This post includes photos some people may find upsetting.
When Fay, a teacher and volunteer at an animal rescue in Kuwait, RAF.KW, received a video in November 2018 of a paralyzed kitten who was living on the street, she knew she and the organization had to help him.
“He was following everyone and crying for help, food, and comfort,” says Fay, so she asked the person who took the video to immediately rescue the young feline. “We knew there was no way he would be able to live on the streets with his paralysis.”
RAF.KW instructed the rescuer to take the kitten to the vet to receive treatment under the organization’s account, and an exam revealed he was approximately four weeks old and showed no obvious signs of trauma. “He had no broken bones,” remembers Fay, “and all we were told is that he was born with nerve damage.”
As a result, the kitten — who Fay’s partner at RAF.KW named Poe — didn’t have any injuries that required treatment, but he still needed routine medical care. “We found an amazing person who agreed to sponsor his medical bills,” says Fay, “and soon after he was sent off to a foster.”
However, just a week later, Poe’s foster mom had to go on a trip, so the organization scrambled to find someone else who could give him the specialized care he needed to thrive. “Because he’s paralyzed and needed expressing it was hard finding another foster,” remembers Fay.
Fortunately, thanks to her paralyzed and incontinent cat Paisley, Fay had experience expressing a cat’s bladder and bowels and changing their diapers. “I thought since I had Paisley already, I might as well just foster him until [his foster mom] came back,” says Fays.
However, Fay quickly discovered that while Paisley was relatively easy to care for, Poe was a bit more challenging. While Paisley had never developed sores on her legs from dragging her limbs on the ground, Poe got them easily, even though Fay put socks on his paws to protect them.
“When he got sores they were really bad,” remembers Fay. “Then he started getting cysts that would blow his leg up to double the size and then burst and blood would be gushing out which freaked me out as I never had experienced such a thing!”
Then, when he was approximately two months old, Fay and Poe woke up from a nap, and she was shocked to discover he was no longer able to stand. “I didn’t know what happened as he was fast asleep next to me,” explains Fay, “and then out of nowhere he couldn’t stand on his front legs and he had no balance.”
The vet’s office was closed for the day, and with no other alternatives, Fay realized Poe would have to wait until the following morning to see someone. “I couldn’t do anything but wrap him up safe and stay up all night with him,” remembers Fay, and just a few hours later, Poe started having seizures. “Knowing there was nothing I could do to stop it, all I could do was hold his little paw, rub on his head, and talk to him so he knew I was there and I wasn’t going anywhere.”
Miraculously, Poe made it through the night, and when the vet’s office opened at 8am, Fay was there, desperate for him to be examined. “I could see in his eyes he was leaving,” says Fay. “He didn’t have time; he was dying.” Fortunately, the vet quickly determined the seizures were due to low glucose levels, and after getting treatment Poe was eating and standing by the following day.
More than three years later, Poe is doing well, and while he used to struggle with constipation that required him to receive multiple enemas, thanks to daily medication, he hasn’t had any health problems since August 2020. Plus, he has a wonderful forever home, because after everything Fay went through with Poe as a kitten, she decided to adopt him! “He means the world to me,” says Fay. “He’s so attached to me that he doesn’t like new people.”
He does like other cats though, and Poe enjoys playing with his adoptive sister Paisley and his mom’s foster kittens. He also adores catnip and toy mice, and while he doesn’t move like a typical cat, Poe has no trouble getting around.
“Poe is paralyzed and that never stopped him from climbing shelves to get the bag of treats he could smell,” explains Fay, “and it never stopped him from jumping on and off the bed — it didn’t stop him from doing anything!”
Even though Poe is incredibly happy and active, Fay has encountered many people who assume he must not be able to have a good quality of life simply because he’s paralyzed and incontinent. “A lot of followers on both TikTok and Instagram are so fast to judge that he’s alive for our pleasure and not because he’s meant to be alive just like any one of us,” says Fay.
By sharing Poe’s story, Fay hopes more people will realize that even though paralyzed and incontinent cats require some extra care, they’re more than capable of having long, happy lives. Fortunately for Poe, who was struggling to survive on the streets of Kuwait when he was rescued, he found the perfect home with someone who loves and appreciates him just the way he is. “He attacks anyone that tries to pet him that isn’t me,” says Fay, “but to me he’s the sweetest boy and I just love him. He’s so special — such a warrior.”
To learn more about this adorable cat, you can follow Poe on Instagram.