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Rescue kitty born without a paw to get a leg up

WALTHAM, Mass. – Shelley, a  3-year-old black shorthair cat, needs two things to make her life complete:  A forever home and a new back paw.

Volunteers from Black Cat Rescue, a no-kill cat rescue in Jamaica Plain, are working on finding the feline a home, while a doctor from BluePearl Veterinary Partners is taking care of fitting her with a prosthetic leg.Shelley2

Shelley was born without her left hind paw. She gets around relatively well without it, but she is at risk for developing sores, arthritis or other long-term joint problems.  While other veterinarians consulted by Black Cat Rescue recommended amputation, Dr. William Snell, a surgeon with BluePearl’s Waltham hospital, opted to go a different route.

Shelley (photos courtesy of Black Cat Rescue)

Shelley (photos courtesy of Black Cat Rescue)

“She’s a good candidate for a prosthetic leg because she’s young and healthy,” said Snell. “I’d really like to give her the opportunity to run and jump better.”

Snell performed X-rays, measured Shelley’s leg and created a fiberglass impression, the first steps in her journey toward a new paw. A custom-ordered temporary prosthetic leg, called a house slipper, should arrive in about two weeks.  If she takes well to the slipper,  she’ll get a permanent prosthesis.

Susanna Finn, an adoption counselor with Black Cat Rescue and Shelley’s foster mom, said the cat was surrendered to Black Cat Rescue because her owner, an elderly woman, was moving to Florida and could no longer keep her. Finn said Shelley is extremely playful and affectionate, if a little on the pudgy side.

“She’s a terrific cat who loves snuggling and being around people,” Finn said. “We want to do everything we can to improve her quality of life. She’s going to be a wonderful pet for a lucky person.”

Finn estimates the cost of care, including the prosthesis, will be about $3,000. Those interested in contributing to Shelley’s treatment or learning more about adopting her are encouraged to click here.

Shelley (photo courtesy of Black Cat Rescue)

Shelley (photo courtesy of Black Cat Rescue)

Dr. William Snell measures Shelley's leg for a temporary prosthesis. (BluePearl Veterinary Partners photo)

Dr. William Snell measures Shelley’s leg for a temporary prosthesis. (BluePearl Veterinary Partners photo)