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MSPCA-Angell Saves Life of Tiny Munchkin Kitten With Mystery Illness

Organization Seeks Special Adopter for Very Special Six-Month-Old Kitten

BOSTON, Jan. 20, 2023 –Dollie was a typical four-month-old Munchkin kitten in late November, preparing for her first holiday season with her family, when she unexpectedly started feeling quite ill. Her symptoms were vague at first; she just wasn’t acting like a normal, playful kitten should. Then, things took a turn. Dollie developed changes to her skin and ears that her family just could not ignore, so they brought her to the MSPCA-Angell in Boston.

“When Dollie came to us, her ears were sloughing, and they actually did fall off,” explained Mike Keiley, MSPCA-Angell director of adoption centers and programs. “Parts of her skin were necrotic – the skin was dying. It impacted her extremities, including her tail, legs, and most of her ear tissue. We had never seen anything like it.”

Dollie’s family surrendered the tiny kitten to the MSPCA on November 22. “They were understandably overwhelmed with her extensive medical issues. Given the complexity of her case, we all knew that this could be a long process with an uncertain outcome,” Keiley detailed.

“After they made the decision to surrender her to us, we did all we could to figure out what exactly was happening to this little cat, so we could save her life,” he added.

Teamwork Saves Lives

It took collaboration across Angell’s network of specialists to finally diagnose Dollie’s illness—and not a second too soon.

“When my team came to Boston to examine Dollie, I saw severe skin sloughing and necrosis, especially around areas with poor circulation like the extremities,” said Dr. Meagan Painter, a dermatology specialist at MSPCA-Angell West in Waltham. “This is typical for a problem called ischemic dermatopathy, which is usually caused by a reaction to something in the body that leads to widespread inflammation.”

Painter added, “This reaction can lead to tissue death in sensitive areas, like the ear tips and paws. In Dollie’s case, it was quite severe, and she is a lucky little cat to have found her way to us.”

Although Dollie has recovered, it remains unclear what triggered such a reaction.

“We’ll probably never know what caused that reaction, but we diagnosed it in time to prevent progression and save two of her legs that were in danger,” Dr. Painter said. “We did have to amputate her tail and one leg, but we expect she’ll live a long, happy life, something that would not have been possible without extensive teamwork between the hospitals and the clinic.”

Hero Adopter Needed!

After about two months in the care of the MSPCA, Dollie is finally ready to find her new home.

“Dollie’s been with us for a while and it’s time for her to find the loving home that she so desperately deserves after this ordeal,” said Keiley. “We don’t think that she’ll need any specific ongoing care because of this condition, just a family that’s looking for a unique cat and is willing to work with a vet to address any future medical needs.”

Interested adopters may submit an inquiry at