At just 48 hours old, Bijou wasn’t even 3 ounces, but she was the most special animal at the National Kitten Coalition.
Bijou and her four feline siblings were moved from a small shelter in rural Virginia that rescued them after being abandoned. They arrived, albeit in poor condition, at the home of Susan Spaulding, founder of the National Kitten Coalition and a cat foster parent of 25 years. Spaulding was able to give the kittens a warm bed and bottles of milk.
“I honestly didn’t know what the future held, but I was going to give Bijou and her brothers lots of love and hope for the best,” Spaulding told the Dodo.
Out of a litter of five, Bijou was smaller than all of her brothers, one of which was too weak to survive the initial move. Her growth was also stunted, and, after reaching 4 ounces, she seemed to stop growing altogether.
“The remaining three kittens, all boys, progressed normally and moved on to rescue for adoption right on schedule,” Rebecca Jewell, executive director of the National Kitten Coalition, told The Dodo. “Bijou progressed much more slowly. She would gain a few grams, lose a few grams.”
Bijou’s health faltered at one point, and Spaulding was worried she might not make it, but this little kitty still had some fight left in her, and that was enough to hold on to.
“As long as Bijou was fighting and comfortable, I was going to fight right along with her,” Spaulding said.
Bijou will likely remain small for the rest of her life. At 9 weeks, she had barely weighed more than 8 ounces, the National Kitten Coalition maintains, and was half the size of a normal kitten at 4 months old.
Now almost 20 months old, Bijou is yet the gem of Charlotte, North Carolina, and is still growing sweeter every day.
“For me, every life matters,” Spaulding said. “Once a commitment is made, I don’t give up just because the road is tough – as long as the quality of life is good for the baby.”
Bijou’s isn’t the only rescue story with a happy ending. Sadly, many more may not wind up as happy without your help. You can show your own pet how much you care, and help shelter pets across the country, by clicking the button below.
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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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