The orange tabby was born with a severe birth defect that left him unable to stand or walk. He was only a few weeks old when he was brought in to Chicago's Tree House Humane Society.
"Both legs were basically backwards. He had to drag his whole behind, and we knew that was going to be a really difficult way to live," Tree House spokesperson Jenny Schlueter said.
Stockings' hind legs were hyperextended backwards and formed a "W" shape. He had trouble with the most basic kitten activities- playing, jumping and chasing toys, not to mention using the litter box. He also had sores on his legs from dragging them around.
"He had so much pent up energy! He wanted to run around like other kittens and play," Schlueter said. "He'd jump up and fall on his face. He really wanted to do what he couldn't do."
Tree House contacted Dr. Steve Neihaus, an orthopedic veterinarian with whom the non-profit organization works closely.
"If we did nothing, this cat would most likely have been euthanized," Neihaus said. So Neihaus performed an experimental surgery on the then 8-week-old kitten.
"We knew it was risky. We knew there were no guarantees it would work," Schlueter said.
"We went forward with surgery knowing we could never make him normal. Our goal was to make his feet functional so he could live a happy, pain-free life," Neihaus said.
It worked. Three procedures and six weeks later, Stockings' feet point forward. He can walk and run without pain, Neihaus said. And, of course, play like a kitten.
Not only is Stockings thriving physically, he's found a forever home with one of the vet techs at Neihaus' clinic, Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center. Priscilla Cherry originally signed on to foster the kitten after his surgeries, knowing she would be experienced in the care Stockings would need after the procedures, such as giving him medicine and changing his bandages. Cherry said it was love at first grab.
"I saw him trying to grab people through the bars of his kennel without a care about his malformed legs, and I knew he was for me," Cherry said.