At Foothills Animal Shelter, learning to expect the unexpected is common for both staff and volunteers. And when a tiny, malnourished kitten was brought to the Shelter by a Westminster Animal Control officer in July, no one could have guessed the incredible transformation they were about to witness.
The kitten, named Carlton, was found in a Westminster trailer park after a Good Samaritan heard him screaming in the area. When he was brought to Foothills Animal Shelter he weighed a mere five ounces – the size of a newborn kitten.
“Initially we had a hard time determining how old Carlton was since he was so small and underfed,” says Laurel, Manager of the Shelter’s Foster Program. “He had a full set of teeth, so we guessed he was around four-weeks-old, but at that age he should have been at least one pound.”
Not only was Carlton severely underdeveloped, his eyes were crusted shut and he was suffering from an upper respiratory infection. In fact, he was so ill, that the Shelter’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Emily Hays, had to take him home with her the first night after his arrival just to ensure that he would make it through the night.
“The odds were stacked against Carlton – everything suggested that he wouldn’t make it for much longer,” says Laurel. “But he was a fighter and he wanted to live; he wouldn’t even let us feed him from a bottle and always wanted to eat on his own.”
For several weeks Laurel fostered Carlton while he received several rounds of antibiotics and waited for his vision to develop. While in his foster home, Carlton began to flourish. He was a feisty little guy who was eager to be independent. And since he refused to be fed by someone else, he would often “swim” in his food bowl while eating and would need multiple baths throughout the day. He also enjoyed playing outdoors in the sun, and spending time with his foster sister – a Boxer named Kitty!
“Kitty loved Carlton and was always watching after him while they were playing outside,” says Laurel. “Kitty always does really well with my foster kittens, and she was no different with Carlton. She is so protective, with great maternal instincts.”
Finally, after almost three months spent in two different foster homes, Carlton managed to beat the odds. The once sickly kitten was now happy, thriving and ready to find his forever home! Fortunately, it didn’t take long for him to find it. His new mom, Rebecca, happened to run into Laurel while visiting the Shelter, and after a brief conversation and introduction to Carlton, she instantly fell in love with the then four-month-old kitten and scooped him up that day. After being renamed Vinnie, this little fighter now lives happily snuggling with Rebecca and rough housing with his Cocker Spaniel sibling – a perfect ending to an unexpected feat!
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