6 min read

Cat With Deformed Paws Makes His New Mom Smile For The First Time In Weeks

<p><em>Leah Hapeman</em><span></span></p>

When Leah Hapeman lost her cat, Fertie, after 18 years of loving him, she grieved terribly. Hapeman has dedicated her life to rescue and shelter work and understands loss, but losing Fertie threw her into a tailspin.

Meanwhile, the Dutchess County SPCA in Hyde Park, New York, was called upon to take a litter of kittens dropped off at a veterinary hospital. In this litter was a kitten who looked like no other. He had deformed front legs and paws, a deformed tail and only upper and lower fangs with no teeth between them. He also suffered from entropion, a condition where the eyelids are turned in, causing discomfort to the animal. The vet felt this kitten's issues were genetic and thought about euthanizing him.

T-Rex when he was still called Walter and waiting for a home | Leah Hapeman

But the Dutchess County SPCA stepped up and took the litter in. In addition to his other issues, the kitten with the unusual legs was also suffering from crystals in his urine. This meant he would have to be on a special diet to help control the formation of more crystals for life. The shelter knew that this kitten would be hard to place because of his looks and his medical conditions. Still, rescuers knew they had to help him. Surgery was performed to correct his eyelids and he recovered well. He was put up for adoption.

T-Rex when he first went home | Leah Hapeman

The shelter named this special kitten Walter, and he surprised everyone with his will to live. He was able to scoot around by supporting the bulk of his weight on his hind legs and navigating the floor on his little deformed front paws. He played like any other kitten and began to grow. Although he was missing his top and bottom teeth, he was able to eat like a normal cat, too.

Sherri Taylor, shelter manager at Dutchess County SPCA, knew that the person who adopted Walter would have to be a special person willing to work with him. He couldn't walk on a smooth surface easily, and his life expectancy was unknown. Taylor knew exactly who the right person for Walter might be. Taylor and Hapeman were friends, and Taylor knew just how to heal Hapeman's grieving heart.

With no expectations, Hapeman headed to the Dutchess County SPCA, curious to see what Walter was all about. For the first time in weeks, she found herself smiling as she pet this affectionate cat for the first time. As she looked him over, she became filled with the need to protect him.

"I smile every time I look at him," says Hapeman. | Julie Leroy

"In all of my years of shelter work, I had never seen a cat like this," Hapeman told The Dodo. "I wasn't fearful of the unknown for him. I just couldn't get over how loving he was."

T-Rex loving life in his home | Julie LeRoy

While he was safe from euthanasia at the no-kill shelter, Hapeman knew that she couldn't let him live there, waiting for a home. So she made her home his and put carpeting down everywhere so he could roam easily. She fondly renamed him T-Rex.

T-Rex is able to get around easily.

T-Rex often stands on his hind legs for treats or to play with toys | Julie LeRoy

Now T-Rex lives the posh life. He loves his toys, follows Hapeman around the house wherever she goes and nuzzles up to watch TV with her. "There is nothing he can't do, even if he has to do it his own special way," said Hapeman. "He helped me at a time when I was truly sad. I will help him through the rest of his life, whatever may come."

If you're ready to bring a pet into your family, get started at Adopt-a-Pet.com.

Stretching out on the couch | Julie LeRoy
The only teeth T- Rex has are his upper and lower fangs | Julie LeRoy
Julie LeRoy