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Meet The Fun And Feisty Kangaroo Kitten Who Inspired Three Women In South Africa To Create A Rescue For Special Needs Cats!

When Emma Wagener saw a short video of a malnourished special needs kitten her friend Megan was fostering after he was rescued as part of a project to spay and neuter feral cats in Cape Town, South Africa, she immediately felt a connection with the tiny tabby.

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

“I was sent a four-second-long video of him crying, and I instantly knew that he and I were meant to be!” says Emma. The kitten was just four weeks old when he was rescued in January 2019, and he was underweight, his tail was broken, and his front legs were malformed.

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

Two days after her friend Megan started fostering the little kitten, Emma went to visit him, a moment she remembers vividly. “He was so small I was afraid to even touch him,” says Emma, “but he was full of life and the fight in him was strong.” Inspired by his remarkable spirit, Emma and Megan wanted to give the tenacious cat a name that reflected his spunky personality, so they dubbed him Harvey, which means “battle worthy” in Celtic.

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

Emma wasn’t necessarily looking to adopt another pet when she met Harvey, but she knew he would have difficulty finding a forever home. Even though she already four pets, three of which have special needs, Emma couldn’t resist Harvey, especially after she realized he had radial hypoplasia (RH) like one of her cats. “RH occurs when the radius — the inner arm bone — of the leg doesn’t grow or develop,” explains Emma. “Because of this, the outer bone pushes the legs inwards and creates an unusual bend in the cats arms.”

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

While cats radial hypoplasia look and move differently from other kitties, they’re not in pain, and they’re capable of having happy and active lives. “People assume that they can’t function, or that they need extra special care all the time,” says Emma. “Cats with RH can walk, play, and live normal, happy lives like any other cat.”

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

In addition to having radial hypoplasia, Harvey was blind when he was rescued, possibly because his mother — who was only seven months old when he was born — didn’t get adequate nutrition or medical care during her pregnancy. “His mom actually belonged to someone,” says Emma. “This is why it is so important to sterilize your cats.”

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

Incredibly, Harvey, who’s development was probably delayed due to his and his mother’s malnutrition, eventually gained the ability to see, and after several weeks of intensive care, he was healthy and strong enough to go to his forever home with Emma. In March 2019, Emma officially adopted the little special needs kitten, and Harvey didn’t waste any time making himself right at home. “Within a few days of him being here, he learned to jump up onto the bed, he mastered the stairs, and he can jump on and off the couch all by himself,” says Emma.

 

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Several weeks later, Harvey is thriving, and while he can’t jump as high as a typical cat, radial hypoplasia actually makes it easier for him to enjoy supervised time outside with his mom. “What is great about cats with RH is that they can’t jump over a boundary wall, so it’s actually quite easy to keep them safe and within your property,” explains Emma. However, Harvey’s unusually short and twisted front limbs make it difficult for him to climb down from high places, so Emma has placed padding and steps around her home, allowing this special kitten to safely get where he wants to go.

 

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Otherwise, Emma hasn’t had to make any other accommodations for this incredibly energetic and determined boy, and while he may not look or move like the typical feline, having radial hypoplasia doesn’t slow Harvey down at all. “He flies up and down the stairs like a champion,” says Emma. “Harvey runs around faster than my fully-abled cat, he just does it with some extra style.”

 

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In addition to racing around the house, this five-month-old cat loves to play, and he has a little purple ball he’s particularly obsessed with. “He has recently started to ‘fetch’ like a dog and brings it back to me in his mouth,” says Emma. “It’s hilarious.” Harvey also adores spending time with Emma’s boyfriend, and there’s nothing this sweet kitty loves more than cleaning his dad’s curly hair.

 

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While it’s obvious Harvey is a very happy and active kitten, Emma has encountered a number of people who have suggested putting him to sleep. “I find that generally people don’t understand cats and dogs with disabilities,” says Emma, who — in addition to Harvey — has a blind dog, a three-legged dog, and another cat with radial hypoplasia. “Most people asked me if it wouldn’t be kinder to Harvey to put him down.”

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

Not only does Emma have no intention of euthanizing this remarkable cat, she, Megan, and their friend Kara created Harvey’s Haven, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping more special needs kittens. “We have just taken in a baby with a broken leg, and another kitten with RH like Harvey,” says Emma. While Harvey’s Haven is still in its infancy, these three remarkable women are committed to doing everything they can to help cats in their community, especially those who are often deemed unadoptable.

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

“With a little bit of love and patience, they thrive!” says Emma. Without a doubt, Emma, Megan, and Kara will have a number of challenges and setbacks to contend with as they continue working to get Harvey’s Haven fully functional, but when they’re feeling discouraged, they only have to look to the organization’s namesake for inspiration.

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

“Harvey represents strength, resilience, and the goal to never give up on a lost cause,” says Emma. “Everyone kept telling us that he wouldn’t manage, but he has always been so feisty and strong. He’s not the most cuddly kitten in the world, but man, oh man is he the cutest and the most fiery! He has such a thirst for life!”

rescue tabby kitten with radial hypoplasia
Image via @moeksieandfriends on Instagram

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

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