Amy Hunt, a veterinary tech assistant at VCA Canada Island Animal Hospital in Nanaimo, fostered and adopted Lemon, a stray kitten, who suffered paralysis in his back legs after a dog attack. (Karl Yu/Nanaimo News Bulletin)

VIDEO: Disabled Vancouver Island feline teaching foster kittens ‘how to cat’

Life goes from sour to sweet for Lemon, an adopted cat from B.C. SPCA Nanaimo

While life was initially sour for a stray kitten in Nanaimo, it has sweetened significantly after the cat was adopted by a veterinary hospital employee.

Lemon was brought to the B.C. SPCA facility in Nanaimo last summer after suffering paralysis in its back legs from a dog attack. Amy Hunt, a veterinary tech assistant at VCA Canada Island Animal Hospital on Bowen Road, fostered and subsequently adopted the orange cat, which is receiving treatment and seeing a good quality of life.

After the cat was surrendered to the hospital, staff knew it was paralyzed, as X-rays revealed “a gap in his spine,” said Hunt. Dr. Jamie Wintemute recommended laser therapy and acupuncture and the cat underwent rehab at Applecross veterinary clinic with laser and acupuncture at Seaside veterinary clinic in Parksville from Dr. Cheyenne Knight, who Hunt says Lemon adores.

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Hunt says acupuncture and electro-acupuncture regenerates nerve-building and gets nerves that would normally be dormant “to fire,” while laser therapy increases blood flow.

“Initially he had no movement up his tail and now he actually does. He can move his feet, he seems to have all his localized reflexes. It would be very unlikely for him ever to walk again [but] he’s adapted very well. This is all he’s really known, so he’s very happy,” Hunt told the News Bulletin. “He can move around probably as fast as any other kitty and he doesn’t think he’s any different than any other cat really.”

Lemon even had the chance to pay it forward, acting as a surrogate sibling to a pair of orphaned kittens, Leo and Oliver, who were surrendered in June and who Hunt took on as fosters. She refers to the pair as the tangerines, as they are also orange.

Hunt said Lemon has taught Leo and Oliver “how to cat,” according to a press release from B.C. SPCA Nanaimo branch, as orphaned kittens are sometimes “a bit wild,” with no grooming skills or how to partake in responsible play, and Lemon has taught the two kittens just that.

“Lemon, initially, was kind of jealous I think, having little babies in the house, but in about a day, he decided that they were his babies,” Hunt said told the VI Free Daily. “So he wanted to be with them every chance he got … If he’s eating or anything like that and hears them playing or ‘meowing’ or just being kittens he needs to be right there.”

The kittens will be heading to their adoptive families on Wednesday, Aug. 12 and Hunt refers to it as both happy and sad.

“These guys actually have adopters lined up and they’re going to fantastic homes,” said Hunt. “If you didn’t foster, they probably wouldn’t be here today, so you’re saving lives. I have two other cats at home and we’re at capacity … I’ll probably shed a few tears, but it’s a more happy day.”

However, it’s “kitten season” says Hunt, and she’s sure Lemon will have more fosters to “play with and baby.”

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