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Spartacus, Born Feral, Escaped Death Row and Found a Home

The underweight kitten suffered from a polyp, which led to life-threatening surgery.

Phillip Mlynar  |  Apr 11th 2016


Spartacus is a cat who was saved from euthanasia when he was just a kitten.

Born as part of the litter of a feral cat named Cadence, this tiny chap seemed to be suffering from breathing issues, to the point where the rescue he was initially taken to couldn’t accommodate him without knowing the extent of his ailments.

“I didn’t want him to be euthanized, because he was sick and he had already won my heart,” says Dina Carvalho, who was earmarked to foster Spartacus at the time. “So I kept him and pleaded to keep his mother also.”

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Spartacus in transit.

While Spartacus was getting used to his new forever home, Dina says she “started noticing that he wasn’t growing at all” and that his respiratory infection didn’t seem to be clearing up with antibiotics.

“Even after being treated, he was still wheezing and sneezing, and had massive amounts of boogers,” she details.

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Contemplating life at the window.

At that point, Spartacus’s medication was upped to a course of steroids — which cleared up his pesky boogers but didn’t seem to help his breathing issues. In fact, Dina says they seemed to worsen.

“There were nights when I thought he would choke.”

Another visit to the vets saw the 9-month-old Spartacus diagnosed with a suspected polyp (an abnormal tissue growth). But as he only weighed 2.3 pounds, surgery would be life threatening to the little kitten.

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Spartacus and Cadence.

During this time, Dina says Spartacus started to lose weight and his energy levels dropped significantly. She began force feeding him in a bid to get his weight up, and the cat managed to reach the heights of 2.8 pounds.

“One day I got home and Spartacus just wasn’t okay,” Dina recalls. “He had a blank stare in his eyes, and I knew. I rushed him to the vet, and they did emergency surgery.”

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Now you finally know what a polyp looks like …

Spartacus was at the Watertown Animal Hospital in Connecticut for two days, a time period that Dina says was “traumatizing.”

“I cried. I called them 20 times a day. Every time they were patient with me and so nice. Dr. Price told me there was a minor complication and the surgery took longer than expected because of the size of the polyp.”

“I shook just hearing that.”

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Spartacus and his pal Diego.

A real trooper, Spartacus came through his surgery. When Dina picked him up, she immediately noticed a change. “He was a different cat! He was running around, eating, and playing with all the other cats — I had never seen him so happy.”

“He could finally breathe, and my poor baby was finally okay.”

Since coming through his surgery, Spartacus has blossomed into the official meet-and-greet teammate for Dina’s various foster cats. “Every kitten and cat I bring into the house, he welcomes with open arms,” she says. “He cleans them, loves them, and shows them the ropes.”

“I really do believe he knows what I did for him, and he is paying me back by taking care of other kittens,” Dina says.