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Timmy came from a small, cluttered, unclean apartment with way too many people and way too many animals. He was 9 months old, unneutered and cowering behind a water heater. His ears were back in confusion and his eyes were slits of fear and distrust. A young teenager in the home asked me to make sure that "no one ever hits or kicks or calls him bad names." She told me he was born on July 4, 2013.

Timmy had limited mobility because his front legs bent in at the elbows and he skittered and slid around precariously. A visit with two orthopedic surgeons confirmed that he was born with radial agenesis (no radius bones in his front legs). He had cast changes at least once a week for a several months in attempt to rotate his legs into a more normal, and hopefully comfortable, position.

We did physical therapy to strengthen his muscles. The orthopedic surgeons said this was all experimental because normally cats like Timmy either fail to thrive or are euthanized. Those were not options for us. The doctors ordered custom-made removable splints from Virginia. The company normally makes them for dogs, but everyone was on board to make small, Timmy-sized ones. The splints did not work as hoped, but they were worth trying.

As months passed, Timmy played, made friends, gained weight, and more importantly, gained trust and security. He was becoming the cat he wanted to be. The cat he was meant to be. He now runs, jumps, climbs, makes valiant attempts to use his scratching posts, and thinks every cat is his best friend. He is a favorite patient at his hospital, and the staff all converge on him with greetings, admiration and hugs when he arrives. As a happy, healthy, well-adjusted 2-year-old, Timmy soaks up the attention.

For two years now, I've told him that the fireworks on Independence Day are for him --  to celebrate his birthday, his independence and his health, as well as our happiness that he is a part of our lives.

Laura R Carlson/Harbor Hope Cat Rescue
Gig Harbor, WA

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