When Kathy Miner, a certified veterinary technician at an animal hospital near her home in Plainfield, Illinois, was at work in August 2016, the local animal control office contacted the clinic about a pair of young kittens who were in need of medical attention. “They called us about taking two sister cats that seemed to have upper respiratory infections that wouldn’t go away,” remembers Kathy.
The animal hospital agreed to help the 10-week-old kittens who were born at the end of May 2016, and after examining the sisters, the staff at the veterinary clinic discovered that just one of the cats — Winifred, or Winnie for short — was exhibiting symptoms.
“It turns out that only Winnie was still sick,” explains Kathy. “After a round of antibiotics, she wasn’t improving. Then, she was diagnosed with pneumonia.” Kathy, an animal lover with a particular penchant for cats, felt a lot of sympathy for the 10-week-old feline who was struggling to breathe, so she offered to adopt Winnie.
“We already had four cats from the adoption program at my clinic,” says Kathy. “They were all healthy without disabilities so we figured it was time to give back.”
Eventually, Winnie recovered from pneumonia, but then she began to displaying other symptoms, including wobbly hind legs and incontinence, causing Kathy to become understandably concerned about the cute black and white cat’s health. The doctors at Kathy’s office examined Winnie, but none of them were able to determine the cause of the kitten’s newfound medical issues.
“The veterinarians I work with assume it’s some type of nerve issue because she doesn’t exhibit pain,” says Kathy. “I’m assuming she was born with her condition. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about it.”
Satisfied that Winnie wasn’t suffering, Kathy and her family focused on trying to help her have the best life possible, and nearly two years later, this adorable girl is doing great. “She has no problem getting around, but her gait is different,” says Kathy. “She also doesn’t empty her bladder normally. Urine will come out if her bladder is full.”
In order to stop Winnie from unintentionally urinating, Kathy manually expresses this adorable cat’s bladder a couple times a day. “I also taught one of my sons how to do it so he can relieve her when I’m not home,” explains Kathy.
At night, Winnie stays in a crate, which prevents her from accidentally urinating throughout Kathy’s home while she and her family are asleep. “She walks into [her crate] on her own without any coaxing,” says Kathy. “It’s her own private space complete with her food, water, litter box, and bed, and she actually likes it!”
While Winnie likes spending time in her crate — she will even meow at her mom to open the door — this cute cat sometimes needs a bath when she wakes up in the morning. “I take her to the kitchen sink and clean her up,” says Kathy. “She doesn’t like it much. She usually growls but lets me get it done.”
Kathy also has washable beds for Winnie to sleep on which she can easily toss in the washing machine when this sweet girl soils them overnight. While Winnie undeniably needs a bit more care than the typical cat, she’s still a very happy and active kitty, and her wobbly walk doesn’t keep her from doing pretty much everything she wants to do. “She can run and jump,” says Kathy, “and since she’s a cat, she doesn’t care that she’s different!”
In fact, one of Winnie’s favorite activities is running around her home, and she loves chasing after Kathy’s four other cats. Winnie also likes looking outside and playing with the laser pointer, and this adorable cat’s antics provide her mom with endless entertainment. “Her cute little face warms my heart,” says Kathy. “I love watching her enjoy herself — whether she’s running across the room, or looking outside, or even comfortably asleep in her bed.”
Without a doubt, caring for Winnie hasn’t always been easy for Kathy and her family, but this certified veterinary technician is so glad she decided to open her home to this little black and white cat who recently celebrated her second birthday. “Although there are challenges, this experience has also been rewarding,” says Kathy. “We will definitely help more special needs cats in the future!”
While Kathy knows that not everyone is willing or able to provide a forever home to a cat with special needs, she feels very fortunate that she was in a position to help Winnie when she arrived at the animal hospital, struggling with pneumonia, in August 2016. “Everyday I am thankful that we brought Winnie into our home!” says Kathy. “She is alive because we gave her a chance. She’s a big inspiration in a little cat body.”
To learn more about this adorable cat, you can follow Winnie on Instagram.