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Meredith Holt, Published April 04 2012

A bigger purr-pose: Online donors give Fargo kitten with twisted legs a chance to walk (with video)

How to help

To make a donation, send a check made out to CATS Cradle Shelter at 9 9th St. S., Fargo, ND 58103. Donations can also be made at www.catscradleshelter.org or on the shelter’s Facebook page.

FARGO – A call from the Moorhead pound alerted CATS Cradle Shelter to a new arrival who had to be seen to be believed.

Shelter directors Carol Stefonek and Gail Ventzke were stunned when they first laid eyes on Corky, a 7-month-old kitten whose hind legs are backward and crisscrossed.

“We knew he was ours the minute we saw him,” Stefonek said.

Due to a rare congenital disorder, Corky can’t run, jump or climb. He drags his twisted legs behind him to get around. Otherwise he behaves like a normal kitten.

He bats at dangling strings, he enjoys a good scratch under the chin, and his yellow eyes widen as they follow the cursor on the shelter’s computer monitor.

Corky, named for his corkscrew limbs, has received an outpouring of support from around the world since his story first hit the Internet. “It’s so overwhelming,” Stefonek said.

Facebook users are changing their profile pictures to Corky’s as a show of support, and the shelter’s page has received about 300 new fans since word of his condition spread.

As soon as she learned Corky had a chance to walk, Ventzke posted a widget online asking for help. “Within 36 hours, we had enough money to pay for the surgery itself,” she said.

Donations to help the laidback cat have come from California to New York, and from as far away as Portugal, Germany and Australia. Stefonek has six notebook pages filled with donors’ names.

As of Wednesday, the Legs for Corky fund had raised $4,700. Excess funds will help other special-needs cats and kittens at the shelter.

Corky’s surgery is scheduled this morning in Casselton. Stainless-steel pins and screws will lock his legs into a forward position, but he’ll have to learn how to walk, Stefonek said.

Since he has feeling in his legs and feet, he will be able to learn how to walk. “If he had been paralyzed, the only option would have been to amputate,” Ventzke said.

Depending on how the surgery goes, the kitten will remain hospitalized for a few days, but he’ll need post-operative care and possibly a second surgery.

Though Corky’s future hasn’t been decided, the CATS Cradle volunteers are considering certifying him as a therapy pet. “He’s got a bigger purpose,” Ventzke said.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590