The Good, The Gruesome

This is probably going to be one of the most difficult posts I write.  I’ll start it off on a happy note.  I warn you – you may not want to read the ugly.  It is gruesome.

THE GOOD:

A little while back I wrote about two kitties at the shelter – Alex and Lucky.  I received a text message last night that they were adopted!  Both kitties left our care and went to their new forever home together!!  I had been worried about Lucky and Alex for months now.  I was relieved to hear that they went to a family with two children whom would grow up with the cats.  The kids were so excited about their new family members!  Many congrats  to my boys, Alex and Lucky!

 

THE GRUESOME:

We have a feral cat colony that lives near the shelter.  Many of the cats are friendly and  volunteers have come to know their personalities and have given them names.  The first cat that ever came up to me when I started volunteering was Momma.  She had huge green eyes that pleaded for attention whenever she looked at you.  Momma was a brown tabby with white on her paws, belly, and muzzle.  Her frame was petite and scrawny, but she never looked unhealthy or underfed.  In fact, she ate like a queen in the colony.

Yesterday afternoon Momma was struck and killed by a car.

When J and I saw her convulsing in the street, we started screaming at the top of our lungs.  J ran into the shelter to get a cat carrier so we could transport her to the vet.  Everything happened in a matter of seconds, even though the images replay in my head in slow motion.  There was so much blood and the rain made it worse.  When J ran to get the carrier, Momma tried to stand but fell to her side, hind legs twitching.  By the time J put her in the carrier, we suspected she had already gone to the Rainbow Bridge, as we couldn’t see her breathing.  The ride to the vet seemed to take eons, although it was only a mile away.  Before getting out of the car, I peeked into the cat carrier.  Momma was a lifeless pile of brown fur, wet with rain and blood.  It was only at this time that I became conscious of the fact that J and I had been crying.  We waited a minute or two for the vet to see us.  A man wearing a yellow t-shirt looked at sympathetically while he walked his dog out of the office.  I focused on holding the vomit in my stomach.  Finally we were brought into the exam room.  To my relief, the attending vet placed a towel over Momma’s head before taking her out of the cat carrier.  When she removed the towel, I stood so my view was obscured by the cat carrier.  The vet confirmed she suffered from a skull fracture and died almost instantaneously.  We had her cremated.

When I got home, I lost it.  I mean really lost it.  I cried so hard and I gave myself a panic attack.  Then I vomited bile.  I called Ron to tell him.  He had to decipher words from a string of incoherent sounds and repeat them back to me so I could confirm.  I couldn’t talk.  I couldn’t breathe.  Every time I closed my eyes, I saw Momma in the street.  And what I saw was so much more graphic and disturbing that what I wrote in the paragraph above.  My head is screwed up enough by the incident.  No need to screw up your head.

I couldn’t sleep last night.  I took five sleeping pills and still had difficulty.  I’ve been around death before, and moreover, I’ve been around cats that have passed to the Rainbow Bridge.  Never has it affected me to this degree.  I start to hyperventilate just thinking about going to the shelter tomorrow morning.  The thought of even entering a car makes me queasy with panic.  Today has consisted of intermittent periods of hysterics.  The memory of Momma in the street has been burned into my mind.  The nightmare replays on an endless loop inside my head.

While I know it was an accident, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming deluge of remorse, anger, and guilt.

Adoptables and Adoptions

We had a great weekend for adoptions.  Seven cats and three dogs found forever homes!  Two more dogs were being looked at yesterday and today.  If they are adopted, then we only have three dogs left at the shelter.  Cats are starting to come in steady, but its nothing like it was last year.  It seemed kitten season started pretty early for us in 2012, and our shelter was flooded with kittens and teenagers by the beginning of March.

Harmony and her newborns are doing well in foster care.  When she is finished nursing, the kittens will be adopted out and Harmony will be spayed and adopted.

The shelter manager was able to pick up Girlfriend and bring her inside.  On Sunday she looked terrified.  Girlfriend mewed the entire morning and acted a little skittish.  I am sure the move inside was stressful for her, but we were afraid that one of the dogs were going to get her.  She started hanging out up in the front yard on the roof of the dog runs.  A couple of our pooches aren’t so cat friendly and go ballistic when they see Handsome walking in the street outside of the shelter.

Girlfriend was a bit better on Monday.  She was purring, talking, and marking me as her property.  She’s so cute.  I was giving her lots of cheek scratches and Girlfriend flopped over and showed her belly.  Soooo adoptable!  She misses being around other cats.  When Girlfriend sees Romeo in the cage next to her, she stops meowing and starts purr-meowing and chirping.  We were contemplating putting her in a large cage with Wobbles (aka April) since they were buddies outside.  We’ll have to reintroduce them first and see how they fare.

Houdini and Lucky spent a lot of time with me Monday morning.  Lucky is doing great – he put on a healthy amount of weight.  When he came in from Paterson, he was all bone, weighing in at 4 pounds.  When he got neutered a couple of weeks ago, he weighed 10 pounds.  He’s trying to play with the other cats, but it’s like he doesn’t quite know how.  Boots went through the same thing.  Maybe if we put Lucky in the playroom with some teenagers, they can teach him.  I’m sure he’ll learn fairly quick.

Houdini is such an awesome cat.  There’s no other way to describe him.  He loves to play and loves being around people.  Houdini curled up next to me and demanded belly rubs Monday.  Then he would jump over my shoulders (using my shoulders as a springboard) and ham it up on my other side.  Several weeks in a row, Houdini has won the START II Post Caturday Shelter Award for Cleanest Cage.  I think he would do best in a home with children (about 5+).  And, he would also be great for a family who has never experienced the joys of cat guardianship.  He’s easy to care for, has plenty of love to give, and just wants to be around people.

Houdini Talking

Houdini Talking

Full Circle

RE: Apollo

On Friday, a package was waiting for us in the hallway.  Neither Ron nor I had ordered anything, so we were curious as to what it was.  I showed the box to Ron.

“That’s not Apollo, is it?” he asked.

I shrugged.  The receptionist at the emergency vet said that Apollo’s ashes would be shipped to the vet’s office and that it would take two weeks.  Carefully, I placed the box on our kitchen table and sliced open the packing tape with a box cutter.  Green foam popcorn spewed over the tabletop.  A dark cherry box wrapped in bubble wrap was inside with a certificate.  It was Apollo.

Ron held her for a little while.  When he was finished, we put her ashes next to Juno’s.

Eventually, we’re going to get a few small tabletop easels and lucite display boxes so we can properly show off the clay paw prints next to each appropriate urn.  Morpheus’ paw prints have been sitting on a shelf in our kitchen for the past two-and-a-half years.  They have gotten dirty with dust.  We don’t want further damage to occur, as each set of paw prints is irreplaceable.

Regarding Lucky

SONY DSC

Lucky The Cat, a month after rehabilitation

Lucky has been doing amazing since he first arrived at the shelter.  The weight is slowly coming on, and he’s been exploring a lot lately.  When I pick him up, he’s not as bony.  I don’t feel like I’m cuddling a faberge egg on the verge of breaking.  He’s a very special boy.  Lucky is going to save someone soon, I know.  Yet, I am a little saddened at the thought of him leaving.  Rationally, it is the best thing possible for him, finding a forever home that will spoil him rotten and treat him like a little prince.  After all the time and emotion I’ve invested in his recovery, I am finding myself protective, like Wilson.

This past weekend, Lucky was awarded the START II Post-Caturday Shelter Award for Most Talkative.  He was chatting away all morning Sunday, rolling around on his back and letting out little purr-meows.  Each time I asked him a question, he came to the front of his cage and meowed at me.  Once he vocalized his answer, he proceeded to rub against the cage doors until I opened them to pet him.  I love him so much.

Regarding Wobbles

Wobbles recovering

Wobbles recovering

Wobbles (April) is such a ham.  She has really come around in the past week.  Now when she sees volunteers, she meows and purrs at them.  I spent a bit of time with her yesterday.  Wobbles was so excited to have so much attention that she kept flopping over and showing her belly.  She couldn’t sit still!  I gave her lots of pets and kisses.  The wound on her neck is healing nicely.  It’s scabbed and I’m sure it itches.  It makes me itchy just to look at it.  Nonetheless, it looks worse than what it really is.  I managed to snap a picture of her on my cell phone.  She was a little frightened by the phone when I stuck it in her cage, so I was only able to get one.  I can’t express how happy I am that Wobbles is inside under our strict care, rather than outside fending for herself.

Lucky The Cat

Lucky talking from his cage

Lucky talking from his cage

The first week of April we had a very special new addition to the shelter.  Lucky, the cat.  He had his 15 minutes of fame.  There was an article featured on his rescue, as well as an interview with our shelter manager on a local news network.

On April 3rd, I met Lucky for the first time.  He looked awful.  Patches of fur were missing, the padding on his paws were cut up, his rendezvous with a tree caused a sizable cut on his inner thigh, and he was severely emaciated.  Lucky had already been to the vet after his rescue.  He was given IV fluids, vitamins, and an antibiotic injection to prevent any infection.  Lucky’s right eye was clouded over really bad.  The vet said it was scar tissue from a previous eye infection, but the eye was fine.  Our job at START II was to fatten him up to a healthy weight.  The poor little guy was completely emaciated.

After I finished cleaning cat cages, I spent some quality time with Lucky.  I held him close and brought him into the playroom.  We sat in a sunspot.  Lucky curled up against me and fell asleep, his body vibrating from his purr.  I gave him cheek scratches and chin rubs until he fell asleep.  Lucky napped on my lap for a good hour and a half before waking and wanting to explore the shelter.

Lucky enjoying time on my lap

Lucky enjoying time on my lap

Lucky is doing very well.  Today when I saw him, he looked like he put a smidge of weight on.  He loves Pro Plan wet food.  It is difficult to comprehend why anyone would allow this to happen to an animal.  There’s a ring around Lucky’s neck where a collar used to be.  It is obvious he was someone’s cat before he came into START II’s care.  Lucky loves to give me headbutts and gets really happy when I talk to him (well, when any of the volunteers talk to him – he loves people!).  He’s gotten a lot of calls on him so far for adoption, but his forever home hasn’t come along yet.  He’s a special cat and needs a special home.

I look forward to seeing him when I’m volunteering.  Lucky’s a strong cat.  He hasn’t given up on his recovery, nor has he become weary of people.