A tiny kitten with extra toes was determined to thrive after a rough start to life.
Stella, a polydactyl, was a little fighter from the start. She was born to a rescued cat through an emergency C-section and the only survivor of her litter of six. Her mother was not able to nurse, so Caroline Grace, a bottle kitten foster for Saving One Life (a volunteer-run cat rescue), took her in and started around the clock feedings.
Despite being so tiny and frail, the kitten hung on with all her might and powered through high fevers after days of being on antibiotics and oxygen treatments.
"This girl was truly a miracle fighter baby. She had a difficult entrance into this world. Being a C-section baby, coming from a sick and stressed mom, not getting to nurse or get any colostrum, she had all the odds stacked against her," Caroline shared with Love Meow.
There were multiple times when Caroline didn't know if she would make it, but the little warrior kitty never stopped fighting. After a week of tube-feedings and painstaking care, Stella began to perk up.
At eight days old, she was able to suckle down a whole 5ml syringe of formula on her own. "She is a fighter baby with a fiery spirit and a sweet soul."
Stella is equipped with thumbs and extra digits on her paws. "She has one extra toe on each front foot (that looks like a thumb) and two extra toes on each back foot," Caroline told Love Meow.
The little polydactyl had the cutest habit of sucking her "thumb" when she tried to groom her mittens.
Over the next several weeks, Caroline continued feeding Stella every two hours around the clock. "Most kittens at this age are able to go four hours between feedings. I didn't mind giving her extra love and support to get her healthy and strong."
Stella grew a healthy, round belly that she proudly displayed by rolling on her back while waving her paws in the air. She was a little smaller than she should be for her age, but the sweet tabby let nothing slow her down.
"The first moment when I was able to truly exhale and knew she was going to be alright was when she was weaned at five weeks. Suddenly, she became a voracious eater and started putting on more weight," Caroline told Love Meow.
"Her eyes didn't even start to open until 13 days old and weren't fully open until 15 days old. She is just a late bloomer who takes her time."
As soon as Stella figured out her leg muscles, she took her first steps outside her nest.
The kitten's personality emerged when she started using the litter box, playing with toys, and trying to climb whatever she could lay her paws on.
Watch Stella's journey in this cute video:
Stella the kitten with extra toes - foster journey www.youtube.com
"When she was not playing or eating, she was a total snuggler and just wanted to be with us at all times. She went from my fragile little bottle baby to a strong and playful kitten."
She used her new-found strength to scamper around her room, jumping, climbing and chasing invisible bugs. Her energy level soared and no toys could escape the keen eyes of little Stella.
After a big meal, the sweet polydactyl would curl up in her foster mom's arms and just wanted to be loved.
"Stella's personality was so sweet and needy for attention. She loved to be held and cuddled up on my shoulder," Caroline shared with Love Meow.
"She was also super brave and curious and loved exploring new toys, places and people. She had a quirky personality that made everyone laugh and the softest voice when she would meow or purr."
After 10 weeks in foster care, little Stella blossomed into a happy, rambunctious kitty. She graduated from her foster home a few days ago and was spayed and adopted by a wonderful family.
"Stella had a rough start to life and fought through illness, difficulty eating and developmental delays to grow into the strong, healthy, sweet, silly and independent girl she is today," Caroline said.
"I am so incredibly proud of her and so grateful for everything she's taught me."
"It was definitely the hardest goodbye I've had to say, but it made me so happy to see her new forever mom so excited and in love with Stella. I know she will have an amazing long life full of joy and love."
Share this story with your friends. Follow Caroline's foster kitties on Instagram @babykittensfoster.