When Tina Galloway, who has spent the last two and a half years rescuing homeless kittens, received a text message about a three-week-old cat with hind leg paralysis who had been found near a barn an hour away from her home in Belleville, Illinois, she was eager to help the special needs feline.
The following day — May 2, 2018 — Tina made the drive to pick up the kitten, and when she met her face to face for the first time, she was surprised by just how small the little 10 ounce cat actually was. “She was so tiny she fit in my hand,” remembers Tina. “She was dragging herself and appeared to have no movement from the waist down.”
The owners of the farm informed Tina that they had no idea the kitten had been living on their property until she crawled out from underneath their porch a day earlier. “I was told that a coyote had gone after the mom and babies who had already come out from under the porch,” explains Tina. “The mom survived with a leg injury but a couple kittens disappeared.”
At the time, Tina had no idea if the kitten — who she named Daisy — had been born paralyzed or lost the use of her hind legs due to some sort of injury, but she was determined to help the cute tabby and white feline.
“The second I saw her I told her the best was yet to come,” says Tina. “I called the vet we use for all the rescues and I drove straight there.” A thorough examination revealed Daisy had been born with hind leg paralysis, making her completely incontinent, but she was not in any sort of pain.
Tina saw no reason not to care for Daisy like any of the other homeless kittens she’d rescued over the previous years, so she brought her home with her and began learning firsthand how to look after a cat with incontinence and paralysis.
“The first three months of her life consisted of many baths every day,” remembers Tina. “She does not know when she has to pass urine or stool and lacks the ability to hold it in, so it just comes out.”
Initially, Daisy was far too small for store bought diapers, so each week Tina tailored reusable diapers to fit her growing frame, making it possible for this curious kitten to easily explore her new home. At first, Daisy appeared to be doing extremely well, but in late August 2018, she became very sick and Tina had to rush her to the vet.
“An x-ray showed that she has a part of her colon that has become paralyzed,” explains Tina, a medical condition known as ilius. “She was deteriorating quickly and the vet said if she didn’t start improving immediately that we should help her cross the rainbow bridge.”
Devastated by the thought of losing the little kitten she had rescued when she was just three weeks old, Tina elected to place Daisy on antibiotics and a medication designed to make her paralyzed intestines to contract. Hoping this last ditch effort would work, Tina brought Daisy home with her and laid in bed with her as she cried at the thought of losing this special girl.
“She was licking the tears off my face and I told her she wasn’t going to die without a forever family,” says Tina. “That’s when we made the decision that we were going to be her forever family.” Incredibly, the medications began to work, allowing Daisy to make a miraculous recovery. Because Daisy’s incontinence makes her at risk of bladder, kidney, and skin infections, Tina has learned how to express her bladder and stimulate her bowels, which should decrease her chances of developing more issues in the future.
While it’s only been about a week since Daisy’s health scare, she’s slowly getting back to normal, enabling her to once again enjoy her favorite activities like sunbathing, climbing up her mom’s favorite chair, and going on adventures. “She loves chasing her squishy ball and her nighttime cuddles with me,” says Tina.
Not surprisingly, Daisy and her mom have formed a very special bond, and while there’s no doubt that paralyzed and incontinent cats require more care than the average feline, Tina is happy to cater to this gorgeous girl’s unique needs. “I don’t mind changing diapers, bathing her, changing linen and washing laundry everyday, getting peed and pooped on, or making sure our family life works around her every need,” says Tina. “She’s not a burden, she’s a blessing.”
While Tina has no idea how long Daisy might live, she’s determined to make sure this little cat enjoys her time on earth. However, not everyone believes paralyzed cats like Daisy are able to have happy and active lives, but Tina is adamant that with the right care, these special kitties can thrive.
“I think people tend to feel sorry for cats with paralysis, but the cats have no idea they are different,” says Tina. “I wish people would realize that a disability is not a reason for euthanasia. She will be incontinent and paralyzed her whole life, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve a chance to experience life.”
With Tina as her mom, there’s no doubt Daisy’s days will be filled fun and affection, as well as experiences many able-bodies cats will never get to have. “I know that Daisy may not live a long life; I treasure every day we have with her,” says Tina. “My goal is to make sure she has a life full of love and adventures and a forever lap to snuggle on every night. I love her.”
To learn more about this gorgeous kitten, you can follow Daisy on Instagram.