OTTAWA -- A three-week-old kitten named Ashley is fighting for its life after being covered with tar.

It was apparently found in Gatineau with its two other siblings, struggling to move, and the community is now stepping up to save its life.

Ashley is now slowly starting to move again, but she has a long road to recovery.

Sandi Lawson is the founder of Adopt Me Cat Rescue, and part of the team who rescued the kitten.   

"When we found Ashley she was in horrible condition. She would have not survived," says Lawson.

Just days ago, Ashley was discovered by a Gatineau resident in their backyard. Animal activists say it appears someone intentionally tried to harm the animals, pouring tar on them.

"Somebody had come onto his property to pour tar," says Lawson. "Likely because he knew there were cats and was not a fan."

All three animals were rushed to the vet. Ashley had the most severe injuries.

Ashley the cat

"She was caked in tar, and her eyes were glued shut," says Lawson. "She had no mobility. She wasn’t really eating."

Ashley spent 24 hours in the ICU. A stay that came with a bill of $1,700, a cost that complete strangers stepped up to pay.

"We were able to raise that money very, very quickly," says Janice Richard, who is fostering Ashley. "And not only that, the community has come together for this little one. I have a table full of receiving blankets, full of food."

Richard, along with the help of those who donated, has given this kitten a fighting chance.

"I have not seen anybody do this to a kitten," says Richard. "Take tar, however, it happened, we don’t know exactly. But even tarring a hole where there’s little kittens, they have to come out. She took the worst of it. The other two are fine."

Ashley the cat

Ashley is now able to finally walk, but still has small amounts of tar stuck to her fur.

"Tar is toxic, however, to cats," says Lawson. "So we don’t know if there’s going to be any long-term effects."

Richard is using a mix of mineral oil and Dawn soap daily to help remove the tar. 

"Every three hours I have to take the tar off of her. Which was a huge, huge endeavour to get it off of her," says Richard. "She’s just a little doll. She’s endured so much and she’s got a great personality."

It has been about five days since Ashley was found struggling to survive. Richard says she seems to be recovering successfully for a kitten who was that close to death.

"To the person that did this to this kitten, you didn’t win," says Richard. "You didn’t win anything. We won. She won because she’s alive, because of everybody in our community."

Richard will foster Ashley for another five or six weeks until she is healthy enough to be permanently adopted.