A few weeks ago, Stephanie Medrano, a parent fosterer for Stray Cat Alliance, was informed about an unusual kitten that was born just a few hours prior. The newborn kitten, unfortunately, was born with a cleft palate and twisted hind legs as he was brought to the vet by his previous owners who were very concerned about his health. Upon closer inspection, the vet suggested euthanasia, as apparently, the little guy had a very slim chance of surviving given the obstacles he was born with.

The previous owners didn’t know how to properly care for a kitten with such conditions, especially after receiving a thorough diagnosis on his health. Nevertheless, they still wanted to help him, as the newborn kitten showed a strong will to live and seemed very eager to eat. That’s when Stephanie was contacted and learned about the little guy’s situation.

Medrano was immediately up for the job as the owners were able to surrender the kitten through a mutual friend, and Stray Cat Alliance (an organization that Stephanie volunteers for) agreed to support the decision as well.

Given the chance, Fashion Life reached out to Stephanie to find out a little bit more about the whole situation.

More info: Instagram | straycatalliance.org

Upon taking the kitten, Stephanie noticed another thing about the little guy’s appearance: the kitten had a face reminiscent of an old person. Therefore, she made a quick decision to call him ‘Grandpa’

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten

First, we wanted to ask Stephanie about her initial reaction upon seeing Grandpa.

“It’s hard to describe how I felt when I first saw Grandpa. I foster day-old kittens all the time but I knew instantly that he was special. His name just came naturally with his little smushed face and calm demeanor.”

Grandpa is growing big and recently he also opened his eyes for the first time therefore we asked his foster mom about his well-being these days.

“Grandpa is still too young to have his cleft palate surgery so he will be tube fed until he is a little older. His legs are already being examined more carefully. His right leg has made a lot of improvement with the constant massages and currently has a small splint on his toes. The left leg on the other hand did not make any further improvement and the vet has determined that his bone is also twisted. The left twisted leg will be left alone for now, further evaluation will be done when he is older.”

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten

We noticed that it said that Grandpa is not up for adoption, therefore we wanted to know if Stephanie gave him a forever home.

“The day I got Grandpa I told myself I would not keep him, 4 weeks later and I can’t imagine giving him up to another family. I know we have a long road ahead and a lot of work to be done. He’s already home!”

Fostering is no easy feat, therefore we wanted to know why did Stephanie agree to foster Grandpa.

“I foster kittens in need. I have fostered kittens with ruptured eyes, broken limbs, and other congenital issues. When I was told he had twisted legs I knew I could help him. I agreed instantly over the phone without any other knowledge of his condition. When I was told he would possibly be euthanized I knew I at least had to try.”

How did you come up with the idea for this Instagram account?

“Grandpa’s Instagram is actually an old account that only had about 800 followers. I rarely used it so 2 days after I got Grandpa I changed the handle, archived all the pictures, and posted a picture I took that night. I never thought he would become so popular. I just wanted to share a few cute pictures.”

“Grandpa was born on 3/20/21. When the owners discovered that his legs were twisted, they decided to take him to a vet who then discovered he had a cleft palate,” Stephanie told Fashion Life

Image credits: imogenthekitten

What is your daily routine when it comes to taking care of the kitten?

“Grandpa’s daily routine has changed as he grows older. When he was under two weeks he needed to be fed every 2 hours around the clock. He aspirated a couple of times so he was also on an antibiotic which he got twice a day. I massaged his legs for a few minutes at every feeding and for longer periods of time in the evening. Now he is fed about every 3-4 hours and his right leg is stretched. His current splint will be taken off in a couple of days and based on progress will continue to wear a splint for an additional week.”

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten

What has been the hardest part so far in the whole fostering process?

“Fostering Grandpa has been difficult for a few reasons. Constant stress and concern for his well-being. Tube feeding a kitten long term comes with many challenges. A kitten cannot tell you when you have not fed enough or when you are feeding too much, as Grandpa gets older it becomes more uncomfortable for him which makes it more difficult to do. Small kittens are very sensitive and can become sick very easily. Massaging his legs is also uncomfortable for him and I worried about his progress and if I was doing enough. Some days he did great with feedings and massages and others not so good. Waking up every few hours to feed him is very tiring as well. I think about him all the time, not only because he’s adorable but because I constantly stress about his health. All totally worth it! I have a support system of friends and family and now his little Instagram family who don’t miss a post!”

How did you start fostering?

“I started caring for stray kittens at a very young age but officially fostered my very first set of bottle baby kittens in 2016 from Stray Cat Alliance.”

“The vets suggested euthanasia because of his slim chance of survival”

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten

“Secondly, with his twisted legs, Grandpa is less likely to maneuver around on his own to find his mom’s nipple”

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten

Image credits: imogenthekitten

“He needs to be tube-fed, which means a feeding tube, because he will aspirate if fed with a bottle and his twisted legs need to be massaged every couple of hours”

Image credits: imogenthekitten

“The twisted leg syndrome is from his tendons being short, which pulls his legs backward. Stretching his legs will help elongate the tendon and as he grows, hopefully, his legs will start to adjust on their own.”

These days, however, Grandpa still spends a lot of his time napping or just eating regularly every few hours with massages and belly rubs in between. And although, Grandpa had a slim chance of survival the dedication and the effort both Stephanie and the little guy put in for the last few weeks seemed to be paying off.

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten

“He will require a cleft palate surgery or multiple, depending on his future needs, and leg splints if his legs need more help later on”

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten

Recently, two days ago, actually, he finally opened his eyes for the first time ever! And funnily enough, the kitten lives up to his name as he just looks ‘so over it’

Image credits: grandpa.the.kitten