Rescue Story: Baxter, Back from the Edge

woman and cat
Lynn with Baxter.
Finally, Baxter has found a new home! One of those bitter sweet moments when fostering. Will miss him, but so happy too. Love you buddy, hope your mom is smiling from heaven and approves of your new dad.

. . . . . . .

In February 2013 I shared the story of two orange and white cats huddled in a cage. The precious companions of an elderly woman who was hospitalized and later died, they were left in the home, then taken to a shelter, unwanted. Traumatized and fearful, they failed their “temperament test” and were to be euthanized if the owner didn’t reclaim them. But the rescuers who will claim such cats heard about them and Baxter and Bailey were rescued and taken to a foster home.

Bailey came to trust his foster fairly quickly, and was adopted in August 2013 to a home where he has a wonderful doggy brother and a loving human. Baxter did not come to trust so easily. Because of the way they were found, and how long and intensely his foster, Lynn, worked to win his trust, his ultimate adoption to a loving home as a trusting and socialized cat is the story of both of Baxter and Lynn and their journey.

And not just for the two of them, but for the elderly woman who had to leave her cats behind thinking they’d be cared for when they nearly lost their lives.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

two orange and white cats
Two frightened orange and white cats in their cage prior to release.

These two orange cats were only two of far too many who find themselves homeless after an elderly owner dies either without leaving instructions, or thinking their children will take care of their pets as they did themselves. Sometimes this does happen, but sadly many pets find themselves in the situation of these two orange guys, left in the home until it’s to be sold, then dropped off at a shelter or tossed out in the street after they’ve been traumatized by all the changes and often frightened or in poor physical health, acting hostile to people and condemned to death just because they are frightened.

I received an email from a trusted friend (ironically I know her as a dog rescuer) that began, “I got a phone call from a nurse at a local hospital…”

A member of the family of a patient who died asked her if she knew anyone who could take in two cats, two and three years old, who their owner “loved dearly”. The family was from out of town and wasn’t interested in taking the cats home, so they took them to one of the shelters with a “reclaim” note so that in the case the cats might be in danger of euthanasia they would receive a call. The shelter informed them the cats had been exhibiting “feral behavior”. They would be euthanized the next day if they didn’t take them back or find another solution for them.

Many shelters will decide to euthanize a cat if a team of people can’t safely handle it during an intake exam, which might also mean the cat would be difficult to adopt. The Animal Rescue League, instead of readily euthanizing the cat, will for a $25.00 reclaim fee call the person who surrendered it, tell them the situation and give them an opportunity to reclaim the cat, in this case both cats.

The email went on to describe the cats: “Baxter is 2 years old, neutered and up to date on his shots…he is an orange & white tabby. Bailey is 3 years old, neutered and up to date on his shots and is all white with a tabby tail. They are very sweet cats and love each other a lot so they would hope they can find a home together.”

A person in our rescue group called the number for the son for more information. The man’s mother had died a month before and he fed and watered the cats in her house, which was being cleaned out. Coming in from out of town temporarily he also had a newborn child and felt he was out of possibilities. He surrendered the cats to the Animal Rescue League with the reclaim fee. The son believed the cats were simply accustomed to one person, his mother, who had raised them from kittens, and that they were really only frightened; it was also reported that when paramedics came for the elderly woman Baxter tried to protect her from the strangers, and tried to protect his home.

After some tense moments of losing track of the son and the cats and the fear they were in danger, the cats were taken from ARL and sent through a chain of transporters to their foster home with Lynn.

orange cat on bed
Baxter in a slightly more trusting moment, photo courtesy the foster family.

She initially described them as wary to frightened. “The orange guy wants to eat me. The other white/orange does let me touch him although he is scared,” she said.

In time, in her capable hands, they came to trust new humans, and Bailey was adopted.

But still Baxter waited, slowly being introduced to petting and brushing, leaving his foster room to mingle with the other cats and then the dogs, spending time with the family, and finally living as a member of the household.

orange cat sleeping
Baxter after two weeks on a diet of peace and quiet and understanding, wary but accepting, photo courtesy his foster family.

After six months Baxter was “an orange marshmallow, likes to watch TV with his people and sleep on their laps.” That alone was a success, that a cat who was openly hostile for a period of time, and then distrusting for even longer, was finally won over to this relaxed and affectionate kitty.

Good with other cats and dogs, well-behaved, affectionate, who wouldn’t want a cat like that? His best opportunity to find a home was at an outside adoption area, like PetSmart or Petco so people could see him and meet him. With that history, however, would he adapt to the environment?

“I had him to meet and greets at Petco and he did great!” Lynn said “I was amazed how well, but I didn’t think he would do well in a cage again since he freaked out so badly at ARL.”

A space was open for a more permanent stay at a Petco and Lynn asked if she could give Baxter a try. “I was totally amazed how well he did. When I left him, he was just hanging out and checking out everything through his window.”

He was adopted fairly quickly. After having been with Lynn all that time, and through all that emotional work of gaining and learning trust and love between the two of them, “Love that big guy, so sweet in every way,” she said. “Great with other cats, my dogs and anyone who visited. He is a true poster child for what a foster home can do.

“Finally, Baxter has found a new home! One of those bitter sweet moments when fostering. Will miss him, but so happy too. Love you buddy, hope your mom is smiling from heaven and approves of your new dad.”

. . . . . . .

These aren’t the only two cats rescued from situations like this, nor are they the only two cats Lynn has rescued and fostered—she has an amazing track record, also fostering Fred and Barney, a bunch of tabbies, assisting with the Ford City project and many more. You can read more about her in “Baxter and Bailey Turnaround, and About Their Foster Home “. She is also part of Pittsburgh CAT, and many of the cats and kittens featured for adoption were fostered in her home.

Read more stories in my weekly Rescue Stories series.

Can’t adopt? Foster! Can’t foster? Donate or volunteer.

There are so many ways you can help cats who need homes and care. You may not have room to adopt another cat, but can foster a cat or kitten for a few weeks. If not that, you can volunteer at a shelter or with a rescue, or donate. You do this because you love your cat, and by doing so you help all cats. No matter which of these actions you take, you help to save a life, and make life better for all cats.

  • Adopt one of the cats I’ve posted here, or from any shelter or rescue near you, or from Petfinder, to open up a space for another cat to be rescued and fostered.
  • Offer to foster cats or kittens for a shelter or rescue near you.
  • Volunteer at a shelter or rescue.
  • Find a group of volunteers who work with homeless cats and help them with their efforts.
  • Donate to a shelter or rescue near you.

If you can foster kittens or adults cats to help prepare them for a forever home, please run to your nearest shelter and find a cat who needs you! Anyone can help with this effort at any level, even if all you do is donate to a shelter or rescue so they can help to pay for the food or medications needed for their foster, or the spay/neuter/veterinary care during a clinic.

Need to know more? Read Fostering for Your Shelter and Fostering Saves Lives

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© 2014 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
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
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

3 thoughts on “Rescue Story: Baxter, Back from the Edge

  • August 14, 2014 at 10:15 am

    what awonderful save and outcome – we love it when the hard cases come around and find their forever!

  • August 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    conga rats two ewe baxter anda happee gotcha day ….de best oh fishes; mackerull & flounder two day; hope ya haz manee
    happee healthee yeerz a head ….high paws ta yur new dad !! ♥

    • August 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      I think is mom had a talk with St. Francis!


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