Faces of No-Kill: Injury won’t keep playful kitten down

Bubba the tabby kitten being held in a person's hands
An accident left Bubba’s jaw severely injured, but this tiny tabby never lost his fun-loving spirit.
By Christina London

Bubba the kitten loves all toys: Crinkle balls. Laser pointers. Feather wands. Stuffies. Even things that aren’t technically cat toys. (Especially things that aren’t technically cat toys.) If Bubba is awake, he’s probably hard at play. A life-changing surgery allowed this energetic guy to enjoy playtime even more.

This story is a part of our Faces of No-Kill series, highlighting the journey of pets who lost their place to call home. These pets are thriving today thanks to an animal shelter that helped them rather than killed them. Best Friends’ goal is for every shelter and every community to reach no-kill by 2025, and this story shows why that’s so important.

Kitten with degloved jaw

Bubba’s story began by a lake, where he was found all alone and badly injured. His rescuers brought him to a local shelter. Shelter staff immediately recognized that Bubba had a degloved jaw, which means his skin had been pulled away from his jawbone. (Ouch!) They transferred the 10-week-old kitten to the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Salt Lake City where he could get the critical care he needed.

Despite his serious injury, this bright-eyed kitten was curious and playful when he arrived. He even climbed up the vet tech, so he could nuzzle her neck and get a better view of his new surroundings. Dr. Megan McCarthy, veterinarian at Best Friends, had to wait until Bubba was finished playing with her stethoscope before she could examine him.

[Surrogate momma cat’s love helps kitten tackle the world on three legs]

“We’re not sure how the injury occurred, but usually when there’s a degloving injury, it can be from a car or a fall,” says Dr. Megan.

Fortunately, Bubba didn’t seem to be in pain, and he was eating normally despite his lacerated jaw. Still, for him to live his happiest and healthiest life, the vet team decided on surgery to repair the injury.

Bubba bounces back

Bubba’s surgery went smoothly. Just hours later, he was back to his adorable antics. He was already batting his ball around his enclosure, showing that nothing could keep him down for long.

Although his surgery was successful, he still needed a few weeks to heal. So Bubba headed to foster care. His foster home was meant to be a safe haven to recover from major surgery. But to Bubba, it was an exciting new place to explore. Even though he had to wear an e-collar 24/7, he didn't let it dampen his enthusiasm for play. He could often be found hunting toys under blankets and frolicking with the resident feline on the cat tree.

[One tough baby kitten has mouth surgery]

With time and lots of TLC, Bubba healed quickly. Soon, his sutures were able to be removed.

“We’re so happy with his progress. He looks so good,” says Dr. Megan. “I’m so happy that it healed with (just) one surgery.”

Remember Bubba’s rescuers? They couldn’t get this special kitten out of their minds and decided to adopt him. With a heart full of love and a jaw in one piece, Bubba was officially home.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

You can help save homeless pets

You can help end the killing in shelters and save the lives of homeless pets when you foster, adopt, and advocate for the dogs and cats who need it most.

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