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Viral Utah kitten ‘Tater Tot’ continues healthy progress

Jul 26, 2023, 11:40 AM | Updated: Aug 3, 2023, 6:42 am

UPDATE: Tater Tot died on Tuesday after moving hearts of people around the world.

MIDVALE, Utah — It’s a cat whose story captured hearts across Utah and far beyond. Tater Tot, the kitten in splints whose photos have gone viral – and on Tuesday his rescuers said he was making good progress in just a few weeks.

Kitty CrusAIDe, a rescue that focuses largely on assisting cats from feral colonies, took in Tater Tot after a dog found and brought the cat to a neighbor of one of the organization’s volunteers in Fairview.

Foster mom Ash Houghton said the kitten had four deformed legs and a cleft palate and it would have been highly unlikely he ever would have survived for long in the wild.

“He would not have made it because of his cleft palate,” Houghton told KSL TV. “He couldn’t latch onto the bottle, so we started tube feeding him.”

Houghton said the tube feeding has continued for the 5.5-week-old kitten, but he has made good progress to the point where he’s had the iconic splints on his front legs removed.

“He was like a new kitten when we got those off,” Houghton said. “He was very excited. I think it’s kind of been wearing him out being able to have as much motion as he’s had and be able to get around as much as he’s been able to because those splints really hindered his ability. Before that, he would walk on the tips of his toes or the fronts of his paws. He couldn’t put his paw flat to walk and now he’s doing great.”

@kittycrusaide Nothin’ gonna break his stride! #tatertot #tater #spudbuds #kittycrusaide #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #kitten #catsoftiktok #bonkers #kittensoftiktok #spud ♬ Break My Stride – Chateau Pop

Houghton said the rescue was working with an orthopedic expert at Granite Veterinary Specialists.

She acknowledged Tater Tot still had a long road ahead in the ultimate goal of getting him adopted into a “forever home” — and he would likely stay with her until he was at least 9 months to 1 year old and until surgeons were able to successfully repair the cat’s cleft palate.

Handlers said Tater Tot would not be at a Kitty CrusAIDe adoption event currently scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Legendarium, 349 E. 900 South in Salt Lake City, but that they would have a number of other rescued kittens looking for new homes.

Houghton said Tater Tot’s determined spirit has been remarkable. His videos on the group’s TikTok page have hundreds of thousands of views, with one passing 6.2 million as of Wednesday.

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Viral Utah kitten ‘Tater Tot’ continues healthy progress