The Park County Animal Shelter in Cody sent out an urgent Valentine’s Day message to its social media followers about a kitten that had been found in a yard near Burlington in desperate need of medical attention.
“This is Popsicle,” the post says. “She came to us in rough shape. Her bottom lip detached from her jaw, all of her toes along with both of her ears and most of her tail are dead from frostbite.”
Shelter staff speculated that the tiny kitten had been hit by a car and then couldn’t get out of the elements during January’s historic deadly cold snap across Wyoming.
“Some folks had found her in their front yard when it was, like, minus 30 out and they took her in,” said Jessy Farnworth with the Park County Animal Shelter (PCAS). “They tried to see what they could do for her and found out that her frostbite injuries were more than what they could handle. And so they brought her here to us.”
After getting urgent care from the staff veterinarian at the shelter, the 5-month-old kitty they named Popsicle showed everyone just how much of a fighter she is through her strong will to live.
“She wanted to live, so we gave her the opportunity, and she rolled with it,” said Farnworth, who has fostered Popsicle over the past couple months.
Donations Poured In
The shelter asked for donations to cover the costs of the surgeries that saved Popsicle’s life, and there were many: toe amputations on all four feet, ear amputations, partial tail amputation and surgery to reattach the kitten’s bottom lip to her jaw.
The community came through, and then some, Farnworth said. More than $6,300 was raised, enough to pay for the surgeries, and then some.
“It kind of made us cry a little bit, because we were able to see the updates on how much we’d gotten in the donations, and it was just overwhelming,” said Farnworth. “She is fully paid for with everything – the medical care, the cart and … if she needs any extra improvements with her stuff until she goes to a new home, we’re able to cover it.”
And in the month since her surgeries, Popsicle has adapted well.
“She has just been tootling around without any covers or anything on her feet, as long as it’s on a soft surface,” said Farnworth.
@pcascody Show Popsicle some love! #animalshelter #catsoftiktok #nokillnation #codywyoming #specialneedscat #specialneedspets #shelterpetsoftiktok ♬ original sound – Park County Animal Shelter
The little fighter also has become a social media star. In just over a month, nearly 12,000 people have seen her story on Facebook, and TikTok videos of Popsicle’s progress have so far registered more than 89,000 views.
“She’s TikTok famous, which just cracks us up, because we love seeing her videos,” said Farnworth, adding that the little feline is famous locally as well.
“I’ll take her with me when I go into Walmart and the cashiers are like, ‘Where’s Popsicle?’” said Farnworth, who carries the kitten in a front pack when she goes out. “I had to go in one day and I got chastised for going in there without her.”
Popsicle On Wheels
Without her tail for balance and missing toes from all four feet, Popsicle’s mobility has been compromised.
But she may be able to get around easier in the near future with the air of an all-terrain cart that will hold up her body, but allow her to move around freely. The shelter contacted an organization called “K9 Carts,” which built a walker of sorts, with spaces for all four of Popsicle’s limbs to fit through.
“They made it to where it will grow with her – it can get taller, and it also can get wider, so that it accommodates her size,” said Farnworth. “And it’ll be great for later on to relieve stress off of her stumps, and kind of help keep her back straight and just overall give her some relief.”
Farnworth said it is unusual to have an animal with such severe injuries land on the local shelter’s doorstep. That’s because most hurt that badly don’t survive.
“We’ve had cats come in with missing one leg before,” she said. “Deformities in the legs, we’ve had a few of those – but nothing as extreme as her, because a lot of the animals, for as extreme as her injuries were, they usually give up. And she pushed through.”
Farnworth said PCAS deals with cases of neglect and abuse from time to time, although rarely is it an extreme situation. But shelter staff do their best to make the animals feel safe and comfortable.
“You do have harsh feelings when you first see the animals. It’s natural,” said Farnworth. “But you just know that you can’t be mad at the whole situation, because if you’re mad all the time, the animals are going to pick up on it, and it just makes it worse.
“So, you just have to say, ‘Alright, here we go, we’re gonna start anew and give them the stuff that they need.’”
In situations where people find themselves unable to properly care for a pet, Farnworth explained that PCAS has a “Home To Home” program that could address the issue.
“There’s no money exchanged between parties, and it keeps the animals out of the shelter,” she said, which can be stressful for them. “And the people that look on that (website) are the ones that are really good people, looking to help out.”
Farnworth explained that the Home to Home program is free for guardians and adopters, and gives animals needing a new home the best of both worlds: their current guardian can find the best fit, and their adopter can learn all about their personality and preferences first-hand.
‘Puddle of Love’
For little Popsicle, the jump from shelter to permanent home came quickly.
“One of our coworkers here had told her aunt (in Dubois) that we had sweet Popsicle and told her about the disabilities and everything,” said Farnworth. “And she goes, ‘Well, that’s my cat. I want her.’ She’s going to be living at a lodge, and she’s got older animals and carpeted floors, and no kids. This cat basically is going to be her baby.”
But Farnworth admitted that she’ll miss the tiny kitten with a big heart that has quickly become part of her own family.
“She’s a great, sweet puddle of love,” she said.