Lifestyle & Human Interest

Kitten Given Splints on Back Legs Made from Tongue Depressors Thanks to Clever Rescuers


“Kitten Season” is something a special band of selfless people knows very well. Around the nation, from spring to fall, volunteers and cat lovers buckle down for the inevitable tide of kittens that starts pouring in to rescues and shelters.

Everyone knows that a mother cat is the best choice to care for kittens, but many times people stumble across a litter and think the kittens have been abandoned when they haven’t. The well-meaning discoverers often “rescue” the babies when they don’t actually need rescuing.

This phenomenon has been dubbed kitten kidnapping or “kitnapping,” and it sadly results in many dead kittens.

“Since 2018, more than 10,000 vulnerable kittens have entered the Animal Services Center,” El Paso, Texas, Animal Services shared on its website. “Of these thousands, more than 1,300 died. This tragic loss of life is largely due to kittens failing to thrive, a result of not being provided full immunity and care that a mother cat offers.”

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But there are cases where the kittens truly do need help and probably wouldn’t thrive if experienced volunteers weren’t at the ready to take them in.

One of those kittens is a little white fuzzball named Zion. He came to the Arizona Humane Society at just 5 days old.

Newborn kittens are not as coordinated as lithe, full-grown cats — but something more than kitten clumsiness was going on with Zion. His back legs weren’t functioning quite right.

“In addition to needing round-the-clock care in AHS’ Bottle Baby Kitten ICU to survive without his mother, he was badly knuckling on his back feet and unable to use his legs normally,” the AHS posted on Facebook.

Animals of all sorts can be born with weak limbs that are a result of cramped quarters in utero or some sort of deficiency or deformity. Sometimes these issues can be resolved with physical therapy and splints, and other times it requires more intense correction.

Thankfully for Zion, his caregivers had an idea — using what they had on hand, they were able to help get him back on his feet.

“While receiving care from the dedicated staff and volunteers of this 24-hour intensive care unit, Zion especially tugged at the staff’s heartstrings who were determined to try to help him walk again,” the AHS’ post continued.

“Thanks to innovative thinking from the veterinary technician team, they fashioned together tiny splints out of a tongue depressor, gauze, medical wrap bandages and tape in hopes of giving him a chance to live a normal life.”

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“After a little more than a week with his special splints, continued care and lots of love, Zion began using his back legs normally and was able to rejoin the rest of his littermates in an AHS Foster Hero home!”

Zion, now a healthy and playful 8-week-old, does the things every normal kitten does. He plays with other kittens, likes to take naps with his foster family and is hoping to find a special family of his own very soon.

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