When a bijou ginger kitten was delivered to the Massapequa Pet Vet facility on Long Island inside a box of macaroni and cheese, it was only fitting that he was blessed with the name Mac ‘n’ Cheez.
“Some good Samaritans had found a litter of kittens and placed most of them,” recalls Donna, the office manager of the facility, “but they noticed something wrong with [one] so they brought him to us.”
The problem with Mac, as he has become known, involved his back legs. Namely, they didn’t seem to work, instead flopping on the floor, as unfortunately happens with paralyzed limbs.
Thankfully, under the watch of Dr. Ned Horowitz, the team at Massapequa Pet Vet stepped up and give Mac the best chance at a mobile life they could.
As Gabby Nania, a vet tech, says, “When he first came in he had absolutely no use of his back legs. He was mostly dragging them around. So my first impressions of Mac were basically I hope this cat gets better, I hope we can help this cat, and my first instinct was I wanted to be the one to help him.”
It wasn’t long before Gabby would come good on her initial hunch and offer Mac a foster home.
At that point, Mac began a comprehensive course of physical therapy.
“We’ve been doing things like full-range motion and stretching his legs so they mimic how they should move,” begins Gabby, listing his regime. “We’ve been applying his own body weight on his back legs, doing some water therapy to make him swim and kick with his back legs while in the water. The range of motions he goes through help keep his muscles from tightening up.”
In case you’re wondering, when it comes to Mac’s water sports, he apparently “tolerates it a lot better than pretty much any other cat would,” to the point where most of his protests rarely get beyond the occasional cry and attempt to scoot out of the tub. Video evidence exists.
Gabby adds that recently Mac has undergone a course of laser therapy.
“The light is meant to stimulate the cells in his body to help make them stronger,” she explains. “They also reduce any inflammation he might have.”
Earlier, Mac was fitted with two versions of a kitty wheelchair. It turned out Mac wasn’t exactly enamored with his wheels: Not only did he grow out of each wheelchair quickly, but he started to fall over to the side and become agitated about the predicament.
After Gabby noticed Mac “trying to place his feet underneath him and get in the correct position,” vet staffers suspended the wheelchair experiment.
Now that Mac has reached 16 weeks of age, his right leg has begun to show very positive signs. Gabby estimates that it’s functioning at around 90 percent of its full capability. The only downside? Mac has begun to drag his lower left leg along the floor — which could lead to sores if he continues to limp around this way.
While Gabby says amputation of his left leg has been considered, vet staffers are waiting until he’s older before making such an irreversible decision.
In the meantime, this little kitten — who, incidentally, “totally knows that he’s a superstar” — is living with Gabby and her husband. Each day after work, she takes him home; each morning, she brings Mac back.
Well, that’s the schedule at the moment.
Gabby confesses of her foster kitten, “My husband and I are thinking of keeping him due to the medical issues he’ll potentially need in the future — and also because we’ve fallen head over heels for him.”