FOX Carolina 21
When former U.S. Army Sergeant Karolyn Smith entered a Humane Society, she planned on taking two kittens home with her – and she did. But one of the kittens who captured her heart came with a physical challenge not on the agenda: a missing limb.
While Leonidas was a healthy little one, Smith’s other adoptee, Sophia, had been found with an umbilical cord wrapped around her paw, resulting in a necessary amputation that modified her looks, but didn’t dim her spirit.
“I got to the Humane Society and they said, ‘Oh, [this kitten]’s an amputee,'” Karolyn Smith told Fox Carolina. “I was thinking no problem, because I have friends who are amputees and I started thinking, Oh my God, I could solve this problem, too.”
Having undergone the difficult transition from Iraq herself, Smith, a one-time machine gunner, saw Sophia as a ‘meow muse’ of sorts; believing that the brave kitten could be a shoulder to lean on for returning veterans who have lost their limbs or are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“There’s a problem to be solved, and we’ve got to figure it out,” Smith said. “Go play with a kitten, because I guarantee you, you pick up a little kitten and five minutes later your day, which was not so hot, is just like … aww.”
According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, 22 U.S. Veterans commit suicide each day. That’s 22 too many, and Smith is determined to change those statistics with Sophia’s sweet soul and inspiring tale of overcoming obstacles.
“The purring in a cat releases oxytocin and it’s actually a soothing, happy chemical in your brain,” Smith said. “What if you can put something in your home that’s going to release this natural chemical helping whatever your therapy program is – what if that’s a kitten?”
Next week, Sophia will be fitted with a prosthetic leg created by San Diego’s Fab Lab; afterwards, Smith will move forward with her plans for Sophia – reaching out to veterans who could use a little feline friendship in their lives.