This kitten was born with swimmer syndrome, a condition that made it so difficult to stand on her back legs that she had to move by scooting around. But with a month of consistent therapy, she made a miraculous comeback and learned how to walk.
The kitten, Jitterbug, was taken into foster care along with her mother and siblings. Nikki Martinez, their foster mom, knew it would be hard work to find forever homes for all of them, but she was determined to do it.
Things got even more difficult when Nikki noticed that one of the kittens had something wrong with her back legs. Nikki described them as looking “flat,” and the kitten wouldn’t use them to get around.
Nikki took the kitten to the vet, who diagnosed her with swimmer syndrome. The vet suggested that Nikki try to keep the kitten’s legs in the correct position and tucked underneath her.
Nikki had never done anything like this before, but she wanted to help Jitterbug. She used soft tape to gently hold the kitten’s legs in place.
This was easiest when Jitterbug was a newborn, because she could wrap the tape all the way around her, and it even seemed to be comfortable for the kitten. In a video by the Dodo, Nikki said:
“She gets so comfortable, she just falls asleep.”
As Jitterbug got older, taping her legs got harder. Nikki had to tape her back legs individually, but the first few times she tried didn’t go well. The tape was hard to apply, and it only made Jitterbug’s movements more awkward.
But after some practice and adjustments, Nikki learned the best way to tape Jitterbug’s legs. The kitten started to do much better. She even started standing on her back legs, which meant that they were getting stronger.
The next step was water therapy. Jitterbug would practice moving her legs without tape in a small pool of water, so she could get used to moving on her own.
Jitterbug’s siblings also helped her with her therapy. They encouraged her to be playful, especially her sister, Cha Cha. Jitterbug started pulling her legs up on her own as she played.
One month later, Jitterbug’s therapy had worked a miracle. Nikki said:
“She’s zooming around. She’s flying around. Her legs are completely in normal position right now. It’s so fantastic, and I’m so excited that I get to see that she’s going to have a normal kitty life.”
Soon after that, Jitterbug was adopted along with Cha Cha, the sister that had played with her and helped her so much. They went to their forever home together.
Nikki was so proud of how far Jitterbug had come. From starting as a kitten who had to scoot everywhere, to becoming a kitten that could walk and be part of a family that would love her, Jitterbug’s journey was truly miraculous.