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Meredith Holt, Published April 05 2012

Corky the kitten gets new legs in five-hour surgery

CASSELTON, N.D. — After five hours in surgery Thursday, Corky has a new pair of legs.

Thanks to Dr. Dan Burchill of Casselton Veterinary Service, the kitten's formerly twisted hind legs are now facing forward.

"He was very proud of the outcome," Carol Stefonek of CATS Cradle Shelter said of the surgeon.

Stefonek was "awestruck" when she first saw the results on an X-ray. The striking image shows pins and screws holding Corky's back legs into position.

"It's something you don't get to see very often," said Dr. Laurie Bauer, another veterinarian at the clinic.

During surgery, Burchill had to cut Corky's Achilles tendons so his toes would uncurl. "He fully expects those toes to be functional and straighten out," Stefonek said.

Corky's surgery, originally scheduled for 8 a.m., was delayed until the afternoon because of an emergency at the animal hospital.

The long wait was difficult for the volunteers who accompanied the kitty to Casselton. "It was a hard day," Stefonek said.

When Stefonek and fellow CATS Cradle director Gail Ventzke checked in on him Friday afternoon, the 7-month-old cat was awake and alert.

Corky will remain at the clinic at least through the weekend, where he'll receive visitors from the Fargo shelter.

"Everyone's in love with him at the hospital," Ventzke said.

The white-and-tabby cat has a long road ahead of him, but he has the support of the Fargo-Moorhead community — and beyond.

"He's definitely a survivor, and he's got a will to keep on going," Bauer said.

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