When Brandi learned about an injured kitten her partner Nathan’s brother Jack and his girlfriend Bria found in a gas station parking lot on May 15, 2019, she was eager to help the tiny tabby cat. “Nathan and I have always done rescue work, so they immediately called us,” explains Brandi. At Brandi and Nathan’s urging, the couple rescued the kitten — whose front legs appeared to have been mutilated — and rushed him to the family business in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“When they arrived to work, he was wrapped in a t-shirt and just had this look of ‘I want to live,’ ” remembers Brandi. However, the young cat was in critical condition, and he desperately needed medical care, so Brandi and Nathan scooped him up and took him to the emergency veterinary clinic at Colorado State University.
The couple learned that if they surrendered the kitten to the vet’s office, he would almost certainly be euthanized due to the extent of his injuries and because he was technically a stray. “Looking at his face, there was no way we were going to allow that,” says Brandi. “We agreed to the fee to get him stable and set off calling to see if anyone could help us with the surgery charges.”
While Brandi and Nathan and began reaching out to local rescues to see if any of them would assist with the kitten’s medical bills, doctors began evaluating the injured tabby. An examination revealed he was approximately twelve weeks old, his front legs appeared to have been intentionally dismembered, and he also had a broken pelvis and sacrum, indicating the little kitten had been subjected to unspeakable abuse and cruelty. “They informed us that the surgery was going to be between six to eight thousand dollars as he had to have a double amputation,” remembers Brandi.
It was just seven in the morning when Brandi and Nathan received the estimate, and neither of them had been able to reach a rescue that was willing to help with the kitten’s medical costs. While they had no idea how they would pay thousands of dollars to get the injured cat the care he needed, they also knew there was no way they could let him be put to sleep after surviving such a senseless attack.
“We could not let a kitten that had suffered such a terrible fate at 12-ish weeks be put down,” says Brandi. “As two 30-year-olds, we committed to a nameless kitten with an unknown fate and a giant vet bill.”
As the doctors began performing surgery to remove what remained of the kitten’s front legs, Brandi and Nathan started thinking of a name befitting a 12-week-old cat who had managed survive on the streets for 24 to 72 hours after someone mutilated his tiny body. Eventually, the couple settled upon the perfect name for the brave and resilient boy: Achilles. “We gave him the name of a warrior,” says Brandi.
When Achilles woke up from the surgery, he was officially a two-legged cat. Brandi and Nathan didn’t have any experience caring for a cat with missing limbs, so they weren’t entirely sure what to expect. Fortunately, Achilles adapted quickly to life without his front limbs, proving to his new parents that he was an incredibly capable and independent boy. “Most people say they would have euthanized him if they would have found him that way,” says Brandi, “but he was jumping out of his bed two days after surgery.”
It’s been just over a month since Achilles was rescued from a parking lot, injured and alone, and today, he’s doing great. “He has adapted and doesn’t even realize he is a special needs kitten,” says Brandi. Like a typical cat, Achilles enjoys spending supervised time outside with his family, and when he wants attention from his parents, he has no problem meowing at the top of his lungs to let his mom and dad know.
However, this adorable two-legged kitten does have one favorite pastime that makes him a bit different from the average feline. “He thinks he is a dog, so he plays with sticks,” explains Brandi. “It is hilarious to watch as he lays on his back and tosses them.”
While he’s missing his front legs, Achilles doesn’t have difficulty using the litter box, and he even tries to dig in the litter with his absent limbs. “You can see his muscles move under his skin,” says Brandi, “but it does not prevent him from using a litter box.” However, due to his sacral injury, Achilles is partially incontinent, so he wears a diaper or uses a pee pad when he travels with his parents, which is often.
“He has a hammock that we transport him in and take him places in — he loves it,” says Brandi. “He has also been camping and purrs so loud.” In addition to going on adventures with his parents, Achilles accompanies Brandi and Nathan to work, and he enjoys going for rides in the car, playing with his three canine siblings, and taking naps.
While other cats might benefit from the use of a cart or some other type of special equipment, Brandi and Nathan have found Achilles prefers to get around on his own two feet. “We have had to adjust a few things to meet his needs,” says Brandi, but aside from regular baths — which Achilles actually enjoys — he doesn’t need a lot of extra help, not that Brandi and Nathan would mind.
After all, while they weren’t looking for a kitten — especially one with special needs — when they met Achilles just a few weeks ago, they’re so thankful to have him in their lives. “He is so special to everyone that he encounters,” says Brandi. “His story alone shocks people, but when he looks into our eyes, he gives us motivation and the will to overcome. He has taught us so much in the past few weeks, it is incredible.”
To learn more about this adorable kitten, you can follow Achilles on Instagram.