Kitten Born With Deformity Makes Totally Unexpected Transformation

 When Pinocchio the kitty first arrived at Los Angeles' Friends for Life Rescue Network, workers knew that, despite his good spirits, he had a number of health issues that needed immediate assistance. Doctors were eager to help him fully recover, but even they were caught off guard by this cat's unheard-of transformation.

Jacqueline “DeAmor” Santiago

For as long as Jacqueline “DeAmor” Santiago could remember, she had a passion for anything that had to do with caring for animals. That was why she helped create one of Los Angeles' most popular animal rescue shelters.

Powerful Latinas Rising

Friends For Life Rescue Network

Friends for Life Rescue Network (FFLRN) worked around the clock nurturing animals who came from rough homes or were in need of medical assistance from accidents. The team behind Jacqueline was equally as dedicated.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

Reaping The Benefits

Everyone at the organization was a volunteer, and even though no one earned a living through their animal work, it was more important to know they were saving lives. Especially when it came to a little kitty named Pinocchio.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

Pinocchio Arrives

Even though Pinocchio came from a tumultuous household, he was all purrs when he arrived at the Los Angeles organization. He had a slew of health issues he needed taken care of, and it wasn't going to be easy.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

Pinocchio's Misaligned jaw

The most obvious of the ailments? A misaligned jaw bone that caused his mouth to look as if it had a sideways smirk. But, that was only one of his issues.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

Ravenous And Sleepy

He was no Garfield; it looked as though Pinnochio hadn't eaten a proper meal in days. Upon arriving, workers gave him two full cans of food that he devoured right before nestling up in a cozy bed and getting some much needed rest.

Keeping Active

Over the course of a few days, it seemed like Pinocchio was gaining more strength by the minute. He was keeping active and his muscle mass was improving. Of course, he needed more than just strength.

X-Ray Troubles

The medical team pointed out an in issue in one of Pinocchio's pre-surgery scans: "X-rays show his chest shape has completely changed over the last few weeks," the surgeon said. This caused his breathing to suffer.

Cat Health

Getting To Work

He was also fighting off a rough upper-respiratory infection and suffering from a painful umbilical hernia. These issues required more than food and rest, so doctors got to work once he adjusted to life at FFLRN.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

Delicate Care Required

The fact Pinocchio was only three months old meant extra-delicate care was required with his brittle body. But, he was a trooper, and he came out of surgery with a new lease on life.

University of Michigan

A Joyous Greeting

After the operations were over, Jacqueline and the rest of the staff visited the little guy at the Animal Speciality and Emergency Center where the surgeries took place. He responded with an army of purrs as they admired his progress.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

"Such A Good Boy"

Jacqueline said of Pinocchio after emerging from surgery, "He completely won over the entire staff team who took care of him. They said he purred so loud they couldn't hear his heart, such a good boy."

Friends for Life Rescue Network

Temporary Stay

Pinocchio was eventually going to find a foster home for a permanent stay, but until that happened, Jacqueline brought him back to her place where he was greeted with a new bed and plush toy.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Excited About Life

Not only was the cat's breathing significantly smoother, but the flea issue was totally resolved, and it seemed like he was excited about life overall. This was the kind of change everyone prayed for beforehand.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

"More Active Every Day"

"I came home yesterday to a very playful boy who wanted lots of scritches. He has been up and about and is feeling much better and getting more active every day," said Jacqueline.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

A Fluffy Superhero

Of course, to show everyone just how far he came and how powerful he was feeling, Pinocchio donned a Superman shirt for the first several days! The guy really was like a tiny fluffy superhero.

Friends for Life Rescue Network

A Strong Spirit

"His spirit is just as it was," Jacqueline said. "He is a strong, playful, loving sweetheart with the biggest purrs. When he sees me, he shoots out of the bed (a little too fast) and comes right over for pets."

That VIP Lifestyle

Pinocchio deserved a huge toast for his magical journey through the Friends for Life Rescue Network. He was once a lost little kitten in need to help, and now he was living his life like a VIP!

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Deserving Of Love

As excited as Jacqueline was about Pinocchio's health, she was most happy for him to eventually mingle with other cats and make some friends. However, she didn't realize that, across the country, there were more kittens that needed her help.

Jenny Anderson / WireImage

Play Ball!

Malia, a proud New Yorker, was watching her son's baseball game at the Bronx's Co-Op City Field on an August 2019 day. It was there she and her son first spotted the box full of cats that would change lives.

Brian Rose

A Ruckus

She sat in the bleachers, rooting for her son's team until she heard a ruckus coming from the crowd. Suddenly, a massive amount of people stopped paying attention to the game. What was going on?

An Abandoned Litter

Just like the other curious onlookers, Malia went to investigate. It turned out there was an abandoned litter of kittens in the field, covered in filth and lacking in nutrition. There was no sign of a mother cat around; someone needed to help them.

Langley Advance

Phone a Friend

Malia decided to step in and call her friend, Sunny, a diligent animal rescuer, to ask if she was up for a challenge. Sunny didn't hesitate to assist, asking Malia to transport the frightened litter to her home ASAP.

ASPCA

Nursing Back to Health

"She and her husband rushed the little ones over to me. My son (CJ Sung) and I took them in and bathed and bottle-fed all of them," Sunny explained to Love Meow. It was her mission to nurse them back to health; it was kind of her thing!

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Skin and Bone

They were only three weeks old, and very fragile. The little kittens were practically skin and bone when Malia dropped them off, but Sunny was determined to give them round-the-clock supervision and assistance. In just a day, Sunny noticed a drastic difference in their demeanor.

Sudbury Star

A Sigh of Relief

They were looking a bit perkier, not to mention healthier. Sunny and her son, CJ, were beyond relieved, as kittens under four weeks old are not always able to survive without their mother. And one particular kitten stood out from the litter.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Little Chimera

The gentle tortoiseshell kitten, whom they named Chimera, wasn't afraid to cuddle up to CJ. They named her Chimera after her half brown, half orange face. But if anyone tried to remove her from CJ's arms, she'd throw a fit.

@gataquimera / Instagram

A Special Bond

"Chimera automatically took to CJ and would hiss at me and my older son, even though I was the bottle feeder," Sunny stated. They were all stunned by the kitten's odd, yet endearing, behavior. She just felt a special bond with CJ for whatever reason.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Change of Plans

Sunny originally intended to foster the kittens until they were healthy enough to be adopted by other families, but Chimera changed those plans. They couldn't imagine letting her go; Chimera was special.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Love at First Sight

Though Sunny wasn't looking for a pet, he couldn't say no to his son. "The moment he saw her, he said, 'I like her. She's my kitty.' He fell in love with her and begged me to keep her," Sunny detailed.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Blossoming Personalities

As the days and weeks went by, the kittens started coming into their own. They were more playful and their personalities started to blossom. And while Chimera's siblings loved to play together, chasing each other and wrestling over pieces of string, she was still a bit different.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Human Attention

Unlike her brothers and sisters, Chimera would turn down playtime to get some human attention, especially from CJ. The duo just fell in love with each other. But the little "tortie" kitten wasn't exactly a saint!

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Little Troublemaker

She was just the standout for a slew of reasons. Chimera was the first kitten of the group to journey out of the playpen, clearly seeking out adventure and new territories. She turned out to be a little troublemaker!

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Training Chimera

Considering CJ became Chimera's adoptive "mother" of sorts, it was his job to train her to behave. And after being reprimanded, Chimera would simply melt into CJ's arms. Who could resist those eyes?

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

A Smart Cookie

"She is a troublemaker and likes to get herself into places that she should not. She is really smart and knows whom to run to when she gets in trouble," said Sunny. Soon, Sunny had more news about her little kittens.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

A Healthy Transformation

Every day the kittens got bigger and healthier, looking drastically different from the sad, decrepit litter they were back in August. "Once the kittens became of age, Chimera's siblings were adopted out, and she stayed here with us," Sunny said.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

A Perfect Angel

As she grew up, Chimera proved herself to be a real hellcat, but would easily flip a switch and be on her best behavior when CJ appeared. "She acts like a perfect angel when he is home," Sunny hilariously described.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Meant to Be

And after a year of living with Sunny and CJ, Chimera really grew to be a wonderful, fluffy, confident cat. Perhaps her and CJ were just meant to be together. "He is her best friend. She definitely chose him," Sunny said.

@iamchimera407 / Instagram

Damsels in Distress

Still, the family was intrigued by Chimera's off-and-on behavior. Why, they wanted to know, was their cat such a delightful oddball? Luckily, they could look to a recent study on cats' most confusing behaviors for answers.

Mohawk Hudson Humane Society

Surprise!

While the family may have thought Chimera, who was hissing for "no reason," was an arrogant rascal, the little ball of fur may actually be seeing those around her as a special partner. See, kitties are just full of surprises (and hairballs).

Social Cognition

It all comes down to social cognition, which has been studied regarding dogs for decades. Now, we know dogs are gentle social butterflies that this cruel world absolutely does not deserve, but the social cognition of cats has been neglected by the scientific community.

What Would You Do?

Since human babies, puppies, and baby monkeys have all showed signs of being securely or insecurely attached to their parents or guardians after a short period of separation, it got scientists thinking about how kittens would act in this type of situation.

Anxiety

Would separation anxiety plague little kittens? Well behavior studies would soon prove or reject the idea that cats could form secure bonds with their caregivers. Scientists at Oregon State University were on the case.

Washington Post

Current Biology

Just like dogs, cats have been witnessed living in harmonious social groupings, but that all depends on factors, such as early developmental occurrences, resource distribution, and social interaction experiences, according to scientific journal Current Biology.

Rooms

In their study, those brainy scientists put kittens in their own rooms, with only a human caregiver to keep each one company. They spent exactly two minutes getting to know each other. The kittens were undoubtedly curious about their new surroundings.

Oregon State University

Space to Breathe

Said caregiver would then get up and exit the room for exactly two minutes, leaving the kitten alone. Those two minutes would give the new friends space to breathe and decompress from their introduction.

The Atlantic

Return

Sure enough, two minutes later, the caregiver would return to the room to greet the kitty once again. Their behavior during the reunion would be telling of their level of bonding. This process is called a "secure base test."

Results

The findings of the study were published in the scientific journal Cell Press, and the results may surprise you. There's much to know about felines that probably escaped your mind. They're complex beings!

Social Flexibility

"Like dogs, cats display social flexibility in regard to their attachments with humans," Kristyn Vitale, study author and researcher at Oregon State University's Human-Animal Interaction Lab, explained of cats' behavioral habits. But not all cats have the same attachment style.

Bonded

It turned out that 65% of cats are securely bonded with their owners! The findings show that the relationship continues to be constant in adulthood; the little kittens don't typically outgrow their connection.

We're Not So Different, You and Me

“We found that the attachment bond cats display toward their owners is very similar to the bond dogs share with their owners and even the bond human infants display toward their caretakers," Krystin disclosed. And we thought they were so different.

CatDog

Then, There Are Others

On the other hand, some cats form insecure bonds with their owners. The insecurely attached cats showed signs of stress, which involved twitching tails, licking lips, and avoiding their owner at all costs. Somehow, we relate.

Oregon State University

Leaped

Believe it or not, the felines that leaped into their owner's lap, refusing to move, were also considered to be insecurely attached. This kind of behavior is an indicator of ambivalence. While they seemed mushy, there was a sense of crippling uncertainty.

Oregon State University

Aloof

"Cats that are insecure seem to act aloof. There's long been a biased way of thinking that all cats behave this way. But the majority of cats use their owner as a source of security," Kristyn said.

Socializing

Even the kittens that went through a 6-week socialization training course did not deviate from their bond with their master. Some bonds are just unbreakable by nature.

Stressed Out!

Kristyn even said that cats actually depend on their owners to help them when they feel stressed out. This whole time you've likely been thinking that good ol' Sprinkles only required sustenance, but in reality, Sprinkles needs you for much more than that.

Attachment

"We're currently looking at several aspects of cat attachment behavior, including whether socialization and fostering opportunities impact attachment security in shelter cats," Kristyn relayed regarding future studies.

The Office

Lots of Love

We know it sounds bananas, but based on Krystin Vitale's findings, your cat loves you more than you know. They may show their affection and gratitude for you in odd ways, but they're not as antisocial and cold as you'd think.

Fantastic Felines

Krystin Vitale's secure base test findings only prove the unexpected emotional intelligence of our sassy, furry friends. You may think you have your feline figured out now, but there are plenty more surprises lurking behind those mysterious, golden cat eyes.

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