Despite some initial concerns, Pickles — a kitten with a rare congenital condition born in St. John’s — is continuing to defy expectations.
As previously reported by The Telegram, Pickles was born with tibial hemimelia in his back legs, which means tibia bones didn’t grow.
After an assessment by associate veterinarian Ashley Harvey, and the other staff at the C.B.S. Animal Hospital, it was determined Pickles' quality of life wouldn’t suffer, despite him not having fully functioning back legs.
“He’s adapted to this condition and actually just walks using his front legs,” Harvey said, noting he sometimes uses his back legs like a crutch.
After it was announced he was being put up for adoption by the St. John’s SPCA, the organization was flooded with inquiries via email and Facebook about the oddball kitten.
“Everybody wanted him,” she said. “Our emails, it blew up. … Everybody was looking for Pickles.”
They stopped accepting official applications after four had been submitted, but as Karen Mahoney, executive director of the SPCA, thought back to the terrible weather that first day, she said the decision was practically a no brainer.
Despite the weather, “(Brittany Farrell) was the first person here,” Mahoney said. “She was having him.”
Farrell and her partner, Ryan Williams, already had an established relationship with the SPCA, having adopted another special-needs cat named Henry, who has asthma. Because of their commitment to Henry, Mahoney and the SPCA staff felt assured the couple were perfect.
Over a flight of stairs in a Paradise apartment, the door opens. It takes a couple of moments before Pickles sneaks around to have a peek. His new brother, Henry, walks by, sporting a pink bowtie with red polka dots, before casually strutting into another room — for now.
The couple adopted Henry a couple of months ago. They wanted him to have a pal, but had been told Henry wasn’t the greatest with older cats.
“We figured maybe a kitten would be the best option,” Williams said.
Farrell was lying in bed, browsing the internet, when she stumbled across a post about Pickles.
“Of course, he’s just perfect and beautiful and handsome,” she said. “I just felt like we could give him a good environment to grow and show his potential.”
Throughout their living room, several tunnels, hand-held toys and small balls are scattered across the floor.
While Pickles had just eaten breakfast and was ready for a nap, he wasn’t long becoming frisky again, when some of the toys were picked up by his new owners.
“Our house has been very entertaining,” Farrell says.
And despite their size difference, Pickles and Henry get along well, with Henry even helping groom the new addition, who — in one of the few things normal about the peculiar Pickles — is not too fond of baths.
“Between the wrestling and playing and grooming each other, it’s just been awesome. It’s been a great experience,” she said.
His appetite is never-ending, Williams said, describing him as a black hole.
But because of his condition, they have to keep him on a strict diet, as too much weight on his legs could cause issues. This means having to stop him before he manages to get to the chips, the sound of which makes Pickles go crazy.
“Between the wrestling and playing and grooming each other, it’s just been awesome. It’s been a great experience." — Brittany Farrell
The now four-month-old burglar of feline-friendly hearts has grown a lot, according to his last visit to the veterinarian.
And he’s getting a lot of exercise, too, having a particular interest in soccer.
“We call him the Cristiano Ronaldo of Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador,” Farrell says. “Or David Beckham, whichever one you prefer.”
After the couple realized they had so many people interested in updates, they decided to start an @pickles_thewondercat Instagram page. This way, others could also watch the progression of Pickles.
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