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ASPCA Cat of the Year 2012

Dr. Betsy Kennon brings Scooter to visit patients. Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/Tribune-Review

The little 6-month-old, black and white kitten was found on the street in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, by a family dog which brought the kitten to his owner in his mouth. The kitten had no use of its back legs. Thinking that his dog had injured the little feline, he rushed the kitten to the Harts Run Veterinary Hospital.

Dr. Betsy Kennon could not find any puncture wounds or teeth marks on the feline and believed that the dog had actually saved the cat's life. What she did find was that the kitten had suffered a thoracic vertebrae fracture and had no use of his back legs. Adopted by Dr. Kennon, the little cat was named Scooter and was fitted with a custom-made wheeled mobility device which was paid for by donations from the hospital staff.

Once he was fitted with his wheels, the cheerful little cat was off walking around and just could not get enough of his new freedom. Because of his happy disposition and his special way with people, Scooter became a therapy cat at the HealthSouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital and is a frequent visitor at the facility. "It dawned on me that he was a real people kind of cat, and possibly a good therapy cat," Kennon says. He brings so much joy to the patients, especially those who are in wheelchairs. He shows them that if he can do, so can they.

For his service to others, the little cat with the golden eyes has been selected as the Cat of the Year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). "I was overwhelmed," says Kennon, 58, about the call she got from the society announcing Scooter's award. "Who knew a little kitty I found in Pittsburgh would make it to the Big Apple?"

The society says that it selects the winners that they find to be the most inspiring and that Scooter was their number one pick. "Scooter's story appeared numerous times in our search and seemed to be the clear choice for ASPCA Cat of the Year," says Lindsay Sklar, director of special events for the New York-based ASPCA. "Scooter not only overcomes his own injuries, but he's helping people facing similar obstacles to do the same. I think that's a really inspiring story by itself. That's why we found him to be a perfect fit."

Scooter lives with Dr. Kennon's family along with 2 other cats and four dogs. She says that he is the toughest feline in the house as well as the best mouser among all of the cats. Besides having to diaper him twice a day since he is unable to use the litter box, she says that he is a perfectly normal cat and does not seem aware of his limitations.