It’s now seven weeks ago that I was sitting at home one Friday evening, minding my own business, when a message pinged into our 8 Lives inbox. It was about a long term stray who was injured and needed help asap. As usual we were full … but obviously wanted to help as it was an S8 cat and we aim to go the extra mile for S8 cats 🙂
We said we could help with vet bills etc but simply had nowhere to put him … so would the person messaging like to foster him? This is perhaps the first miracle in the tail. More than 9 times out of 10, if we reply offering help conditional on the other person doing something, even something very simple, we never hear from them again. However on this occasion the person said yes he could do that and would clear space in the spare bedroom for the cat!
The next miracle was that we’d just made connection with someone who is experienced with trapping. So when we realised that the cat needed to be trapped …. we had someone who we could ask for help …. and were delighted when she agreed.
So … by late Friday evening we had a facebook convo with person who had contacted us and agreed to foster, his partner, the person who had agreed to help with trapping and the person who’s garden the cat was mainly hanging out in.
Saturday progressed with messages about sightings and traps, and Jerry (locals believe the cat had been named Jerry before being abandoned about 9 years ago) generally being an arse and refusing to go into the trap. He even strode up to the trapper’s car at one point and sprayed down the side of it. The drama extended into Sunday too, but finally with reinforcements brought in, and a different kind of trap, the cat was in the bag …. so to speak.
Sadly with it being Sunday our regular vets were closed. So Jerry was taken to another local vet who had Sunday opening. Jerry had a huge abscess on his face which was doubtless the result of fighting as an unneutered tom cat. He was admitted to have the abscess cleaned and to be neutered, but they did a basic level test for FIV, found him to be positive and immediately wanted to put him to sleep. We refused to consent to this and were relieved to get him out of there the following day … thankfully now neutered and with his abscess cleaned up.
The wound on the side of his face was shockingly big and deep. Jerry sat miserably in his crate whilst foster carers and I disucssed his ongoing care.
Over the coming days the fosterers spent hours with him, talking to him, helping him to settle. He wasn’t happy though and was weeing on the floor in his crate and getting in quite a mess.
Very relieved to get back to our own vets, Vets4Pets at Milllhouses, with him. They checked his wound, gave more antibiotics and took some blood. So far, all the cats who have tested positive for FIV on the basic test that the other vet did, have come back negative when they’ve had the more specific test which we prefer. Sadly Jerry’s was the first time that that one also came back positive. Being FIV positive doesn’t have to be the end of the world, despite the reaction of the other vets. The really bad news was that the results showed that Jerry was at stage 4 (the final stage) of kidney failure … not only that …. his readings were pretty much off the scale. Our vet said he’d had to put cats to sleep with considerably lower readings, because they were so poorly …. not Jerry though … not at that stage … because he showed every sign of having a good quality of life.
It felt a bit bleak at that point though. We’d been told that his wound would probably take about 6 weeks to half way heal, but possibly longer due to FIV. And looking at his blood results, it seemed he most probably wouldn’t survive long enough to see it heal.
I didn’t want to tell the foster carers at first, because by that stage Jerry had started to make some progress .. he was enjoying being stroked and gaining confidence. I didn’t want them to give up on him. I needn’t have worried … when I told them, they were as committed as ever to caring for Jerry and giving him the best life possible.
Thankfully no one has told Jerry that his blood results are so bad that he shouldn’t really be alive. So he’s just getting on with life, and here are a whole collection of little miracles:
- He’s eating well, even the renal food which most cats are reluctant to eat.
- He’s putting weight on.
- His coat is soft and between him and his foster carers most of the knots are gone.
- His face is healing incredibly well.
- He’s starting to play a little.
- He’s become one of the most snuggly, loving cats I’ve ever met …….. and I’ve met a few x
At his nurse appointment last week for his wound check he was just the most snuggly loving boy ever. His face has healed amazingly well. There’s even signs of a little fur growing back. It might end up being a bit of a comb-over but wow! He climbed up into my arms for more cuddles and gave nurse Sam loads of snuggles.
Clearly the miracle can’t hold forever … he’s a poorly boy …. but perhaps in these remaining few weeks or months we can make up a little bit for the years he’s had to endure living rough. I wanted to add “not being cared for” … but that wouldn’t be entirely true. Many people have been aware of him over the years and have fed him, offered him a little shelter, tried to get help for him. Seeing how loving he is and what a character he is though, its just heartbreaking that he’s spent so many years living rough without the cuddles that he so obviously adores.