By the time the tiny black kitten arrived at the Bayville Veterinary Hospital, she was in desperate shape.
The baby cat - one of four 'barn cats' - had been missing for several days. She was found trapped under a metal rake in a neighbor's shed. A neighbor bought the kitten in for her owner, who was taking care of her invalid husband.
"Somehow she got in there, got stuck and didn't know how to get out," said Glenn R. McDowell, a longtime Bayville veterinarian. "They heard her crying."
The kitten's necrotic left leg was swollen to three times its size. She was lethargic, dehydrated and cold. McDowell immediately put her on antibiotics and hooked her up to an I.V.
"Her temperature was very low," said Brianna McDowell, McDowell's daughter, who is studying in Scotland to become a veterinarian. "We had to put her on a hot pack."
He called the kitten's owner the next morning. There was no doubt about what had to be done. The kitten's leg had to be amputated.
"It had to come off," McDowell said. "She probably would have died."
The owner was distraught. She did not have the money to pay for the surgery. She reluctantly asked McDowell to euthanize the kitten.
But that wasn't going to happen, not if McDowell's office staff had anything to do with it.
"I said, 'We can't do this,' " said receptionist Ruth Augustinowicz. "We were all scheming. I was going to pay for the whole thing."
Ruth, Brianna, veterinary technician Karen Brandt and veterinary assistant Rihanna Saling went to McDowell and offered to chip in to pay for the surgery.
They didn't have to worry. In the end, McDowell did it for free.
The actual surgery was not a complex operation. But putting a 1.3 pound kitten under anesthesia wasn't easy. Brianna and Brandt had to constantly monitor her breathing throughout the procedure..
"She did very well," McDowell said. "The anesthesia was the most difficult part."
By the day afer the surgery, Calpurnia was already scampering around the office. She's already learned how to position her right paw directly in front of her, rather than off to the side, so she can keep her balance, Brandt said.
She'll spend spend a little more time at the hospital, with her new brothers, office cats Neville and Norman. And after that?
"I think we'll be taking her home," McDowell said.
Brianna McDowell has two more years to go in school. Then she will return to the United States and join her father in his practice.
"It's going to be great," McDowell said with a smile. "I can relax."
Check out the video and see how well this sweet little girl is doing.