It’s a wonderful life for this three-legged kitten

AJ the kitten wearing a collar with a bell
AJ arrived at a Texas shelter with an injured leg, but time was on his side. Today, the chatty cat with three legs will tell you all about it.
By Peggy Race

A beautiful gray kitten named AJ arrived at a Texas shelter nursing an old injury to his back leg that left him with a limp. The little guy needed help to get around more easily and ultimately land a new home. Fortunately, time was on his side. As luck would have it, Best Friends in Houston had planned to pick up animals from the shelter the following day. That was the beginning of his new life — and a wonderful life at that.

The veterinary team at Best Friends in Houston examined him and gave him pain medication for his leg, and he was tucked into a cat condo of his own to settle in and rest. But even with a couple of days of pain medication and rest, AJ still hobbled around. X-rays showed his limp was from an old fracture; it had healed in a way that caused him pain, and amputation was the best option. The team set a surgery date and kept AJ comfortable. But then something unexpected happened.

In the right place at the right time

Rebecca Alejandro and her husband, Greg Martinez, visited Best Friends looking to adopt a gray cat. “We lost our gray cat a month earlier due to feline leukemia, and the house was lonely,” says Rebecca.

There were no gray cats in the adoption area that day, but AJ was still tucked into his kitty condo awaiting surgery to remove his leg. Staff person Valentina Costa answered Rebecca and Greg’s inquiry. “We have a young gray cat with [an injured] leg hanging out in the office. He loves to chat,” she told them. “He’s even been introduced to other cats and has done well,” she added, knowing the couple was in the process of adopting a kitten from another organization.

While AJ wasn’t technically available for adoption until after the amputation, he could go home on a foster basis before then — if Greg and Rebecca were willing to take on a kitten about to have major surgery.

[Three-Legged Dog or Cat: Tips for Adopters]

Undaunted by the prospect of caring for an injured kitten, Rebecca and Greg agreed to meet AJ. With his entertaining personality, AJ appeared to be equally interested in meeting them.

AJ elevated the volume on his “purr meter” the moment Greg sat on the floor with him. Rubbing his body against Greg’s leg, in that instant, AJ charmed his way into Rebecca’s and Greg’s hearts. That day, they decided to bring him home.

Throughout the fostering period, Rebecca pampered AJ, keeping him snug and cozy. She held no qualms about the upcoming operation. “Best Friends was so open about the procedure and kept the lines of communication open, answering all of our questions,” says Rebecca.

The surgery went well, and afterward, little AJ went to his official new home with Rebecca and Greg.

There was an adjustment period for AJ after having his injured leg removed. After all, cats with three legs often need minor accommodations, such as litter boxes close to the ground or high areas blocked off to prevent jumping. But AJ healed beautifully and thrived.

Living large on three legs

In no time, AJ was snuggling with his new friend. Meadow, a four-month-old tortie kitten, joined the family shortly after AJ. “Adopting her was the best idea,” says Rebecca. “She helped get AJ out of his comfort zone.”

Nowadays, AJ shows off his athletic abilities as he climbs on the entertainment center to get as high up as Meadow. “He wants to be right behind her, following her every move,” says Rebecca. AJ has adapted beautifully to life on three legs — until he has an itch. “He’ll be scratching himself but not able to scratch the intended area. Then, he’ll make a face, almost like he’s frozen,” laughs Rebecca, adding that she steps in and provides a helping hand.

Playful and curious, AJ knows how to round up a chuckle or two. Whether playing his own game of hockey by batting ice cubes around the floor or attempting a two-legged stance while chasing a ball on a string, AJ is quite the performer.

[Life on three limbs can’t slow down this kitten]

He’s also become the family’s daily alarm clock. As Rebecca mentions, “AJ is named after a character from The Sopranos.” While that may be one of Rebecca’s favorite shows, AJ’s soprano screams for food are probably not what she had in mind when she named him.

Besides dishing out doses of amusement, AJ also captures the lap of everyone he meets. “He’s like, ‘Hello, new person. I want to sit on your lap,’” Rebecca says. “And when it comes to kids, he loves to be in their bubble.”

AJ’s life could have been quite different or even lost altogether. But the stars aligned for him more than once. Now, he has a lifetime of joy ahead with his new family.

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