Rescue Story: My Name is Hays

Kitty at the vet's office.
Kitty at the vet’s office.

Skin and bones Kitty was often seen digging through garbage, and found on the sidewalk covered in urine and nearly immobile. Because it seemed there was an owner her rescuer wasn’t sure what to do but clean Kitty up and feed and return to the front porch. She saw that owner toss Kitty out the door, saw the cat scrounging through garbage again, and in May it was too much.

Her rescuer is Meghan, a teenage girl who also helped her neighbor trap Sienna, who lives here with me. In both cases she contacted me about the situation and asked for advice. I gave her my best decisions. She’s been wonderful to work with, and has also helped a few other cats in her neighborhood find new homes or caretakers.

In May 2018, she let me know she’d taken Kitty in and was holding the cat in a cage in the family’s shed in the back yard. With the symptoms of being covered in urine and seeming weak and confused, my first thought was a seizure. There aren’t too many ways a cat gets covered in her own urine, but that would be one of them. I wondered if the cat had had a blunt force trauma from a car or a foot, or was underweight and dehydrated and collapsed.

A few days later I stopped down to meet the cat, who was lanky and thin and certainly looked as if a few issues were a problem, but didn’t mind being held or poked around a bit. The kitty at first appeared older and grizzled, but the eyes looked clear with neat irises and dark pupils. The bleached fur was puzzling especially as it began almost in a line right across her shoulders. Her white legs and paws stained yellow and brown denoted the urine stains and dirt from living outdoors, and her ears looked huge above her gaunt face. Too fuzzy to see anything under the tail, I thought I felt an empty scrotum there (the skin that held the testicles remains in place and shrinks, but it’s what I look for if in doubt) but we still began calling Kitty “she”. Here is the first photo.

Kitty the day I met him.
Kitty the day I met him.

Meghan and I kept in touch as Kitty ate and drank well, was social and friendly and talkative, but was still found every other day or so with urine in her cage, in her water and on her fur. Meghan bathed her, which Kitty didn’t seem to mind. I told Meghan to add water to Kitty’s canned food to give her extra fluids, and even use chicken broth or tuna water now and then to get her to eat and drink more. Kitty began to fill out and seemed stronger, the assumed seizures were less and less frequent, and when the heat came in June they moved her to their basement. The plan was for me to eventually take her as a foster, especially since Meghan’s family has cat allergies—they have many other pets, but no cats, and that’s why. But after having gotten to know her, and no one with an allergic reaction to her, they thought they might keep her.

I knew that Meghan and her family didn’t have enough to cover a workup and treatments for a cat like Kitty, who could have multiple and very serious conditions. I’d been waiting to get an appointment at our clinic which would be at reduced cost, but when Meghan told me Kitty had quit eating dry food completely because it seemed to hurt her, and then quit eating even her soft treats and had very strong breath, and then she had a seizure after weeks of not having one, I was concerned her condition might be serious and progressing: renal failure, cancer, strokes. I got an appointment with one of the other vets who works with the rescue.

I went to visit Meghan and Kitty so I could see how she looked prior to taking her to her vet appointment. I barely recognized her! She looked like a totally different cat. All that broken bleached fur was grown in soft and smooth, the whites still stained but looking much neater, and not only that but she was sleeping in a box in the kitchen, not in the basement. It seemed she’d found her place, literally. The difference between the photo immediately above—the stained and broken fur, gaunt face, sagging hips and hind legs—compared to the first photo in this post, even just the posture, are a remarkable example of what a little kindness can do.

Kitty happy in his box.
Kitty happy in his box.

We went to the veterinarian and first determined that Kitty’s pink flower needed to be blue. He was fine with being poked and prodded and carried and held and all sorts of less than dignified things. He weighed a little over 10 pounds, and we guessed he had gained two or three in the two months since he’d been rescued, and that with his height and length he had several more to gain—he was quite the big kitty.

He had a few conditions just on exam. Feline tooth resorption is very painful and can’t be cured, so extracting the affected teeth and sometimes all teeth is the only treatment. He was already missing a few teeth and others looked as if they were trying to push up through the gums. He also had ulcers all along his upper gums which could have been calici or could be from renal failure. Minor conditions, he had ear mites and was very allergic to flea bites. That was apparently what affected the condition of his fur. The fur that had appeared bleached and rough was actually broken fur from his constantly licking the irritated skin bitten by fleas, the long guard hairs broken off leaving the lighter downy hairs underneath. They took blood, gave him fluids and sent him home with medications until his blood tests were ready.

Meghan decided to change his name from Kitty to Hayes. In time, the ulcers cleared and the dental deterioration stopped, but then it all began again in just a few months. Meghan expressed concern about his weakness, his fur started deteriorating again, he lost weight, his hips began to weaken and he would urinate in odd places, so they moved him to the basement. It seemed to me he was urinating on the way to his litterbox in the basement, the weakness overcoming him after he’d jumped down from his perch by the window, and he just couldn’t make it all the way to the litterbox. A veterinarian suggested using flea treatments again, and it all cleared up in a month or so. Even though he was now happily an indoor kitty, he still needed flea treatments year round because several dogs lived in the house and, even with treatments, fleas rode in on their fur and found their way to Hayes.

Kitty's handsome face.
Kitty’s handsome face.

Now, two years later, Meghan sent me a quick message to let me know he’s doing really well and she loves him a lot. He hasn’t had any health issues at all and it’s clear he has really filled out.

cat looking up
Hayes looking good.

And in the other photo it’s clear he’s sleeping on someone’s bed. Yes, Meghan said it was his way of getting away from their little dog. Hayes isn’t limited to any area of the house now, he’s all over the place, just like a regular cat.

cat sleeping on bed
Hayes on the bed.

It’s hard to believe how such a nice cat could be so badly treated that he was starving and suffering seizures out on the street, soaked in his own urine. All it took to heal him was an indoor home and good food, some veterinary care and lots of love. And he’s barely middle-aged. He has a lot of years to enjoy with Meghan.

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2 thoughts on “Rescue Story: My Name is Hays

    • June 12, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      Wasn’t it, though? Here’s one time when allergies didn’t get in the way. I’m so glad I could help them help Hayes, and that Meghan will be a life-long animal lover.


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