Ellen Richter from Las Vegas received a call about a kitten who had been dropped off at a local pet supply store.
When she got there, she realized something was not right with her legs.
The kitten was brought to the store as a stray seven weeks ago. Employees reached out to Hearts Alive Village, a rescue in Las Vegas, for help.
"The kitten was extremely dehydrated, much smaller than normal," Ellen told Love Meow. "They came from the backroom with a shallow box, full of twigs and leaves. I saw a kitten's head pop up, thinking she would jump, but she just laid there."
Ellen suspected heat stroke as the temperature was 105 degrees (40.5 C) that day in Las Vegas. She tried to cool her down with wet towels in the bathroom and help her drink water.
"She just laid on her side, hissing and swatting at me."
The kitten was terrified and wanted to run away but couldn't. "I raced home, trying to keep her cool. Once I was able to move her out of the carrier on the floor of my room, she didn't move," Ellen said.
When the kitten began to crawl away on her elbows, Ellen knew something was wrong. "I tried to stand her up on her legs, holding underneath, she went limp, letting out cries."
Ellen immediately rushed her to the vet where they decided to keep her overnight to evaluate her condition. "I left not knowing if I'd see her again, I cried all the way home," Ellen said.
She called a few hours later, expecting to hear the worst. Turned out, the kitten didn't have a broken bone. No one knew what happened to her, but they were going to try everything to save her. They gave her some medication, lots of good food and plenty of rest. (Scroll down for video)
The next day, Ellen received good news. "She was standing. The staff was carrying her around in their uniform pockets," Ellen told Love Meow. "I never imagined this outcome. She was eating, drinking and going to the bathroom just fine."
Overnight, the hissy, semi-feral kitten (whom they named Tiny) had turned into a friendly, purring kitty who loved people and wanted to be held. "When I went to pick her up, the vet tech came into the room, out of her pocket came Tiny. She was purring, standing with help, and loved being petted."
Over the next few weeks, Ellen began to help Tiny learn to stand for balance and slowly guide her to use her legs through physical therapy and massages.
At the beginning, Tiny still couldn't walk. Every hour, Ellen helped her to stand for a few seconds to build muscle strength in her legs.
"I'd massage her legs, and her paws would make biscuits in the air. I'd help her try to walk, holding her underneath her belly. She was the sweetest kitten, just wanting to be next to me," Ellen told Love Meow.
When Tiny stopped eating, Ellen would syringe-feed her. "She would only eat with me next to her the first few days, so I hovered next to her. If I moved away, she'd want to be next to me, so back to hovering."
As Tiny got stronger each day, she became more mobile and adventurous.
Watch Tiny's rescue journey in this video:
"After about a week, I opened the door in the morning, and she was walking towards me. I couldn't believe it! I called the vet and told them she was walking. They all cheered in the background."
By two weeks, Tiny was jumping on the bathroom countertop with her new-found energy.
"The vet said we'll never know what happened, only Tiny will know. I do think she crawled into bushes to avoid the heat and seek safety, that is why I think there were leaves, twigs in the box. A Good Samaritan probably reached into bushes, grabbed her, and got her help," Ellen told Love Meow.
"Tiny continued exercises and getting stronger, I introduced toys which she wasn't sure what to do with. I literally just kept walking around the room and she'd follow me."
After recovering from her spay surgery and her legs getting stronger than ever, she showed more interest in various toys.
"She loved a wand toy with feathers. It's like a fishing pole, she loves to chase and attack the toy. She'll even trap it in her paws, bite it and try to run away with it. Now she loves all toys."
"Tiny has turned into a 'miracle kitten' in the seven weeks I've had her. I remember that first day like it was yesterday, so full of emotion and uncertainty about the fate of Tiny," Ellen told Love Meow.
"So many possible outcomes for the worst, yet the best outcome prevailed. I can't even imagine we'd be at this point, her getting ready to be up for adoption."
A few weeks old, Tiny could barely move her legs, but now she can jump, run and play just like any other kitty. She loves to follow her human around the house and doesn't want to be alone any more.