Ponderosa Pine: one of the Southwest’s tallest trees in many parts of its range, growing to incredible heights of over 200 feet, with huge trunks 3-4 feet across. -National Park Service

When Ponderosa Pine came to the Dumb Friends League as a stray, she was only about a week old. She weighed just 80 grams (.18 lbs.), was severely underweight, and hypothermic. If she didn’t get help regulating her body temperature quickly, she wouldn’t be able to get the nutrients she needed to survive. She was marked “FTT” (failure to thrive), and her future looked grim – but that’s how she earned her name: Ponderosa Pine. While her size might never compare to the trees that can be 4 feet across, her sheer determination to survive was as stalwart as those pines that span the western U.S.

Once in the care of the League, Ponderosa underwent six hours of critical warming therapy. As the staff held its collective breath and encouraged her through her tiny incubator, she slowly stabilized. Still, her future hung in the balance – until one experienced foster parent, who is also a vet services team member, stepped in. The determined foster saw Ponderosa’s potential and knew she couldn’t walk away.

The two went home together, where the malnourished kitten was bottle-fed and monitored closely. She would need to make significant progress before the next steps in her recovery process could be determined.

Ponderosa ultimately pushed through her “FTT” prognosis and thrived beautifully in the care of her temporary home. She grew into her foster parent’s shadow, never missing an opportunity to snuggle her teeny body into any available nooks and crevices.

Ponderosa’s progress was remarkable to all who’d seen her arrive at the League. She was a celebrity when she returned to foster services for checkups – each one better than the last.

During her rehabilitation, it was determined that Ponderosa would need to undergo upper lateral entropion surgery, a process to repair the upper eyelid, which was turned inward, irritating the eye. The condition is commonly seen in dogs, but less so in felines. After nearly three months of unrelenting love and care, she gained enough weight to undergo the surgery. After a smooth recovery, Ponderosa was pain free and one step closer to adoption.

During her four months in the League’s care, Ponderosa was showered with compassion and encouragement. The expertise of the League’s intake, vet services and foster teams ensured that she had the best chance of survival.

This special kitten may always be small in size, but her strength and resilience are something to behold – just like a ponderosa pine.