Nfld. & Labrador

Pickles the kitten can't use his hind legs — but he doesn't let that stop him

Pickles the kitten scampers around on only his front legs — and his caretakers say he's an example of why animals with disabilities should get a chance to thrive.

Vet says Pickles has learned to thrive despite congenital deformity

Pickles has a congenital deformity, but it doesn't stop him from acting like pretty much any other kitten. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Pickles the kitten doesn't let his disability hamper his scamper.

The five-month-old cat was born with a congenital deformity called tibial hemimelia, which means one of the bones in his back legs didn't form during gestation.

That caused his hind limbs to twist, making them impossible to use.

The condition also prompted his caretakers at the CBS Animal Hospital to uphold Pickles as a poster cat: an example of how animals who might otherwise be put down can, with a little help and attention, learn to thrive.

Jessie Marie Fewer, a vet assistant, says she's fostered a few special needs kittens before, and is looking out for Pickles until he gets adopted.

Pickles is a playful kitten, even without use of his hind legs. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"We were trying to see if he could do everyday things. At first it was a little difficult for him getting up over stairs," she said. "But eventually he got the strength.… Now he can do it all on his own."

Aside from a bit of trouble pulling himself onto higher surfaces, Fewer says he displays all the hallmarks of a normal kitten — a goofy, mischievous bundle of energy that loves stealing chips and climbing into boxes.

"He can do everything that another cat can do," she said. "Just because he has a disability — I think he deserves a chance just [like] any other cat that's normal and healthy."

Dr. Ashley Harvey says Pickles should be able to lead a normal life. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Dr. Ashley Harvey, an associate veterinarian at CBS Animal Hospital, says the rare condition doesn't cause Pickles any pain.

"His legs are basically on backwards from the kneecaps down," she said. "It doesn't hurt him at all, and it's all that he's ever known. So he's learned to adapt by walking on two legs."

Pickles has adapted to his body's limitations. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

As he gets older, she said, Pickles's front legs will get stronger. "It will be very important that he stays nice and lean," she said.

Fewer thinks Pickles would thrive in a home with kids and other pets — her own dog even likes to groom him, she said. He'll be up for adoption next week.

Harvey says the animal clinic doesn't anticipate any added medical costs for Pickles's new family, but he did need a bit of help after birth.

Pickles has a deformity that caused his back legs to twist, rendering them useless. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"In different situations he probably wouldn't have been given that opportunity," she said.

"It's hard for people to see animals with deformities. The first thing you think is that they're suffering."

Pickles, for his part, certainly isn't, she said.

"He's really proven to us how a deformity or a disability doesn't need to slow you down."

The animal clinic says Pickles is a great example of how animals with disabilities can thrive. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Carolyn Stokes