From homeless to rescued to a home of his own? Boyfriend is proof you can’t and shouldn’t lump all outdoor cats into one negative category, and that the care of a compassionate person is what makes trap-neuter-return, or TNR, work for cats and people.
Boyfriend showed up in the colony of cats at Margo’s workplace in April 2014, a little shy, a little ragged-looking. Every once in a while she could touch his head while she was feeding him and regulars Auntie, Momma and Baby and the occasional visitor, but aside from that he was a typical colony cat, avoiding humans, living outdoors in the shelters Margo provided.
One day in January 2015 he showed up in bad shape and Margo knew he was ill. After seven hours trying to trap this guy with a very skilled cat trapper—and Margo is no amateur—she got him to Dr. Becky Morrow who cares for the cats in our rescue and knows what to anticipate in shelter and rescue medicine, especially for cats. She found he had an abscess in his ear that exploded, and also a test confirmed that he was FIV+. He had also been seen limping, and Dr. Morrow felt he had an old fracture that had healed on his back leg where you can still feel a bump, and that he was probably hit by car at some point. He was “less than thrilled to be at vet” but had the chance to stay for five days because of the abscess and wounds and the fact he lived outdoors and it was mid-January. All care would be given to him at the clinic and he would be released directly outdoors.
Margo released him at the end of January but didn’t see him about for three weeks, but when he did show up again he became very close to Auntie, which was how he earned the name “Boyfriend”, staying near her and eating with her. Not too long after that he started letting Margo pet him more and more often, clearly beginning to enjoy it.
But in early April he was seen to have a cut on his face possibly from a fight that needed to be treated so she added antibiotics to his food. A few weeks later Margo and others noticed that he had clearly lost weight though he seemed to have a voracious appetite, his fur looked shabby and he had an upper respiratory infection. She decided he needed to see a veterinarian again.
This time when he came in, though he was really unhappy to be trapped in a carrier, Margo moved him into the bathroom at her workplace and once she let him out he was more than ready for love and craved and enjoyed affection and time with Margo. Her veterinarian examined him and took blood for testing, and they determined he was diabetic. That changed everything for Boyfriend. There was no way he could go back outdoors and he needed to start insulin and settle into his daily shots to see how his system would react and stabilize, a process that could take months. Margo moved him into her bathroom at home to make the twice-daily shots and trips to the vet more convenient and began learning about feline diabetes.
He adjusted well and successive tests showed he was adjusting to the insulin and his blood levels were coming into the normal range. Margo learned to test him at home and though she saw some pretty big swings in blood glucose numbers, she could also manage his doses of insulin much more easily. She also immediately changed his diet to a high protein, low carbohydrate canned food with lots of water hoping the reduction in carbohydrates would help his body deal with the blood sugar/insulin imbalance.
The love story intensified as Boyfriend demanded her affection when she was in the room with him, and when one of her cats managed to open the door to the room he was in, Boyfriend quietly began to mingle with the household and also tolerated a harness and leash so that he could go outdoors with Margo. It’s hard to explain how incredibly friendly and affectionate Boyfriend is now, as if he’s trying to make up for lost time.
Then the best news, just a few days ago in mid-August, she learned that he is likely in remission after going for at least two weeks with no need for insulin shots. He will always need testing for diabetes and will likely have to have insulin shots on a regular basis again at some point in his life, but for now he is free of worry for it.
Who would think a cat once thought to be feral would turn out to be such a friendly and affectionate cat, treatable for an illness that requires intensive handling by a human? It was clear he had at one time lived with humans, and proof enough that every cat deserves a chance.
And he’s looking for a home
Margo really can’t keep Boyfriend with the rate she traps and fosters stray and feral cats, with her totally unrelated daily job and travel for her job. Her current family of felines is not really happy about the newcomer either, despite careful introductions.
Boyfriend is estimated to be between three and five years old and loves other cats, so the FIV diagnosis isn’t a concern. FIV is spread by deep bite wounds and Boyfriend is hardly the type to bite another cat—he loves other cats. Margo notes that, “Starting out a little timid/shy, he will warm up to you quickly. He loves sitting on the deck in the sun on his harness and leash, and lets you know he loves you all day, every day!”
Being young and in remission, his diabetes is likely to be able to be controlled with diet for many years, though he will need to stay under supervision with a veterinarian for the rest of his life.
Margo is willing to drive him anywhere, and long distance even, for the right home. He’s listed with Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN) and available for adoption through Pittsburgh C.A.T. Please fill out an application for Boyfriend if he has stolen your heart!
Read more stories in my weekly Rescue Stories series
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Weekly schedule of features:
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