Loving a Special Needs CatPublished January 8, 2008
Special needs cat, Leggo, at 7 weeks old. Cats come in all shapes and sizes. And many come with disabilities they’ve either been born with or have developed because of injury. My baby, Angela, contracted a virus from her mother at birth which affected her sight in one eye. But that only makes me love her more. Leggo thrives despite his handicap. My friend, Dusty Reinbolt agrees. “Truly, I get more than I give caring for special needs cats,” says Reinbolt, who in between fostering cats, writes books like Kittens for Dummies and Cat Wrangling Made Easy:Maintaining Peace and Sanity in Your Multicat Home. Right now, Reinbolt has four six-week old bottle baby fosters, a four-month old, one with a feeding tube, and Leggo, a five-month old puddy (a Snowshoe wannabe...minus one shoe) she took in after a car engine’s fan belt severed his leg. Oh yes, that’s in addition to her own five cats, one of which is visually challenged, one who has pins in her legs, and another, like Leggo, who has only three legs. Things were touch and go for Leggo at the start, given his tender age and his extensive injury, says Reinbolt. But he’s managed to adjust, as have all her other special needs puddies. She says most kitties faced with physical challenges just get on with the business of getting by. She says they just figure out what works for them and what doesn’t, and then adjust accordingly. Leggo's a cutie patootie. Anyone can see that. Leggo (whose first name is Wherma…as in Wherma Leggo?), may have lost his leg, but he won Reinbolt’s heart. “We’re usually pretty good about sending our foster kittens on to their new homes,” she says. “But I can’t give him up.” One look at his photo and you can see why. Reinbolt says she just notified the rescue group she works with (Animal Allies of Texas) she wanted to adopt Leggo. The supervisor there responded, “Big surprise! NOT!” Reinbolt got into fostering over twenty years ago when a friend asked her to take care of a pregnant cat she found in the snow. With love and patience, Leggo has grown even handsomer. Is that possible???? As Hemingway said, "one cat leads to another," and before long the cat lady was raising about 30 foster kittens a year. As for her special needs cats, Reinbolt says it's very inspiring to see how these cats get along, but she admits it does take a tremendous amount of patience as you have to "let each cat take things at his/her own speed." Oh, and the main ingredient in caring for special needs puddies, is obviously lots and lots of love. And it's obvious Reinbolt has more than enough to go around.
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