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Special Kittens Seek Special Homes



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They were three little kittens that had lost more than their mittens. Jojo, Skye and Domino, three black, domestic short-haired kittens arrived at the Newtown Animal Control Center in October, all of them with stunted forelegs caused by a congenital deformity known as radial agenesis.

“A woman found them under her deck of her new home,” said Animal Control Officer Carolee Mason, “but the mother, probably feral, ran off. So she brought them here. When I looked in the box and saw their bent little legs, it just wanted to make me cry. It was something I’d never seen before.”

Radial agenesis is a congenital disease that, according to vetbook.org, does not have a known cause. It may result from mineral deficiencies in the mother, trauma to the developing fetal skeleton, or drug toxicity. Genetics is a likely cause, and it is suggested that the distemper virus during pregnancy could have contributed to the condition. Because of the short front limbs, many kittens are unable to nurse effectively, and do not survive.

All things considered, the kittens, about six weeks old at the time, seemed healthy and very friendly, Ms Mason said.

“I picked them up and played with them. Their personalities are incredible. They just want you to love them and cuddle them. They didn’t seem to care that they had deformed legs,” she said. Ms Mason knew that there was a better place for these special needs kittens, though, than The Animal Shelter.

“We work very well with The Animal Center, an animal rescue group here in town. Monica [Roberto, founder of The Animal Center] and Laura [McHugh, head of the animal care program there] help me out with kittens, often. I don’t know what I’d do without them,” said Ms Mason.

She first had the kittens examined at Mt Pleasant Hospital for Animals on Mt Pleasant Road. With assurance that they were basically healthy and not infectious, she transferred the kittens to The Animal Center within the week, once an appropriate foster home was found.

“We took in the kittens on October 26,” said Ms McHugh, “and placed them in a foster home in Wilton.” There, despite nature’s impediments, the three have thrived.

“JoJo mostly likes to lay on a comfy blanket or bed and watch what’s going on around her,” said foster “mom,” Jo Becraft. “She is very laid back and loves to lean on you or have her front paws on your lap,” she said, and “has recently found her voice and enjoys a conversation with you.”

Skye, said Ms Becraft, “is adventurous and confident. She moves around amazingly well and is quite the climber. She has an extremely loud purr and loves to be involved in whatever is going on, from helping to empty the litter box to sweeping the floor.”

A posted to the Animal Center’s website shows Jojo, Skye, and Domino frisking about the play area. It is not readily apparent that anything differentiates the three active kittens from any other playful felines of their age.video

Ms Roberto and Ms McHugh are hopeful that the kittens will find the very special homes they need, in time for the holidays. Anyone who wishes to adopt these kittens must be “committed to giving them the care and love they deserve, for their whole lives,” said Ms McHugh — and Domino found just such a home, this past weekend.

“A woman who has taken in other special needs animals adopted Domino. She’s not afraid to open her home to pets with special issues, and give them a quality home,” Ms McHugh said.

Because of their special needs, all of the kittens require not only families with big hearts, but also a home with carpeted floors. They must remain indoor cats, as well, since protecting themselves is not possible. Their stubby legs have fully formed paws and claws, but the claws will need regular clipping, as these kittens cannot scratch well enough to keep the claws trim.

Owners will want to keep an eye on the kittens’ elbows, too, since that portion of the leg is used to propel the kitties about. Calluses form on the elbows, and must be watched that they don’t get infected. They will adapt to a home with other cats, or even a home with a “cat experienced” dog, Ms McHugh said.

Jojo’s new family must also be prepared to deal with additional issues. One of her back legs is twisted, and she has a heart murmur. Both conditions could require future surgery, but it is hoped that she will outgrow the heart murmur by the time she is six months old. Because she cannot be spayed until her heart condition is ascertained, Jojo will only be available to foster-to-adopt, until after she is spayed.

Ms McHugh is thankful for the kind animal control center in Newtown, and Ms Mason’s willingness to seek outside help for situations such as this one.

“I love working with the Newtown Animal Control,” she said. “They’re top notch.”

Jojo and Skye are now just two little kittens without any mittens, but with plenty of personality and lots of love to share.

For information on adopting these kittens, e-mail info@theanimalcenter.org.theanimalcenter.org, or go to the adopt page at

Skye’s front legs are slightly more developed than her siblings’ legs, and Skye is anxious to find a forever home.
Jojo, one of three special need kittens recently in care of The Animal Center, sits on her favorite play blanket at her current foster home. Like her siblings, Jojo has radial agenesis, resulting in shortened forelegs.
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