Fearless kitten with twisted legs doesn't let anything slow her down

The cats who arrive at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary come from all different walks of life, but they all have one thing in common: They need a safe place to call their home-between-homes. Many come to us from Best Friends Network partner organizations and shelters around the country and only need a second chance at finding homes of their own. Other cats have special medical or behavioral needs and therefore require a little more help and care before they are ready to move on.

And then there are cats — like Vanetta — who have landed at the Sanctuary because they are different, but who only need some extra love and understanding. Vanetta is living proof that, rather than being a drag, being different can be part of what makes a pet delightful.

Woman sitting next to Vanetta the tortoiseshell kitten on a couch

Kitten with twisted legs always gets where she wants to go

Vanetta is a kitten who gets where she wants to go. Never mind that her back legs are so twisted that she has very little use of them. If she wants to get up on the couch, she’ll pull herself right up with her front legs. When she wants to get back down, she leaps with confidence and lands with surprising balance. And, when she wants to run across the room, her foster caregiver, Christine, says, “I give myself carpet burn trying to run after her.”

Before she came to Best Friends, Vanetta was living outside in a community cat colony. The colony of about 20 cats was living on a nice big farm owned by brothers who love and care for them all. The brothers were working with the Coachella Valley Community Cat Program (CCP) — a partnership between Best Friends Animal Society and Palm Springs Animal Shelter — to have the cats trapped, neutered and then returned to the farm.

Trap-neuter-return (TNR) is a process in which cats are caught in humane traps, evaluated and spayed or neutered by a veterinarian, vaccinated against rabies, and returned to their original location.

Learn more about TNR

Vanetta the tortoiseshell kitten sitting on a fancy carpet

When they arrived at the farm, the CCP team spotted Vanetta and noticed her limping, but it wasn't until they caught her that they saw that her back legs were misshapen — likely from a birth defect. Mobility challenges can make life difficult for outdoor cats. So, while the rest of the cats were spayed or neutered and then returned to the farm, Vanetta had X-rays done at Palm Springs Animal Shelter and then went to a foster home for a while before coming to the Sanctuary.

Now about eight months old, Vanetta is proving that, while she may have had challenges as an outdoor cat, she is every bit as capable as any other indoor cat. “She’s pretty fearless, and she can definitely get around. Those little legs are just a part of who she is,” Christine says.

Christine ended up adopting Vanetta, and she has renamed her Ezri. “She’s named after a particularly strong, petite fictional character who can look after herself — very fitting for this brave little gal.”

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Vanetta the tortoiseshell kitten lying down with a person petting her

Photos by Molly Wald and Chris Bertrand