Several years ago, a young woman began feeding a family of feral cats that she discovered near her office, just outside of Los Angeles, California. Each morning, as she would walk up to feed the cats, they would rush out to greet her, excited and hungry. One morning, she noticed something different about one of them. A young black and white male cat was missing his whiskers. They looked like they had been burned off. His fur looked a little strange, as well. Upon closer inspection, she noticed that there was a chunk missing from his right rear leg, as if something had taken a bite out of it.
The next morning, when the cat showed up to eat, she noticed that his left paw was missing. It was at this point she figured out that the cat was gnawing off parts of his body that had been injured. She knew she had to get this cat some help so she contacted C.A.R.E who, in turn, rallied other members of the rescue community together.
It was a long, concerted effort to save this poor kitten. Although the rescue volunteers were equipped with traps, nets, and all the tricks that their experience with feral cats had taught them over the years, this little kitten wasn’t going for any of it. It was heartbreaking to see him every day, getting worse and worse. He kept gnawing at his feet until he had chewed off his front leg almost to the shoulder and his right rear leg to the knee. And, yet, every day he kept coming to breakfast, hobbling along to the food dish, with a survival instinct like no one had ever seen before. It was completely heartbreaking, yet truly inspiring at the same time.
This cat wanted to live!
The rescue group had named the cat “Stubbs”. They were determined to save him before his infection from his injuries spread. His mother, “Scarlet”, tried to protect him by standing guard at his hiding place when he was sleeping or hiding- and this is how everyone figured out where Stubbs disappeared to after he ate. When rescuers tried to catch Stubbs or grab him, Scarlet put herself in between him and everything else and would hiss and spit in an effort to keep anyone from hurting her kitten.
For three days, the rescue group stayed on site, sleeping in their cars at night, trying desperately to find an opening to rescue the injured kitten. Finally (with a little help from KFC Original Recipe chicken used for bait) they were able to catch Stubbs.
He was immediately taken to an animal hospital. The diagnosis was shocking: someone had set this cat on fire! All four of Stubbs feet and lower legs were badly burned. As the days had passed, the pain and dying tissue had motivated him to gnaw off parts of his own body. The vets did what they could to save Stubbs limbs but one of the back legs was gone (up to the knee) as well as his left front leg (up to the elbow).
Through much nurturing and care, Stubbs recovered enough to be placed in to a foster home. There he received the love and attention he deserved and he blossomed in to the most delightful cat one could imagine. It wasn’t long before he found a permanent home of his own with a happy couple and their cat Eliza.
If anybody deserved a happy ending, it was Stubbs. What a strong and amazing little cat!