— -- He's just 12 weeks old, but Cassidy the kitten has already faced obstacles that should have killed him.
And just this week, he took his first real steps, assisted by his brand-new tiny wheelchair.
Cassidy lost his hind legs at birth. Shelly Roche, founder of TinyKittens, the organization that rescued Cassidy, said they were likely chewed off at birth by his own mother as she tried to de-tangle him from the umbilical cord. TinyKittens rescues cats and kittens and broadcasts them live on the web until they're adopted.
"He was feral and also missing his legs, so the emergency hospital assumed we would want him euthanized," she said. "But he was such a fighter, and I saw he wanted to live. He deserved a chance."
Roche said the kitten was especially enthusiastic about food. "We don't know what he was eating for the first nine weeks of his life [before he was rescued]," she said. "It may have been gravel." Despite all the pain medication and antibiotics, Cassidy was always ready to eat.
Plus, Roche said, "he still had that little something in his eyes. Everything was stacked against him but he still wanted to live."
Once Cassidy was starting to feel better, Roche could see he was "getting frustrated" that he couldn't get around. "After everything he has been through, I wanted to explore every option" to help him, she noted.
Roche said TinyKittens received three tiny wheelchairs for Cassidy -- one from two high school boys with a 3D printer, one from a fan of the live stream, and one from HandicappedPets.com in Canada, which is the one Cassidy uses in the video above.
Right now Cassidy lives with Roche and it's unclear when and if he'll be adopted. Roche said that he'll eventually grow out of the wheelchair and until she knows exactly what Cassidy's needs will be, there's no way to know what kind of situation will be the right fit for him.
"I'm pretty smitten with him myself though," she said.
Roche said there's an important takeaway from Cassidy's story: the importance of spaying and neutering domesticated and feral animals to control the animal population.
"The next kitten in Cassidy's situation might not be so lucky," said Roche.