A couple of weeks before Superstorm Sandy ripped through the Northeast, a new cat found her way to one of our feral colonies. She’s a pudgy little white and tabby kitty, quite friendly and loves people. It is obvious someone dumped her. She doesn’t act feral at all.
I was watching her one afternoon. I try to gauge the personalities of the frequent visitors at the colony so I can anticipate their behavior and adjust mine according to each cat. The feral kitty cried a few times in the distance. When I spoke to her, she arched her back and rubbed against a tree. A meow back. The charade lasted for some time, until she was close enough to sniff my hand. As she slowly approached my vicinity, I noticed that her hindquarters didn’t quite communicate with her front. I was pretty certain she had cerebellar hypoplasia. The shelter manager confirmed after a few sessions of watching our wobbly friend.
I started to call her Wobbles. While the volunteer staff names the cats to be adopted by somewhat “normal” names, fun names that describe physical traits are reserved for the feral colony. This way, everyone is on the same page as far as who’s who. Wobbles was very people friendly. Even if it wasn’t feeding time, she would let us pet her and rub up against our legs. She wouldn’t let us hold her, though.
The weeks the shelter was closed because of Sandy, Ron and I broke through police barricades, tangles of electrical/cable wiring, and flood waters to feed the feral colony. Wobbles was stuck on a concrete wall that separated the feral barn from a golf course. She was surrounded by water. Ron trudged through stagnant muck to rescue Wobbles from her solitary perch. He showed her the way back to the barn so she wouldn’t get stuck in mud or high water.
Since then, she has been extremely sociable with volunteers. The more time I spent with her, the more I became angry that someone could dump a special needs cat. Wobbles was on her way of becoming a candidate for adoption. She even let us give her flea medication.
In the beginning of April, something happened to Wobbles. The shelter manager and I opened the barn one morning to find her sitting on one of the perches with her eyes glazed over. Her neck looked like the size of a grapefruit, while it was evident by the loose skin at her sides that she lost weight. As we carefully approached her, we saw coagulated blood around her neck with missing tufts of fur. I was horrified. The shelter manager tried to trap her, but Wobbles ran off, backside swinging after her. It looked like she got bit by a raccoon or fox.
Another volunteer who monitors the feral colony managed to trap Wobbles and take her to the vet. According to Doctor P, it appeared that Wobbles suffered from a severe laceration across her neck. As far as cause, the vet postulated that it could have been from getting caught on sharp fencing or the claws of another animal. Wobbles was giving s.q. fluids, a rabies vaccination, and antibiotic. She had to have drains put in her neck as well as many stitches. The volunteer named her April for her medical records. I still call her Wobbles.
Wobbles was kept in a small cage for about a week after visiting the vet. There was no way in hell any of us were going to let her back outside in her condition. She was frightened. After two days living in a cage, Wobbles managed to rip both drains out of her neck. She spent the remainder of the week under close supervision at the vet.
I saw Wobbles on Wednesday. She’s back at the shelter, sans drain and stitches. And she looks amazing. Her old, spunky personality returned. The best part is she allows volunteers to give her hugs and kisses now. I think she’s relishing in the extra attention and love. We all agreed that we would not allow her to go back outside. We made it our mission to find her a forever home.