At just a week old, the kitten now known as Count William von Tippleover was taken to a vet in Halifax to be put to sleep because his head was tilting to one side.
Instead, the vet called Yorkshire Cat Rescue – a charity known to rescue and rehabilitate cats and kittens with special needs. Staff immediately came to collect him, and took him to one of the charity’s most experienced foster homes.
Barbara Brotherton who lives in Dewsbury has been fostering cats and kittens for Yorkshire Cat Rescue for many years.
She says: “This little kitten was only tiny when he arrived so I settled in for the long and exhausting process of hand-rearing him, which included night and day feeds every two hours. As I sat with him in the middle of the night, worried he might not make it but determined to try, I found myself calling him ‘Little Prince’ and King of everything. If he was going to die, at least he should go out with a fabulous name. One of my fellow fosterers suggested Count William von Tippleover for this little wobbler, and so it was.”
Luckily, Count William’s problem was one that could improve as he develops. His growing brain and legs finding ways to compensate for his born wobbliness.
As he began to gain strength and become more mobile, Barbara began doing a series of daily physio exercises with him, and her husband made him a little head collar out of a toilet roll and some cotton wool to help stabilise him.
Barbara says: “This little boy is a real fighter and a huge character. He has come so far already and now I am confident that he will make it. He will always be a bit wobbly and lopsided but it’s nothing that will stop him from living a full and mischievous life.”
Sara Atkinson, founder of Yorkshire Cat Rescue commented: “Just because a kitten looks a bit different, it doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve the same chance of life as everyone else. It is sad that little William wasn’t allowed to stay with his mum for those important early weeks, but Barbara did an amazing job in her place. It now looks certain that he’s going to make it, but we still need to see how well he copes with everyday life before we can start looking for the right sort of home for him.”
Barbara says she has seen an 80% improvement in Count William’s condition since he first arrived. She comments: “He now walks perfectly in a straight line but when he tries to turn, things go a little pear-shaped and he falls over. But with practice, he’ll soon get the hang of changing direction. Until then, it is mostly full steam ahead for this remarkable little kitten. He doesn’t know that he is different to the others. But he does have the attitude of someone who knows he is a bit special.”
Count William von Tippleover, whose current best friend is a large hairy German Shepherd, will stay with Barbara until he is 10 weeks old and old enough to be neutered. He will then be put up for adoption with someone who sees just how special he is.