Foster Kitten with a Spinal Fracture Beats the Odds

Taking a chance on Milo gave Ellie a new sense of purpose.

Ellie + Milo

As a kitten, Milo’s prognosis was grim. Luckily, Ellie was able to help give Milo the second chance he deserved — and was inspired to help other kittens, too.

"I now look back and know that what Milo and I went through has given me the confidence and strength to offer that same gift of unconditional and unwavering advocacy to so many more kittens that came after him."

Adopted Cat Milo

Milo was a foster kitten who entered our local shelter at a few days old. I bottle fed him until 3 weeks of age when we realized he couldn’t use his hind legs. The shelter advised euthanasia but with the help of our local rescue, Yolo County SPCA, we had Milo evaluated by a neurologist. We were able to determine that Milo had a fracture in his spine due to bacterial pneumonia. While a very difficult diagnosis to come to, the treatment was actually fairly simple.

Adopted Cat Milo

Milo made a full recovery from a pathological spinal fracture and has since inspired me to foster over a hundred other critically injured or ill kittens. I am now employed by the neurologist who saw him, and we run a clinical trial on ocular disease in shelter kittens at the University of California Davis. We have rescued 160 sick kittens from the surrounding area. I would never have met the neurologist had it not been for Milo. I am also now the Feline Director for the Yolo County SPCA — Milo’s rescue organization. Now I work every day to save kittens just like Milo.

Adopted Cat Milo

Milo never knew that he was “critical” or “unviable.” All he knew how to do was love, and eat, and play without limitation. He is a wonderfully compassionate and kind “foster dad” to all of our babies. He takes his job as their mentor very seriously, ensuring that every baby that comes through our home is thoroughly groomed and trained in the art of ball towers. He is also harness trained and comes to donor meetings and events with me to share his story. Milo’s recovery touches the hearts of everyone he meets, and he is a shining example of how fosters, rescues, shelters, and adopters work together to save lives.

Adopted Cat Milo

At the time, I could not understand why we were going through the trauma of Milo’s spinal fracture. Every day felt exhausting trying to get this spunky little kitten to take his medications and to sit still and abide by his cage rest regimen. It was miserable for both of us. I now look back and know that what Milo and I went through has given me the confidence and strength to offer that same gift of unconditional and unwavering advocacy to so many more kittens that came after him. We raised $9,000 for my foster kitten Will to receive treatment for his heart defect last spring. He was featured in the news and across the country. Will, another kitten deemed “unviable,” has almost completely grown out of his heart defect and is loving the adopted life with his new family. Another kitten, Levi, made a full recovery from severe kidney stones. And yet another, Phoenix, bounced back after the worst flea anemia I’ve ever seen because we pushed for a blood transfusion for her. Milo’s legacy is in each of these stories. The love he shows me every day reminds me of what can happen when we say “yes” to those everyone else has said “no” to.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Ellie won Yolo County SPCA in Davis, California a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.