Alexandra was at her job at as a vet tech at an animal hospital in Tampa, Florida, in April 2019 when a distraught woman brought in a tiny kitten she’d found by the side of the road, unable to walk.
“Not only was she paralyzed, but her eyes and nose were crusted over and she could barely open her eyes,” remembers Alexandria. “She was also slightly anemic because she had so many fleas.”
The young cat was less than a month old and in terrible shape, but Alexandra and her colleagues did everything they could to help the little grey and white feline. “We cleaned her up and syringe fed her some formula and she got stronger and started having a little personality,” says Alexandria.
Thanks to everyone’s hard work, the kitten’s health improved dramatically, although she remained unable to walk, and Alexandra and her coworkers began discussing the paralyzed cat’s future.
“I remember everyone being like ‘what are we going to do with this kitten?’ and I volunteered to take her,” explains Alexandra, and with the help of one of the vets, she named her new foster cat Violet. “She was so dainty like a little flower.” Between her job at the animal hospital and her volunteer work as a fosterer, Alexandra had a lot of experience looking after cats and kittens, but she still found caring for Violet to be a challenge.
“She had really bad intestinal problems for the first couple of months, which meant many, many baths and lots of cleaning,” says Alexandra. However, she remained committed to giving the adorable special needs kitten the best care possible, and through lots of trial and error, Alexandra eventually managed to get Violet’s gastrointestinal issues under control.
“Through it all, she always had a good attitude and didn’t let her handicap stop her, which I always admired about her,” says Alexandra. While she’d never planned on adopting a cat with paralysis and incontinence, after a few months of providing Violet with lots of love and intensive care, Alexandra had developed an incredibly close bond with the resilient kitten.
“I never thought I would have a special needs animal, but I fell in love with Violet and couldn’t let her go,” explains Alexandra, and in July 2019 she officially adopted the paralyzed kitten when she was approximately four months old, commemorating the moment by getting a tattoo of a bouquet of violets.
Three months later, Violet is doing better than ever, although she still has hind leg paralysis and fecal incontinence. While she’s seen several veterinarians and has undergone a lot of testing, no one has been able to determine the exact cause of Violet’s medical issues.
“It could be congenital or it could’ve been an injury,” says Alexandra. “She’s been evaluated by many vets and they have taken multiple radiographs, but there are no lesions visible on x-ray.” While the cause of her paralysis and incontinence remains unknown, Alexandra and the special needs kitten have developed a routine that makes Violet surprisingly easy to care for. Even though Violet isn’t urine incontinent, Alexandra expresses her bladder multiple times a day, so she doesn’t have to wear diapers.
“I’ve also gotten her to the point where if I massage her colon at her ‘pooping times’ it will stimulate her to go and she will go in the toilet if I hold her over the toilet,” explains Alexandra. “I think a lot of people think its ‘dirty’ or ‘gross’ to have an incontinent animal but it doesn’t have to be.” She’s also found that a lot of people feel sorry for Violet simply because she’s unable to walk like a typical kitten, but Alexandra is confident there’s no need for anyone to pity this fun-loving and affectionate feline.
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“She is just as happy as any other cat I know and there’s no reason to feel sorry or bad for her,” says Alexandra. “Cats with disabilities can live full happy lives with the right caregiver and someone who is dedicated to them.” Fortunately for Violet, Alexandra is willing and able to give her the extra care she needs to thrive, and because she needs to have her bladder expressed three times a day, Alexandra either takes Violet to work with her or visits her at home on her lunch breaks.
“I also have two dogs that I have to be home to let outside anyway, so it’s not too much of a burden to have to do it with Violet too,” says Alexandra. In order to keep Violet’s limbs as healthy and flexible as possible, Alexandra does hydrotherapy with her twice a week, which she admits can be a bit of a challenge.
“She does well in the tub but she doesn’t particularly like it, so that’s always a fight,” explains Alexandra. While she may not enjoy her hydrotherapy sessions, this incredibly cute grey and white girl loves to play, especially with toys, making her a fairly typical feline. Violet also enjoys going places with her mom, so Alexandra often brings her with her when she’s running errands or spending time with friends and family.
“I take her on car rides, to restaurants, doctors appointments, and even my sister’s dance recital once!” says Alexandra. “I have a purse/bag for her and 99% of the time people don’t even realize she’s in there. She falls asleep and likes the motion of being carried in the bag.”
Without a doubt, Violet and her mom have an incredibly deep bond, and Alexandra hopes more people will realize just how rewarding it can be to care for a cat with special needs.
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“They truly appreciate everything that we do for them because they need us,” says Alexandra, and she’s thankful all of the time and energy she’s dedicated to Violet has paid off in the best way possible. “Seeing her go from a little helpless being to a strong cat has been a blessing.”
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For the first few months of her life, Violet battled a number of health issues, and there were many moments when Alexandra feared the fragile feline wouldn’t survive. Thankfully, she refused to give up, allowing Violet to make a miraculous recovery.
Today, she’s truly thriving, and while other people might consider caring for a special needs cat like Violet to be an inconvenience, for Alexandra it’s an honor. “She’s taught me what it means to be someone’s everything and in return I’ve gotten nothing but gratification,” says Alexandra. “Violet means the world to me.”
To learn more about this beautiful kitten, you can follow Violet on Instagram.