Roo got her name because she looks a bit like the kitten version of a kangaroo. “Her legs are the right size,” says Marnie Russ, co-founder of the National Kitten Coalition who helped rescue her, “they just don’t have balls in the elbow joints.” Because of Roo’s birth defect, she is unable to walk like other kittens and instead spends more time sitting on her haunches.
(Photos and videos courtesy of Marnie Russ)
Roo was delivered to the National Kitten Coalition by Animal Control along with two siblings. Judging from the size of her siblings, who have reached the two-pound mark and have been adopted, Roo is estimated to be about two months old even though she’s only about half that size, herself. Marnie believes Roo’s physical disabilities gave her a slow start since she would have had a harder time accessing the resources that helped her siblings grow at a healthy pace.
The Nova Cat Clinic in Arlington, VA is playing a critical role in Roo’s journey, since some of their vet techs are experts on neonatal kittens. In fact, it was one of those kitten-savvy techs who first noticed Roo’s curled-up paw. After an examination, it was determined that her legs are the correct length, she just can’t straighten and maneuver them in the right way, and one leg is worse than the other. The good news is that Roo doesn’t appear to be experiencing any pain or inflammation in her legs!
For now, the first priority is helping her gain weight, then watching how she distributes the new weight on her legs. Once her weight is stable, they’ll begin developing a plan for physical therapy. They’re also looking at splints in case she needs some extra support. “If we can straighten it out, she may be able to walk better on it,” says Marnie.
In the meantime, Roo is getting around pretty well by walking on her back legs and playing on her back by kicking her feet at toys. She recently even reached out with one of her front legs to grab a toy! All of the love, care, and encouragement she’s receiving is certainly giving her the confidence she needs to thrive.
Though Roo technically started out in Marnie’s care as a foster kitten, she quickly earned a permanent spot. “I adopted her,” Marnie swooned, “There was never a question. I couldn’t bear the thought of her leaving. She’s so sweet. All she does is purr and jump in my lap and purr all the time. She’s pretty amazing.” Well, Marnie, we think you’re pretty amazing too.
The National Kitten Coalition educates shelters, rescues, and communities all over the country about ways to save neonatal kittens and other at-risk kittens. Their goal is to teach the best caregiving practices, provide support, and to create a network to share valuable information about saving the lives of kittens. Learn more about them at kittencoalition.org and on Facebook.
Roo’s mama knows we’ll all want to follow along to watch her grow up! Follow Roo on Facebook for ridiculously cute stories, photos, and videos.