The Challenge of Restoring Broken Bodies
As Katie’s Place evolved over the years, we have taken more and more small companion animals who need extra care. They come from owners who are unable to cope with the need. They come from compassionate people who stumbled on a sick or injured homeless pet. They come from other places where the cost of care is not in the budget. We get more calls about such animals as our reputation grows. Needless to say, our vet bills have risen. In our first year, we spent $13,757 on vet bills. They have increased steadily each year. In 2011, we paid $84,305.16
We have determined that we will make no judgment on whose life is worth rescuing. The sick, elderly and homely are as precious to us as the healthy, young and attractive. We will take all of these cases for as long as we have the resources to help them. We work with excellent vets in Maple Ridge who guide us well. We get all the vet care an animal needs for as long as it has a good hope of enjoying a reasonable quality of life. We know that we will have to draw the line sometimes and refuse animals if there are not sufficient funds. But we will do everything in our power to avoid that, raising money any way we can and buying only the essentials. Once you’ve met the animals and worked with them there’s no looking back.
Below are the stories of a few cats who came to us in within about a week of each other with different histories. There are so many more — Swayze who was uncoordinated, probably because he ingested a poison; Murphy who hobbled around on a broken leg; Jane who was staggering because she’d had a stroke…. They all showed a will to live and the ability to recover. We hope the stories below will show you what we see.
Harris was found lying on Harris Road by a kind person in late October. Cars just drove around him as he lay on the asphalt. But one kind person stopped. Thinking Harris was done for, he took him to the Pitt Meadows Animal Clinic where Dr. Robertson did an assessment and was able to stabilize him. He’d been stunned and in shock but his only real injury was a broken jaw. The kind person arranged to have Harris’ jaw wired. Now a relatively high-maintenance cat, Harris came to Katie’s Place. He’d never known a human home and he was suspicious of all of us. He didn’t want to eat because his jaw was sore. But when a volunteer coaxed a dropper of warm, soft food into his mouth, Harris lapped it up hungrily and allowed the volunteer to get close so he could lap from the bowl. By mid December, the wire was removed from his jaw and he seemed to have made a complete recovery. He also seemed quite confident and cheerful. By January, we were sure that, first, Harris was fully recovered and, second, that he was truly feral and unadoptable. He was moved to our feral colony outside of town where he would have food provided regularly and access to shelter but would otherwise be free within a large, fenced area.
Morris was homeless. A compassionate person had been feeding him for several months and noticed his eyes were always weeping and were occasionally stuck shut. At the beginning of November, we arranged for him to be brought to one of our vets where it was discovered that he had Entropion. This means that Morris’s eyelashes were growing in towards his eye instead of outward — how painful! The only way to correct this was with surgery which we arranged. After his surgery, the stitches in his eyelids made him look like he was wearing false eye lashes. He made a complete recovery, and we listed this lovable guy for adoption. Still, he waited more than two years for a home. In the meantime, he had problems with his thyroid gland which also required surgery. There was no question that Morris was worth it. Morris himself certainly felt that he was. He finally found a loving home where he’s a joy to his person.
In early November, 14-week-old Annie was found with a fractured pelvis and tail, and she was dehydrated and infested with fleas and lice. Clearly her first fourteen weeks of life hadn’t been the happiest weeks a kitten could have. Annie’s tail hung limply, she could no longer move it. It had to be amputated, which could affect her bowel control later. Time would tell. But Annie wasn’t concerned, not any more. For maybe the first time in her life, she felt safe. Her terrible pain was subsiding and she was no longer tortured by skin parasites. She recovered well and was running happily around the vet’s office before she was discharged to a foster home. She made a complete recovery to become as good as new (minus her tail). She found her forever home.
Matthew came to us at the end of October at about 14 weeks of age. He was born with a severely deformed right rear leg, and a mildly deformed right front leg. He was brought to a vet for possible euthanasia because his momma’s human wasn’t sure he was adoptable or if it was kind to let him live. The leg was basically attached upside down so that his paw pads face the ceiling. The vet recommended that they call us, which they did. It seemed that Matt the Cat had a good chance. He was fostered by one of our volunteers and he was a happy, playful, affectionate kitten. He ate well, used the litter pan with no problem, and managed to scoot around quite rapidly.
You can see from Matthew’s photos that he was perfectly capable of chasing a laser pointer beam and that he enjoyed a fuss very much. Below are Matthew’s videos, taken shortly after he arrived in our care.
His foster mom took him back to see the vet in late November. The vet said Matt would benefit from having his right rear leg removed because there was nothing that could be done to correct it. It could eventually cause him problems. He would have a decent “stump” there for balance. Matt had to grow a bit bigger before he was fit for surgery though. So he lived with his foster mom and grew to be a robust youngster. Finally he had his surgery. While the vet operated, he tried to loosen some of the contracted muscles that caused Matt’s tail to pull to one side.
By May, Matt the Cat was recovering well with three legs instead of four, and he grew up to be a lively, happy, spunky little tripod. The photos of him below show what a fine young fellow he was growing up to be. His foster mom said he could play rough (he was a little nipper — literally), but she adored him and he adored her. Needless to say, they never parted. Matt stayed there and his foster home became his forever home.
Eleven-year-old Hardy Boy came to us in early November with diabetes which had eventually affected his gait. His hind legs seemed weak and he walked stiffly. We hoped that would clear up with time. His insulin level was stabilized and Hardy Boy was a cheerful, friendly fellow. He was such a trusting and loving little guy! He never doubted that we were his friends and that he was safe with us. How could we not help this cat! Watch his videos below and see for yourself.
The videos below show how loving Hardy Boy was.
Sadly, this is one little soul we lost by the end of December. When Hardy Boy came to us, his diabetes had been unattended for so long that it was difficult to stabilize him. He spent a lot of time at the vets. Side effects of his illness, such as an infection at the site of his IV needle, added to his problems. Finally he seemed stable and was discharged from the vets. He was fostered in the home of one of our senior volunteers in charge of animal health. She gave him his insulin regularly. But Hardy Boy wouldn’t eat consistently. It’s impossible to tell a cat that he must eat in order to maintain his blood sugar levels. He seemed to be doing fine but then he had another seizure. He went back to the vet. There was undoubtedly neurological damage by now from the seizures he’d had. He finally passed away at the vet’s clinic. We grieved for him as a gentle soul who never showed anything but love.
This is the reality of rescue work. Some we can save, and we rejoice in their new lease on life. Some we lose and we ache for them. Then, for those who still depend on us, we carry on. Whether we can give them years in loving new homes or only weeks of being loved and looked after, we think these little animals are worth fighting for with everything we’ve got. We hope you can see why.