Smush was a kitten that Lindsey Hidenrite, the cat coordinator for Helping Hands Pet Rescue in Gainesville, Florida, rescued last summer. When Hidenrite first saw her, she would not have used the word “feisty” to describe her since Smush appeared weak and sickly. As a veterinary student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Hidenrite regularly rescues strays that have severe health problems, including Smush. Someone found the kitten outside and brought her to Hidenrite when she was only ten days old, and almost dying. Now she needs to find a home that can appreciate her squished face and understand her sassy personality.
Upon discovering Smush, it was evident that she was extremely unwell. The poor pup had a cleft lip and facial deformities, and was dealing with an upper respiratory infection and a severe case of ringworm. Her health problems made it impossible for her to eat, so Hidenrite took it upon herself to feed her via syringe every four hours while administering antibiotics and medicated baths as needed.
According to Hidenrite, Smush’s congenital deformities – a cleft lip and wide-set eyes – are often the reason why kittens are abandoned. Hidenrite has witnessed several such cases in the past where mother cats seem to know that they won’t be able to take care of their unhealthy kittens. In such cases, they may reject them so that they can focus on caring for their healthy littermates. Smush, however, was lucky to have found a loving foster mom in Laura Braden, who took great care of her. She received medicated baths three times a week and soon started eating on her own. Despite her disabilities, Smush thrived under Braden’s care.
Smush gained independence by learning to eat on her own, which made her stronger and braver. As she recovered from ringworm, she proved to be a handful for Braden who attempted to confine her unsuccessfully. Being orphaned at an early age can deprive animals of crucial social skills that they would have learned from their parents and siblings during the first months of their lives. For instance, a kitten raised by his mother would learn to correct his behavior if he bites too hard during play. Missing out on such vital skills could lead to confusion between play and prey.
Braden, a skilled foster mom for kittens, received love bites from Smush. Being well-versed in kitten care, Braden realized that Smush needed a forever home with a family that appreciated her unique features and personality. According to Braden, Smush required a household that adored her adorable smushy face and comprehended her liveliness.
Laura Braden and Lindsey Hidenrite played a crucial role in saving Smush’s life. Recently, they had the chance to meet Smush again in her new forever home. Shannon Jackson, along with her wife Sarah Jenne, found Smush on Hidenrite’s Facebook page, but adoption never came up for discussion. Jenne was still mourning the loss of her dear pet cat, Poot. Whenever asked about her wishes for special occasions like Christmas or Valentine’s Day, Jenne always requested a kitten.
Shannon Jackson became acquainted with Hidenrite during her photography work for Helping Hands Pet Rescue, where she took pictures of adoptable animals. Jackson was impressed by Hidenrite’s compassion for those in need, exemplified by her care for Raisin, an exceptional feline that was highlighted by The Dodo.