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He “fell off a fence and needs lots of rest.” That’s what the first owners of Orlando the Ragdoll cat said in a Gumtree ad in Australia. They were looking for someone else to take in Orlando, who they said had special needs. Fortunately, a rescue stepped in to help this injured feline, and he ended up with a huge fan club in his corner. Best Friends Felines, a cat rescue in Brisbane, collected Orlando and brought him in for tests. X-rays showed he didn’t have any fractured bones after his apparent fall, but malnourishment meant his bones were fragile and undeveloped. He had eaten only chicken hearts and chicken giblets, which lacked essential nutrients kittens need to help them grow. Though he was 8- to 9-months-old, he looked more like a 3- to 4-month-old. He weighed about 3.5 pounds.
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The crew got to work, syringe feeding him four times a day because he was too weak to eat for himself. Throughout the first week, he graduated to nibbling on a few pieces of kibble and then was able to get into a sitting position to lick a spoon of food.
Soon after, the rescue told its Facebook followers, “It’s been just over a week since this little man came into care, and it’s pretty safe to say that everyone who reads his story, or meets him, instantly falls in love with him.
His carer calls him her little ‘angel baby,’ as he’s completely angelic and an absolute little sweetheart.”
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He really did inspire lots of love, even in people who hadn’t met him. Fans on the internet wanted to help this kitten thrive and recover from his rough early start. One Facebook follower made two cat beds for him, driving more than an hour to drop them off. Another saved up for several weeks to buy some cat necessities for him and took a train to deliver them.
These kind gestures helped him as he went through physical therapy to build up his leg strength. It was tricky, as his bones were so weak, his caretakers had to make sure he didn’t fracture them.
The shelter said, “We have to be quite careful not to let him get too stimulated as we need to keep his movement to a minimum until his bones are stronger. This means he is confined to a play pen in a quiet part of the house so he can mainly sleep and rest.
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“His carer said, ‘Although I know it’s what he needs, I can see that he is getting frustrated as he just doesn’t understand! He’s a kitten who wants to play and move around like normal kittens, and he can’t – it breaks my heart. I visit him constantly, and each time he sees me his face lights up and that gorgeous purr starts.’”
The rescue continued to care for him, unsure if he would ever have proper bone strength or if he would remain fragile. It seemed unlikely at the time that he would heal up and be able to move like a healthy cat. They hoped for the best, though, and tried not to dwell on any less-than-great possibilities.
The positivity, care, and love seemed to work because several months later, he was running around like any typical mischievous adult cat. As he waited for a forever home, a foster family took him in. When Orlando got along well with their other cats and fit into their home so perfectly, they figured he wasn’t going anywhere and made him a permanent family member.
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An update several months later from the Hobson family had this to say:
“Once Orlando had been accepted by our cats he was free to explore the whole house, that’s when I went full helicopter mum. I wanted Orlando to have the same experiences as our other cats, to be able to get up onto a bed and to also have access to the cat tree. I knew then that we needed to ‘Orlando’ proof our home.
“Orlando had won over his fur sisters, and had his two teenage human sisters wrapped around his little paws. Our family made it official and Orlando was here to stay!
“It’s easy to forget Orlando’s rough start to life, especially when he’s running through the house or playing with another cat. I admit that at times I get smother mother with Orlando, but I remind myself that he’s a young male cat and he knows his limits.
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“Orlando’s favourite thing to do is play with his fur sisters, get into cupboards or the empty washing baskets, bird watching, interactive cat toys and eating. He is no longer frightened by the vacuum cleaner and in fact I have to vacuum around him while he just lays there.”
“When Orlando takes a nap he likes to be touching a human, and at night he will take turns on which teenagers bed he will sleep on. We all love when Orlando flops onto his back to receive belly rubs and when he greets us at the door when we come home.”
They added that they love him to pieces and couldn’t imagine their home without him.
The rescue says Orlando recently turned 2-years-old, and he’s certainly living out a happy ending.
To see intermittent updates, you can follow Best Friends Felines on Facebook and Instagram.