When Sherilee saw a Facebook post from an animal rescue about a 6-week-old kitten who had become paralyzed and incontinent after falling from a third-floor balcony, she knew she had to help the young special needs cat.
After all, she was one of the few people in her small town of Fethiye, Turkey, who had experience looking after special needs cats, having cared for Isabell, a paralyzed, incontinent kitten for six months in 2018. “Before Isabell I had seen kittens in the past and scrolled past because I thought I couldn’t help,” explains Sherilee. “I thought it would be a huge commitment, but she changed all that.”
Sadly, Isabell passed away at six months old after contracting a bacterial infection that she was unable to recover from, but she had a tremendous impact on Sherilee during her short life. “We were truly devastated for so long,” says Sherilee. Thankfully, despite the pain she and her family experienced after losing Isabell, Sherilee didn’t hesitate to help yet another paralyzed kitten in need.
“Without thinking about it I contacted the rescue straight away,” says Sherilee. “I knew I had experience with paralyzed cats and I could give this kitten the start he needs and a life he deserves.” On May 19, 2019, Sherilee — who has fostered several kittens over the past five years — met the tiny tabby in person for the first time, planning to care for him until he found a forever home.
“I just picked him up in my arms without thinking ‘What if?’ and just thinking ‘I will give you the best life you deserve,’ ” remembers Sherilee. At six weeks old, the brown kitten was very small and cute, so Sherilee named him Badem, which means walnut in Turkish. Just like she had with Isabell, Sherilee developed a routine with Badem, manually expressing his bladder and bowels every four to six hours and bathing and doing physical therapy with him every day.
Over time, Badem — who suffered a severe spinal injury — has regained some feeling in his hind legs, and he’s started moving his tail a lot more, giving Sherilee hope that he might eventually become more mobile.
Today, Badem is four months old, and while he can’t move like a typical feline, he’s still an extremely active and playful kitten who enjoys climbing the curtains, going with his family to the beach and the park, and chasing after the foster cats who share his home. “He loves getting the other foster kittens in a headlock with his front legs,” says Sherilee. “He is so strong but I don’t think he realizes how strong he is.”
While it’s obvious Badem is a very happy cat, Sherilee has encountered a number of people over the past few months who have asked her why she is keeping him alive. “People think a cat who is paralyzed cannot have the same quality of life as a ‘normal’ cat,” explains Sherilee. When people told Sherilee that Badem must be in pain, she questioned whether or not she should euthanize him, and felt extremely guilty about potentially allowing him to suffer. However, over the course of the last few months, it has become abundantly clear that Badem is incredibly content and completely pain-free.
“I have a really supportive vet who helps me with everything and would even babysit him if I ever have to be away for longer than six hours,” says Sherilee. Not surprisingly, this friendly, affectionate, and very cute kitten is a favorite of all of the vet techs, and he is adored by many of the people who live in Fethiye, making Badem a wonderful example of a thriving and happy special needs cat.
In fact, aside from being unable to use a litter box, Sherilee believes Badem really isn’t that different from other kittens his age, and she hopes more people will consider adopting paralyzed and incontinent cats, especially because they often having trouble finding homes.
“I wish people knew how easy it was,” says Sherilee, “How it’s no different to filling their bowl up with biscuits everyday and giving cuddle time to their cats. All you need to do is add expressing into this and putting on a nappy [diaper] — on some you don’t even need to do that.”
Even though Sherilee is confident this adorable special needs kitten would make a great pet for another family, she has no intention of trying to get him adopted. After all, while he’s beloved by many people, there’s no one who loves Badem more than Sherilee and her family, which is why she made the decision to adopt him.
“With Badem I have built a special bond with him, and so has the whole family,” says Sherilee, and she’s very grateful to someone in particular for bringing Badem into her life. “I will always thank Isabell, my last paralyzed kitten, for making me continue to help.”
To learn more about this adorable kitten, you can follow Badem on Instagram.