When Kelly arrived at her job as a veterinary receptionist near her home in Wishaw, Scotland, she learned a member of the public had brought a paralyzed kitten into the animal hospital earlier that day, November 7, 2017.
“She had been walking her dog on a farm road and found her lying in the grass, possibly dumped there because of the paralysis,” explains Kelly. An examination had revealed the kitten was approximately five weeks old, and she had hind leg paralysis, most likely caused by some sort of trauma.
Kelly discovered the veterinarians at her office had been contemplating whether or not they should put the kitten to sleep, concerned that the young cat would have a poor quality of life due to her special needs. “When I arrived at the practice I heard the story and the possibility of her being euthanized and took it upon myself to give her a chance,” says Kelly. “I zipped her in my top and she fell fast asleep and I carried her about like that for my entire shift.”
Convinced the kitten was happy and not at all in pain, Kelly called her wife Kim to see if should be okay with fostering the young paralyzed cat for a few days. At the time, Kelly planned to take the kitten to work with her to get x-rays and other tests in order to get a better understanding of the 5-week-old feline’s paralysis and her prognosis. However, Kelly now acknowledges she probably wasn’t being entirely truthful with herself or her wife. “If I’m honest, I knew we would end up keeping her,” says Kelly.
It didn’t take long for Kelly and Kim to fall in love with the special needs kitten, so they decided to adopt her, naming her Eleven in honor of one of their favorite TV characters. “We are big Stranger Things fans and thought it was fitting because just like Eleven from the show, she is small but she is so strong,” explains Kelly.
Initially, the couple attempted to teach Eleven how to use a litter box, but they eventually discovered she was incontinent in addition to having hind paralysis, requiring Kim and Kelly to express her bladder up to four times a day. Fortunately, this incredible couple was more than happy to help Eleven relieve herself, and Kelly — being in the veterinary field — researched techniques to help this adorable special needs kitten regain some use of her hind limbs.
“To strengthen her legs we took her to acupuncture and did hydrotherapy in the bathtub,” explains Kelly. “We also did daily exercises taught to us by the lady that did her acupuncture.” Over time, Eleven’s paralysis improved, and a year after Kelly and Kim met her for the first time, she is doing incredibly well.
Not only does Eleven — who no longer drags her legs behind her — love playing chase with her moms, she absolutely adores spending time with Kim and Kelly’s dog. “Eleven loves to cuddle with her doggy sister Flame,” says Kelly. “She loves Flame so much — she follows her everywhere and they both love nothing more than grooming each other for hours.”
While people often believe cats with incontinence and hind paralysis should be euthanized, it’s obvious Eleven has a great quality of life, especially because her parents are so committed to giving her the care she needs to thrive. “If you live with an animal with special needs you realize that they are just as happy as any other animal, they just need some extra care,” explains Kelly. “Eleven has no idea she is any different from any other cat and she has such an amazing character.”
However, Kelly acknowledges that looking after an animal with special needs can be expensive, especially when a cat or dog has a medical issue that isn’t covered by pet insurance. While Kelly wants to give Eleven the best care possible, such as an operation that might significantly improve her mobility, she and her wife simply can’t afford its high price tag.
“It’s difficult because you want to do everything you can for them, but unless you have a lot of money your hands are tied financially,” says Kelly. “It has also been difficult juggling working life and home life because you need more time to care for a special needs animal but it is very rewarding.”
While Kelly has no idea how Eleven ended up paralyzed or by the side of a rural road in Scotland, she is so grateful the good Samaritan who found this special cat brought her to the animal hospital where she works. She’s also very thankful Eleven wasn’t put to sleep before she started her shift, a twist of fate that enabled Kelly and Kim to adopt this adorable girl who has had a profound impact on both of them.
“She means so much to us — we just love her with all of our hearts,” says Kelly. “I’m so glad we brought her home and got this amazing opportunity to change her life and her change ours. I couldn’t imaging life without her.”
To learn more about this adorable cat, you can follow Eleven on Instagram.
To support Eleven’s care, you can purchase a pair of socks with your pet’s face on them!