When Sara and her boyfriend Mike went to the pet supply store near their home in Waterford, Michigan, they were planning to buy some dog food, but a 6-year-old cat with radial hypoplasia (RH) from a local animal shelter immediately grabbed their attention. “She had weepy eyes, an abscess on her chin, her teeth were a mess, and she obviously had RH,” remembers Sara. “I just started crying and I looked up at Mike and he knew I would not take no for an answer.”
Determined to adopt the stunning torbie with radial hypoplasia, a congenital condition that causes cats to have short and twisted front legs, the couple filled out an adoption application for Kittles on October 8, 2015, Sara’s birthday, and two days later, they brought her home. “It happened to be my birthday,” says Sara, “and she was the universe’s gift to me.”
Initially, Kittles didn’t trust her parents right away, which Sara attributes to her life before she ended up at the Michigan animal shelter. “Kittles was on her own for a good part of six years of her life,” says Sara. “The person who found her and signed her over to the shelter before us kept her as an outdoor cat.”
However, Sara and her boyfriend didn’t give up on the beautiful special needs cat, and eventually, Kittles formed a strong bond with her parents and even Biff, her canine brother. More than two years later, Kittles is a very happy cat who has no problem navigating her home, even though she looks and moves a little differently from her counterparts. “People are always surprised how active and fast she is,” says Sara. “She runs and jumps, climbs stairs, and sometimes terrorizes her brother like other cats do.”
Because Kittles is extremely active, her parents give her supplement treats to help keep her bones and joints as healthy as possible, and they’ve also made a few adjustments to their home to take some of the pressure off of her joints: “She jumps high enough to land on her back legs most of the time, but we keep padded kitty stairs to help her down from the bed and chairs,” says Sara. “She would usually rather jump though.”
Recently, Kittles and her family moved from an apartment to a house with stairs, and this adorable special needs cat is having a great time exploring her new home and using the change in environment as an opportunity to ambush Biff, her canine sibling. When she’s not playfully attacking Biff, Kittles will occasionally cuddle with her brother, but only when she’s in the mood.
“If he gets too close, or sniffs her, or moves or makes a noise of any kind, she is not having it,” says Sara. Kittles also enjoys climbing around in her mom’s closet, snuggling with her Jabba the Hutt plush toy — “He’s her pal,” says Sara. “They hang out a lot.” — and cuddling up with her dad. “She is definitely a daddy’s girl,” says Sara, “and she has him wrapped around her little paw.”
While Sara and her boyfriend had no intention of a adopting a cat — much less a kitty with special needs — when they went to their local pet supply store more than two years ago, they are so grateful for their chance meeting with Kittles. “I instantly fell in love with her,” says Sara. “I’m drawn to the misfits.”
While Sara knows not everyone is capable of caring for a cat with special needs, she hopes Kittles’s story will show people that kitties with RH really don’t require that much extra effort. “RH cats are just like any other cat,” explains Sara. “They may have to do things a little differently, but they still play and get into trouble.”
By adopting Kittles, Sara has learned that while people often consider cats with special needs to be weaker than other felines, she’s found the exact opposite to be true. “Those differences make them stronger and add more character,” says Sara. “Different is not disposable.”
Thankfully, Kittles has a home where her uniqueness is celebrated and parents who appreciate her resilience, determination, and loving spirit. “She’s a fighter and a survivor,” says Sara, “and even though it took a while for her to trust us, she has so much love to give.”
While Kittles had a very difficult life before Sara and Mike came along, this beautiful RH kitty now has a family to call her own and a mom and dad who are determined to see her thrive. “Special needs animals have so much strength and love,” says Sara. “They just need someone there for them to help them be their best.”
With her parents’ love and support, Kittles has been able to reach her true potential, and she’s no longer the bedraggled cat with bad teeth, weepy eyes, and a chin abscess they adopted in October 2015. “Kittles is strength and sass and warmth and love in one adorable little bundle,” says Sara. “She makes everyone who come into contact with her just melt into a puddle. She gets away with a lot.”
To learn more about this gorgeous cat, you can follow Kittles on Instagram.