For any animal shelter, the arrival of a new litter of kitten is a frequent occurrence. However, the 3-week-old litter that came through the doors on this particular day brought with it a serious challenge. One of the kittens, a black tuxedo, weighed only four ounces, which is what a newborn kitten weighs. It was so small and underweight that it could fit in a pho spoon.
Unfortunately, the kitten’s issues went beyond his extremely small size, so the shelter transferred him to the NOVA Cat Clinic in Arlington, Virginia, to be cared for by licensed veterinary technician, Ellen Carozza. During the kitten’s first medical exam, the veterinarian found that the little guy was losing some of his fur and had a heart murmur.
But the small kitten, named Francis, didn’t let his size or his medical issues hold him back. He was a champion eater from the start and would purr loudly and happily. Carozza had to bottle-feed Francis around the clock, and when Francis wasn’t eating, he was cuddled up with her or traveling around in her pocket.
Carozza’s cat, Benny, took a liking to little Francis and became his mentor. Benny would frequently groom Francis and was by the tiny feline’s side as Francis learned how to eat solid food and use the litter box.
With Carozza’s care, Francis grew quickly and became healthier. “After speaking to several specialists, he is not hypothyroid due to confirmed additional tests but may have a growth hormone deficiency,” Carozza explained. “He has multiple issues we are working on, not just him being small.”
When Francis survived to be 6 weeks old, it was cause for celebration. Even though he was still small for his age, he was happy and doing well. “The weekly weigh-in at 0.755 pounds…most of it is belly,” Carozza said.
Hundreds of adoption requests poured in to NOVA, but Carozza found the perfect home for Francis with a relative. She made the right choice because Francis has since grown up to be a full-sized, gorgeous adult cat with the cutest mustache.
“Patience, perseverance and patient advocacy saved his life,” Carozza said. “Never give up on your most difficult cases, someone is out there to help you.” Through NOVA and Carozza’s care, Francis received the help that he needed. Now he is living the best cat life. Check out the video below of his journey from tiny kitten to beautiful adult.