A sweet three-legged cat was living at a housing estate under heartbreaking conditions with a colony of feral cats.
Prepared to trap, neuter, and release all the cats, this rescuer couple was not prepared to find something else within this feral colony: love.
Keep reading to hear about how one three-legged cat hobbled her way into a couple’s heart.
A Plea for Help
A woman in Hawaii was desperate to help the feral cats in her community.
She was passionate about providing the cats with the medical care they desperately needed, but didn’t have the resources.
She took to Facebook and asked for help in the group, Catopia Hawaii.
She shared heartbreaking details of the cats’ living conditions: inbreeding, mamma cats desperately trying to keep their kittens alive, and a young cat with just three legs and one eye.
It was apparent these cats were suffering.
Everything changed when a heroic couple, Aimei and Bret Thompsett, learned of the devastating news.
“I was like alright, here we go, pulling at my heartstrings,” said Bret, a cat rescuer in Oahu, Hawaii.
Little did Bret and Aimei know, there were many more surprises ahead.
A Secret Mission
“The colony is in a really bad neighborhood,” explained Bret. “It’s really difficult to get in. They don’t actually allow visitors, it’s very controlled. So, there is security at the gates.”
This would be a super-secret TNR mission.
“I had to claim I was dropping something off as a Lyft or Uber driver, that’s the only way I could get in. Meanwhile, my car is full of traps,” laughed Bret.
Although a ‘feral’ cat community, Bret found that the cats were fairly tame, allowing him to trap them with ease.
Bret and Aimei would later learn from a vet that a tame temperament could be genetic, and may not mean that these cats were previously owned and dumped.
The first into the traps was the mamma cat and her four kittens, all allowing Bret to scoop them right up.
“Instantly we had five cats, within five minutes of arriving. And from then on it was set a trap, catch a cat, set a trap, catch a cat,” Bret recalled.
One cat took a little longer to trap. She was missing a foot, had an inured eye, and was being bullied by the other cats.
Because of her missing foot, Bret named her Tootsie-No-Footsie, or Tootsie for short.
With Tootsie finally rescued, Bret’s heartstrings were tugged just a little bit more.
The Sweetest Surprise
Brett’s super-secret TNR mission ended with trapping eight cats.
The next day, they all would all be fixed and vetted.
They would then go to Bret’s house where they would spend a day in their crate recovering before being released back to the colony location, unless they were tame enough for adoption.
Bret realized that Tootsie didn’t seem to like her crate, so he upgraded her to a big soft crate.
Tootsie didn’t mind being handled during the transfer of crates. To Bret’s surprise, she loved being pet.
She began to head bump Bret affectionately and pull his hand in for more pets!
“Turns out, Tootsie-no-Footsie is freaking amazing. Not feral at all,” said Bret.
It was time for the cats to be returned to the colony location, but Tootsie-no-Footsie wasn’t going anywhere.
Although her future home had not been decided on, she wouldn’t be returning to the housing development.
The Truth Revealed
With the decision made that Tootsie would not be returning to the colony, it was time for a proper check-up.
Bret thought Tootsie may require a surgery to balance her legs and to have her eye removed.
Although her right eye is cloudy and non-functional, the vet confirmed that it was an old injury and there was no need for the eye to be removed.
Tootsie’s missing foot appeared to be either a birth defect or caused at birth, perhaps by her umbilical cord wrapping around her leg.
Luckily, no corrective surgery would be needed.
Besides trying to scratch her chin with a foot that doesn’t exist, Tootsie doesn’t seem to mind having one less paw.
“Other than her ghost scratch, she doesn’t know she’s different. She does everything a regular cat does,” said Bret.
At only six months old, Tootsie had already lived a hard life.
Bret and Aimei would make sure the rest of her life would be the one that she had always deserved.
Falling in Love
Bret and Aimei began to look for a forever home for Tootsie.
He knew of some places that provided homes for special animals like Tootsie, but he began to reconsider.
Tootsie had left three paw prints on the couple’s heart. Bret and Aimei were enamored– Tootsie was too easy to fall in love with.
“We just started to fall in love with her. She was just loving life,” said Bret.
Bret and Aimei already had six cats and had told themselves that six cats was the cut-off.
However, Tootsie was so unique, quirky, and full of love.
“She flies around the house like crazy on her three feet. She slides around corners, she has no worries, no issues at all,” said Bret.
For the first time in her life, Tootsie-no-Footie didn’t need to worry; she was finally safe and loved.
Happily Ever After
“Most likely what is going to happen is we’re going to keep Tootsie,” Bret said at the time of his interview.
Sure enough, Bret’s Instagram confirms that Tootsie-no-Footsie has officially joined their family!
If you’d like to learn more about how to help Bret and Aimei with future rescue missions, follow them on instagram!
Click here to follow Bret: @hawaii_cat_dad_rescue
Click here to follow Aeimi: @mayiseeyourkitties
The mamma cat and her four kittens trapped that same day went to a foster home and have all been adopted since.
As for the rest of colony, rescuers continue their hard work to keep them safe.
Most recently, another rescue group completed another TNR mission, safely trapping 13 cats.
Leave a comment to thank Bret and Aimei for giving sweet Tootsie the life she has always deserved!
Read another one of Bret and Aimei’s rescue stories: Man Saves “Vampire Bat” Kitten & Helps Him Blossom into Beautiful Cat