When Anna Dickerson-Homan was contacted about a five-week-old kitten who was neglected and living in an unhealthy environment, she knew she had to help the little cat. “She was born into a situation where there were/are many cats who need to be fixed, living in a small space and breeding with each other,” explains Anna.
Thankfully, Anna — who is an experienced cat fosterer in Roscommon, Michigan — rescued the young feline in early November 2021, with her help coming not a moment too soon. Not only was the five-week-old cat covered in feces, urine, and fleas, she had tapeworms and was anemic and malnourished. “She needed someone with time and resources to help her live her best life,” says Anna.
Anna took Rosie to the vet, and an examination revealed she was born without the last third of her spine, making her unable to urinate or defecate on her own.
“Her bladder and bowels had never been emptied and so she was in severe discomfort,” remembers Anna, and the veterinarian diagnosed Rosie with Manx syndrome, a congenital condition that causes some — not all — tailless cats to have spinal issues. “Manx Syndrome is a spinal defect that is a sort of umbrella term for the comorbidities related to the shortened spine. Things like incontinence, a wide gait, IBS, hopping like a bunny, and of course — no tail — are included in that collection of comorbidities.”
Fortunately for both her and Rosie, Anna already had experience caring for a cat with this relatively rare condition, making her an ideal foster mom for the young tabby and white feline. However, her previous foster kitten with Manx syndrome, Lisa, didn’t need to have her bladder and bowels expressed, something Rosie definitely required.
“After she was diagnosed, learning how to express her bladder and bowels was a challenge,” remembers Anna. “We were patient with each other, and with some help from other friends who have incontinent kitties, we were able to successfully overcome the challenge and sort out a schedule and system that worked for us!”
Six months after Anna rescued Rosie, this gorgeous girl is doing extremely well, but because she has Manx syndrome, floating hips, and malformed hind limbs, she moves a bit differently from a typical cat. “She has back leg deformities that cause her to have a bunny-hopping style of walking/running and can cause her to be a little uncomfortable at times,” explains Anna. “She cannot jump very well because of her back leg and hip issues.”
Thankfully, Rosie is still able to have a very happy and active life, and when Anna tosses treats down the hallway for her, this energetic girl has no trouble racing after them. In addition to chasing after snacks, Rosie actually enjoys taking her medication, probably because she always gets lots of attention and a treat afterwards. “She also loves to hang out in the garage with us as we work on projects for the house!” says Anna, who likes cuddling with Rosie while she reads a book. “Rosie loves to snuggle up on her baby blanket and make biscuits.”
While it’s obvious Rosie is a wonderful kitten, Anna has had trouble finding her a forever home, possibly because people are concerned about caring for an incontinent cat. However, Anna — who only recently learned how to express a cat’s bladder and bowels — has found it’s really not as challenging as people often assume. “Expressing a cat’s bladder and bowels is extremely simple and they remain very clean!” explains Anna, who works full-time and is away from home eight to nine hours a day. “I am able to potty Rosie before and after work and she is comfortable throughout the day.”
Plus, Anna simply empties Rosie’s bladder and bowels into the toilet, which means she doesn’t need to use a litter box. Also, while her bladder has to be expressed four times a day, her bowels only need to be expressed once a day, and each instance takes Anna and Rosie 30 seconds or less. “She was patient with me as we learned her care together and has been an extraordinary friend to me in return,” says Anna.
By sharing Rosie’s story, Anna hopes not only to find this special girl the perfect forever home, she also wants to highlight how incredibly important it is for people to have access to affordable spay and neuter services, especially in rural communities. After all, without these services, more and more cats like Rosie will be born with special needs, as congenital conditions and genetic anomalies are often linked to inbreeding, undernourishment, and exposure to illnesses while in utero. “It is unfair and heartbreaking to know that kittens like her are born every day and then spend a great deal of their life suffering because they aren’t able to get the help they need,” says Anna.
Anna also hopes people will realize it is cruel to breed Manx cats, not only because it can lead to more instances of Manx syndrome, but because there are loads of cats like Rosie who are waiting to find their forever homes. Even though it’s taking a while for this gorgeous girl to get adopted, Anna is confident the right family for her is out there, and she and countless others are doing everything they can to help Rosie find them.
“Thousands of people have come together to help her reach where she is today through donations, networking, and sharing her story,” explains Anna. “I am blown away by the sheer number of people who are interested in helping her find her happily ever after.”
To Anna, not only does Rosie help remind her of all that is good about humanity, this remarkable kitten has also reinforced her belief that in order to thrive, special needs cats often just need someone who is willing to be an advocate for them. “She embodies what it means to be strong, have faith and to be stubborn enough to care for a kitty who needs you when not everyone understands it,” says Anna. “Rosie also exemplifies that determination and a positive attitude can get you to where you need to be.”
To learn more about this adorable kitten, you can follow Rosie on Instagram.
If you want to adopt Rosie, you can complete an application.