When a stray cat delivered a litter of kittens on her family’s porch on May 20, 2018, Hannah Baker and her sister Kiley took it upon themselves to look after the feline family. Initially, the mother and her babies appeared to be healthy, but four weeks later, Kiley noticed one of the kittens had discharge come from his eyes and seemed dehydrated, prompting her to take a closer look at the little ginger cat.
“That’s when she noticed that this sweet little orange kitten was dragging its hind legs behind him, but otherwise wasn’t acting any different and didn’t have any visible cuts on him,” says Hannah.
As soon as Hannah arrived at her family’s home in Beaverton, Michigan, Kiley handed her the kitten, eager for her to examine him. “I went to clean his eyes and feed him and immediately fell in love with this tiny but fierce kitten with the loudest purr I had ever heard!” says Hannah.
While she didn’t have any experience caring for a cat with special needs, Hannah instantly knew she wouldn’t be able to part with the adorable ginger kitten, especially because he seemed so determined to survive. “There was no way he was in pain,” says Hannah, “so for me, euthanasia was never even on the table.” However, Hannah knew she needed help learning how to care for the paralyzed and incontinent kitten, so she took him to the vet for a thorough examination.
While the veterinarian was unable to determine the cause of the 4-week-old feline’s paralysis and incontinence, the doctor taught Hannah how to express his bladder and bowels. Initially, she struggled to get the hang of it, but with the help of video tutorials and lots of practice, she eventually figured it out. Thankfully, the kitten remained spunky and playful throughout it all, causing Hannah’s sister Kiley to call him “silly goose,” eventually shortening it to Goose. “I found it fitting for him because he was very silly as a kitten,” says Hannah, “always so playful and nibbling my fingers.”
Despite being a very happy-go-lucky boy, Goose struggled with other issues, including urine scald, a painful condition similar to diaper rash in babies. Due to the acidic nature of urine, prolonged contact with a kitten’s sensitive skin can lead to irritation, inflammation, fur loss, and even infection. Fortunately, Hannah learned how to fashion diapers to fit Goose, which helped keep his skin dry and prevented him from developing sores caused by his hind end coming in constant contact with the ground.
“That was all when he was a kitten and I was still learning!” says Hannah, and nearly two years later, she has a schedule to keep Goose as healthy as possible — both inside and out. “Now it’s all fairly simple and to express and change him into a diaper takes about ten minutes, which I do three times a day!”
Thankfully, because Goose doesn’t have any feeling below his waist, he doesn’t mind when Hannah expresses him. In fact, he enjoys this special time with her, and he actual purrs while she expresses his bladder and bowels and changes his diaper, proving special needs cats are often a lot happier than people seem to think.
“I think some of the biggest misconceptions people have about cats with paralysis is that they are in pain and can’t live a fulfilling life,” says Hannah. “Just because he needs some extra care doesn’t mean he can’t live a fulfilling life! He may be a little different, but different isn’t a bad thing!”
Also, since Goose has been paralyzed and incontinent since he was just a few weeks old, he’s adapted extremely well to life without the use of hind legs. “He can’t jump up but he meows at me to get up on the bed, or he uses his front claws to climb up and hoist his lower end up, and he has no problem jumping down!” explains Hannah. “He has amazing upper body strength!”
While he may not be able to walk like a typical cat, Goose loves scooting around the house at top speed, and he adores napping with Hannah and eating Inaba Churu treats. “He also loves to cuddle with me and watch Netflix!” says Hannah. Not surprisingly, these two share a very special bond, especially because Goose relies heavily on Hannah for the care he needs to thrive.
Fortunately, Hannah doesn’t mind this extra responsibility, because while having a paralyzed and incontinent cat has significantly changed her life, including the amount of time she can spend away from home, she wouldn’t trade her connection with Goose for anything.
“I feel so much love towards him and you can tell he loves me too!” says Hannah. “It’s like he knows all the love and devotion I have poured towards him and he understands all that I have done for him! He is my sunshine.”
To learn more about this handsome cat, you can follow Goose on Instagram.