Cat Who Can't Walk Meets Kitten Just Like Him — And Falls In Love
"They both just drag their little butts."
No one really knows how the 6-week-old kitten ended up on the side of a road in Tennessee. Whatever had happened, the kitten, later named Jesse the Wonder Cat (or Jesse for short), was paralyzed from the waist down.
Luckily, a man found Jesse, picked him up and delivered him to the Cat Clinic of Chattanooga.
At the clinic, the vet team examined Jesse and discovered he had a severe spinal injury. He'd never be able to use his back legs again, but vets still thought he'd have a good quality of life.
"He was happy and he could eat on his own," Jennifer Allen, assistant manager and vet technician at Cat Clinic of Chattanooga, told The Dodo. "He wasn't in any pain."
Initially, the clinic staff was going to find Jesse a permanent home, but the staff quickly realized it would make sense for him to stay at the clinic. After all, Jesse needed physical therapy sessions, acupuncture and medication for asthma and heart issues, and it was easy for Jesse to get the care he needed at the clinic itself.
Besides, the clinic staff had fallen in love with Jesse, especially Allen.
"I became really, really bonded and attached," Allen said. "But he loves everybody and he makes so many people smile and laugh, and it's such a fun work day because he's there. He became our little mascot."
Then, last year, Jesse met his soul brother - another special needs kitten named Willie.
"A lady called us and said she had a paralyzed kitten whom someone had put in a box and left on her porch," Allen said.
The woman didn't seem to know about Jesse, so she got the surprise of her life when she met him.
"I happened to walk up front with Jesse on my arm right when she walked in," Allen said. "She said, 'Hey, I'm the lady who called and I have a paralyzed cat.' And I said, 'So do we.' She seemed so happy and excited that there was already one there, and we'd know how to take care of him."
While an injury had left Jesse paralyzed, Willie was born with his disability. Other than this difference, the cats are quite physically alike - they both use their front paws to drag themselves along the ground, and they require a similar level of care. Over time, Willie seemed to take on Jesse's personality as well, Allen said.
Jesse immediately seemed to recognize his affinity with Willie, and he quickly tried to make friends. Willie, however, wasn't too sure about Jesse at first, and there was a lot of hissing and spitting in the first few days.
That quickly changed. "It took less than a week, but Willie started to warm up to Jesse, and started sitting on Jesse's bed with him," Allen said.
"I catch them wrestling and snuggling all the time," Allen said. "They both love playing inside boxes, or the kind of beds they can get inside of. They also love to play with ping pong balls. Both of them chase those around the clinic. They both just drag their little butts."
They also love begging for food, according to Allen.
Jesse's taken on the big brother role with Willie, Allen said, and he's helping Willie gain confidence.
"When he first came to us, Willie was scared, and a little reserved," Allen said. "He just wanted to be held. Now he hates being held because he's too busy with all of his daily activities."
Jesse also helps other cat or kitten who comes into the clinic, and Willie has learned to do the same. The most recent arrival is Layla, a kitten who was found in the parking lot, and is staying at the clinic until she finds a home.
"The second she got there, Willie and Jesse were like, 'Hey, you wanna play? This is a really cool place. Let me show you all our toys,'" Allen said.
Jesse and Willie do the same for people.
"Jesse is also very compassionate when people here are sad," Allen said. "I've seen him meowing outside the door of an exam room because he can hear people inside the room that are crying or upset. Willie has never done that, but he does seem to have the same kind of compassion, and will approach people when they come out of the room to make them feel better. It's heartwarming to see someone so upset over their own cat, but they walk out with a smile on their face after seeing how resilient and happy Jesse and Willie both are."
Now Jesse and Willie are inseparable, and they live each day to the fullest in each other's company.
"I know they're probably not going to live to be 15-year-old cats, but we want them to be happy and healthy as long as we can keep them that way," Allen said.