reached out to her friend Megan Oswald, founder of Heart and Soul Incorporated, a cat rescue based in Victoria, Australia. “I knew Renley would need care 24/7 and a lot of physical therapy,” explains Jessica, and thankfully, Megan agreed to help with the cost of his medical care. “I wanted to give him a chance that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

On November 11, 2019, Jessica met Renley in person for the first time, and while he was absolutely adorable, the one-month-old kitten was obviously struggling. “He was covered in fleas, underweight, covered in feces, and completely paralyzed from the waist down,” remembers Jessica.  At the time, the exact cause of Renley’s paralysis was unknown, so Jessica took him for x-rays and an ultrasound of his spine. The imaging revealed the orange and white kitten’s spine was in tact, indicating his paralysis was most likely caused by a neurological condition, not a fracture.

Image via @myc8tslife_ on Instagram

“Renley was suspected to have contracted an infection in utero,” says Jessica, causing the kitten to develop toxoplasmosis, a disease that can weaken the immune system and result in a number of symptoms, including fever, lethargy, lack of coordination, loss of appetite, seizures, blindness, and paralysis.

Image via @myc8tslife_ on Instagram

While Renley was obviously in poor health, he wasn’t in any pain, and he had a tenacity and zest for life that made Jessica even more determined to do everything she could to improve his mobility. With the help of Dr. Avinder at Lower Plenty Vet Clinic in Victoria, Australia, Renley started having daily acupuncture treatments and weekly vitamin B injections to improve his brain function, while Jessica began doing regular physical therapy with him at home.

Image via @myc8tslife_ on Instagram

“Renley has a bath every two days, which provides movement and exercise of his hind legs,” says Jessica, and in addition to hydrotherapy, he has massages twice a day to promote circulation and healing, as well as passive range of motion exercises (i.e., bicycle kicks) twice daily to help him build muscle.

Jessica also stimulates Renley’s feet twice a day to improve his proprioception, or awareness of the position and movement of his body. “This helps the body to remap the pathway from brain to toes,” explains Jessica. Multiple times a day, she will assist Renley with walking by guiding his legs and supporting his abdomen, which builds strength and encourages movement.

Approximately three months after Renley arrived at his foster home, it’s obvious all of this hard work has paid off, because this four-month old kitten is now able to walk on his own! “Renley has been a very determined kitten from day one,” says Jessica. “He continues to amaze me each day.”

Even though he may not be able to run and jump like a typical cat, Renley is very playful and active, but more importantly, he’s extremely happy, which is evident from the amount of time he spends purring and cuddling with his foster mom. “Renley loves to be with you at all times and enjoys attention,” says Jessica, making him the perfect pet for people who have the time and money to give this special needs kitten the care he requires.

Image via @myc8tslife_ on Instagram

While it’s obvious Renley is thriving today, when Jessica first started fostering him, she encountered people who thought he was suffering and in pain. Consequently, they believed euthanasia was the only option for this special cat, but Jessica definitely didn’t agree. “I believe every animal deserves a second chance as long as the animal isn’t in any pain or suffering,” explains Jessica.

Image via @myc8tslife_ on Instagram

Thanks to Jessica, not only is Renley alive, he’s doing better than ever, and it won’t be long until he finds the perfect forever home. While she’ll miss this special boy when he gets adopted, there’s no way Jessica will ever be able to forget Renley and the tremendous impact he’s had on her and the way she views fostering.

Image via @myc8tslife_ on Instagram

“Being a foster carer is deeply rewarding — the ability to give life, love, and warmth,” says Jessica. “Renley means so much to me, as do all my foster kittens, but Renley has been able to show me the meaning of courage, determination, and happiness. I will value and cherish this for the rest of my life.”

Image via @myc8tslife_ on Instagram

To learn more about this adorable kitten, you can follow Renley on Instagram.

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