Since their daughter Scarlette, 2, lost an arm to cancer as an infant, Simone and Matt Tipton have wanted to get her a pet with similar physical challenges. When the Trabuco Canyon, California couple heard about a kitten that lost its front leg, they knew they had found the next member of their family.
“They think she was inside the wheel of a car when the car started, and didn’t get out on time. They said she wasn’t going to make it, and actually had the euthanasia ready, but one of the staff members begged to try to save her,” Simone Tipton said.
The story touched her heart... and reminded her of her own daughter.
Scarlette was born with an abnormally large left arm. After several surgeries, chemotherapy treatments and tests, the Tiptons learned that their daughter had an aggressive form of cancer, and doctors recommended amputating her arm.
“We had to travel to Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic to do the surgery, because they were the only doctors qualified for such an extensive surgery. She was 10 months old when they took her arm, shoulder, scapula, clavicle and all the surrounding skin and tissue,” said Tipton. “Right now, she is considered cancer-free, and is going through skin expansion treatments. She is doing great… nothing holds her back. She’s a risk taker and loves to be adventurous.”
Tipton says they had been considering adopting a pet with an amputation for several months, but weren’t sure how to find one until they turned on their television one day.
“We saw the kitten on the news — we never watch the news, but just so happened to have it on that day. This was a huge thing of fate in my opinion,” said Tipton.
Tipton says they immediately called the shelter where the 3-month-old kitten, named Doc, was being held, but were told she wasn’t available for adoption yet due to her injuries. So they drove two hours to the shelter. Once the staff met them and learned about Scarlette, the decided to make an exception to the normal rules so that Doc could find her forever home.
“On the day we met Doc for the first time, Scarlette noticed the staples and drain tube in her side and touched her gently and said, ‘Owies?’ I said, ‘Yes, she has owies just like you do,’” said Tipton.
“She placed her hand on her own amputated side and just nodded. She knows, despite her young age, that this particular cat is special to her.”
Tipton says Doc is adjusting well to life in their home since being adopted at the end of December, jumping and playing with Scarlette and her older brother, Kayden, 3.
“Doc is just as adventurous as Scarlette, and every day it continues to be a perfect match all over again,” said Tipton. “We wanted to find a companion for Scarlette so she could grow up with someone similar to herself — not only so she can see that she’s not the only one, but so she can grow stronger and learn how to cope just like her kitten does.”
This article was originally published in 2016.