Little Keta was found wandering the streets of New York City: her homelessness, though, was the least of her problems. That was because the kitten was sadly suffering from a baseball-sized facial tumor. And since the cause of the gigantic growth was unknown, no one knew if the animal would survive her ordeal – or, indeed, if she would ever find her smile again.
Keta’s story began in October 2016, when Unwanted NYC Pets received a call about a cat who was in desperate need of help. The organization rescues and rehabilitates homeless animals and provides them with loving families; naturally, then, it was ready to help this particular little foundling however it could.
In this case, however, the call for assistance came from one of the city’s animal shelters, where a little kitten was thought to be on death’s door. Unfortunately, it seemed as if the odds were stacked against her before she had even reached her first birthday.
Meanwhile, a statement on the Unwanted NYC Pets Facebook page in October 2016 said that the cat was “sweet, clean, beautiful… just disfigured.” And an accompanying image showed that the poor puss, who the staff at Unwanted NYC Pets named Keta, suffered from a large tumor. Indeed, the tumor was so big that it was distorting the entire left half of her face.
“The tumor was so large it popped out of the bottom of her mouth,” explained Kristin Livan, vice president of Unwanted NYC Pets, in an interview with the New York Post in 2016. “I have seen a lot in my rescue career, and it was bad. It was jarring, very upsetting and very disturbing.”
To better understand the cause of the growth, then, vets took a biopsy and an X-ray of it. In particular, they were concerned that the tumor might be cancerous. If that was the case, though, there would tragically be no cure for the sweet little feline.
Thankfully, the tumor wasn’t cancerous. Regardless of the good news, however, her carers were still handed quite the dilemma. “Keta’s biopsy came back benign and whilst it’s natural to want to celebrate that, it left us with this enormous moral decision,” read a Facebook post from Unwanted NYC Pets in November 2016.
“Is it morally right to put this cat through a massive surgery that will leave her even more deformed than she is with it?” the post continued. “Is it right to have her go through a recovery for weeks where she will need a feeding tube because part of her jaw, eye and left nasal passage will be removed? If we do this and she is miserable afterwards, what then? As you can see, there are no easy answers.”
Despite the potential pitfalls of the operation, though, Unwanted NYC Pets staff were unwilling to give up on Keta just yet. As a result, they consulted a number of veterinary experts to decide on the best plan of action for the little cat. And, after some careful consideration, the organization decided to go ahead and have Keta’s baseball-sized tumor removed.
It was perhaps the natural decision to make, as the team at Unwanted NYC Pets had since completely fallen for her lust for life. Despite her ailments, the little kitty wolfed down three whole tins of cat food each day, drank her water from the faucet and loved to play.
“After speaking with many different doctors and having tests done we decided to go forward with the surgery to remove it, even though she could have lost an eye, be on a feeding tube or be so deformed no one would want to adopt her,” explained a post on the Unwanted NYC Pets website. Still, as surgery would be expensive, the organization duly campaigned for donations.
In December 2016, though, the stage was set for Keta to go in for her life-changing surgery. And, thankfully, it was a huge success. In a joyous post on the organization’s Facebook page, an Unwanted NYC Pets spokesperson wrote, “Keta’s tumor was removed.”
“We are over the moon at these incredible results, and the work of the skilled surgeons who led us through this amazing experience,” the spokesperson added. “Once fully recovered, Keta will be looking for her forever home. We cannot thank everyone involved in this journey enough.”
That operation was made possible by Dr. Tomas Infernuso. Happily, the American College of Veterinary Surgeons graduate was able to remove the tumor from the roof of Keta’s mouth as well as manage a full facial reconstruction on the kitten. Finally, then, the feline had found her smile.
Even more encouragingly, the kitten continued to make amazing progress. Just four days after her surgery, in fact, Keta was able to use her eye, eat properly and give some love to her carers. “This girl shocks us every single day,” a post read on the Unwanted NYC Pets Facebook page after the surgery. And thanks to her fighting spirit, the organization amped up the search for Keta’s forever home.
As Keta further recovered, meanwhile, she was able to see properly out of both eyes. Her skin also began to tighten and her scars soon disappeared, too. And while her face may never be truly symmetrical, her unique look makes her all the more endearing.
However, despite having earned a number of fans online, no one came forward to take poor Keta home. And as a consequence, the organization was forced to issue a heartbreaking plea to potential adopters. “Keta is wondering why no one has asked to adopt her,” it wrote in December 2016.
“After everything she’s been through and all the fans who were rooting for her… she has no home lined up for her,” the tear-jerking post continued. “She loves Christmas and wishes to have a home more than anything else. We love her so much and can’t stop photographing her!”
The revelation shocked many of Keta’s online followers, and many responded with kind messages and adoption offers. “She’s beautiful and a tough girl to survive that surgery but she looks so good. Praying she gets a loving forever home soon,” one well-wisher wrote. Another user simply asked, “How would we go about adopting her?”
As of January 2016, though, Keta was still searching for her forever home. But hopefully, given all the interest in her, it won’t be long until the feline finds her new family. After all, now that she’s finally found her smile, she needs a good reason to use it.