A kitten who was given a few months to live embarked on a bucket list of adventures with a shelter worker as they had developed a special bond.

Some animals are lucky enough to find an owner that considers them more than just a pet; they’re family. A survey of 2,000 pet owners conducted by OnePoll on behalf of pet food brand I Love You And You, found that 61 percent of those polled considered their pet to be their child.

It’s a status that brings with it plenty of perks though perhaps the most significant is the unconditional love and support a parent provides. During Footloose the kitten’s brief life, she never had an owner but she definitely had a parent, shelter worker Koreena Walsh, who showered her with the kind of love every pet deserves.

Walsh has loved animals ever since she was a little kid. “I wanted to be a veterinarian for most of my childhood, but started volunteering at an animal shelter in my hometown when I was a teenager and just never looked back,” she told Newsweek.

Footloose the kitten's bucket list.
Footloose was given a few months to live. Koreena was determined to make those months as memorable as possible.

Walsh works at an animal shelter in her native California, where she regularly fosters pets in need and, more specifically, neonatal kittens and animals that need specialized medical care like bottle feeding.

That was how she first met Footloose, or “Goosey” as she also came to be known. “I took Footloose and her brother Fancy Free home when they were about 4 weeks old to foster them,” she said.

Within a few days, however, Walsh began to notice something was wrong. “It became pretty clear within a few days that Footloose wasn’t growing or developing like she should,” she said. “We enrolled her in a clinical study on kitten morbidity and mortality at the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital where she was diagnosed with a lysosomal storage disorder.”

Walsh was told Footloose would “likely only live a few months.” It was heartbreaking news but Walsh was determined to do her best for Goosey so decidedly to keep her permanently as a foster/hospice carer.

Footloose the kitten did not grow.
Footloose the kitten struggled to put on weight. Koreena immediately began to fear the worst.

“Essentially because she wasn’t healthy enough for me to traditionally adopt her, the shelter and UC Davis continued to provide supportive veterinary care and I handled the rest,” she said.

The rest ended up being food, toys and a series of adventures that amounted to a “bucket list” for the young cat. “Footloose came to work with me every single day of her life so we had lots of little adventures to local coffee shops, pet-friendly stores, and such,” Walsh said. “We also had some bigger adventures too like going on a family vacation to a cabin in the mountains and flying from California to Texas for an animal welfare conference!”

Throughout, Walsh was determined to make Footloose’s time as comfortable and eventful as possible. “I just thought that if we had limited time together, I wanted to make sure she could experience as many things that cats enjoy in that time!” she said. “I initially planned for it to just be buying her toys and treats that my followers’ cats enjoy. But she loved adventuring so much it just evolved into more!”

Koreena and Footloose the kitten.
Koreena and Footloose the kitten. Koreena has helped hundreds of rescue animals but she had a special bond with Footloose.

Footloose’s adventures ranged from mountain hikes to trips to the pet store where she gazed at the fish. She was treated to cups of cream, endless cuddles and toys as well as play dates with Walsh’s other foster cats. “Her favorite, favorite thing to do was to visit some of our local parks,” Walsh said. “She liked to flop around in the grass and take a nap in the sun.”

Walsh has many fond memories of their time together, recalling their time at the cabin and a trip to Texas where Footloose donned an “iconic cowgirl hat.” She said: “I loved our first hike together on our family vacation. I was just so surprised that she was excited to run alongside me when we walked. She wasn’t even slightly scared in a new environment, just wanted to keep up with me.”

Together, Footloose and Walsh packed in a lifetime of memories. Sadly, that life came to an end too soon. With Footloose’s health deteriorating, Walsh made the painful decision to have her put to sleep. She died peacefully in her arms in one of her favorite spots.

“We had a goodbye picnic in the park with whipped cream (her favorite treat) and then I stayed with her the whole time until she was gone,” she said.

Footloose the cat sadly died.
Footloose passed on in Koreena’s arms. She may be gone, but she’ll never be forgotten.

Footloose’s life may have been short but the memories of their time together will live on with Walsh. “It sounds corny, but I just remember how deeply she loved and trusted me. I have worked professionally with animals for over a decade and had my own pets for my entire life, but that intensely trusting bond is pretty rare especially with a kitten so young,” she said.

“Every time she stared at me, I could just see that I was her whole world and it really helped ease the grief of knowing I wouldn’t get to enjoy her for long because I would be her forever even if she wasn’t mine.”

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