A kitten that was severely injured and not expected to survive a major surgery got a new home last month with a California family that has also faced seemingly insurmountable odds.
The gray and white kitten was found badly mangled, said John Welsh, spokesman for Riverside County Department of Animal Services, southeast of Lost Angeles.
Its damaged leg had to be amputated, and it was not expected to survive. But it did. And its story, which made local newscasts, inspired Matt Tipton and his wife, Simone, who live nearby in Trabuco Canyon.
The couple decided the cat would be a perfect companion for their 2-year-old daughter Scarlette, whose arm was amputated in October 2014 after she was diagnosed with a rare soft-tissue cancer.
Scarlette has been cancer-free for a year, her father said, but still bears battle scars. In addition to her amputated arm, she has synthetic skin near her ribs because skin grafts wouldn't take. She's scheduled for surgery in mid February where some of her skin will be used to replace the synthetic skin.
Simone Tipton said it was important for her daughter to understand that in spite of her circumstances, she persevered, and that she's not alone.
Veterinarians were unable to determine how the kitten was injured, but speculated it could have crawled inside an engine compartment and gotten caught by a belt when the owner started the engine.
The couple, along with Scarlette and their 3-year-old son Kayden, picked up the newly named Doc McStuffins at the San Jacinto shelter Dec. 23. Matt Tipton said he could tell his daughter was already enamored.
"She's absolutely in love with the cat," he said.
It took some coaxing, though, to get officials at the animal shelter to agree that a family with a rambunctious little girl was the right fit.
"I'm thinking, 'Oh they've got kids,' and kids make it very difficult for me to want to place a very tiny, fragile kitten with them," said Eileen Sanders, a supervising registered vet tech. "But my co-worker came to me with the adoption form and said, 'Eileen, we need to give them this cat.' "
Sanders was swayed when she learned of the girl's diagnosis.
"Everything fell into place," she said. "They were the right family."
Check out their cute video: tbtim.es/uif.