When Courtney agreed to foster Feta for an animal shelter near her home in New Jersey, she was only planning to care for the beautiful black cat while she recovered from surgery to amputate one of her hind legs.
“The details are a little fuzzy, but as best I understand it, she was found along the side of a busy highway, seriously injured, with four kittens nursing on her,” explains Courtney.
Feta and her kittens were taken to animal control, and the feline family was sent to a partner veterinarian, Dr. Santiago in East Orange, New Jersey. An exam revealed one of Feta’s back limb was severely damaged, most likely the result of being struck by a vehicle, and ultimately, it couldn’t be saved. “Due to trauma and subsequent infection, she had to have one of her hind legs amputated,” says Courtney.
After recovering from the surgery, Feta was adopted, but it wasn’t long before she was returned to the shelter. The beautiful black cat, whose remaining hind limb had atrophied during the month she spent in a cage weaning her kittens and recovering from the major trauma to her other back leg, desperately needed to be in an environment where she could be more active.
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Consequently, Feta was placed with Courtney in August 2016 when she was approximately two years old. “The shelter I was fostering for actually explicitly forbids you to provide any independent vet care, even if you’re paying for it yourself, which meant I couldn’t take her to see a neurologist, physical therapist, or any other doctors,” says Courtney.
Wanting to give Feta the best care possible, and knowing the three-legged feline would have a very difficult time finding a good home, Courtney made the decision to adopt her. “Ultimately, I decided I would be more stressed and unhappy if I didn’t keep her,” explains Courtney. “If I adopted her, I would be able to direct her care and get her to the right vets, which was all beyond my ability as a foster home.”
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Shortly after adopting Feta, Courtney began taking the gorgeous three-legged cat to a physical therapist. However, after six months of regular physical therapy sessions, it became apparent to everyone involved that Feta would almost certainly never regain use of her remaining back leg, and the paralyzed limb was actually hindering her mobility.
“I think it was too late [when she started physical therapy], as ultimately, her remaining hind leg had deteriorated and became paralyzed,” says Courtney. “I ended up having it amputated to make her more comfortable.” With Courtney’s help, Feta recovered from her second leg amputation surgery of the year, and nearly three years later, she’s doing extremely well.
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“She moves around with her two front legs just fine — and shockingly quickly — and can get up on the sofa, go up and down carpeted stairs, and all sorts of things,” says Courtney.
However, because she doesn’t have back legs, Feta is unable to jump on to the kitchen counters, but Courtney considers this a blessing in disguise given how much this mischievous kitty enjoys stealing food from her family. Despite being unable to jump, Feta is extremely active and playful, and she gets along well with Courtney’s other cats, especially Julius, an orange male tabby cat who is her wrestling partner and best friend.
While people often assume two-legged cats need a lot of special accommodations, Courtney has found Feta to be relatively easy to care for, although she does have a few challenges. “The biggest problem I have with Feta is bathroom habits,” explains Courtney. “Because she can’t hold her hind end up when she potties, it can get fairly messy, though she does have control of her system.”
Like most cats, Feta absolutely hates being unclean, so Courtney has had to make some significant compromises to make sure this beautiful black cat is able to empty her bladder and bowels without making a mess of herself or her home.
“This makes travel difficult because she can’t just be left alone in my house for 24 hours or more,” says Courtney. However, she has found caring for a cat with special needs to be extremely rewarding, and Courtney encourages anyone who is unsure about adopting a less adoptable pet — such as a senior, a tripod, or one who requires regular medication — to give fostering a try before making a long-term commitment.
When she met Feta, Courtney had no intention of adopting her, largely because she already had a special needs dog who required lots of extra care and attention. However, she was going through a very difficult period in her life, having moved to a new city after the end of a 13-year relationship, far away from friends and family and with no job prospects in sight.
“I was feeling very sad, lonely, and worthless,” says Courtney, “and it helped tremendously to be able to provide love and care for Feta, who had also been clearly abandoned and many would have deemed worthless. By giving her love and care, I felt I was also proving my own worthiness of love and care, and so I truly felt like we were healing together.”
Still, Courtney was trying to maintain emotional distance from Feta, not wanting to get attached to a cat who she was only supposed to be fostering for a short period of time. However, Courtney’s childhood friend Irene fell in love with Feta during a visit, forcing her to realize just how special their bond actually was.
“Irene fell madly in love and repeatedly maintained she was the Best Cat Ever, with the exception of Irene’s own cats, Finn and Sawyer, of course,” says Courtney. “Eventually, I came to agree! Irene is very smart.”
To learn more about this gorgeous cat, you can follow Feta on Instagram.