Back in August 2013 a rescuer and friend took in an ill and injured orange and white cat who turned out to be FIV+ and a list of other conditions and thought not likely to live long. Tommy recovered and became a happy and affectionate member of a large household of rescues.
“Driving home tonight I encountered a cat laying in the street. I stopped and a man told me that the cat is a stray and that there are several more in his area. They are all skinny and flea infested with various levels of hair loss. One of the cats has a bad wound on his neck, likely from fighting. I saw that cat tonight. He is clearly an older guy that’s been on the streets for a long time. He’s my weakness. An orange and white guy. They told me he’s been around for at least 10 years. My heart is broken…”
That was at the beginning of August 2013. Melanie did her best to avoid rescuing Tommy—she already had a “wobbly kitten” and her elderly neighbors’ house had been put up for sale and their cats put outside by their children, cats she had had spayed and neutered for the elderly man a few years before, plus a number of other rescues and a house full of cats and dogs. One of her cats had swallowed plastic and needed emergency treatment and surgery. But in just a few weeks he came home with her. He was in such poor shape and tested FIV+ that at his first vet visit she was advised he would probably die soon enough, and to have him put to sleep. She did not. Instead she fed him and cleaned him up; affectionate from the very beginning they bonded and she was committed to letting him live as long as he wanted.
“The level of affection that Tommy gives is above and beyond any I’ve received in my life. He fell asleep in my arms tonight purring so loudly. He kept looking up at me and giving me nose kisses and gently putting his paws on my face. I think he appreciates the help he’s receiving…”
She took him to another veterinarian and found Tommy had a heart murmur that wasn’t too serious, feline acne, an overall skin condition, intestinal parasites and possibly coccidia, but he’d put on a full pound in the short time since he’d been rescued. Originally she’d thought he was about 10, but the veterinarian guessed that Tommy was closer to 5 to 7 years old. And all through his exam, “Tommy was his usual self, purring, kneading, rolling all over the place and letting us scratch him everywhere. He’s such a happy cat no matter what’s going on.”
On June 8 this year Tommy suffered a “saddle thrombus”, a condition where a blood clot caused by underlying heart disease lodges where the aorta splits to enter each hind leg, cutting off the blood flow to the hind legs and pelvis. Melanie and her husband were lucky to be home when this happened and managed to get Tommy to the emergency clinic within an hour, but the condition is excruciatingly painful and damage is most often irreversible, euthanasia is usually recommended. Tommy actually survived this with days of critical care and has even recovered some of the use of his hind legs, but after treatments he is in kidney failure, necessitating regular fluid therapy, but still in congestive heart failure, where fluids are retained in the chest cavity. It’s a delicate and frightening balance, but he is alert and affectionate and even walking a little bit again.
His chances of long-term survival are questionable in part because cats who suffer and recover a clot are highly prone to another, often within months. Tommy is also compromised by FIV, and chances of infections are greater. But he suffered so much in his early life and recovered that—in all the scans and xrays for his current condition, they also found buckshot and broken ribs—Melanie doesn’t want to cut his time short if he’s willing to give it a try, which he obviously is.
She and her husband have a household of lots of cats and several dogs, all rescues, often the ones no one else would adopt. I met Melanie in 2011 as she was caring for a woman who had been a long-time rescuer but was succumbing to brain cancer, and all the woman’s pets. Melanie took care of Dorothy in her remaining months, and cared for and rehomed her remaining cats and dogs, who had been the hardest to find homes for, after Dorothy went to hospice. You can read about this in Dorothy’s Pets: A Final Wish, and follow up in Dorothy’s Pets.
She has also practiced TNR in her area and is currently helping to TNR and reduce the colony numbers as well as help provide food to a colony of 50+ cats (they keep appearing) in a trailer park near her. She has taken several friendly cats from this colony and fostered them, and found most of them new homes, and she volunteers to teach the public about TNR at the Beaver County Humane Society.
If anyone could pull this off, for whatever time Tommy has left, it’s Melanie and her husband. Their credit cards are full and even if Tommy doesn’t live very much longer there will still be bills to pay. If you care to help, Melanie has set up a YouCaring fund called “Tommy’s fight for recovery from saddle thrombus”.
Read more stories in my weekly Rescue Stories series
and read about my Rescue Stories series.
This is shared in Friendship Friday on Create With Joy.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
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Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!