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Meet The Adorable Kitten With Hydrocephalus And A Malformed Leg Who Made His Foster Mom Fall In Love With Him!

When Alaina, a foster mom for neonatal kittens, received an email from Austin Pets Alive! about Picklin, a tiny tabby cat the organization had recently rescued, she felt compelled to help the four-week-old feline. “He was a scrawny, under-sized, single orphan, found alone,” remembers Alaina. “He had an obvious right limb deformity and signs of abnormalities with his head and facial features.”

tabby rescue Kitten With Hydrocephalus And A Malformed Leg
Image via @pickle_lin on Instagram

Eager to learn more, Alaina discovered Picklin had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a neurological condition characterized by a buildup of fluid in the brain. Even though Alaina was a seasoned fosterer, she didn’t have any experience caring for a cat with special needs. “When I started fostering kittens, I never really thought about fostering one with special needs,” explains Alaina. “I didn’t even think about that possibility.” However, that didn’t stop her from bringing Picklin home from the shelter on September 6, 2021.

With Alaina’s help, Picklin flourished in his foster home in Round Rock, Texas, and as time went on, she fell more and more in love with the adorable special needs cat. After all, not only was he incredibly cute, Picklin was extremely resilient. “Picklin made the best of every situation and he got up and kept trying to do life every day,” says Alaina. “Nothing held him back from trying.”

By November 5, 2021, Alaina knew she would never be able to part with the tenacious feline, so she adopted him! However, just a few days later, Alaina witnessed Picklin have a seizure for the first time, prompting her to take him to the first of many veterinarians and specialists.

Image via @pickle_lin on Instagram

“As we have done more extensive testing and gone to specialists, including top veterinarians from a teaching university, we’ve found that he has spinal deformities, hydrocephalus, muscular dystrophy, leg weakness, and possibly a rare genetic abnormality,” says Alaina. “We have not confirmed that with genetic testing though, as there will be no exact treatment either way.”

Despite his challenges, Picklin is a happy and active boy who loves being with other animals, especially his adoptive feline brother. “He gets really excited when one of my other cats comes to lay on the floor with him and groom him,” says Alaina.

While he’s very social, Picklin also enjoys spending time on his own. In fact, when he’s not cuddling with his mom or the other animals who share his home, Picklin can usually be found sunbathing. “The warmth and light seem to give him energy and peace,” explains Alaina, so she’s looking forward to taking him outside more often when the weather gets warmer.

Image via @pickle_lin on Instagram

While people often assume Picklin is the one who benefits the most from his relationship with his mom, Alaina — who has been struggling with medical issues of her own — considers herself equally lucky to have this remarkable boy in her life. “He provides me with love and strength that I’ve never received before from anything,” says Alaina.

Consequently, Alaina hopes more people will consider opening their homes to animals like Picklin, whether through fostering or adoption, because she thinks special needs pets don’t always get the chances they merit. “They deserve to live and try to experience life to the fullest,” says Alaina, but she acknowledges taking care of Picklin hasn’t always been easy. “Veterinary medicine isn’t as advanced or readily available like human healthcare,” explains Alaina. “There aren’t specialists in every city.”

Image via @pickle_lin on Instagram

Plus, healthcare — including for pets — can be incredibly expensive, especially when it comes to diagnosing and treating animals with neurological conditions and genetic disorders. Thankfully, Alaina, with the help of lots of very generous donors, has been able to raise the funds needed to pay for Picklin’s care. “While there have been many hurdles and attempts to navigate through this, he really just needs love and comfort like any other animal,” says Alaina, “and while it may be a little more work than your average cat, I am showered in love and thankfulness from him daily.”

Not surprisingly, Alaina and Picklin have an incredibly deep and special bond, and their relationship has only gotten stronger with each challenge they’ve had to overcome. Not only has Alaina been by Picklin’s side every step of the way, this beautiful boy has been there for her, inspiring his mom as she’s dealt with serious medical issues of her own. “When I’ve hit the very bottom of depression, he’s come to me to remind me to keep going,” says Alaina, “and I know that if he finds that strength to push through and find hope and happiness each day, I can too!”

Image via @pickle_lin on Instagram

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

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