Love as a Random Act of Kindness
Saving a Kitten named Tashia Marie Treehouse

February 19, 2014
by Jeaniene Leis

A 10-year-old girl brought this kitten in to an HSVMA-RAVS clinic after finding her hiding under a tree house with a broken leg.
Jeaniene Leis

The little kitten was already doing better the day after her forelimb amputation due to close monitoring and high quality pain control protocols.
Jeaniene Leis

Jeaniene adopted the kitten and named her "Tashia Marie Treehouse." She is doing very well in her new home!
Jeaniene Leis

During my trip with HSVMA’s Rural Area Veterinary Services this past summer at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, I encountered a unique situation that has left a lasting impact on my life.

Several days in to our week-long clinic, Toshia, a sweet 10-year-old girl from the community, found a very broken 3-month-old kitten under a tree house near her home. She could tell that the tiny kitten was very badly injured and brought her to the community center where our clinic was set up. We examined the kitten and found she would not bear any weight on her swollen left front leg because it was severely fractured. She also had a large wound on her right hind leg that was horribly infested with maggots. Toshia had definitely saved the kitten’s life by bringing her in to the clinic, but her family did not have the ability or resources to care for a kitten in need of such intensive care, and a decision would need to be made about her future.

RAVS is not a rescue group, but a team of veterinary professionals and students passionate about bringing medical care to animals in communities that have limited or no access to veterinary services for their animal family members. Occasionally, like with this kitten, an extreme health or welfare issue puts an animal’s life at stake, especially if there is no family to provide the ongoing care the animal will need.

In order for us to provide the necessary treatment for her injuries, the kitten would need to have a solid future home planned where she could receive the follow up care she would require. In cases like this, if a volunteer is able to adopt the animal, surrender and treatment can be considered.

Since Toshia is only 10, she needed an adult to sign the paperwork to surrender the kitten for adoption. Toshia was persistent and came back and forth to the clinic all day until her grandmother was able to come in to sign the kitten over to RAVS and give her a chance at life.

The first time I saw the kitten, my heart went out to her. I had been thinking of bringing a second cat in to my life, but hadn’t met “the right one” yet. Here she was! I‘ve always had an affinity for black cats, and this little black kitten had the most adorable face and sweet temperament. It was the perfect situation, minus the fact that the kitten and I met in North Dakota and I currently live in Ohio. Right away, I started calling the airlines to make sure she could fly home with me. Once everything was set in place and she had a plan for her future, we prepared for her surgery.

Her major injury was a closed compound fracture of her left front leg that was at least a few days old. RAVS staff discussed the case, and the decision was made to amputate the limb. Later that day, the kitten went to surgery for the amputation. She was spayed and the maggots were removed from her infected wound. She did great during and after the surgeries. Over the next couple of days she was weaned off of her pain medication and was soon acting like any normal, healthy kitten, and did not seem to notice she now only had three limbs.

In love already, I decided to name my new feline friend after the little girl who saved her life. I had the pleasure of working with Toshia the next day when she brought in her family dogs to be vaccinated. She clearly has a passion for animals and was attentive to all of the information we provided about caring for the animals in her family. I asked her if she had any ideas for kitten names, and she suggested Marie. So the kitten’s full name is now Tashia Marie Treehouse.

Months have now gone by, and Tashia Marie is doing great! Her wound is completely healed and she is growing up into a beautiful cat. She runs and plays hard and then snuggles down for a nap, totally oblivious to her handicap. Often when I catch Tashia Marie reveling in an act of pure kitten joy, I think of Toshia and her selfless act of kindness. An action born out of childhood innocence, an action taken in a place where need is rarely met, an action completed with tenacity, an action that highlighted the value of an individual life, and an action that changed my life for the better.

Jeaniene Leis is a third year veterinary student at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Originally from southern New Jersey, she received her Bachelor's degree in animal behavior from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn. After earning her Master's degree in animals and public policy from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, she spent three years coordinating children's programs at the Philadelphia Zoo. Jeaniene is passionate about educating the public on conservation, animal health, and well-being, and put those passions to great use during her first RAVS trip. Her other passions include horseback riding, scuba diving, running (she accomplished her first half-marathon last year!), traveling, and spending time with friends and family. And she looks forward to volunteering with RAVS again this year!