‘Lobster Claw’ Kitten Fights for Normal Life

Recently, a litter of special kittens was found in a Philadelphia backyard. Each kitten had a congenital deformity and yet despite the odds being stacked against them, they were saved and are now in loving foster care. One kitten, Salt Water Taffy (or SWT) was “extra special” since she suffered from radial agenesis. SWT describes her own disorder on her Facebook page as, “It seems I have contracted tendons and missing radial bones in my front limbs!”

This bittersweet story of a little stray kitten with a major congenital malformation struck me as interesting in so many ways:

1. This kitten with what her rescuer called “lobster claws” likely has no idea she is different and she just fights like a champ to get through each day as normally as possible. And her siblings love and cuddle her just the same.

2. Most people would have immediately had SWT and her siblings euthanized, but the person that found the kittens demonstrated St. Francis of Assisi-like compassion and decided to give them a chance.

3. This stray and deformed litter of kittens REALLY beat the odds especially when so many perfectly healthy kittens and cats are euthanized every day. All it took to save these kittens was human caring and compassion – which is then true for all kittens and cats who are at risk for being euthanized. One caring human – and you don’t even have to be a bona fide saint – can make all the difference.

4. What caused this entire litter to have congenital defects? Did mama cat eat tainted food? Was it environmental exposure? Or just the chronic malnourishment of being a stray? I find it odd that every kitten was genetically challenged.

5. The foster family has a big dog, Lena, who seems to understand that something is different about SWT and will “nudge” the kitten along, especially during physical therapy.



To see a photo collection of SWT with her siblings, during physical therapy and with her number one cheerleader, Lena, visit the Buzzfeed website.

After viewing the pictures and considering the above comments, I am interested in what you think. How did this story make you feel? Would you have saved this litter of kittens? Have you ever heard about an entire litter having congenital defects? Do you think SWT can have a “normal” life?


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Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongoldabout a year ago

So adorable and with a cheerleader like Lena, they will go all the way and have good lives.

Claire Jordan
Claire Jordanabout a year ago

I doiubt if any of them were "genetically challenged". To have a whole litter compromised in this way suggests either that the mother ate something teratogenic ()i.e. something which, like the thalidomide drug, causes deformities in embryos without affecting their or the mother's genetic makeup) or that she suffered a womb infection while carrying - something like the Schmallenberg virus which causes deformities in lambs, There's no reason why they can't have a good quality of life with proper care.

It's confusing to call this deformity "lobster claw", as lobster claw is a known, and genetically heritable deformity affecting some human populations. In its extreme form the palms of the hands and soles of the feet are split in two and forked right up to the wrist/ankle, with each section ending in a single digit. It makes walking more difficult but enables the person to use their feet as crude hands.

Suzan F.
Suzan F.2 years ago

What a fighter! I hope she makes it. I hope they all make it. That dog is a great motivator, too. Animals are great!

John Wesen
Past Member 2 years ago

Beautiful little champion. Heartwarming. ^_^

Kristìn Eriksen
Kristìn Eriksen2 years ago

Aw, poor kitten! But she's a little fighter. :)

Deborah Dubard
Deborah Dubard2 years ago

Thanks for sharing :)

Dorie Thompson
Dorie Thompson2 years ago

absolutely, i think SWT and her litter mates can live a normal life and teach us humans a thing or two about living with disability and spirit!

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper2 years ago


Georgeta Trandafir

thanks, very emotional story

Maureen Heartwood

A "normal" life? I have fostered disabled animals, and I'm disabled myself. I never ask if an animal or person can live a normal life, only how to improve their quality of life. How happy, how fulfilling, how meaningful. Normal is overrated. This little one will likely do very well.