Despite having dwarfism and megaesophagus, a tiny cat is thriving after being fed through a syringe for 20 months

When we saw FP for the first time, we were immediately drawn to her adorable face, so we reached out to her mom Christy about featuring her. We were expecting the focus of our interview to be about FP’s special needs associated with dwarfism, but when Christy told us this tiny tabby’s biggest medical challenges have been due to megaesophagus (ME), which is not believed to be related to her dwarfism, we were happy to help raise awareness about this seemingly little-known condition. Not only did we gain insight into the challenges of megaesophagus, but we also found out how FP got her name, as well as what caused her mom Christy to adopt her after agreeing to foster the little special needs cat for a shelter near her home in Bailey, Colorado. We hope you’ll find our interview with FP’s mom Christy as informative as we did!

Meow As Fluff: How did you end up meeting FP?

Christy: One of the shelter vet techs said I needed to take her home. I, however, declined as I was at what I thought was my personal limit; I had three resident cats and three fosters already in my one-bedroom apartment. That vet tech told me no wasn’t an option. Once I met the tiny 1.4-pound sick kitten, I knew I couldn’t leave her in a cage.

tabby kitten with megaesophagus and dwarfism
Image via @misfit_meows on Instagram

MAF: What’s the story behind her name?

C: FP is the shorthand for her long name. When I was merely fostering her, the name the shelter gave her was Fancy Paws, which I didn’t like. I was midway through watching Riverdale and decided she could be a total rough and tumble like FP Jones. When I adopted her, I changed her name to Fodina Petite, which loosely translates from Latin to Mine Little, which seemed very fitting for the tiny girl.

tabby kitten with megaesophagus and dwarfism
Image via @misfit_meows on Instagram

MAF: Could you tell us a bit about FP’s health issues?

C: FP’s greatest health issue is her congenital megaesophagus. ME, the short-hand for megaesophagus, in felines is not a well-known defect; it can be congenital or event specific. Essentially, ME means the esophagus doesn’t work correctly; think of FP’s esophagus working more like jello than like a strong muscle.

tabby kitten with megaesophagus and dwarfism
Image via @misfit_meows on Instagram

FP also suffers from dwarfism; while trying to learn more about her, we tested her IGF-1 growth hormone which has a standard range of 12-92 — FP came back with a result of a 3! She also suffered from a severe fungal and bacterial infection that has wreaked havoc on her sinus cavity that was fought with medicine for over a year.

tabby kitten with megaesophagus and dwarfism
Image via @misfit_meows on Instagram

MAF: What are some of the challenges you and FP have faced as a result of her health issues?

C: Because of FP’s ME, she was syringe fed while wrapped in a purrito for approximately 20 months of her life; taking 10-15 minutes to empty a syringe. In addition to the time for actual feeding, FP was held upright for 20+ minutes after each meal. Basically, she had 3-5 meals a day averaging 45 minutes for 20 months. There was a lot of regurgitation for FP with her ME as she has a more severe case. I sometimes washed the bedding multiple times in one day along with the clothes I was wearing.

MAF: What are some of the biggest misconception people have about special needs cats like FP?

C: ME is much lesser known for felines than canines; there are groups for both on Facebook, with under 700 people in the cat group and over 16k for the canine group. ME is a serious defect that can lead to aspirate pneumonia which can lead to death. I feel that kittens with ME are routinely categorized as failure to thrive because they are small and “vomiting,” often leading to euthanasia before they’re properly diagnosed. Simple barium x-rays can identify esophageal anomalies and might make the difference in thriving or death for some kittens.

tabby kitten with megaesophagus and dwarfism
Image via @misfit_meows on Instagram

MAF: What do you want people to know about special needs cats like FP?

C: I would love for everyone to know while it takes time and patience, special needs animals are no less deserving of an amazing home and human than animals without special needs.

MAF: What are some of FP’s favorite activities?

C: FP loves to play with the ball tracks; doesn’t matter which or what style, she loves them. She has also decided that snuffling through the toybox to select various toys to bring them down the hall while she makes chirping meows along the walk only to present them to the lady and then have large and audacious meows as a part of the present giving. She also enjoys chasing after her siblings and being a sassy little troublemaker

MAF: What does FP mean to you?

C: FP is one of those special beings that you encounter in life. Her resiliency coupled with her extremely loving nature make her a kitty that no one will forget; add to that her sweet little squishable face, and she is irresistible. My heart beats with a pawprint on it and I have a particularly soft spot for the babies that everyone else will overlook.

tabby kitten with megaesophagus and dwarfism
Image via @misfit_meows on Instagram

To learn more about this adorable cat, you can follow FP on Instagram.

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