Awesome - Shelter Staff Spotted This Kitten Walking Weirdly. Then An X-ray Revealed Her Unusual Condition

Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Accepting kittens into the shelter wasn’t odd in itself, but there was something unusual about the new batch. The runt of the litter wasn’t just small; she also looked different to the others. The kitten walked strangely, and it was obvious from the get-go that she wasn’t like the other cats.
Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
In April 2016, animal control picked up three kittens in Gainesville, Virginia. The officers took the litter to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA), but shelter staff noticed something right away. One of the kittens stood out from the others.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
The problem was with the runt of the litter. Cat families occasionally have one sibling that’s smaller and weaker than the others. For example, when the newly arrived runt was approximately two months old, she weighed just one pound. But there was something else too.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
On January 5, 2017, Marnie Russ – co-founder of the National Kitten Coalition (NKC) – told Love Meow what set the kitten apart from her fur family. “She was considerably smaller than her siblings, and the staff at the shelter noticed she was walking weird,” Russ described.
Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Given her strange walk, it was likely the kitten had some form of disability. If that was indeed true, the kitten would need the help of the NKC. The group states on its website that its mission is, “To increase the survival rates of rescued kittens.” And those include cats that are most vulnerable, such as those with birth defects.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
In fact, Russ said that a physical disability could be the cause of the kitten’s small stature. It’s possible that it affected her mobility and prevented her from getting as much milk as the other cats. And the kitten’s problems didn’t end there.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Animals with disabilities are generally harder to find homes for than able-bodied ones. In 2016, Petfinder.com looked into the figures of so-called “less adoptable” pets and made a surprising discovery. Of surveyed shelters, 33 percent stated it took up to two years to find disabled pets a home.
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Furthermore, 27 percent of the investigated rescue groups revealed that it can take even longer than that. AWLA took the kitten to Arlington’s NOVA Cat Clinic, and one of its vets noticed something. As a result of her disability, the young cat’s paw turned inwards.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Consequently, the vets performed more tests, including an X-ray to get to the bottom of the kitten’s troubles. When the results came back, they confirmed what the vets no doubt suspected. It turned out that the little cat had a condition called radial hypoplasia.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Radial hypoplasia in cats is a genetic defect that affects the length of the feline’s foreleg. Cats suffering from this condition have difficulty putting weight on their front limbs. Additionally, they often sit on their hind legs, like a kangaroo.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
In the case of the kitten, however, her legs were the standard length; she was just missing her elbow joints. Her inability to move her limbs like an able-bodied cat was the cause of her issues. Moreover, one of her legs had even less flexibility.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
On the upside, as far as doctors could tell the kitten was otherwise healthy and felt no pain. Because of her kangaroo stance, rescuers called her Roo. AWLA also realized that Roo needed special treatment if she was to blossom.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Chelsea Lindsey, a spokesperson for ALWA, told The Dodo just that on April 5, 2016. “We knew that Roo needed to be separated from her litter and get one-on-one care,” she said. “And we knew just who to call.” That person was NKC’s own specialist, Russ.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Russ is an expert in cat care, especially neonatal kittens and cats with special needs. Subsequently, she welcomed little Roo into her home. Initially, she was only supposed to care for Roo until she was strong enough to find a forever home, but Russ had other plans
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Russ fell hard for Roo’s charms, and decided to adopt the little scamp permanently. “I adopted her, there was never a question,” she told I Heart Cats on June 6, 2016. “I couldn’t bear the thought of her leaving, She’s so sweet.”
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
“All she does is purr and jump in my lap and purr all the time,” Russ continued. “She’s pretty amazing.” And since Little Roo Russ (as she is now known) found her forever home, she’s flourished. Good food, love and physical therapy has done wonders.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Russ told Love Meow, “She has learned to use her front legs like a normal kitty would. “So if you didn’t know her story you wouldn’t think anything was wrong with her, except when she walks, she is shorter in the front.” Roo stayed small though.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
“Roo is actually really small,” Russ described. “[She’s] barely five pounds, but she is so fluffy people tend to think she is really big.” Roo may not be physically big, but she’s got a huge personality, and a big heart.
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
Roo’s definitely a people person, and according to Russ, just looking at her will make her purr. But her love isn’t limited to humans – Russ’s dog Skeeter has also adopted Roo as his fur sister. Russ told The Dodo that, “Roo follows him around like a shadow, and they are always together.”
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Image: Facebook/Little Roo Russ
In fact, Roo is also showing love to people and animals she’s never even met. In 2017 Russ told Bored Panda, “She has been successful in helping raise thousands of dollars for the organization that helped save her – the National Kitten Coalition. She is so great at giving back, and she doesn’t even know it!”

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