Imagine for a minute that you were a small kitten who’d recently been either abandoned or become estranged from your feline family. Left out in the wild world to fend for yourself, it wouldn’t be long before your growling belly politely let you know that you really needed to find food pronto.
But where would you look?
Well, in the case of Grace, a black-and-white kitten in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, her hunger instincts lured her towards a big trash container — although once she’d ambled inside she found not so much a feast as a life-threatening situation.
As driver James Ryan arrived for work at 4 a.m. at the transfer station where the dumpster was parked, he was told by his colleagues that a pint-size kitten had been found scavenging among the orange peels and discarded take-out containers. She’d scampered away at the first signs of human life and was hiding away behind some shovels stacked up in a corner.
Being a cat-lover at heart, Ryan was able to coax Grace out from her haven — but he was shocked when he finally grabbed her.
Grace let out a “cry of agony,” Ryan said. He recalls thinking, “I never want to hear that out of a kitten for the rest of my life. My heart was breaking.”
The cause of Grace’s cry was a mangled leg — which had been destroyed when the container’s metallic mechanisms crunched down while she was exploring inside on a fruitless food mission.
Someone immediately called the nearby Tabby’s Place cat rescue and sanctuary, which agreed to help out with little Grace’s plight.
According to Angela Townsend, development director of the organization, once Grace arrived staff members saw that her leg was so maimed they couldn’t even bring themselves to photograph the destroyed limb for the record.
The next step in Grace’s rescue mission was inevitable: Someone called a specialist hospital to arrange for her leg to be amputated. Grace’s scavenger hunt for food had cost her a limb.
As Townsend explains, the big containers “are a very popular destination for hungry stray cats looking to forage for food. Although I can’t begin to imagine what a shock it must have been for Grace when her entire smorgasbord started moving under her.”
Grace emerged from her procedure in a tripod state, and just two weeks later she was safely back at Tabby’s Place making what Townsend calls “a romping recovery.” During her rehabilitation, Grace also revealed herself to be “inquisitive, exuberant, and full of joy and affection,” and an exceptionally talkative kitty.
Because of her three-legged status, Townsend says, “Grace has her own funny walk,” but adds that she now scoots around and is as naturally playful and energetic as any other kitten.
Bringing Grace’s story full circle, she has been taken in on a foster basis by Ryan and his family, who named the kitten after his own daughter’s middle name. In her new digs, Grace is said to be greatly enjoying the convenience of a traditional bowl-based feeding station.
Stay tuned to Tabby’s Place’s Facebook page for more updates on little Grace.