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Link the Cat Was Paralyzed and on Death Row, But We're Holding Out for His Recovery

He's making slow but unmistakable progress, and with antibiotics and surgery, he might walk again.

 |  Aug 23rd 2013  |   6 Contributions


Link, a two-year-old black cat, has come a long way since being rescued earlier this year. As recently as June, Link was almost completely paralyzed from the neck down. He’d been an energetic kitten, but he’d gradually grown weaker and weaker. Eventually he’d become unable to move much at all.

When he was adopted by Lindsay Martin and her partner, Thomas Whitson, Link had spent nearly a month sitting on a couch with no medical attention. He was underfed and virtually unable to move from the neck down. If the caring couple had not given Link a new home, he most likely would have been euthanized.

Instead, Lindsay and Thomas sought veterinary care for the cat, and they learned that his paralysis was probably caused by one of three things: a congenital vertebral defect that he had “grown into,” an old injury that had healed wrong, or an infection in his spine. The first two options would require surgery to correct, while the third option would require a spinal tap or bone biopsy to determine the type of infection, followed by targeted antibiotic therapy.

The good news is that in all three cases Link has a “very real chance at a full recovery,” Lindsay says. Link is currently on general, empiric antibiotic therapy, which has improved his condition and allowed him to regain some use of his legs. This improvement points to the possibility of an infection, which Lindsay says was initially considered a long-shot diagnosis. Lindsay and Thomas also perform neurologist-prescribed exercises with Link twice a day. The cat has been impressively cooperative.

“Surprisingly enough, he enjoys his exercises, and his pills are his favorite part of meals,” Lindsay says.

Link has an upcoming appointment at a veterinary college to hopefully get a more definitive diagnosis. In the meantime, Lindsay and Thomas are trying to raise funds for their special cat’s care, as surgery could cost up to $3,000.

“When we rescued Link, we really didn't know what we were getting ourselves into,” Lindsay says. “The time and financial commitments we were making were far beyond what we had imagined.”

To ease the financial burden of caring for Link, Lindsay and Thomas have held numerous bake sales. The money they’ve raised from bake sales alone is going to pay for Link’s upcoming appointment at the veterinary college. This will include an MRI to determine exactly what is wrong with Link to ensure all future treatments are targeted to address the specific problem.

“It turns out that selling cookies isn't just for Girl Scouts,” Lindsay says. “Thomas, though, has been pretty negatively affected by all of the cooking he has been doing. He can hardly stand to be in the same room as a cupcake or a Rice Krispy treat. Too many sweets!”

In addition to bake sales, Lindsay and Thomas started an online fundraiser, where generous donors have contributed to Link’s care. (Click here to learn more or to donate.) Despite the challenges of caring for Link, Lindsay and Thomas knew shortly after bringing him home that he was going to stick around, joining their family of three other rescue cats.

“When we originally took him in, we thought we would get him patched up and find him a new home,” Lindsay says. “I think it's superfluous to say we couldn't imagine giving him up now. He's our sweet kitten, and he's with us to stay.”

As Link awaits a definitive diagnosis, Lindsay and Thomas have hope that, with appropriate veterinary care, their cat will recover. His progress and attitude -- including his insatiable need for as much affection as possible -- continue to impress Lindsay and Thomas every day.

Link's progress is especially surprising because his initial diagnosis was so dire. At first, Lindsay and Thomas were told that Link had no reflexes in his front legs, but that has turned out not to be the case. Link has even started to move himself in his kitty walker and to stretch his front toes, which Lindsay says was an emotional moment. Now Link will try to bat at a feather toy, and he also tries to play with the couple’s pet ferret.

“At first, we thought that we had imagined it, but the movements became more and more common,” Lindsay says. “Then one day while we were playing with him he extended his front claws and stretched his front toes. From that moment on we knew that, small though they were, the improvements were real. It took all the TLC we could muster, but Link was making unmistakable progress.”

Link still has a long way to go in his recovery, but the love and affection he shows Lindsay and Thomas each day has made all of their fundraising and caregiving efforts worthwhile.

“With Link, every purr has been its own reward,” Lindsay adds. “And there have been many, many of them.”

Follow Link on Facebook for continuing updates on the cat's progress.

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