Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A labor of love

Janie L was in pain every single day. She had undergone a major back surgery that stood a chance of paralyzing her forever. She can't get out of bed some days, but she isn't paralyzed.

Janie was also deathly allergic to cats. A couple of hours visiting her sister, who had two cats, would often give her bronchitis and stuffed up sinuses for two days after. Still, she adored animals, especially cats. So when the weather was turning cooler, she felt she had to do something about the tiny black and white cat who had spent the summer in her neighborhood's lawns, chasing squirrels and avoiding humans. Janie got a hav-a-heart trap, and soon she had a very frightened little cat trying frantically to escape from it!

Janie's sister came over to help get the little one into a large kennel; the cat had never been touched by humans before, so this was a real challenge that got sis scratched up. But the cat was safely ensconced in the kennel, with a cozy bed, plenty of food and water, and a litterbox. The two sisters could not tell what gender the quivering furball was, but they did determine (correctly, it turned out) that kitty was deaf.

Janie called every rescue she could, but all were full to overflowing. Her sinuses grew more and more clogged, and she knew that she couldn't keep this up for long--but she could not bring herself to put the kitty back outside, especially now that she knew kitty was deaf.

As luck would have it, she called the rescue I volunteer for while a particularly soft-hearted volunteer was on phone duty. This volunteer felt drawn to the situation, both by the cat's desperate need and by the woman's kindness and courage in trying to help a creature that was making her physically ill.

So I, the volunteer, was able to somehow convince the foster coordinator to let me take on this challenge. I called Janie to arrange for us to come and meet the kitten. Brian and I arrived around 7pm with a carrier and towel. I had Brian hold the towel at first while I removed items from the kennel to get them out of the way. Once the way was cleared, I reached in to see how the cat would react to my trying to pick her up. Janie and her sister were amazed that I would just reach in like that, but I could tell from the cat's behavior that it was afraid, but not aggressive. After it pulled itself back into the corner, I took the towel from Brian and used that to wrap her up and pull her out.

I had Brian hold the wrapped, trembling kitty while I looked it--her!--over. Janie and her sister wanted to pet her before we put her in the carrier, so we let them stroke her head. It was a huge thrill for Janie to touch the scared little kitty she'd rescued! She told me that she had tried every rescue, and that she was crying and praying, asking her mother's spirit to help her find someone to intervene for the kitty. They'd been calling her Oscar, and she is about six months old, short haired, black and white, and POLYDACTYL! I'm a sucker for extra toes.

So we said goodbye and took Colette (we named her that night) home with us. Brian took her straight up to the bathroom while I put together my foster intake kit. Brian sat with her on his lap, a towel underneath her, while I sat on the floor in front of them to do the procedures. Colette was amazingly calm the whole time, and let us do whatever we needed without a peep or struggle. I think her being deaf helped; strange sounds seem to be the most stressful things for scared kitties.

First, I had to trim her nails so she wouldn't shred us if she resisted. She calmly let me trim each claw. When I got to her right rear foot, I was appalled to find that the extra toe, which was halfway up the foot (if it were on your foot, it would be on the inside of your foot, right at the point where the arch is at its highest point), had overgrown the claw all the way into the pad. Cat claws grow in a curve, and regular wear and shedding usually keeps them from overgrowth. On a toe that does not touch the ground, the outer layers don't shed, and the claw doesn't wear down, so it keeps curving around until it grows into the flesh of the toe. I've seen it on polydactyls before; in Colette's case, it was a matter of being a stray who'd never had anyone to groom her, whereas the previous case was a person who was not diligent about nail trimming. Colette did not react at all as I trimmed the overgrown nail, removed the bit from her paw pad, which started to bleed, and then cleaned and disinfected the wound. Luckily, it was not full of pus or necrotic tissue; she will be just fine as long as we keep her claws trimmed!

After the claws, I had to dredge an appalling amount of clotted black goop out of her ears. I was pulling chunks out of her poor ears, and she just sat there and let me do it. It took a long time to get them cleaned; I flushed, I rubbed with cotton balls, and I pulled bits out with swabs. I treated both ears for mites as well; I'll probably have to repeat the whole process in a week or two.

Then came the easy stuff; worming medicine down the hatch, a quick distemper vaccination (she didn't even notice), flea treatment, eye drops for her conjunctivitis, and the first dose of Doxycycline for her URI. She's a bit snuffly, but she's alert, bright eyed, inquisitive, and energetic, so I think we got to her just in time. After that, we just petted her and let her get to know us for a bit before putting her out on the front porch with food, water, and litter box. The front porch is our "extra" foster room when we have a cat that needs to be quarantined.

Janie is going to sponsor Colette's spay, which is scheduled for Tuesday, 9/22. Colette will be tested for FIV and FeLV as well, and I am hoping that she is negative for both. She will be socialized here, and then when we feel she is adoptable, she will go on the rescue's website so we can find her a home.

I don't know what drew me to this cat, but I am grateful to have the opportunity to help her.

1 comment:

Gina said...

Good luck, Colette!