When Linda visited Five Acres Animal Shelter, a non-profit organization near her home in St. Louis, Missouri, in search of the perfect feline companion, and she found herself drawn to a tabby and white cat who had recently been rescued from euthanasia. “When I walked into Bucky’s room and saw how small, battered, and scared he was, I knew I had to approach him,” remembers Linda. “I could already hear him purring very loudly as I made my way to his cage to open it.”
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It was obvious to Linda that Bucky was desperate for love and attention, so she showered him with lots of affection, scratching and petting the 18-month-old feline while she chatted with him reassuringly. The following day — July 1, 2018 — Linda and her daughter returned to the shelter, much to Bucky’s delight. “When I went into Bucky’s room and opened his cage, he really seemed excited to see us,” says Linda. “He was purring so loudly again and hopped right out of his cage to rub our legs.”
Linda immediately noticed Bucky hobbled when he walked, and it didn’t take long for her to realize he was missing one of his back paws. After speaking with a volunteer, Linda learn no one was sure if Bucky was born without one of his paws, or if he had lost it to some sort of trauma.
However, he was still attempting walking around on the affected leg, which resulted in a lot of pain and inflammation for the young cat. “They were afraid the bone could possibly poke through his skin, so he was already scheduled to have his full leg amputated in a couple weeks,” explains Linda.
She also discovered Bucky had tested positive for the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a complex retrovirus that can cause infected cats to have weakened immune systems, often making it harder for them to fight illnesses and infections. However, with excellent nutrition and proactive medical care, cats with FIV can live healthy and happy lives, something not everyone realizes. “He had already been rescued from another shelter a month prior when they scheduled him for euthanasia due to testing positive for FIV,” says Linda.
While Linda was smitten with Bucky, she was unsure if she would be able to adopt a three-legged cat with FIV, a virus she knew very little about. “It was the FIV+ diagnosis that worried me most about adopting him,” remembers Linda. “I really had no idea what it was other than I thought it was a death sentence.”
Thankfully, the staff and volunteers at the shelter addressed Linda’s concerns about the virus, and after doing a lot of independent research on FIV, she went back to visit Bucky for a third time. “I just couldn’t get the sounds of his purring and that scared little face and all his battle wounds out of my head,” explains Linda. “Bucky let me pick him up — not for long — and I then filled out the application for adoption.”
A week later, her application was approved, and on July 12, 2018, Bucky had his painful and inflamed back leg removed. Unfortunately, he had a number of complications following the surgery, so Linda and her family weren’t allowed to bring Bucky home until July 18, 2018.
“They decided to change our adoption to a foster pending adoption because of his health status and the need for further medical treatments,” says Linda. Thankfully, with the help of laser therapy every other day, by August 1, 2018, Bucky was finally healthy enough for Linda and her family to officially adopt him.
More than a year later, this three-legged feline is doing great, and Bucky and his family recently celebrated the day he found his forever home, as well as the anniversary of his amputation. “I felt his amputation should be celebrated because it led him to a new life, without pain and without worry of how he was going to survive on his own,” explains Linda.
Free from discomfort, Bucky is now an extremely happy and active boy who has no trouble scaling the furniture and cat trees in his home, proving three-legged kitties can have independent, fun-filled lives despite what a lot of people might think.
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“Bucky can do everything a four-legged cat can do — he just can’t jump quite as high!” says Linda. “He runs super fast and smooth, he plays, he taunts the dogs — he is amazing!” In addition to sunbathing on his catio and attacking his catnip kickers, Bucky adores exploring the outdoors with his family while on his leash and harness, going for rides in the car, playing in his tunnel, riding around on the Roomba, and making biscuits on his bed.
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In addition to being extremely content, Buck is also in excellent health, and while he has to go to the vet every six months instead of once a year — and needs to have annual dental treatments — because of his FIV, he hasn’t really had any issues related to the virus. “Bucky has been very healthy and shows no signs that the virus has progressed,” says Linda.
By sharing his story, Linda hopes more people will consider opening their homes to special needs animals like Bucky. After all, while he might have FIV and is missing one of his hind limbs, this adorable boy really isn’t all that different from the average feline.
Still, it’s impossible to deny Bucky is unique, and the bond he shares with Linda is incredibly special and one they’re both very grateful to have. “He is a perfect companion,” says Linda. “He’s sweet, funny, ornery, and a pure joy to interact with. I have learned so much having him in my life. I knew from the first purr, he wanted to be mine.”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Bucky on Instagram.