By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Two disabled kittens have reminded Renee Lanoue about the importance of keeping faith.
When she took charge of the kittens three months ago, friends told her she should have them put to sleep. After just a few months, the kittens have been adopted and will even help others.
A woman in Wisconsin saw Lanoue's animal rescue Web page and adopted the kittens. She will put both in the care of her friend, an animal trainer and pet therapist who will teach the two cats to use an animal wheelchair. The kittens eventually may make regular visits to a children's hospital in Wisconsin, helping children adapt to wheelchairs.
"Now, with little effort, two barn cats with afflictions can bless someone else's life," Lanoue said.
The Wisconsin woman has paid for the kittens' care and will fly them to her home in January once she and Lanoue work out details of travel that have caused delays so far.
Lanoue and the veterinarians she has consulted believe the kittens' problems are a result of in-breeding.
The hind legs of both kittens are paralyzed and deformed, with pads facing up, not down. The kittens move around by dragging their back legs or hobbling on them. They still manage to climb furniture and play with the many dogs in Lanoue's home-based animal shelter, despite their problems.
A Washington state-based company, K-9 Carts, manufactures the animal wheelchairs. The wheelchair is fitted around the dog's or cat's waist, supporting the back hips and legs level with the front legs, allowing the animal to move using the strength of ts front legs.
Lanoue named the kittens Weeble and Wobble, inspired by the toy commercial jingle, "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."
The brothers are likely the sole survivors of the litter, Lanoue said. They were found by a family that had adopted a dog from Lanoue several years ago. The family was feeding the outdoor cats, but worried for their safety and called Lanoue.
She normally only keeps dogs, estimating that 600 have passed through her care in the seven years since she started Ren's Rescue. But she was not about to turn away the two cats.
"If they need me, they need me," she said.
Weeble and Wobble are only the second and third cats she has cared for, but she is used to special-needs animals. The ones that are hardest to adopt out, Lanoue keeps.
"I've met so many good people through this rescue," Lanoue said.
The opposite is also true. Many of Lanoue's dogs come to her out of garbage bins or with bullets in them - including a puppy with a slit throat, the sole survivor of a litter of dogs that met the same fate.
That puppy, Triscuit, became lifelong pals with another dog whose siblings had been killed, a dog that Lanoue said could never play as a puppy and was clearly traumatized. She adopted both dogs out to the same family.
Lanoue estimates that 20 of her 600 dogs have come to her with bullets in them. Lanoue pays all the vet fees for the animals.
One of the first dogs Lanoue took in, one that had a bullet in its shoulder, was named Faith. The dog was far along in pregnancy when it was found, and Lanoue had the puppies aborted because of the dog's injury.
The next day Faith was found dead. It had been gutted, and Lanoue believes the injuries were self-inflicted.
The irony of the Faith's name, and her fate, stayed with Lanoue.
"I will, to this day, never lose faith," Lanoue said. She keeps the bullet that came out of Faith's shoulder, and she said that experience has affected her decisions.
Of Weeble and Wobble, she said: "I learn from them every day."
Weeble is the more affectionate, loving cat, and Wobble is the troublemaker.
"I miss them all," Lanoue said about the pets that leave her.
Information about Ren's Rescue can be found at http://www.montanapets.org/rr