Saturday, December 6, 2008
I Call Him Chance
Hello, my special friends!
I'm as happy as my friend Joan here..... walking around the house in her red party dress smoking her crazily mild Camels! Ah- Blissful and Elegant!
Why am I so happy?
Because homework is DONE.
Final project for head trauma victim instructor?
Ready to turn in and have her grade it with her special brand of nonsense evaluation.
All that is left is the stress inducing NCLEX.
Enough about that.
It's also time for some of my favorite things - Christmas movies and making cookies.
Also this year we are undertaking a total renovation of our living room - which will begin next weekend and hopefully will be finished by Christmas. I hope to be baking cookies the weekend before Christmas and then (as is my tradition) finish off with a martini and a viewing of Black Christmas. Ah, the holidays!
But this year is different for yet another reason - we are temporarily fostering a homeless cat until he can go to an adoption center.
Last month, November 5th to be exact, Papa Cash and I were outside cleaning our cars. If you can remember that day, it was unseasonably warm here in Milwaukee. (Hard to believe with all this snow outside that I was out in the WARM a month ago) We had the garage door open, and when I was going from one car to another, I saw a small cat come walking down the sidewalk towards me. I see a few cats in this neighborhood from time to time, but they're all so skittish that it was already odd to see this cat walking right towards me....and as he got closer I could see that he was
1)severely skinny, and 2) looked like he'd slept in a mud puddle the night before.
I said, 'Hi, Kitty!' as I greet all cats (Yes, I greet cats whenever I see them) and he started crying back at me, walked under my car, and right past the floor vac and into our garage......over to the shelves and jumped in a box on the bottom shelf filled with oil changing supplies. He kept crying, so we decided to give him some food, go back to the cars, and see what he did. I kept sneaking a look at him and saw him (very slowly) crawl out of the box, eat, and go back to it. He could barely move and it was obvious to me that he was very near starving to death.....I even thought maybe he was just looking for a place to die.
We finished up our work, and he was still in the box. I didn't know what to do but I knew people who worked in pet rescue who did. So I made him a litter box, got him some water, and we took an old blanket and Papa C folded it up and laid it on the floor.....the cat watched everything and as soon as the blanket hit the floor, he crawled out of his box and went to the blanket. We left him and I made some calls and sent some emails...
Later that night I went down to see how he was, and thought I'd try to put his blanket in a box for a more insulated bed. I knelt down and put my hand out to him....and he came right to me, purring, talking, rubbing against me and just generally sealing the whole deal that he wasn't going anywhere until I could find a safe place for him.
Then I pet him and I almost cried.....I didn't even know how he was walking around. He was literally a skeleton covered in fur. I could completely palpitate EVERY bone in his body...his legs were like sticks..I've never ever seen an animal so malnourished and I wasn't sure how he was still alive....and still had my doubts that he would make it.
Here are some photos taken roughly a week after he got here.....they're not pretty, but bear in mind that he looked even worse the day he arrived.
I talked to a friend of mine who fosters cats, and she provided me with a flea treatment, ear treatment, vaccine, and dewormer. I was nervous about giving an unfamilar cat all this treatment.....but he just purred and kneaded the towel, even during his injection.
Another week later we gave him a bath - he was still dirty and smelly- and he took that as about as well as a cat being drenched with water can. At one point I had Papa C hold him up so I could wash his belly, and I found a small wound about the size of my pinky on his chest. Also, the washing caused all the hair (which was probably on its way out anyway) on his underside and inside of his legs to fall off. Now, I had twice checked this cat for wounds and found nothing......but he was so dirty and matted that it took a flashlight for me to figure out he was a boy!
Now, for those of you that know me.....you have to admit that all this was pretty amazing. For one, I managed to procrastinate cleaning my car all spring, summer, and most of fall.....and part of the actual day we did it.....and when I finally resign myself to one of my most hated tasks, during those two hours, this cat picks THAT TIME to walk down my sidewalk.
Also- I love cats and there was no way in hell I was going to kick out any homeless animal like that...AND.....I had just completed an 8 week internship in home care, where my primary focus was.....wound care. Yeah. Someone gave this cat my address for sure.
Anyway, at the time I originally saw the wound, everything about it said healthy wound, good healing, no infection. I checked it daily and everything was fine...till three days later when it blew up to the size of a golf ball.
I have seen and smelled some nasty things as a nursing student and I've been as cool as a cucumber.....but you show me a hurt animal (especially a cat) and I'm suddenly a panicking emotional mess. Thus my decision to go into health care for humans and not animals. I can feel emotionally for people but focus on the situation at hand and remain able to make good decisions.....if I worked in veterinary care, I'd probably be crying daily.
Long story short, I tried to get him into my regular vet (who is awesome) but I ended up in his secondary location with another vet he practices with. Not my ideal but she assessed him and cleaned him up and prescribed antibiotics and a warm compress 2-3x a day to assist in draining. She also determined him to be in good health otherwise and about SIX years old. Which at the time, I found hard to believe because of his size. Now that he's putting on weight, I can see he's not a kitten. He was also BARELY four and a half pounds. This was roughly two weeks into his stay here- and he had put on weight- which probably made him roughly three pounds when he got here. THREE POUNDS.
So I spent almost a week taking a warm compress, putting it on his chest, and wrapping him up in a towel for cuddle/drainage time. He would purr and biscuit me and generally charm me with his affections. Here's some pictures from that time.
He is cleaner, softer, and at this point I could finally feel muscle developing around his neck and between his ribs...although when I held him I could feel his bony backbone very easily through the towel.
His wound healed well, and after the vet visit, I found two more small wounds on the back of one leg. They were scabbed but all scabs have dropped off and only scar tissue is left. His neck was covered with matts, which I finally was able to remove a couple of days ago....everything on his underside is covered with soft down, which is white with a couple of large black patches on his belly and black stripes on the legs.
So Chance survives yet another setback.....as if near starvation, attack by someone or something weren't enough. I can't express what a wonderfully sweet loving cat this is. He loves to be held and pet and has started to climb up and walk on my shoulders when I hold him. He purrs nonstop and you literally can't give him enough love. He will be VERY attached to whoever finally adopts him. That person will need to understand how much reassurance and love he needs and be okay with him being right next to them constantly. This may change as he adjusts to being in a home...I'd like to see him being more playful but for now I just want to see him eat, rest, and keep gaining weight.
I wish I could keep him- I would in an instant- but I already have three and one of those believes that she is the ONLY cat and all others should be swiftly and methodically annihilated. But that's a story for another day..... right now my biggest wish for him is that he finds someone who will give him all the love he needs and never EVER put him outside again.
That's another thing- I can't begin to imagine what circumstances led him to being homeless-....he had been on his own for quite a while to become that thin. I don't know if he got lost or someone just abandoned him....but watching his reaction when we've had to open the garage door- (he hides in his box) I just can't imagine that this cat just accidently wandered away from home.
I frequently watch the Specialty website where I got my cats, just because I like to read the stories and see the cats get adopted. Lately I seem to read more and more cases where the cats were found as strays and near starvation. Are people just dumping their animals because of this recession? I just can't even begin to wrap my head around that......if someone honestly cannot afford to feed their pets, then can you really not be bothered to actually take them to a shelter? As much as I hate to say it, if they ended up euthanized, as much as that breaks my heart....I'd prefer that ten times over an animal starving to death. Especially animals that have no clue how to survive outside. I really have no sympathy or understanding for people that would do that.
Well, off my soap box, and back to Chance. Unfortunately (I really hope this is the LAST setback for my little guy) he developed intestinal upset due to the antibiotic. I'll refrain from details, but any of you who have taken or given a child antibiotic for a long period of time know what I mean. I am now giving him Pedialyte, and mixing a bit of yogurt (to replace the good bacteria in his gut), pumpkin, and baby rice cereal into his food. I think things are beginning to clear up - at least I hope- and that we don't need another trip to the vet.
We are hoping that in two weeks, he will finally go to foster care. The deal is that he will be displayed in public, so the main concern is that he look good for this. He does look much better, and I think in two weeks it will not be so obvious that he is bald on the inside. As much as I will be sad to see him go....he is living in my garage, which obviously is not the best situation. We do have a very well insulated garage, so it is fairly warm considering the weather....and we have built him a special box that is insulated on the top, with a heating pad on low tucked in under his blanket...so he has a little warm cave to crawl into.
But- if anyone reading this lives in the area, or knows someone who might be looking for a pet......personality wise you couldn't ask for much more. He is a little love machine. He does seem at times to have some hesitation about men (maybe he was abused by one?) and the first time Papa Cash went down there to get our snow shovel, he ran and hid. But I think in time he could overcome this as well. I haven't seen him around other animals, so that's hard to say.
But even if you can't take him, or don't know anyone who might want him, please take a moment to say a prayer, light a candle, or anything for my little friend. We really need him to get over this latest hurdle so all his energy and nutrition can go to building muscle and growing fur. Trust me, Chance will love you for it.
Hugs and Purrs,