A five-month-old tabby kitten who had his back leg amputated is now looking for a good home.

The cat, which was found lost and injured, is now at the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

He was named Achilles after the handsome Greek God whose only weakness was his heel. Nobody knows for sure what happened in the feline Achilles’ early life, but most likely he was once owned by someone.

One day he probably went on a walkabout, was injured and was unable to return home. He could also have been simply abandoned by people who no longer wanted him.

When he was picked up there was no way to reconnect him with his family, as he was not microchipped or wearing a collar.

SPCA shelter Chairman Andrew Madeiros, a veterinarian with Ettrick Animal Hospital, was called in to treat the kitten.

He said the kitten was just dragging the leg behind him. He was also scrawny and covered in fleas.

“When he came in as an unknown with a badly injured leg that was an old injury, we considered euthanising him,” said Dr Madeiros. “We thought ‘what do we do? Are we going to spend $300 to amputate a leg when there are 50 other cats and kittens at the SPCA needing homes?’”

But Achilles’ friendly personality won over Dr Madeiros and the shelter staff. It was decided the kitten was highly adoptable and it was treated at Dr Madeiros’ expense.

Dr Madeiros said Achilles’ story emphasised why it was so necessary to microchip your cats, so that they can be returned to you if they go missing or are injured.

Microchipping involves a quick painless injection under the skin. Later the vet can pass a wand over the microchip and read information such as the owner’s name and contact details.

“If an animal is badly injured in the middle of the night and we don’t know if there is an owner or not then we have a tough decision to make.

“We have to decide whether we save the animal’s life knowing there might not be anyone to pay the vet bills later on.

“It is tough for us to know what to do. There are a lot of cats that are found dead or injured, and unless they are microchipped or wearing identification, there is no way to contact the owners.

“A lot of people will wait three or four days before looking for their cats, because cats are known to wander off for a little while.”

He said it was also important to consider keeping your cat indoors for the duration of its life — if the cat will tolerate it.

“There are a lot of risks outside for cats and they get into all sorts of trouble,” said Dr Madeiros. “They can be attacked by dogs, get into fights with other cats or be injured by vehicles.

“People should consider trying to keep them indoors. We have a culture of cats being outdoors in Bermuda.

“A lot of cats are born outside and come inside as an unknown kitty from the SPCA. Then it can be more difficult to keep them inside.

“A lot of times people keep them in until they are three or four months old, and then let them out because they don’t like dealing with the litter box. If you get your cat as a young kitten, at least try to keep them indoors.”

Dr Madeiros said spaying and neutering cats was important, and made it easier to keep them indoors, as they won’t feel the need to roam to find a mate.

Achilles is now healthy and flea-free. He has no medical issues.

SPCA staff are waiting a little longer for the kitten’s leg to fully heal, but when it does he will make a good pet. Cats do very well on three legs.

Kennel and facilities manager Shelby Rodrigues said Achilles had bounced right back from the surgery and was in good spirits.

“His coat looks really good now with no fleas,” she said. “So we are excited about that. We are seeing a lot more people having to surrender their cats because they are moving.

“A lot of people abandon their cats because they can no longer take care of them. I think the economy is playing a part in it.

“Because we have such a bad cat problem as it is on the Island, the economy has really pushed the stray cat population over the edge.

“People are not spaying and neutering their cats. That is important to do by the time the animal is six months old because they come into season multiple times during the year.

“They can have multiple litters and those litters can have litters. Any animal that leaves the shelter is neutered or has an appointment made for spaying or neutering. We are big believers in getting it done.”

By Jessie Moniz The Royal Gazette