Countless animals are taken in by shelters every year. Sadly, many of them have special needs that stand in the way of them ever finding a loving home to call their own.
When Marie Gutshall of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, first saw a tiny stray kitten named Charlie, she feared he might become another statistic. The struggling little one was found paralyzed from the waist down.
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s so tiny,'” Marie told The Dodo. Weighing less than 2 pounds, he fit into the palm of her hand. But despite his obvious health problems, the cat showed a remarkable spirit that captivated Marie right away!
“He ate really well and he was very bright and active,” she said. “Even though he was in a lot of pain and couldn’t use his hind legs, he was just so feisty.”
A veterinarian recommended euthanasia, but after just a few days with the kitten, Marie couldn’t bear the thought. That’s when she came up with a better plan!
A few surgeons agreed to help Charlie walk again, but the price tag of $10,000-12,000 was well beyond Marie’s reach.
Desperate to help him, Marie started a GoFundMe. To her astonishment, more than 600 people donated to the worthy cause within 24 hours!
Even better, the surgery was a success! As soon as Charlie came out of the anesthesia, he could feel and use his hind legs again! Still, it took months for him to rebuild his strength and get used to walking. Marie documented his journey from a struggling kitty to the running, jumping adult he is today, and it’s beautiful!
Watching him recover was a turning point for Marie. She had poured so much love and attention into helping him get better that she felt a new confidence in her caregiving skills.
“After I had Charlie and after we had gone through so much, it kind of opened my eyes to how many at-risk cats and special needs cats are out there,” she explained.
She has since taken on three more kittens with special needs. Not only do they have her attention, but their big brother Charlie is also right there to help them adjust!
“Charlie has been a huge source of inspiration and motivation for the other special needs kittens,” Marie said. “Without Charlie I don’t think I would have had the guts to follow my dream of animal rescue.”
Seeing how strong this once-tiny cat has become is truly inspiring! We’re so glad this experience gave Marie the courage she needed to expand her mission to other felines in need.
Check out more of Charlie’s recovery in the video below, and share this story to spread the love.
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