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Chariots for Cher: Windsor business owner determined to see kitten regain mobility following dog attack

Leesa White, owner of Our Mother’s Keepers and a passionate animal rescuer, works with Cher’s hind legs in hopes of helping the six-month-old kitten regain mobility. She does these “Jane Fonda workouts” with Cher several times a day.
Leesa White, owner of Our Mother’s Keepers and a passionate animal rescuer, works with Cher’s hind legs in hopes of helping the six-month-old kitten regain mobility. She does these “Jane Fonda workouts” with Cher several times a day. - Carole Morris-Underhill
WINDSOR, N.S. —

It’s not uncommon to see a cat at Our Mother’s Keepers store in Windsor. Sam is, in fact, the business’ live-in mascot.

It’s not even uncommon to see a crate near the back featuring some felines available for adoption.

What might come as more of a surprise for patrons is to be greeted by a kitten, wearing a diaper, scooting around the store, dragging its hind legs.

But the owner hopes that’s a temporary situation.

Leesa White has been rescuing abused, neglected and abandoned animals for about seven years. She recently recorded her 100th rescue and has always had a soft spot for creatures that require a little extra TLC.

And when she spotted Cher online, she felt compelled to help.

“I was scrolling through Facebook and somebody had posted her story on a page that I don’t even follow. So I’m not entirely sure how I saw it. It was just fate I guess,” said White.

Cher had been attacked by a dog when she was about two months old and lost the ability to use her hind legs. A group who was trapping, neutering and releasing felines at a cat colony came across Cher at four months old and decided to try to re-home her.

“She was found in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and she was being fostered by somebody in Alexandria, Louisiana, and sadly they couldn’t find a permanent home for her and they even looked as far as California and Texas,” said White.

And the situation was getting dire. Cher was facing possible euthanasia.

White’s husband, Dan, learned of Cher’s plight and the pair were broken-hearted, she said.

“He said, ‘well, have you applied to adopt her?’ and I thought it’s kind of crazy; she’s in Louisiana and he said ‘I’ll go get her.’

As luck would have it, Cher’s foster flew her to Nova Scotia April 5 and she’s been in their care ever since.

Leesa White says she’s hopeful a visit to an orthopedic veterinarian in May will help shed some light on why Cher isn’t able to use her hind legs.
Leesa White says she’s hopeful a visit to an orthopedic veterinarian in May will help shed some light on why Cher isn’t able to use her hind legs.

Cher isn’t paralyzed; she has feeling and movement in her hind legs, and has control over her bladder and bowels, though getting into a kitty litter box is challenging — hence the diaper during the daytime hours.

“We’re trying to see if we can fix Cher; she’s got an appointment with an orthopedic vet in Bedford,” said White, noting Cher does have some damage to her last three vertebrae and her spine. Her crushed ribs have since healed.

“There’s some discrepancy as to whether it’s neurological damage or orthopedic damage and we’re going to try to find that out,” said White. “If we can’t have surgery or any kind of rehabilitation to get her walking, then we will just buy her a wheelie cart.”

White said she hopes Cher will be a candidate for surgery, but if not, she is committed to helping her regain as much mobility as possible. A wheelie cart, for example, costs about $1,100.

White said Cher, who is about six months old, is a very social kitten, loves to be cuddled and plays with her other cats. She describes her as “the happiest cat” and says she doesn’t let her impairment stop her from getting around.

“She does have a lot of muscle atrophy, I’ve noticed, so we’ve been doing our little Jane Fonda workout every day where we work the legs,” said White. “I find her legs have improved; the strength in her legs has improved. It could be something that is remedied or partially remedied by physiotherapy.”

White has launched a Chariots for Cher fundraiser at her store, Our Mother’s Keepers, in Windsor in hopes of offsetting some of the costs associated with her recovery. People can purchase paper chariots, which are then placed in the window to show the fundraiser’s progress. There’s also a new and slightly-used gift section inside the store, with all proceeds from it going towards her rescue fund.

“I always get choked up when I talk about my rescue because we’re crazy cat people,” she said, tears welling in her eyes.

Her independent cat rescue operates out of her house, with some animals requiring months of attention before being able to become candidates for adoption.

As for why she would rescue a cat from the United States, her love for animals isn’t contained to one province.

“Some people have asked: ‘why bring a cat in from Louisiana; aren’t there cats here you could rescue?’ And there are and I have but this one is worth saving too — even if we had to go a little farther for her,” said White.

“She loves attention. She loves to be cuddled and she loves to be held. She likes it when I put her in my lap and work with her legs. Sometimes she even falls asleep.”

HOW TO HELP

In person: Our Mother’s Keepers, 74 Gerrish St., Windsor

Online: https://www.gofundme.com/f/cher039s-challenge-let039s-get-cher-walking


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