A Heartwarming Canadian Success Story
This week, Paul Klusman shared an IFLScience! article by Tom Hale titled Students Create 3D-Printed Wheelchair For Disabled Kitten.
Immediately, I emailed and messaged the folks at TinyKittens to obtain permission to post photographs of Cassidy. But, so far, they haven't had time to get back to me. That's okay, I understand.
So, for now, I did what Tom Hale has done – I posted a screenshot of Cassidy from his YouTube video (and am citing "fair use" for this story). Once I get permission to use other photos, I will probably replace it (and definitely add more).
How Cassidy Was Found
An article by Matthew Claxton in the Langley Advance tells the story. A landowner in the Otter-Aldergrove area of Langley, BC contacted Shelly Roche of Tiny Kittens after seeing this tiny black and white kitten scrambling around on his front two feet.
So Shelly Roche set out a little box trap to capture the kitten and bring him to Dr. Renee Ferguson of the Mountain View Veterinary Hospital. Roche told the Langley Advance:
He was about nine weeks old and survived being unable to properly walk on his back legs since after he was born. It is possible his mother accidentally bit off his feet, if they were tangled in the umbilical cord.
And veterinarians weren't even sure he'd survive. He was half the size of his brother (Topper), obviously starving, and suffering a serious E. coli infection.
Two Walnut Grove Secondary School Students
Josh Messmer and Isaiah Walker Made a 3D-printed Wheelchair
Two 17-year-old high school students heard about Shelly Roche's Facebook plea to help Cassidy with perhaps "a sling or maybe even a wheelchair" and created the 3D-printed wheelchair for him at their school.
The wonderful thing about the 3D-printed wheelchair is that it can be easily enlarged (scaled-up) as Cassidy grows. And this isn't the first instance of 3D printing helping animals. In fact, four different 3D printing companies offered to help a maimed toucan who lost much of his beak.
And it appears the help hasn't stopped there. I found out when I looked up the YouTube video of Cassidy's first steps that "Andrew" at Handicapped Pets Canada made Cassidy the tiniest customized wheelchair.
In the future, Cassidy might be a candidate for specialized prosthetics to be implanted into his rear legs. Paw Mane Fin's own Emily Heeb wrote about this in her article Revolutionary Surgery Puts Cat Back on His Feet.
Up next is the 48-second YouTube video published on September 26th, 2015 by Tiny Kittens.
Miracle Kitten Cassidy's First Steps in His Tiny Wheelchair
Published on September 26th, 2015 by Tiny Kittens
Global News Interview
Shelly Roche, Cassidy, Josh Messmer, and Isaiah Walker
When I viewed the September 29th, 2015 Global News morning interview with Shelly Roche, Cassidy, Josh Messmer, and Isaiah Walker, I learned the following:
There are about 22,000 feral cats in the rural area of Langley, B.C. TinyKittens.com is a 100 percent volunteer-run cat feline rescue organization. They run a Compassionate Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program which involves spaying/neutering and caring for over 200 feral cats.
It was the secretary of the school (Walnut Grove Secondary School) that passed the message along to the students' teacher. And from there, Josh Messmer and Isaiah Walker looked into how other wheelchairs were built.
During the Global News interview, the two described their process of drawing on a white board, creating "two designs for printing" and going through "a couple of phases" for modeling. Obviously humble, I'm sure there was a lot more that went into this project.
Want More Cassidy?
I think this is fabulous: a live-stream of Cassidy. You can see numerous videos of Cassidy, what he learned, how he stood on "four" legs, and more. Topper, Cassidy's brother, is also featured in some of the videos.
There are numerous ways you can help TinyKittens and I was delighted to learn about their partnership with Holly Elementary school to teach children about compassion, cooperation, leadership, writing, creativity, the power of social media and so much more.
TinyKittens is also part of the Isolation Oasis (ISOasis) committee at the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) and is helping to raise the funds required to build a facility for even more sick cats and kittens. Updates can be found on the People for Happier Cats Facebook page (plus you get to meet more wonderful felines).
Other TinyKittens Life-Saving Projects
TinyKittens.com Kitten Roundup PosterFostering Pregnant Feral Cats: TinyKittens is carefully documenting their efforts to care for pregnant feral cats.
Cat Overpopulation Research: TinyKittens is collecting data for University of Guelph researchers to develop new methods to predict (and help) communities with feral (or free-roaming) cats.
Feral Cat Mapping App: I found it amazing that TinyKittens has mapped (to date) 425 of Langley's homeless cats. Reporting and locating these abandoned and feral cats is obviously crucial to helping them.
Unwanted Kitten Roundup: TinyKittens took a leap of faith and contacted the LAPS to try and save the 80,000 kittens born per year (in Langley). They will take care of pregnant cats, nursing moms with kittens, and kittens under 6 months of age.
What's more, they state on their Pregnant Cat & Kitten Roundup page:
If you can't bring them to us, text our hotline at 604-332-4449 anytime and we will schedule a time to come pick them up.
If you do not live in Langley but want to help, you can make a donation to the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS).
Ways to Help TinyKittens.com
I was extremely impressed by how the TinyKittens "Ways to Help" page was put-together. You can help in numerous ways (even if you don't live in Langley).
Amazon Wish List: Includes the items that TinyKittens needs most. Things like food, bedding, baby kitten formula, de-worming medicine, and more.