May 28, 2024 – 

On a sunny afternoon in December, Kelsey Creager of Greeley had just finished visiting with her horses in Fort Lupton and was heading home. Waiting to cross a busy highway, Kelsey happened to look to her right and spotted a ball of fur laying on its side next to the stop sign. Realizing soon after that she was looking at a cat, Kelsey pulled over to the nearest lot.

“Something just told me to go check on him,” said Kelsey. She approached the cat and noticed that he was breathing. He looked up at Kelsey and let out a meow. “Poor guy,” thought Kelsey. “I figured he couldn’t move otherwise he would have run away from me.” Not knowing where he was injured, she gently scooped him up with both arms and brought him to her passenger seat. “He meowed like he was in pain.”

Kelsey and her newfound friend took a moment to get acquainted in the car – Kelsey gave him pets and he started to purr. Wanting the best for him, Kelsey started thinking what her next move should be, and decided to take him to the nearest humane society. “I gave NOCO Humane a call and they said their vets can take a look at him right away.” Kelsey drove to NOCO Humane’s Weld Campus and a staff member assisted with handling and carrying the injured kitty inside.

“Our Animal Care Team came running back and said ‘we think this cat has broken legs,”‘ said Dr. Gail Rapport, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine). To relieve his pain, Dr. Gail administered sedatives and then took his X-Rays, discovering that both of his front legs were indeed broken.

Thanks to Dr. Gail’s experience and longevity in veterinary medicine, she had a promising solution. “I started practicing shelter medicine before there were Orthopedic Specialists, so I got to play around doing orthopedics and I learned how to use pins to fix fractures.” After diagnosing him with simple fractures (clean breaks), Dr. Gail was confident that using pins to heal his legs would work perfectly.

Until this precious kitty could go into surgery, our Veterinary Services Team kept him comfortable with splints and pain medication. “He remained an incredibly affectionate and sweet cat, walking around with his splints on and seeking human attention,” said Dr. Gail. The veterinary team affectionately named their new feline friend Baxter. When the time came for Baxter’s surgery, pins were successfully inserted into each leg acting as supports in place of the more temporary splints.

After receiving exceptional care from our Veterinary Services Team, Baxter needed time to heal and recover. One of our Foster Care Volunteers answered the call and lovingly welcomed him home. “When we first got Baxter, he had no stability on those two front legs,” said June, Foster Care Volunteer. “We set up a kennel for him so he could be secluded from everyone else and not get overstimulated.” Already home to two cats and a dog, Baxter had foster siblings who were eager to play with him!

Baxter received daily pain medication and returned to NOCO Humane every few days for a pain-relief shot. By week three, June let him wander and get some exercise.
“But that’s when we really had to keep an eye on him because he wanted to jump on everything,” laughed June. Baxter integrated well with his foster siblings, and it didn’t take long for June’s German Shepherd mix, Sophia, to cuddle with Baxter. “He just thrived,” said June.

Eight weeks after Baxter’s surgery, he returned to NOCO Humane one final time to have the pins removed. “Once he woke up from anesthesia,” said Dr. Gail, “I could tell he seemed relieved they [the pins] were gone. He was walking more freely and just seemed more comfortable after they were out.”

Baxter’s surgery was a success, and with a clean bill of health, he was ready for his forever home – but he didn’t have to wait long. “Already at week two, my husband said
‘can we keep him?”‘ laughed June. “When you take care of them and watch them heal and grow, you fall in love and just want the best home for them.” June and her husband decided they were the best home for Baxter and officially adopted him immediately after his pin-removal surgery.

Baxter is now happy and healthy in a loving home. While we’ll never know how Baxter came to be in such a sad state, we have Kelsey, June and her family, and the caring staff at NOCO Humane to thank for making all the difference in Baxter’s life. Thanks to our community’s unconditional love for this sweet kitty, he rests easy in a tall cat tree, plays endlessly with his pet siblings, and his story serves as a testament to the power of community and the boundless capacity for healing and hope.

Click here to view a short video about Baxter’s journey and recovery.