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Found abandoned on a hiking trail, this sweet kitty with a rare genetic disease has turned out to be quite the stress-buster.
Working from home is a dream for many. Free from office politics, you’re unencumbered by dress codes. You can eat smelly food at your desk or listen to the radio while you work. It’s total freedom — but it can also be totally isolating. Aldo Rodriguez of Las Vegas knows how quiet coffee breaks can be when you’ve got no one to share them with — but thanks to one lucky little cat, Aldo’s no longer feeling alone.
It all started on Superbowl Sunday, when Aldo and his partner Alicia Labani decided to go hiking in Red Rock Canyon, about a half an hour outside Las Vegas. While coming down the trail, the couple spotted a group of people — a family — all bunched together, looking at something on the ground.
“We thought maybe there was like a rattlesnake or something,” Aldo tells Lucky Puppy.
As the pair approached the group, they realized these people were not looking at snake, but at a fluffy, tiny cat. One of the women turned to Aldo and Alicia as they passed by and asked them if they had left a cat on the trail.
“We said no, and as we kept walking they were like, ‘it doesn’t have a leg,’” Aldo remembers.
He recalls turning to see a cat who was too weak to walk or crawl. Aldo says he asked the people holding the cat if they were going to take the animal to a no-kill shelter, and was told that they weren’t. The family who’d found the kitty stated they planned to leave him right where they’d found him — on that hot, dusty trail in Red Rock Canyon. In that moment, Aldo and Alicia made a decision that would change their lives.
“We said we weren’t going to allow that, and we ended up bringing him home,” says Aldo.
When they took the cat from the people who’d found him, Aldo and Alicia got a good look at the kitty for the first time. He looked to be a flamepoint Siamese with beautiful blue eyes. His face was adorable, but somehow different from other cats. He seemed grateful to be in kind hands, but they could see he was sick. As they took the cat home to their previously pet-less apartment, the couple wondered how someone could just leave him to die in the desert.
“We almost didn’t think he would make it that first day,” Alicia remembers.
Thanks to 12 hours of constant care, the cat make it through the night, earning his name — Trident — and an appointment at the vet.
According to Aldo, the first doctor to see Trident didn’t think much of him. Trident was unable to move very far on his own, and the vet told the couple there was nothing they could do for a cat who was obviously born deformed. Unsatisfied with that explanation, Also and Alicia carted their tiny kitty to another doctor who was more empathic.
Unfortunately, the new vet didn’t have great news for the couple. Not only is Trident missing a shoulder and a leg, but the majority of the vertebrae in his spine are fused together. X-rays revealed he also has hip dysplasia, which causes one of his hind legs to face outward.
The vet couldn’t even estimate Trident’s age with any degree of certainty. An age estimate is usually based on teeth, but Trident was missing some of his, and the others were covered in plaque and gingivitis. The vet told Alicia and Aldo that Trident could be anywhere from 6 months to 4 years old, and the bad news didn’t stop there.
“He’s missing bones from his neck, his skull is enlarged, he’s got scoliosis, his legs aren’t straight — it goes on and on,” explains Aldo, who had fully fallen in love with Trident by the time the medical diagnoses started rolling in. He says despite the mounting vet bills, the couple have never regret the choice they made on the trail that day.
“We always say we’re glad that it was us who found him.”
His final diagnosis has not yet been confirmed, but many of Trident’s issues are also found in animals with a rare genetic disease called mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS). His new family is waiting to for further testing to confirm this diagnosis, and have launched social media accounts for Trident in the hopes of educating the public about the disease.
“The sad thing is, you can call 100 vets and maybe two have heard about that disease in a cat,” says Aldo.
He wants people to understand the disease and hopes that if some insist on breeding their cats, that they will at least test for MPS. No one knows how Trident came to be in the world, but it’s completely possible that he is the product of breeding gone wrong.
Despite Trident’s challenges, his humans say the joy he brings far outweighs the negative aspects of caring for a cat who can’t always hold himself up in the litter box.
“Every day he does something new to amaze us, something that makes us laugh,” says Aldo. “It’s almost like maybe he has filled a void that we didn’t know we had before.”
Trident has certainly changed how Aldo takes his coffee breaks. Instead of spending solitary time with the job on his mind, Aldo can resume work refreshed after a moment with Trident. The cat’s company makes working from home feel a bit more social.
“I’ll take a little break and play with him for 15 or 20 minutes,” says Aldo, who agrees when Alicia says she’s shocked by all the attention their little stress-buster is receiving on social media. When the workday is done, the couple like to unwind by checking the flood of messages Trident gets throughout the day.
“We didn’t expect that at all,” Alicia says. “It’s a good feeling to have to know that people out there care about him, especially when he was abandoned.”
Heather is a wife, new mom, and former TV journalist in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. You can follow Heather on Twitter and Google+.
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