Just a few months after being adopted by a Redondo Beach couple, Ni Hao—the stowaway kitten that made worldwide headlines after surviving a transpacific journey trapped in a shipping container—has made nearly a full recovery.
In four months, the famous kitten has grown to a healthy weight and has overcome most of the injuries sustained from Shanghai, China to the Port of Los Angeles.
It has been a long but successful rehabilitation for a cat who Carson Animal Shelter employees initially thought would not make it through his injuries.
"The first thing I thought was he was going to die," said animal control officer Frank Medina. "He was totally dehydrated. His eyes were shut; the poor thing was meowing ... It looked like he was in pain."
Adoptive parents Kathleen Shaver and Harvey Hettick beat out 80 other applicants to adopt Ni Hao, whose name means "Hello" in Chinese, from the Carson Animal Shelter in September and since then, have worked to get him—quite literally—back on his feet.
"When Ni Hao first came to us in September, he had significant weakness in his rear legs," Shaver remembered. "He would shake when he walked and he couldn't jump."
With Hettick's help, Shaver converted their home gym into a "cat nursery" and created a safe environment for Ni Hao to recover and acclimate to his two feline big brothers, Zeus and Charlie.
During that time, Ni Hao doubled his weight to 9 pounds. He also regained full use of his back legs with the help of some leg exercises created by Shaver and Hettick.
"We are now at the point where the only lasting disability that he seems to have is some reduced vision and he certainly doesn't seem to be slowed down by it," Shaver said. "The weakness he was experiencing in his back legs is gone and he is essentially a happy, normal kitten."
Now that he has recovered, Shaver said that Ni Hao enjoys playing with pretty much any household object.
"Everything is a cat toy," said Shaver, who added that Ni Hao especially likes to chase around the red dot of a laser pointer.
With Ni Hao's successful recovery and worldwide attention, Shaver hopes that his story will make the public more aware of the other shelter cats that need homes.
"I think Ni Hao is one of the best known cats in the world," said Shaver. "I think that Ni Hao's story just brings light to the fact that there are thousands of animals that the county takes care of every day."