For those of you who don’t know me well, I have a real soft spot for animals. Especially innocent kittens. Over the last four years, my husband and I have fed, fostered, adopted, loved, found homes for more than a half dozen litters of feral cats. What started as innocently feeding a roaming cat on our front porch in the middle of winter, turned out to be a circus of love and me being dubbed as “the crazy cat lady.” But that’s ok, I’ll own up to it, because I am in fact crazy…crazy finding ways to get these cats all good and loving homes without me going into debt.
Meet Tabby “aka Momma”. She’s been hanging around for the last couple of summers, and has had two litters that I’m aware of to date. Last summer she had a litter of three, all grey kittens who lived in the wood pile along our garage for the first 8 weeks of their lives, and in the past 9 months of their lives have lived inside our home. First, it was Grayson who would enter after suffering an injury from a mouse bite. When I was finally able to grab him and get him to the vet, he had a pretty high temp, infection and had been holding his left paw in the air (I was sure he had a broken limb). Once I got him home, the emergency ward in my home had opened. My husband, concerned for Momma’s constant cries looking for Grayson, kept asking me when I was going to put him back outside. Hmmm….let me ponder, I wasn’t! Not after spending money on him and needing to watch him to be sure the fever wouldn’t spike or infection get worse. There would be no way I would catch him again (he is a little spitfire – even today, he’s not a cuddler by any means). “Momma” would have to listen to me and know that I was taking good care of her little boy – she still had two to tend with outside.
Grayson healed quickly and soon would be introduced to the rest of the “cat board” who run our home, and “Momma” no longer realized he was missing. Then about six weeks later, we arrived home from the cruise we had taken, and one of “Momma’s” kittens was missing, and the other just meowed and meowed at us when we would feed them as if to say, please take me in. He would sit at the door just begging for attention. “Momma” would sometimes wonder off leaving her little guy to fend for himself. I’m sure you all are thinking how this story is going to end.
No, it would not be me this time to succumb to the pressure of this little fella, but dear ole hubby. I was sitting in our basement one evening, and down he came. As he hit the last step, he says to me I think I’ll call him “Billy.” I looked at him quizzically, thinking what is he talking about. I said who? “The cat,” he says…”I think we should bring him in, and we’ll call him Billy.” So, needless to say he didn’t have to twist my arm too much, and a few days later after getting “Billy” checked out at the vet, he made his way into our home and reunited with his brother Grayson. We never saw the missing kitty again. I know often I think the worst could have happened to her, but I pray that nothing did.
Fast forward to Spring 2015…St. Patrick’s Day actually. Over the winter months “Momma” had become pregnant once again, and on St. Patrick’s Day gave birth to a litter of four. On that first day, she had them right outside our front porch in the corner next to the foundation. I was worried about the dropping evening temperatures and thought surely she’s not going to keep them there so close to the road and heavy school traffic. Sure enough, within 24 hours she had moved them to safety. Inside the neighbors boat, undercover where no one could see them or any weather elements would interfere.
Week by week, we watched them grow until they were finally ready to take their first trip out of the boat. They ended up taking residency behind a refrigerator on our deck. During this time, of course, I’m trying to find people who would want to adopt the cuties…my sister had decided she would take the one, but not until after she came back from a trip.
But fate has a funny way of intervening, and shortly after Mother’s Day weekend, three of the kittens disappeared. “Momma” was beside herself, calling and calling for them to come. My husband was outside and could barely stand the sadness of it all, he looked for the kittens high and lo, but no luck. After I got home from work, I too went searching, but no luck. As we’ve seen in the past, usually the mother takes the kittens on a scavenger hunt and eventually they all wind up back at the house. Although this time we wouldn’t be as lucky.
By morning only one had returned by feeding time (a little black one, we call Inky), and when I peeked again before leaving for work that morning, a second one had returned (a white w/grey striped patched, I dubbed Tippy because of the white tip on her tail, but you will shortly learn her name was changed to Lucy). I had a good feeling that by the time my husband would get home from work, all would have returned.
Later that evening after getting home from work, the fourth kitten was still missing and I noticed “Tippy” had what looked like a swollen cheek. When I mentioned it to my husband, he said no, he didn’t see anything. Well, instinct told me there was something wrong with this kitten, so I managed to grab her and was looking her over when I felt something along her rib cage. I thought maybe it was a bone, it was hard and upon further review I could see these sores on her. Something wasn’t right, and if I squeezed her too much, she would wheeze a little and cry as if in pain.
So, I put her down and pondered over what I should do. Grabbed her again, and put her in our mudroom to feed her and see how she acted. She ate fine, but something just told me she wasn’t right. Unfortunately, my vet office was closed for the weekend due to an open house they were holding the next day (Saturday). So, where do you go on a Friday night at 6:30 to find a vet who would be open? Well, thankfully, there is a vet hospital open 24 hours a day during weekends and holidays, just 45 minutes north of us. So, I called my sister and asked her to meet me there.
I bundled Tippy up and put her into a pet carrier. She was not active at all, meowed a little, but sat quietly in her covers as we traveled to the vet. When we got there, they were finishing suturing a dog, so we would have to wait for a few minutes. The vet tech took her temp, just slightly over normal (which was a good thing before any fevers spiked), she wasn’t quite sure what the hardness was we were feeling, she would leave that to the vet to diagnose.
Upon review by the vet, we came to learn that “Lucy” had been pretty badly mulled, most likely by a dog, but we aren’t sure, and really will never know. But her injuries were severe. Two open wounds on the top of her shoulders and two under her belly, where I had felt the hardness. Turned out the skin and fur had grown back in upon itself and was causing infection, and causing the abyss in her jawline (the swelling I saw earlier, which my husband said was nothing…hmmm). The vet informed us of what she would do to her and advised she was probably going to have to allow the two belly wounds to heal openly. As we waited, my sister and I were discussing how we would handle things and we would leave the kitten at her house since she lived close by, just in case we would need to rush her back to the hospital over the weekend. The longer we sat waiting, the more the plans changed, and soon my sister decided she would adopt her and name her “Lucy.”
It’s hard to believe the above photos were taken just a little over a week ago. Ten days later Lucy is doing great! Within 24 hours of her wound repair, she was back to being her playful kitten self. She has since adapted very well to her new surroundings.
A little shy of the big rotty, Bella, but after her initial contact, she didn’t give her another thought and has been running, jumping, swimming (yes, she took a little swim not knowing the tub was full of water my sister had drawn to take a bath) and enjoying life.
Thanks to the very good hands of Dr. Scholz, Lucy’s recovery would not have been possible. I thought I would send her a photo of Lucy and thank her for her great care of Lucy with a special card I made today. You can find all the details of how I made the card here.