Disabled Kitten Gets a Leg Up, Thanks to a North Dakota Shelter


If you saw Corky today, you’d never imagine that he almost took his last breath a month ago.

Gail Ventzke, Amber Schaffer, and Carol Stefonek, the founders of the CATS Cradle Shelter in Fargo, N.D., had gone to the city pound to pick up two kittens in need of homes. When they got there, they saw Corky, an 8-month-old kitten whose twisted back legs had earned him the death penalty.

Of course, Corky had no idea there was anything wrong with him. He was healthy, outgoing, and friendly. The women fell in love with the little guy and left the pound with three kittens instead of two.

They took him to the vet right away to see why Corky’s legs had formed into a pretzel. It turned out to be a birth defect: bilateral arthrogryposis of the tarsus.

But his legs weren’t the only problem. Corky was also a cryptorchid: his testicles were deep inside his abdomen instead of in the scrotum where they belong. That means once he’s well on the road to recovery from this procedure, he’ll have to have a neutering that’ll look more like a spay from the outside (the vets will have to open Corky’s abdomen to get to his wayward family jewels).

Several vets didn’t even want to try to help, but Dan Burchill of Casselton Veterinary Service stepped forward. He and Ventzke went through all the options, including bilateral amputation or simply getting a wheelchair to suspend the kittens back end, but Burchill believed he’d be able to fix Corky’s legs.

On April 5, Corky had his surgery. The operation took four hours and cost more than $4,000. But Ventzke didn’t lose heart — and neither did the thousands of people all across the U.S. and around the world who have donated almost $11,300 (as of April 22) for Corky’s surgery and rehabilitation.

Rehab has been slow and steady. After all, Corky had never learned to walk. But so far he’s making incredible progress, and Burchill thinks he should be fully recovered in about six months.

Every day, Ventzke posts new photos and videos from Corky’s recovery on his Facebook fan page. If you need some cuteness to chase away the Monday blues, go check ’em out!

You can also keep up with Corky and the other cats in CATS Cradle’s care at their Facebook page.

It’s probably no surprise that CATS Cradle hopes to have the little guy certified as a therapy pet and bring him to hospitals to comfort people recovering from surgery.

Way to go, Corky! Thank you so much to the awesome folks at CATS Cradle, and to all the people who have donated for his care, for giving this amazing kitten a shot at a wonderful life.

But really … how could anybody not fall in love with this face?

Update: When I contacted CATS Cradle and let them know about the story I’d written, they mentioned a couple of clarifications. First of all, they went to the city pound to pick up two adult cats, and the staff told them about Corky as well — so they left with two adult cats and one kitten. Secondly, Corky has since had two surgeries to reduce swelling in his back legs, and the total for his vet bills and ongoing rehabilitation will be well over the $4,000 of the initial surgery, so if you’re inclined to do so, please keep donating to Corky’s care. Finally, they told me an amazing thing: Fargo has had zero euthanasias of adoptable cats since January of 2012. Way to go, CATS Cradle and city of Fargo!

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