I have a special place in my heart for cats with illnesses or disabilities that make it hard for them to find loving homes. In honor of Petfinder’s Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable Pet Week, I want to share the story of one particular cat who has been inspiring me, and thousands of other people all over the world.
It started in February, when a woman named Wendy was checking out her regional Craigslist postings. She saw an ad for a free crippled kitten and decided to answer it.
It seemed that this kitten had siblings, but they’d all found homes. Nobody wanted this sweet little marmalade girl with twisted back legs, whom the family never named. They only called her “Cripple,” and told Wendy she’d been born that way.
Wendy fell in love and brought the kitten home, and gave her the name Willow because “a beautiful girl deserves a beautiful name.”
Soon, Wendy had steps and ramps all over her home so Willow could reach her favorite places and look out the windows. But she noticed that because Willow was walking on her ankles instead of her toes, she was developing sores. The veterinarian warned Wendy that the sores could develop into ulcers and become severely infected. Willow’s twisted legs were bandaged every day to protect her skin, and Wendy hoped that an orthopedic specialist might be able to fix the deformity and allow her to walk normally.
Wendy launched a Facebook page to share Willow’s story, and the kitten quickly won the hearts of thousands of people from all over the world. Gifts and medical supplies poured in, and fans began raising money so Wendy could take the cat to a veterinary orthopedist.
Sadly, it turned out there was nothing that could be done for Willow’s deformity which turned out to be the result of an injury she’d suffered very early in life, possibly even in the birth canal. But that didn’t deter her friends. They began raising money for a special wheelchair so Willow could get around without injuring herself.
Meanwhile, Wendy, who found it hard to bandage Willow’s twisted legs because the poor kitten cried throughout,began crocheting tiny leggings so that Willow’s legs would be protected from injury by soft yarn instead of uncomfortable medical tape. They were easy to put on, and the kitten calmly wore them all day with no trouble.
Inspired by her experience with Willow, Wendy started Leggings for Life, a nonprofit connecting animals with leg deformities to crocheters who volunteer to create customized leggings.Several cats (and dogs) have already benefited from the group’s efforts.
That’s not the only thing Willow and Wendy have done to help other disabled cats. Willow uses her Facebook page (which has 2,754 fans as of today) to share stories about special-needs cats looking for adoptive homes, cats whose guardians need help with medical expenses for the care of their sick or disabled kitties, and even cats in other countries who need wheelchairs of their own.
Wendy has just adopted another special-needs kitten, Adlai, who was apparently thrown out of a car and is paralyzed from the waist down. Adlai is just beginning her journey of vet visits and special care, and nobody knows for sure how things will turn out. Whatever does happen, I know she’s in very good hands with a person as knowledgeable and compassionate as Wendy and a fur-sister as loving as Willow.
Check out this sweet video that tells Willow’s story in photos and captions:
In a reader? Watch the video here.