I am hooked on a Facebook Page called Adventures with Addy and Phaedre. If you go to the page you’ll see adorable photos of a young girl named Phaedre playing with her kitten and quotes from her mom Erin. Don’t let the normalcy of the pictures and descriptions fool you because if you dig deeper, like I did, you’ll find out the Facebook page is really about friendship, empathy for another species and how far a family would go to help a homeless, paralyzed kitten.
Let me explain Addy’s story.
In July 2015, at about 5 months old, Addy was dropped off at the city animal shelter in New Westminster British Columbia, Canada. The people who surrendered the kitten said she was a stray that was running through their third story apartment when she fell out the window. The incident left Addy paralyzed in her hind end.
The shelter had Addy examined by their veterinarian, but there were no signs of any broken bones or recent trauma that could be surgically fixed. They knew the chances of a paraplegic kitten being adopted at the city shelter were slim so they made the decision to give her a second chance at a rescue group called SAINTS.
SAINTS (Senior Animals In Need Today Society) is a well-known organization in BC that takes in pets and farm animals who are old, neglected, injured or deemed unadoptable. Their acronym couldn’t be more appropriate and Erin is one of their employees.
Addy was sent to a specialist when she arrived at SAINTS. The veterinarian found the cause of her paralysis was due to a small break in her spine about one inch down from her shoulder blades. He confirmed the injury was more than likely due to a fall and that there was little hope the damage could be repaired.
The news was upsetting to Erin who was assigned to be Addy’s caretaker at the rescue shelter.
“It breaks my heart thinking about her horrific fall,” said Erin. “She must have been terrified.”
Erin’s compassion for Addy created a bond between them. She assisted with the kitten’s care all summer as Addy went through physical therapy, laser therapy and neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Sadly none of the treatments improved her condition.
In addition it was discovered that Addy’s paralysis had given her a secondary disorder called a “flaccid bladder.” Like most paraplegic animals Addy is incontinent, but the condition made the problem more complicated because Addy’s bladder cannot be expressed manually due to severe muscle spasms. A flaccid bladder is a common complication of a back injury that is located high on the spinal cord.
The cat was put on a variety of medications to combat the spasms and assist her bladder to empty naturally. Erin realized this meant Addy had to be monitored very closely to ensure that her bladder didn’t get so full, it ruptured.
Phaedre joins her mother at SAINTS
During this time while Erin oversaw Addy’s daily care, Phaedre started going to work with her mother.
“One of the perks of my job is that I can bring my kids to work with me,” said Erin. “My son is old enough to stay home on his own, but not quite old enough to babysit his younger sister for the work day. So, during summer vacation, Phaedre, came to work at SAINTS with me, every day. Phaedre adores cats; she’s totally a cat person. The department that I work in has a cat-only area and that’s where Phae chose to spend her time. So there we were with Phaedre and Addy. It was love at first sight.”
All summer long Phae and Addy played and snuggled and became best friends. Erin said Phae would cry on Friday nights because she couldn’t be with the kitten over the weekend.
Erin started to seriously consider becoming Addy’s foster family. After a heart-to-heart talk with her husband, Paul, who was completely onboard with the idea; it was decided that Addy would join the family in November for Phaedre’s 8th birthday.
However, as the school year approached, Phae’s anxiety about leaving her buddy alone got worse and Erin knew the situation had to be rectified quickly. So on September 18, while Phae was spending her last day at SAINTS, Erin told her they were going to bring Addy home with them that night.
Phae was thrilled with the news and 5 months later the allure of being the guardian of a specially-abled cat hasn’t worn off. In fact their bond has grown even stronger.
“Phaedre and Addy are inseparable,” said Erin. “Phae had to give up some floor space in her bedroom to make room for Addy’s food, water, blanket and pee pads, but she didn’t mind. Phaedre and Addy insist on sleeping together so we bought a new bed with a low platform so Addy won’t hurt herself when she jumps off. Addy sleeps beside Phae curled up in the legs of a gigantic stuffed bear named Bernie, which is one of Phae’s favorite toys. Phae reads Addy bedtime stories and cleans up after her.”
Erin has her own set of duties to take care of Addy and one of them includes a daily bath. Bath time for the kitten serves two different purposes. It keeps her clean after she’s been dragging her legs on the floor all day and the warm water helps relax Addy’s bladder so it can empty. This is a trick Erin stumbled on during the summer when she struggled to express the kitten’s bladder. The technique works like a charm and it’s kept Addy from getting urinary tract infections. (If you have a paraplegic pet with a flaccid bladder, it’s a trick to keep in mind.)
Fostering Addy has been an eye-opening experience for each member of Erin’s family.
“Our family talks a lot about disabilities and how being different does not make anyone any less worthy.”
I hope you’ll drop by Adventures with Addy and Phaedre on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the duo. Their adventure has only begun because it looks like Addy is going to be part of this family for a very long time.