Leg Surgery at UF Small Animal Veterinary Hospital

  • Breed: Tuxedo
  • Name: Esmeralda
  • Color: White
  • Size: Small
  • Sex: Female
  • Age: Baby

Esmeralda, our blind gypsy princess kitten has an open window to fix her deformed legs. The shortened tendon and soft tissue issue with her legs can be fixed with a minimal invasive surgery but we need to act fast. The surgery needs to be performed before her growth plates complete closing and her bones are in their final position. We have already spent $1,700 for her spay, to remove both eyes, and initial visit at UF.

A volunteer for Candy's Cats received a call from her mother's care home -- a mama cat and her kittens had moved into the backyard. Due to a warm winter, 2017 produced a bumper crop of kittens, and the rescue was overflowing, but our volunteer went to investigate anyway. She discovered that there were three kittens, Esmeralda and her brothers, Clopin and Phoebus. The kittens were immediately caught and taken to our founder, Candy, for evaluation

The boys were normal feisty 4-week-old kittens, but Esmeralda was blind and had deformed back legs. Candy knew we couldn't turn our backs on them, so calls were made, fosters were shuffled, and room was found for Esmeralda and her brothers (Mama, who had also been trapped, was spayed and returned to her colony). Very early on, we realized that Esmeralda doesn't know she has any disabilities. She is a loving, energetic, happy kitten who knows no limitations. She torments her brothers, chases balls, wrestles with toys and loves to climb. She embraces her life and gets the most out of every day. As one of our vets said, "She is a little gypsy princess, and as everyone knows, gypsy princesses have magic". He was so right. Everyone who meets her is seduced with her magical charms -- and big purr-sonality.

Now that you know her, this is where Esmeralda needs your help. When Esmeralda was about 7 weeks old, we noticed that her eyes were enlarging slightly. A trip to a veterinary ophthalmologist revealed she had Congenital Glaucoma, and the only treatment available was surgical removal of the eyes. On July 19th she had a visit with the orthopedic specialists at the University of Florida's Veterinary Hospital.They confirmed what our other veterinarians suspected. Esmeralda had been positioned badly in the womb, creating what we affectionately call her "pretzel legs" and is technically known as Contracture- Flexor Tendon, Subluxation-Intertarsa.

X-rays revealed an optimistic prognosis. What was originally feared to be bone deformity, and would have required multiple invasive surgeries, was in actuality a shortened tendon and soft tissue problem. Her bones are perfect. Although not without risks, the surgery to correct her condition is minimally invasive, but we have a very small window of opportunity. The surgery needs to be performed before her growth plates complete closing and her bones are in their final position. You may ask, if she's so happy and doing so well, why risk leg surgery?

This is the dilemma. To do nothing holds great risks too. The leg bones she currently walks on aren't designed for that type of wear and tear. As she matures, the added weight can cause permanent bone damage, creating chronic pain for her. Calluses have already started to form, because leg skin is thin and not for walking on either. The possibility of developing sores that won't heal is high, and those sores could lead to possible sepsis. Surgery offers her the best hope of a normal, pain-free life, and we want to give her that chance. To prepare her for the leg surgery, she was spayed, and had her eye removal last week. Her recovery is going great, and she in on schedule to be ready for her next surgery in mid-August.

The financial impact for Esmeralda's care has already begun, so we ask you to please consider donating towards her surgeries and rehabilitation. We have already spent $1,700 on Esme for her spay, to remove both eyes and initial visit at UF. Any donations received that exceed the costs for Esmeralda's medical care will go to help the other Candy's Cats kitties. From Esmeralda to you, purrs and hugs for your love and help.


  • Esmeralda had her recent follow-up with Dr. Johnson at UF this past week and he is so delighted with her outcome to date. There are still a few things we have to watch for, but she has been officially released to local veterinary care. We're so delighted for her and truly thankful to each of you who made her life possible. She's such a happy, high energy little girl.

    Have a wonderful holiday season, knowing that you did something to make a difference for this little girl.

    Thank you so much.

    December 18, 2017

  • Hi Everybody!
    Sorry it's been a few weeks since I checked in last but what a crazy few weeks it's been. We've got a lot of catching up to do! The leg wraps/casts I had on were working out pretty well at stretching my muscles and I was walking around on my tiptoes. But unfortunately, they were also a little rough on my feet. The Friday after hurricane Irma my casts were being changed and I had some pretty nasty sores on my feet.  My doctor decided I needed a break, so I spent the weekend without the casts. It was pretty frustrating because I wasn't able to walk and my feet were swollen, but I was spoiled with care and was better by Sunday night.

    I got new casts the following morning. Then two days later I wasn't feeling well and began running a fever. My foster mom was pretty scared and got me to the vet ASAP. The doctor changed one of my casts, gave me some fluids and started me on antibiotics. By Friday I was feeling better but it was decided to give me another break from those crazy casts.

    That night I said to myself, this is getting old- I'm tired of all this flopping around and not being able to walk. So Saturday, Sept 23rd, while foster mom was away at an adoption event, I spent all day practicing and when she got home I showed her my new trick. I was walking – no help, no casts – all upright and on my paws like all the other kitties do. It's a pretty cool thing and there is no stopping me now! Foster mom was in tears of joy and kept taking lots of video and pictures.

    Monday, Sept 25th, my doctors were stunned and so excited for me. They kept shaking their heads in disbelief saying, “She's walking… She's really walking!” I know I was in really rough shape but I think I showed them that giving me a chance wasn't a waste of time!

    The next two weeks I kept practicing before seeing the surgeon at the University of Florida so I could show him what a great job he did! Finally, the day came, Oct 10th, and we drove up to Gainesville. Have I mentioned how I love my chauffer team for all the Gainesville visits? Foster Mom drives, another lady navigates and takes video and photos of me and the Doctors for Miss Candy, and the lady who found me holds me in her lap. Purrrrrr......

    So when we get there everyone is so happy and amazed! The UF vet team loved seeing me strut my stuff! My left foot is still a little wobbly but it will get better. They are very happy with my progress! I go back in 2 months for another checkup. Until then I just have to keep up with walking, physical therapy, and growing to strengthen my muscles.

    Thank you all for caring and for sharing my journey. 

    Purrs & Hugs,

    October 12, 2017

  • Hi Everybody!

    It's Week Two and what a week it's been. My doctor was a little bit concerned with the stability of one of my legs, so he gave stilettos! They were a little bit to get used to, but I've got it all worked out now. I'm on the move and letting nothing get in my way. We have another evaluation on Thursday. I'm feeling great, and confident that everything is going to be purr-fect!

    Thank you for caring and for sharing my journey.

    Purrs & Hugs


    August 30, 2017

  • August 18, 2017

  • Little Princess is happy to be home. She had a nice dinner. I thought she would then settle in for a nice long nap.


    She wants to play <give me strength> I sat in the playpen with her for a little bit. She purred for a while and then proceeded to attack my knees. Funny girl. I'd taken all the toys thinking that would help keep her quiet. Ha! She attacked the litter box.

    The photo attached are her Gator wraps. Thank you.

    August 17, 2017

  • CCI Esmeralda update....

    She's recovering well from surgery but needs to stay the night in Gainesville, just to make sure the splits and wraps stay in place. During this little 10 minute visit she purred the whole time in her foster mom's lap.

    We'll be back to get her tomorrow afternoon.

    Thank you so much Dr Johnson and UF Small Animal Hospital!!


    Adoption makes life sweeter!

    August 15, 2017

  • CCI Big Day for Esmeralda!!

    We're at University of Florida today for her first surgery to repair her rear legs.

    Many purrs of Thanks for all of your support.

    August 15, 2017

  • Esmeralda's surgery is this Tuesday and we are still in need of funds. Any help you can give us is appreciated.

    August 13, 2017