A 16-YEAR-OLD ABANDONED CAT with intestinal issues and other apparent illnesses—who would spend the time and money on her when so many other cats are in need? But two rescuers could not turn their backs on sweet and affectionate Alli regardless of the issues she arrived with.
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When Kim moved into her grandmother’s house she was met by a resident company of 12 stray and feral cats who’d called the place home since her grandmother had died and left the house empty. Kim would stay there until the house would be ready to put up for sale, but she couldn’t just leave the cats abandoned outside. She had them all spayed and neutered and given whatever veterinary care they needed for their age, then brought them inside for socialization before finding homes for them all and finally moving out with two of the kittens and her cat, Blackie.
One of the cats who lived at the house was Alli. She was older and definitely not feral, in fact, she was so friendly the neighbors referred to her as the “annoying stray” because she was always looking for a meal and a place to live. And she was wearing a pink collar.
“I put a note on her collar, but no response,” said Kim. “Likely, someone abandoned her.”
If so it may have been for Ali’s underlying medical conditions, often a reason older cats are taken to shelters or simply abandoned outside when their behavior becomes unmanageable and owners don’t look into the cause. A trip to the vet revealed Alli was an older kitty, likely in her teens. “She was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and had to go to multiple specialists,” Kim said and added Alli also has lenticular sclerosis though she appears to see just fine. Her litter box habits were less than desirable, but given better circumstances and the beginning of treatment Alli made it to the box nearly every time.
At that point Kim was finding homes for Lilly, the mother cat, kittens Bali, Oscar, Anni, Gar Bear, Sasha and Tiger and another senior cat Snickers. Ali’s conditions were complicated, time-consuming and expensive, but Kim was lucky to find a compassionate and patient foster home for Alli in Celeste.
“I knew [Alli] was sick, but I had no idea how sick she was,” Kim said. “Celeste literally tried everything. She refused to give up on this girl. Alli is alive because of Celeste.”
Celeste had seen a request from Kim asking for help for a foster home for several kitties. “I was impressed with how Kim had handled an entire group of homeless cats that were surviving from her grandmother’s house, but that house was about to be put up for sale, so things had to happen for these kitties. I already had 3 cats, but thought that my second bathroom could be used for a temporary foster home for one of them.”
So Alli settled into her bathroom and then the vet visits began. Alli was very thin and suffered diarrhea and vomiting so Celeste started with her regular vet. X-rays were inconclusive so she went on to an animal specialty and emergency hospital for a sonogram, again it was inconclusive.
After many trial-and-error courses of medications and special foods, the consensus is that Alli most likely had inflammatory bowel disease. “I give her a syringe of medicine [budesonide] once a day, and feed her a canned diet meant for cats with food allergies. She is quite stable in weight, although thin; but she will probably never be ‘recovered’,” Celeste reported. Alli has persistent diarrhea and sometimes vomiting, although her appetite is wonderful and supported with the medication as well as a probiotic mixed in with her food.
“The specialty vet originally told me that she did not have long to live, and would probably only make it to (last) Thanksgiving, but with the food and medicine she is on she is an energetic and loudly loving cat,” Celeste reports.
Despite all the pain and discomfort associated with IBD, and trying to survive outdoors for who knows how long with this painful condition, Alli is and has always been a completely friendly and loving cat. “She is exceptionally friendly, and quite vocal that she wants attention and she just soaks up love. She often sits on my back and nuzzles my cheek with hers as I clean the litter box area. She would spend hours on my lap if I could spend the time with her,” says Celeste.
The one thing Alli does not like is other kitties, and the complications of Alli’s conditions make it difficult for her to integrate with the rest of the household. “Ali’s illness makes it difficult for her to always make it to the litter box, so that I have put heavy plastic liners (rug protectors that go under office chairs) inside the shower stall of the bathroom under her litter boxes to help keep the area more cleanable, but the cleaning aspect still takes a while each day,” Celeste says.
Alli needs a foster home
And therein lies the issue at the moment Celeste is a single mom, with increased work hours and a travel schedule that takes her away from home. “My other kitties do well with dry food and each other’s companionship; my neighbor stops in once a day to feed them canned food and check in on them when I travel. However, Alli is quite sure she doesn’t like other kitties, so she is alone in the bathroom during most of the day,” she says. She also fears that the other kitties could become sick if they had full access to each other since they aren’t entirely certain what Alli’s condition entails.
“I believe that with her friendly outgoing personality, and in a more conducive environment, she could be a lovely companion to someone and also achieve a better qualilty of life than the one I am able to provide her,” says Celeste. “I do desire good situations for all animals, especially companion animals, but I realize I am not the best situation for Ali.”
Since she took Alli in, another friend found a cat starving in the woods near her mother-in-law’s house, and her husband was going to shoot it, but she called Celeste who took her in. That cat has adapted well to Celeste’s house kitties, and she has a lead to find her a home with a friend. An older kitty that she adopted from a horse barn lives separately in the full basement since she does not want to be around other cats and always fights. “So I now have 5 cats in three separate living zones. I feel swamped, as well as work, household chores and maintenance, and raising my son,” Celeste admits. “Just this weekend I tried to move a bat off of a hiking trail I was on, which in hindsight was not the right thing to do, and I exposed myself to rabies and just had to spend a night in the ER starting the rabies shot protocol.” Celeste finds it hard to say no to an animal that seems to need help, but she feels her personal life is starting to suffer from. “I have to pull back from being on the front line of animal rescue and care, but would prefer to assist those who can do that,” she says.
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This is “Be Kind to Animals Week”, and what better way to be kind to animals than to rescue a colony of abandoned cats, and especially a senior kitty in need like Alli? If you can help with providing Alli a home and care, please contact me and I’ll put you in touch with Kim and Celeste.
Read other stories in my Rescue Stories series.
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
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