When Kali from Foster Friends Rescue learned about a 5-week-old kitten with radial hypoplasia (RH) who had been living underneath a mobile home in Las Vegas with his siblings, she immediately agreed to help the little special needs cat and his litter mates. “He and his siblings were brought to my rescue by a TNR [trap-neuter-return] trapper,” explains Kali, referring to the humane practice of trapping community and feral cats, sterilizing them, and then returning them to their original territories.
While the mother of the young cats was trapped, spayed, and returned to the mobile home park, Kali placed the kittens in a foster home shortly after they were rescued on October 5, 2020. However, approximately two weeks later, the kitten with radial hypoplasia was smaller than his siblings and having difficulty keeping up with his litter mates, so Kali decided to care for him herself.
“I specialize in fostering cats and kittens with special needs and educating others about them,” says Kali, and she was uniquely qualified to look after the small special needs kitten thanks to Turtle, her cat who also has radial hypoplasia.
Radial hypoplasia, or RH, is a congenital condition characterized by a partial formation or complete absence of the radius bone, causing affected cats to have unusually short and twisted front legs. “It’s a genetic mutation that causes it,” explains Kali, “but I was still a bit surprised to come across a second kitty with such a rare condition.”
Having fostered a number of special needs cats, Kali had developed a tradition of naming these unique felines after animals, and she chose the perfect name for the little tabby and white kitten with radial hypoplasia. “Because of how he hops around and his croaky meow, we went with Toad!” says Kali.
It didn’t take long for Toad to settle into his new foster home, and he became fast friends with Turtle, as well as Monkey, an adorable tabby kitten who was born with a malformed nose.
Several weeks later, this handsome special needs cat is doing great, and while having radial hypoplasia causes Toad to move a bit differently from a typical kitten, it barely slows him down!
“Toad so far seems pretty unaffected by his RH!” says Kali. “I actually give Turtle a hard time because Toad is like a ninja and a raptor when it comes to climbing cat trees and using those back feet that it’s pretty impressive.”
In addition to scaling cat trees, Toad loves to eat, cuddle, sunbathe, practice his parkour moves, and play with his best buddies Monkey and Turtle. “Most people will ask if RH cats can walk and get around okay,” says Kali. “Yup! They get around just like any other cat, only a little bit slower.”
In fact, contrary to what a lot of people might think, cats with radial hypoplasia usually don’t need a lot of special care or accommodations. “In the case of RH cats, all you need are some rugs and pet stairs — nothing big there!” explains Kali.
However, because the general public is still relatively unaware of radial hypoplasia, cats like Toad sometimes have difficulty finding forever homes. “So many special needs animals are skipped over because people think it will be a lot of work,” says Kali, “but it’s no more than any cat — just different.”
Even though it might take some time, Kali is confident Toad will eventually find the perfect family, and she hopes his forever home will include at least one other cat. After all, this energetic and outgoing boy adores spending time with his foster siblings, and Kali fears Toad will get lonely if he doesn’t have a feline friend to play and cuddle with. “Other than that, I’m just looking for someone that loves him for who he is,” says Kali.
While Kali will miss Toad when he finally gets adopted, there’s no way she’ll ever be able to forget this incredibly inspiring little cat. “When I look at kittens like Toad, I see resilience and strength,” says Kali. “No matter what comes his way, this little guy just keeps doing his thing and doesn’t give up.”
To learn more about this adorable kitten, you can follow Toad on Instagram.
If you’re interested in adopting Toad, you can send a direct message to Kali via Instagram.