Otter and his sister, Bunny, were found orphaned in Northern California by a Good Samaritan who took them in and started caring for them. It didn’t take her long to realize that the pair are both a little different, though, so she transferred them to Baby Kitten Rescue, where they could get the specialized care they needed.
Otter is missing some of the toes on his front paws, and Bunny is missing both of her front paws. They’re both very determined, though, and manage to get around just fine. Caroline Grace, the director of Baby Kitten Rescue, noticed these differences as soon as the pair arrived in her care, and as they healed from other health issues, she began to notice that Otter actually had some additional differences.
“When they arrived, they were in horrible condition: upper respiratory illness, fleas, filthy and had severe diarrhea,” Caroline told The Dodo. “As I focused on getting them healthy (under the direction of our vet), I noticed Otter’s head and face looked different than a typical kitten his age. He had a very large forehead and big, bulging eyes. Otter also had what looked like an abscess at the top of his head. He was put on antibiotics for the ‘abscess,’ but it didn’t go away.”
Caroline took Otter to see a neurologist, who diagnosed him with hydrocephalus and meningocele. The abscess on the top of his head is actually an exposed part of his skull. Once he’s 6 months old, he’ll be able to get an MRI to determine the extent of his condition and needs. When he’s a year old, he’ll have a surgery to implant a plate over the opening in is skull. Until then, the people caring for him have learned to improvise.
“That’s why Otter wears a Band-Aid,” Caroline said. “And that’s also why he wears a [helmet]: to protect his brain.”
Ever since he arrived in her care, Caroline has kept Otter’s head covered with a Band-Aid. He’s such a tiny kitten, so having a Band-Aid on his head just makes him look even more silly and adorable. Some friends also made Otter a custom helmet to protect his head when he’s playing and just being a kitten.
Despite their disabilities, Otter and Bunny don’t seem to have any idea that they’re different from other kittens. They’re loving life with their foster mom and so far haven’t let anything slow them down.
“Otter’s personality is brave and curious, but also extremely loving and affectionate,” Caroline said. “Otter loves exploring new places, things and people. He’s usually the first to try something new, while Bunny watches. Once Otter shows Bunny it’s safe, she will also try the new thing! Otter is the big brother and definitely looks out for his sister. She’s had to learn to adapt to her disability by standing and walking on her hind legs, and Otter has started standing and walking on his hind legs, too … Both Bunny and Otter have adapted so well to their disabilities. Neither of them know they are different and both of them are full of joy!”
Otter and Bunny are a bonded pair, so once they’re ready, they’ll need to be adopted together. It’ll be a while before they’re ready to head off to their forever home, but when they are, they’ll be looking for a family with experience taking care of special needs pets, and who are willing to continue any specialized care they may need.
Otter may look a little different with a Band-Aid and helmet on his head, but they keep him safe and make him look pretty cute, too, so he’s definitely not complaining. He’s so happy exploring the world and can’t wait to see what happens next.
If you’d like to help with Otter and Bunny’s care, you can donate to Baby Kitten Rescue.