When Vanessa learned that her friend Mina needed to find a new home for her kitten, an adorable tabby who was born with spina bifida in early December 2017, she agreed to foster the young special needs cat until he found a forever family.
“Mina’s boyfriend had decided he would rather euthanize him than take care of him,” says Vanessa. “I had been interested in fostering bottle kittens, but my perfect fiancé decided that it was this little guy who deserved a loving home and a chance to thrive.”
In March 2017, Vanessa and her fiancé Zach — who live in Canada — met Amun for first the time when he was just 11 weeks old, and it’s a moment neither of them will ever forget. “The first time I saw him he was wearing a sock and spread out between two couch cushions,” remembers Vanessa, “and I damn near fainted he was so precious.”
While the couple had only agreed to provide the tiny special needs cat with a temporary home until he was adopted, Vanessa was instantly smitten with Amun. Within minutes of hearing the cute tabby kitten purr for the first time, Vanessa — to Zach’s surprise and mild horror — decided they were going to adopt Amun.
“I was always bringing animals home when I was a child and have always known a little extra love can give a second chance at life,” explains Vanessa. “From a tiny sick kitten I brought home who lived to 19 years old to the pigeon I bathed in my bathtub after being attacked by an animal, I’ve always had a spot in my heart to save things in need!” When Vanessa decided to adopt Amun, he was desperately in need of a home, having been born with spina bifida, a neurological abnormality characterized by improper formation and growth of the spine.
“Amun is a Manx cat, and unfortunately, they are prone to the defect,” says Vanessa. Spina bifida can manifest itself in a number of different ways, and Amun’s symptoms include weak back legs, a hopping gait, and incontinence. “He tends to hop like a bunny as opposed to taking steps!” explains Vanessa. “He is also incontinent and has free-flowing poops and his bladder needs to be expressed.”
Consequently, Amun wears diapers, and Vanessa and Zach express his bladder, closely monitoring his bowel movements to keep on top of his health before issues occur as cats with spina bifida are more prone to urinary tract infections. “It may seem kind of gross to most people,” acknowledges Vanessa, “but to me, it’s just to notice certain things before bad things happen.”
However, aside from the occasional matting and dry skin caused by his diaper, Amun is an otherwise typical young cat who is very active and absolutely loves to play! “His favorite toys are the feathers on sticks,” says Vanessa. “We keep his back legs strong by making sure he’s a hunter extraordinaire!”
Amun also enjoys observing his older brother, Santana, his parents’ senior cat who is surprisingly tolerant of his little brother and his particularly stinky pastime. “When he is relaxed, you can tell because he will unleash the most extraordinary toots,” says Vanessa. “They can sound like everything from an angry old man to a tiny tuba. It really never gets old.”
Amun is also an incredibly happy-go-lucky cat, allowing his parents to take him with them pretty much everywhere they go. “We live both in Ottawa and Montreal and are constantly on the move with our business, Secret Dinner Canada,” says Vanessa. “He’s with us every step of the way making people all over smile!”
In fact, Amun is so good at making new friends, his mom and dad hope that he will eventually be able to use his charm and inspiring personality to help others. “We have the highest of hopes that Amun will become a therapy animal,” says Vanessa. “His easy-going nature and his patience is something I as a human wish I could have.”
However, this adorable special needs kitten does get upset on occasion, and he has a unique way of expressing his displeasure. “Even when he is the most angry, he just grooms,” Vanessa says of Amun’s habit of growling and licking himself when he’s annoyed. While Vanessa’s fiancé was initially reluctant to adopt Amun, over the past few months, Zach and this cute little kitten have developed an incredibly strong and special relationship. “He is very much a daddy’s boy and I could melt watching the two of them together,” says Vanessa.
As Vanessa and Zach continue growing their business and building their life together, they have Amun, the little kitten they offered a home when he was deemed too much trouble, there to cheer them on, providing the couple with the encouragement they need to meet their goals both personally and professionally. “He’s just the embodiment of love in a tiny, wonky, diaper-wearing, poopy package,” says Vanessa. “He’s a bit of a tiny inspiration!”
To learn more about this adorable kitten, you can follow Amun on Instagram.