Donors Help Stray Overcome Cleft Palate

Shy cat with mouth defect receives kindness from stranger for $1,000 surgery.

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Even shy strays that run from petting hands can win over hearts when they are in need.

Chance, a fearful black cat that reluctantly took food from Virginia residents for two years, won over enough people that when he was diagnosed with a heart murmur and cleft palate, the donations came in to save him, according to the Newport News Daily Press.

Jodie Kiesel, who is starting up a shelter for strays in Hampton, Va., said that Chance was weak and had difficulty breathing when he was brought to her for help.

A visit to a veterinarian showed that Chance was an unusual kitty with a cleft palate, and it would cost $1,000 for corrective surgery.

I never thought it would cost that much I'd never heard of a cat with a cleft palate before, Keisel said. I thought that it would probably end up on one of our credit cards.

According to, cleft palates can occur in cats when the bones forming the roof of the mouth do not grow correctly. The defect usually needs to be surgically repaired during kittenhood, and can cause pneumonia or malnourishment. In severe instances, kittens with the defect are euthanized.

Chance, however, had hope. Keisel set up a small fundraiser at a Pet Supplies Plus store during the holiday shopping season, and eventually gathered enough to pay for the surgery he needed, the newspaper said. Now, notes are posted in the store to update donors on Chances progress with a new life.

Posted: Jan. 27, 2006, 3 p.m. EST

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Reader Comments

Ingeborg    Bruchem, YT

3/18/2011 8:50:39 AM

Hi Sarah and others,
this is message from the Netherlands by mr. Nillson; I am a Siamese girl of 7 months of age now. Boy what was I glad I was found! Extremely thin, sneezing my butt off and hungry!! and cold !!. unfortunately this doctor they call it did not see my problem - but fortunately my human did and so it was discovered that I also had a cleft palate. Now the have operated on me and all is well - except I am missing a part and so there are still problems with eating and food getting stuck up my nose! I need as much tips as possible on how to grow and get well. So - if you have any tips for me you will get a big Miauw from me. All the way from the Netherlands!

Sarah    Millersville, PA

10/25/2010 9:22:27 AM

Our kitten also has a cleft palate, though it is small. We noticed trouble eating and drinking so I taught him to drink from a rabbit water bottle. This has helped tremendously in fattening him up from malnourishment. It only took him a day to learn. Make sure the bottle is a little higher then his head so his throat is elevated hen drinking. Also we elevate his food. Our vet told us to feed him hard food because it is less likely to get into the hole and into his nasal passage. Because it is hard it would be easier sneezed out as well, and less likely to get stuck and cause pneumonia.
The best thing to do is ask around about vets, and contact them about your pet being a rescue animal. Our vet was willing to cut half the cost and do a neuter at the same time with no extra fee because he was a rescue. Most vets are animal lovers and would love to help out someone who is trying to save an animal. Best of luck to all. Visit LINK if you would like to donate for our 5 month old's kittens surgery. THanks!

Laura    San Andreas, CA

6/21/2010 9:59:41 PM

I just adopted a stray cat with a cleft palate. I'm very interested in stories of other cats who have survived this without surgery. What is the best food to feed? Size of food? (I like to feed real food like chicken, turkey etc.). The vet believes she is about 10 yrs old. She is tiny--about 6 lbs--but not skinny. She has a very short tail and they think she is part Manx.

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

2/2/2010 5:25:39 AM

Wonderful Story.

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