Sierra was browsing Facebook when she saw a post from Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation about Stevie, an adorable tabby and white kitten who was born in February 2015 with hind leg paralysis.
While Sierra thought Stevie — who was named after the late physicist Stephen Hawking — was incredibly cute, she didn’t give much thought to adopting him, especially because she was certain he would find a home right away. “The posts stopped and I thought for sure he’d been snatched up,” explains Sierra.
However, Sierra was visiting her mom in September 2015 when Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation announced via Facebook that Stevie would be at the local Petsmart for his first adoption event. “I had to go meet him,” says Sierra, so she dropped what she was doing and headed straight to the adoption event. “When I asked where Stevie was, the coordinator was ecstatic,” says Sierra. “I got to hold him and snuggle him and he just purred and purred.”
Sierra learned that when Stevie was just three months old, his family surrendered him to the rescue, stating there was something wrong with one of the young kitten’s legs. “The rescue coordinator knew immediately by the way his legs flopped that he was paralyzed,” says Sierra, and the coordinator took Stevie to the vet for a thorough examination.
“This poor little 3-month-old kitten had no control of his bladder or bowels,” says Sierra, and the veterinarian determined that the young tabby and white cat had incontinence and hind leg paralysis as a result of a congenital spinal defect.
“I didn’t know a thing about taking care of a paralyzed animal,” says Sierra, “but I knew I could learn and was willing to try.” However, Sierra didn’t want to rush into making a decision, so she left the adoption event without Stevie, telling the coordinator she wanted to think everything over before making such a big commitment.
Sierra’s two biggest concerns were financial — “What would vet bills cost?” — and logistical — “Who would take care of him when I traveled?” — but after careful consideration, she reached a decision. “I couldn’t think of a reason not to adopt him,” remembers Sierra. “He belonged with my little fur family.”
The following day — September 6, 2015 — Sierra officially adopted Stevie, and as he settled into his new home, she adjusted to caring for a cat with rear leg paralysis. Initially, this adorable tabby and white feline was doing great, but just a few months after Sierra adopted Stevie, he started having some very serious medical issues.
“In January after adopting him, he got so ‘backed up’ that he wouldn’t eat and couldn’t poop,” remembers Sierra, so she rushed Stevie to the vet’s office. Sierra learned that in additional to hind leg paralysis caused by a congenital spinal issue, Stevie was born with colon and kidney problems that resulted in chronic constipation.
“He was hospitalized for about a week to get cleared out and bring his kidney levels back down to normal,” explains Sierra. “Luckily, with fluids and enemas, we got him back to normal and got to take him home.” After this frightening experience, Sierra began closely monitoring Stevie’s bowel movements, and now she’s able to spot the first signs of constipation and give him medicine before it becomes too serious.
However, after Stevie was hospitalized, he developed an unusual — and potentially very dangerous — habit. “Stevie started eating things he shouldn’t, like blankets and toys,” says Sierra, so she consulted a psychic who told her Stevie wanted a fish to eat.
“I told him he could have a fish to watch but not eat,” says Sierra, so she got a fish tank which Stevie can often be found in front of, occasionally smacking the glass with excitement.
In addition to watching fish, Stevie enjoys chasing after bugs, playing with his toys, and climbing his cat tower. “A lot of people say ‘poor thing’ and think he’s just miserable all the time,” says Sierra, “[but] he can still run and play climb things like his kitty tower and the stairs.”
Stevie also enjoys hanging out with the other animals who share his home, including Paisley, his one-eyed cat sister, Zoey, his three-legged dog sister, and Sabrina and Reggie, Sierra’s foster cats who both have hind leg paralysis.
“I have two fosters — both paralyzed — and they get laughed at for wearing diapers and sympathy for just being ‘their’ normal,” says Sierra, but all of her pets — especially Stevie — have shown her that they are completely capable of having happy and healthy lives. “[Steve’s] inspirational in that he doesn’t know anything is wrong and does everything anyway,” says Sierra. “He is ‘his’ normal and has never known otherwise.”
While Sierra didn’t decide to adopt Stevie because he has hind leg paralysis — “It wasn’t that he was special needs, it was him. His personality, character, cute little face — that little pink nose,” says Sierra — over the course of the past two and a half years, his attitude towards his disability has had a major impact on how she handles challenges in her own life. “Stevie and my other pets mean the world to me,” says Sierra. “I think of them as my children and would do anything for them. They all have special needs, and if they can be happy, so can I.”
To learn more about this handsome cat and his foster siblings, you can follow Stevie and his friends on Instagram.