Jacob the Orphan Kitten.

This kitten is all grown up at three years old. Here is his story, and then I will explain what he’s going through right now.

Sometimes, when you drop your guard and think you’ve got a set plan, things happen out of the blue. New pets, for example. Unexpected ones. They seem to cross your path at the times you are most certain of your future plans. Their job is to change plans and make you adjust your life. They make you move over and make room, like that extra person squeezing in at the end of the picnic bench.

I have never had reason to fear going to the feed store, despite the fact that desperate animals have crossed my path there before. One was an abandoned rabbit (she was a great pet). Another was a young rabbit destined for the dinner plate (we call him “fork to farm”, vice “farm to fork”). He is a great pet, too. But rabbits are uncommon at this feed store, so I was safe.

What no one saw coming was a private little drama in a feral cat family. Feral mama cat had a litter in a snug trailer full of hay. That hay moved to another state. When the trailer was opened, mama cat moved her family into the next, almost empty, hay trailer. Someone noticed her moving her kittens one at a time into the other trailer. Except one kitten fell behind the remaining bales, where she could not reach him. The truck took the trailer with the cat and her kittens (except one) back on the road later that day, The next day or so, the trapped kitten was found behind the bales of hay. He was all alone, hungry, and in shock. He was too weak to cry out. The man who loads the hay for customers happened to see him when he moved the bales.

Meanwhile, my young son and I were finishing up our purchase of grain when in walks this man holding the tiny kitten in his hand. He explained what must have happened and then came that inevitable question. I was slow on the uptake. I have a bad cold and should have seen this question coming, but, instead, I just stared at the weak little kitten thinking something along the lines of ‘someone should feed it’. That was it. My brain stopped processing at the point. My filing system had already placed the kitten into the folder marked “Someone Else’s Project”.

My son, however, was three steps ahead. The initial question was innocent enough, but the following statement contained the dreaded word I should have feared above all. The word free has many different meanings to different people. In the adult world, we are somewhat immune to the magic of this word. It usually means there’s a catch (though not often a 16 year long catch). It means full price on the other one, or divulging personal information to various email lists. ‘Free’ doesn’t really mean free in the adult world. But when you are a child, free means all kinds of good things. Lollipops, for example, are still free at some stores (and our local bank). Kids are so attuned to that word that they could tell you exactly where all the free things are given away within a twenty mile radius of home. So, when that well-meaning man asked, “Who wants a kitten?”, I had not yet entered the danger zone. But when he followed up with a half-smile and a shrug while saying, “It’s free”, I should have been terrified. I heard an inward gasp of air from the child next to me. All of the sudden, into his world of free lollipops, Tootsie Rolls, and Kisses, entered Kittens. Not just any kitten either, but a really tiny kitten. Nobody moved. The little dull creature was in the outstretched hand pointed in our general direction. I could feel the boy’s eyes studying me for the tiniest twitch of a muscle. Without thinking I reached out and the warm bundle was in my hands. It needed help. Laser beams were directed at me from the offspring. I passed it to him, again without thinking. His whole face lit up. Wait a minute. What have I done? It was a standoff and I blinked first. We had a new animal to care for.

I teased the feed store folks for setting us up in my weakened state. Of course, they were all smiles now. Then I added a bottle and milk replacer to the order. The boy, meanwhile was enthralled with our new charge. Before we even left the parking lot, the kitten was named Jacob.

Jacob is doing well. He is about two weeks old. His eyes recently opened and he crawls a bit, but is clumsy. He was dull, weak, and covered with fleas. The flea treatment was easy and after getting his belly full a few times, he is more lively. He is very serious about feeding when he wakes up, but then it’s time to play. He rolls on his back and sort of waves his tiny paws around. We touch his little paw pads in a sort of tickle game. Finally, he sleeps with his head tucked in the crook of my arm.

My husband just sighed when he heard about our latest addition. He and I were discussing how no one else at the feed store offered to take the kitten when the boy piped up with sincere bafflement, “Who wouldn’t want a free kitten?”. My husband and I had a good laugh.


So, fast forward three wonderful years of an awesome kitty that greets you at the door, gets along with everyone, and is even good for the vet. My hubby loves this cat and he is not really a cat person.

Jacob, now fully grown and the most spoiled, but affectionate cat we’ve ever had, was actually injured more than we realized. He has always done this silly thing where he fights with his own back legs, sometimes, even growling at them and bunny thumping himself. We hoped it was just a quirk of being an orphan. Then, he started yowling and hissing at his hind end about 6 weeks ago. Our vet is semi-retired and strictly mobile, so we had to take him into town to see a new vet. She was very nice and prescribed him gabapentin twice a day to control the pain. Maybe it was just a strain.

Two weeks later, he was still very dependent on the medication and showed breakthrough pain as the dose wore off, so he got x-rays. The main vet at the clinic (the owner of the practice) told us he needed a Femoral Head Ostectomy, or FHO. When he fell behind those bales as a tiny kitten, he must have damaged his leg. We don’t know how long he was back there, wedged behind the hay bales as they were sold and removed, but he was too weak to even meow when we took him home. The head of his right femur lacks blood supply and was deteriorating. His curious behavior playing with his back feet could also have indicated nerve damage. We agreed to the surgery and dropped him off early the following week. After surgery, we were told that he would self-regulate and not to worry.

Well, he didn’t self regulate and the pain was just as bad as before surgery. We restricted his movement, but he howled with pain, so we asked for something stronger to control his pain. The vets acted suspicious of us asking (what the heck?!). They don’t know us and we them, so I guess there was not enough trust established. When he wouldn’t stop crying, and the vet said they MIGHT be able to work him in that day, we gave up on them and took him to the university. They gave us sufficient pain control, better recommendations as to how much to confine him (crate), and told us the surgery did not remove enough of the femoral head to be successful.

Poor Jacob is still not using the leg after four weeks of recovery. We are waiting for the ortho consult from the university (they are limited staffing right now and we are on the waitlist). He is off the heavier stuff now and seems mostly managed on the gabapentin. At least he is stable, but he hates the crate.

Poor kitty! We don’t know what the ortho guys will say. Will he heal up? WIll he ever use his leg? Will they have to amputate his leg? All these questions remain to be seen. :cry:


Aww…poor Jacob. Jingling his way.

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And, because pictures mean everything around here, you are welcome to fall in love with Jacob, and maybe a few prayers or something for him?

Your reading this novel is much appreciated!

When he first came home:

A week later:

Six weeks:

Now. We call this picture, “What’s up?”


Aww, he’s adorable! I hope you get good news from the vet.

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Jingles for Jacob from me and ALL my furbabies (and there’s a LOT of them, so lots of jingles!)

I’ve got two bottle babies (well, they’re 4 now), and I know I’d do whatever it took to get them on the mend if anything ever happened to them. Even if they have to amputate the leg, he will get along just fine and in the long run, it will be less painful than it is now, I’m sure.

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Thanks for the encouragement.

Having a pet’s leg amputated is more traumatic for us, isn’t it? If he isn’t using it, will he even miss it? I do wish the surgery had been done properly, though. We aren’t sure if we want to put him through another difficult surgery and recovery unless it has a very good chance of success.

The vet school took lots of x-rays so, hopefully, their ortho team will have enough views to tell us which way to go.

Those pics are adorable. Jingling still. Keep us posted.

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I would be in love too. But I’m a total softee when it comes to kittens. Dogs, not so much.


We are still waiting for a call back. They are backed up and we are on a waitlist. Luckily, they renewed Jacob’s gabapentin, so his pain is controlled better. We will keep him in the crate unless we can babysit him or he is sleepy and can snuggle with us on the couch. I tried a harness on him yesterday and he did the typical cat thing where he crouched down because he thought he couldn’t move, lol. Maybe he will get used to it. It’s really just to keep him from trying to overdue it.

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Awww I foster lots of kittens, and Jacob definitely twangs my heartstrings. My fingers are crossed that you get good news about the next step for him.

It sounds drastic, but if the problem is limited to one leg, how about amputation of that one leg. Tripod kitties, and dogs, seem to do pretty well.

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That’s what we are wondering. Hopefully, we will get in soon. I confirmed we are still on the waitlist for ortho.

The one thing that worries us is that Jacob growls and bites at his back feet, and also, the base of his tail. It’s when he is thrashing his tail around as his pain killer wears off, so maybe the movement is aggravating his hip area, but we hope it isn’t something in his spine. They did not see anything obvious on x-ray.

Jacob is finally showing some improvement this week. He is about one month post surgery. Our old, retired vet called us the other day (friend of ours) and told us to give him more time before deciding anything. He might still heal up, even if they didn’t take enough off the femur.


Such a sweet story and Jacob is absolutely adorable and knows he is loved. So sorry you are going through such anguish and him too. You’ll know the right thing to do and we’ll be here to support you whatever that is.

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Thank you, PaddockWood. He is a special cat. He fetches straws. It’s adorable.

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I thought I would write an update on Jacob. We canceled the ortho appointment because he showed improvement. He healed as well as he could from his surgery, but is still on daily Gabapentin 5 months later. Apparently, it can cause constipation. Poor boy was yowling so we took him in. Instead of his hip, is was backing up bowels. He is all straightened out now and we are still giving him his laxative. The good news is that the xrays looked good for his hip.

One last complication is that our niece asked us to take her cat when she left for college. It has been an adjustment and I worry that it was also what caused his bowel issues. They seem to be getting along better now, so, hopefully, things will get back to normal soon. We will try to wean him off the gabapentin as soon as he stabilizes enough.

You know the old saying about free cats never being free, lol! But we love Jacob.


All this is such good news! Hoping he keeps improving and that you have many more years with him.

Miralax is good for kitty constipation. My concern is you may have a hard time getting him off the gabapentin.

I’m praying that Jacob has a long and pain free life going forward. Bless you for taking him in and giving him such good care. And yes Miralax is excellent for Kitty constipation. It’s tasteless, I stir it into some warm water to dilute it and then put a few spoonfuls on top of wet food and they don’t even know they are getting it.

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