“I saved a kitten from a cactus patch and nursed him back to health!” says Cactus Jack’s rescuer, Reddit user whereitsbeautiful, who adopted him and helped him recover from the effects of his ordeal. Jack was rescued in June and has come a long way since then.
The kitten would have died if I left it in the mother’s care. Simple as that. He was possibly hours away from death at the time we actually pulled him from the cactus due to infection alone. He was not able to nurse from the mother because his mouth was full of cactus needles.
The cactus patch is huge, but all of the cacti have very tiny needles. There is very little room for kittens to crawl around underneath. It was impossible for us to reach in without tearing ourselves up on the needles. On top of that, the mother cat would attack us if we got close. So basically, he was crawling around under the cactus just gathering needles for the first 3 weeks of his life.
The night we finally got him out, he was blindly dragging himself along the top of a cactus looking for his mom. He was covered in abscesses, fleas, and thousands of cactus needles. We took him to the emergency vet and they kept him overnight to give him antibiotics and to try to clean him up a bit.
I had my friend’s mother keep an eye on [the mother] (mostly because she was still nursing and sometimes the milk can harden if there are no kittens to nurse, which can be fatal). She didn’t seem to mourn the loss of the kittens. She was very young herself, so I don’t think she was quite prepared to be a mom.
We had no pictures of him before we took him to the emergency vet because we were sure they’d have to put him to sleep. The next morning we picked him up and he looked 100% better than he did before. We call him Cactus Jack!
His eyes and nose were completely swollen and crusted shut, and he still had hundreds of cactus needles all over his body (even in his tongue/gums!). The Vet removed what they could, but they were tiny needles that blended in with his fur. I spent hours every morning picking more out of him. He sat patiently for it all, and even started purring.
His eyes weren’t just shut like a tiny kittens. They were infected, swollen to over twice their original size, and covered in pus.
When Jack started opening his eyes, we were pretty sure he’d be completely blind. He was also very weak and malnourished. The veterinarians who saw him all said “You might lose him at any moment.”
Luckily, with some love and care (and lots of medicine).. Jack regained his strength and most of his vision. Jack is basically a normal kitten now. Aside from being skinnier than other kittens and having a bit of visible eye damage in his left eye, you could never tell he spent the first 3 weeks of his life being tortured by cacti.
Jack is now 7 weeks old. He loves to cuddle and play with my other cats. He cries if I leave the room for more than a few minutes, and he sleeps curled up with me.
Jack goes for a ride. The kitten plays in his carrier during a car ride.
Jack is CRAZY! The kitten runs amok when his person tries to nap.
Slideshow with the full series of pics.