Perched on a window sill, a small tortoiseshell cat stares intently upward at a three-tiered platform.
For her two adopted feline siblings the jump is rudimentary, but for Popcorn (a three-legged cat) the platforms appear just out of reach.
Her pupils widen and her back starts to waggle, in one swift leap of faith she clears the bottom two platforms and makes it to the top.
The physical feat impresses her new owner Sarah – “She just has a fighting spirit,” she says, laughing.
Shivering and twitching, her leg appeared swollen
When Popcorn was rescued by RSPCA South Australia, she was in a terrible state. Shivering and twitching, her leg appeared swollen and floppy and she seemed unable to move.
Her injuries showed the telltale signs of a dog attack. With a suspected broken leg, the poor kitten was in an immense amount of pain.
Rescue Officer Heidi had been called to the scene. She quickly located Popcorn, who gave a feeble little cry for help.
Scooped up and placed in a carrier, the injured little cat was on her way to Lonsdale for an urgent vet check. An examination confirmed that Popcorn had indeed broken both bones in her right foreleg.
Popcorn was struggling to cope with her injuries
Popcorn had surgery to repair her broken leg, and it was during Popcorn’s rehabilitation that RSPCA staffer Sarah came across her. “She had a giant splint and was having an awful time coping,” she said.
“The poor little thing kept getting the splint caught and would fall upside down. It was Friday and I couldn’t bear to leave her there over the weekend.”
With her workday almost over, Sarah rapidly sorted out the foster forms. “I hadn’t been working at the shelter for very long and it was my first time ever fostering,” Sarah recalled.
Sarah carefully loaded Popcorn into the back of her car and brought her home.
Three cats a crowd
Sarah admits she was concerned about the first meeting between her two adult cats at home (Chilli and Pepper), worrying that they might be a little too boisterous (or spicy) for the rehabilitating kitten.
“My older cat Pepper took to her quite quickly but my Bengal boy Chilli got very jealous. Chilli didn’t like it when my boyfriend was cuddling and playing with her. So my boyfriend said we can’t have three cats,” said Sarah.
In any case, Sarah had assumed that Popcorn wouldn’t be staying around for long, that once she had fully recovered she would be adopted into a new family. But things didn’t go quite to plan.
A checkup revealed something worse
Popcorn had only been living with Sarah for a short time when she became concerned that the kitten’s recovery from surgery wasn’t progressing as it should. The little cat seemed to be suffering from some ongoing issue with the leg, so Sarah took her into Lonsdale for a checkup with the vet team.
“When the splint came off I looked at her leg and noticed there was quite an angry red wound. I think it was a bite wound, which had flared up,” she said.
Unfortunately, Popcorn’s leg had become infected and the vet team decided that the best way forward would be amputation.
Popcorn was determined to get better
Post the amputation of her leg, Popcorn’s fighting spirit came to the fore. “She was running around as soon as I took her home. I couldn’t believe how quickly she adjusted.
“She wasn’t going to let her impairment hold her back. As soon as she saw the other cats playing, she wanted to join in,” Sarah said.
“We were just amazed by her personality, now that she was free of pain.”
Home is where the heart is
Two weeks had passed since the amputation and Popcorn was starting to make herself at home. Sarah was relieved to see her stubborn Bengal slowly start to warm to the now three-legged kitty.
“Chilli slowly started to come around when they began play fighting with one another. We first thought it might be a little too rough for Popcorn, but she could really hold her own,” smiled Sarah.
With the cats now getting along, Sarah’s boyfriend began to ease on the idea of adopting her. “He was starting to fall in love with her,” she said.
“Popcorn taught us that patience can make all the difference. I’d say never give up on your pets because they’ve got their own little bit of history. We need to give them the time to recover, to adjust to changes and appreciate that they are all different in their ability to cope. I’m glad I gave Popcorn the time she needed to show us who she really is.”
When Popcorn didn’t have a leg to stand on, our community was there to lift her up. Each dollar raised during her emergency fundraiser made it possible for Popcorn to jump and reach that third-tier platform in Sarah’s home.
A special thank-you to everyone who donates to our animals in need – you quite literally help them reach new heights.
To find out about – and help – other animals in need of significant veterinary care, go to – https://www.rspcasa.org.au/animal-emergency-fund/