While walking their dogs last June in their Lynwood, California, neighborhood, Cecilia A. and her husband, Milton, noticed two young kittens near a sidewalk in front of a house.
“One of the kittens was trying to play with the other one, who just laid there,” Cecilia recalls.
When Cecilia approached, the playful kitten ran off. The remaining kitten looked up and tried to hiss. Cecilia saw that his nose was full of mucous and his eyes were crusty.
She recognized the nose and eye conditions as signs of an upper respiratory infection (URI), a contagious virus similar to the common cold in humans.
Cecilia picked up the tiny kitten, who looked no older than eight weeks and was very weak.
“He was so little,” she says. “He also had a wound that look like it had healed where he was missing a patch of fur. He couldn’t see well because of his infection. It seemed like he had given up.”
Cecilia and Milton noticed that no one was home at the house nearby, so they took the kitten home and cleaned him up.
The following day, Cecilia returned to the house where the kitten was found and spoke with the owner, who explained that they were stray cats and he wanted nothing to do with them.
At that point, Cecilia and her family decided to adopt the wee feline and get him the help he needed. Though she searched, she never saw the other kitten again.
Finding Aid for Alastor
The next day, the kitten—named Alastor by Cecilia’s 15-year-old daughter Leslye—began to walk around and explore, but the family noticed he was unable to move his tail; it was limp and appeared broken.
With the family facing financial challenges during the pandemic, Cecilia feared they would be unable to afford Alastor’s necessary treatment for his URI and injury. She called several local veterinarians, and was eventually referred to the ASPCA’s Community Engagement program in Los Angeles, where she spoke with Debra Olmedo, a Manager in the program.
“Cecilia’s family was more than willing to contribute what they could to help save this little guy,” says Debra, and was able to offer a voucher for Alastor to receive surgery and URI treatment at the AM/PM Ideal Pet Care facility in Norwalk. X-Rays revealed Alastor had a damaged right hip in addition to a broken tail. Vets immediately put him on antibiotics for the URI and amputated his tail. His hip repair and neutering will come later.
Essential Services Inspire Appreciation
For the last four months, the ASPCA has provided a variety of essential services to pets and people hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Los Angeles County alone, from March 16 through July 22, the ASPCA provided 128 veterinary service vouchers to families like Cecilia’s who need urgent pet care, according to Charlsie Fiorella, another Community Engagement Program Manager.
While Alastor was in surgery, Cecilia penned a note to Debra that read in part: “We have rescued animals in the past and have even donated to animal causes, but we never imagined we’d be on the receiving end.”
Indeed, when Cecilia was growing up in San Pedro, people on her block called her “cat lady.”
“My house backed up to an alley, and with my allowance I’d buy the alley cats canned food,” Cecilia recalls. “They would all come running when they heard me open the food.”
The family’s resident cat, Chunky, has warmed up to Alastor, who follows Chunky’s lead. Their dogs—Chipotle, a 13-year-old German shepherd/Chow mix, and Maya, a six-year-old Chihuahua/terrier mix—are also enamored with the family’s new addition, whose wiggly walk inspired Leslye to add a middle name: Wigglebottom. Leslye’s 12-year-old sister, Yaretzi, also loves Alastor Wigglebottom.
“Everyone gets along,” Cecilia says. “Wigglebottom is full of energy and super spunky, and when he walks, his little bottom still wiggles—even without his tail.”
The story of Alastor Wigglebottom is proof positive that neither a broken tail nor a tight budget should stand in the way of a scared little kitten finding a safe and loving home.