A ginger kitten who has overcome a leg amputation and paralysis from his waist down is now determined to live life to the full.
The one-year-old ginger Tom cat, Charlie was found in Flaxton, North Yorkshire, in July after getting caught in a gin trap. His injuries were so severe he had to have his leg amputated and just when it looked like he may be on the mend, Charlie lost all feeling in his remaining back leg and was paralysed from the waist down.
His fosterer, Claire Louise Welsh, is now fundraising for the branch who cared for him. She said: “The RSPCA take in so many poorly animals that have been through some terrible things and as a fosterer you do prepare yourself for that. Although I never expected to be caring for a three-legged paralysed cat, I’m really glad we did!”
When Charlie was released from the trap, the injuries to his hind leg were so severe that vets were unable to save it.
Gin traps are mechanical traps designed to catch an animal by their leg, using spring-operated jaws with teeth or a serrated edge. The use of gin traps has been outlawed in the UK since 1958, but some are still being illegally used to catch animals such as rabbits and foxes.
The sale or possession of such traps is not illegal, but the RSPCA wants to make people aware that they can face prosecution by setting a gin trap.
Charlie was in extreme pain, dehydrated and underweight and as it was a few days before he was found and received vet treatment, his wounds were oozing and necrotic and covered in fly eggs. The poor moggy had to undergo emergency life-saving surgery to have his left hind leg amputated.
It is believed the young kitten came from a semi-feral cat colony near to where he was found as he had no microchip and was not neutered. Without an owner to care for him and to pay for treatment, RSPCA York Animal Home stepped in to help.
The surgery was successful and Charlie was transferred to the animal centre but just a couple of weeks later, the staff opened up Charlie’s cat pod to find that he was completely paralysed from the waist down. An x-ray revealed that the kitten had a slipped disc and the compression on his spinal cord had caused paralysis. The vets believe Charlie could have injured his spine when he tried to get himself free from the gin trap.
The kitten was given pain relief but sadly his situation did not improve initially. RSPCA York Animal Home wanted to see if his condition would improve in a home environment so volunteer and fosterer Claire took him home to care for him.
She said: “The vet nurse brought him out to me and put him down on the floor, she cautioned me that he can be a bit nervous of new people and might hiss a bit. I was kneeling down on the floor on the opposite side of the room and with only the use of his front legs, he used every bit of his energy to drag himself over to me. He pulled himself up onto my knee and gave me the biggest face rub with his wet nose – I just knew from that moment on that there was something extra special about him.”
His paralysis meant he could not use a litter tray and had to use puppy pads instead, and at first he would move by dragging his body around with his front legs. However, little by little the feeling started to come back in just two of his toes and then his tail.
Claire said: “The day I saw the very tip of his tail twitch was the best day. I thought I was maybe just seeing what I wanted to see but then he did it again. I can’t explain how happy that made me. Day by day, he regained more feeling and more movement. We had to work hard at building up his muscles and encouraging him to use his remaining back leg as he had a lot of muscle wastage around that leg and his pelvis from lack of use.”
Thankfully, the feeling in Charlie’s hind leg returned and it was much easier for him to move around. His confidence around people and other animals also grew and he is now much more friendly and loves to play with Claire’s other foster cat, Luna.
Claire added: “If Charlie wants to do something he will, he doesn’t let anything get in his way. He has amazing determination and resilience. I have never met such a determined animal, he is truly inspirational.”