Little Forrest was born with a congenital musculoskeletal disability so rare and damaging, the likelihood of her ever living a regular life was slim.
Until one South Australian woman opened her heart and home to the stray kitten, that is, and allowed her to live the life she had always deserved.
‘I thought she had multiple broken legs’
When RSPCA Port Lincoln Shelter Manager Julia Churchett got the call in April about a stray kitten found at a local warehouse, she thought it was like any other day.
“Originally when I rescued the kitten, I thought she had multiple broken legs,” Julia recalls.
Julia immediately had Forrest examined at the Port Lincoln Veterinary Centre, only to discover Forrest had been born with a malformed spine and legs.
“She was the sweetest little kitten and seemed to be getting around quite well despite her disabilities.”
When the Port Lincoln vet confirmed that Forrest she wasn’t in any pain or discomfort, Julia had her transferred to Adelaide for further examination by RSPCA’s vet team.
‘The pads on her paws face upwards’
RSPCA South Australia Chief Veterinarian Dr Brad Ward confirmed the congenital musculoskeletal diagnosis and noted the rarity of Forrest’s condition.
“We don’t see it very often and I’ve certainly never seen a case as bad as Forrest’s,” he recalls.
The cause of the condition is unknown, particularly uncommon and can make it difficult for some animals to get around and even go to the bathroom.
“The way Forrest’s legs formed mean that the pads on her paws face upwards and don’t touch the ground,” Dr Brad says.
As well as making it a task to walk or get around, Forrest’s feet drag as she walks, which – without proper care – could result in damage to the skin and even infection.
“Forrest was such a lovely little personality, very friendly and sociable, but her condition is one that often sees beautiful animals struggling to find a home,” Dr Brad says.
A loving home for special Forrest
Lucky for Forrest, 22-year-old veterinary nursing student Tiarna Stoetzer wasn’t about to let the gorgeous little kitten spend her life alone.
Initially meeting Forrest during her Port Lincoln Veterinary Centre examination, Tiarna saw Forrest’s disabilities as uniqueness and felt the pull of her heartstrings.
“I wasn’t actually looking to adopt any other animals, but when I met Forrest and saw the potential challenges she may face in her life, I wanted to ensure she was going to get a loving home,” says Tiarna.
Describing their first interactions as full of love and affection, Tiarna was immediately taken by the kitten, who didn’t let her condition get in the way of smooches and cuddles.
Four months after being discovered scared and alone in a Port Lincoln warehouse, Forrest was officially adopted by Tiarna and wasted no time bonding with new fur-sister, Kitty the 3-year-old cat.
“They have bonded so well in such a short time, playing and sleeping together, with Kitty often cleaning Forrest in those hard to reach spots!” Tiarna says.
‘She brings so much joy into my life’
With Forrest’s confidence growing by the day, she is continually learning how to move around her new palace, even managing to understand the function of her litter tray and getting into her bed independently.
When asked what her favourite part of being Forrest’s mum is, Tiarna described the happiness the black-haired, green-eyed kitten has bought into her life.
“She brings so much joy into my life with her affectionate nature and constant purring,” she affirmed.
Encouraging others to open themselves up to the idea of adopting an animal, Tiarna describes the “wonderful, heart-warming feeling you get knowing you have adopted an animal in need,” adding, “please adopt, don’t shop!”
If you’re considering opening your heart and home to a rescued cat or kitten, head over here to see all our animals currently available for adoption.