About Patches:

This is a chronicle of the rescue of an injured cat and how he became a part of our family.

While the Patches story will have a happy ending, it nearly didn't, considering how hurt he was and that the county would have put him down due to stray cat over-population if we had left him with them.

We took a risk bringing a hurt cat into our home, which is not something that I recommend that everyone do. A stray can be a health risk to your own animals and bringing home too many, animal hoarding, means that you can't properly care for any of them. However, I do hope that everyone does what they can -- even if you can't take in an animal yourself, you can volunteer at a rescue organization, donate to shelters, and make sure that your own pets aren't out adding to the injury and over-population problem.

Thanks for visiting the Patches Blog!

Friday, October 1, 2010

1 Oct 2010

It's now been about 3 months and Patches is healed up enough to wear a collar.  The rest of his life will be happily-ever-after in a loving home.  Because I consider his rescue and recuperationcomplete, I am going to stop updating this blog.  Thanks for visiting!



Thursday, September 9, 2010

9 Sept 2010

DSC00202 DSC00191
 Patches has healing almost completely in the last two months. 
Here's a photo update that focuses on where his injuries were.

before & after 1

before & after 2

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

1 Sept 2010

Some recent photos.  As you can see, nearly all of Patches's fur has grown back.
That's a bag of casters that Patches is hugging.



Monday, August 16, 2010

16 August 2010

Patches plays in the fiction section. (Jack joins in toward the end of the photo set).

Full set here: here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

15 August 2010

     The last few days has shown a huge change in the cats' behavior.  Patches is no longer the cowering Pariah Cat in the kitchen, but instead goes about the house as he pleases, eats out of Jack's bowl, and chases Jack away as much as Jack ever did to him.  For every few moments that the cat interaction seems like playfulness, not real fighting, there's one where an innocent sniff will lead to a battle over who's Top Cat, but overall, there seems to be a lot more of an even relationship between them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

12 August 2010

The cats were locked in the bathroom together for hours while the roof was being fixed.  Not a peep other than the sound of kibble crunching.  I'm amazed, but they are slowly making progress on being near each other without incident . . . when they're not tearing apart the kitchen, hissing, or taking stress out on the closest human hand.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 August 2010

Patches is wandering around the house on his own more, and Jack is being better about letting him be.  Far from perfect, but much improved.  Experiments with catnip and a calming remedy in their water have been mixed: Patches enjoys it, but is a bit riled up, rather than calmed.  Every now and then he'll have a nervous episode and take it out on what or whomever is near by -- as both the curtains and my hand can attest.  Generally, though, he is still a cuddle-kitten and is becoming a more confident one at that.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

6 August 2010


Here's a photo of his healing wounds and fur re-growing.

5th August 2010

     Patches now looks like a cat and not a fur-cover sack of bones, and is healing pretty well.  He loves Darkness, provider of chicken, is ambivalent toward me, cleaner of wounds, and hates Jack, territorial antagonist.  This is hard on me, as Patches O'Growley, is often no gladder to see me than he is Jack and Jack outright rushes Patches for exiting the kitchen (though Patches has claimed the kitchen as his territory and can chase Jack out when the mood strikes him).  We've even started dosing them with a calming medication in their water dishes.  With time, I hope, they'll be able to hang out in the same room without feeling threatened.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

4th August 2010

     Over the last few weeks, Patches is settling in as the King of the Kitchen, while Jack retains reign over the rest of the apartment.  Jack is still very territorial and stalks Patches for venturing out.  Feeding them together is starting to help.  It's just hard to give Patches affection and free range without shutting Jack in the bathroom or otherwise restraining him from going after Patches.

     Patches is starting to put on weight and his wounds are healing.  He even has fur regrowth in some spots.  I'll try to post some pictures later.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

15 July 2010

    Jack is an instigator, perpetually poking at Patchy under doors.  Patches won't ignore him. If Patches has a whole room to explore, he'll camp out by the door separating jack from him and growl at me for trying to pet him. I'm actually getting pretty frustrated with both of them. I understand that Jack, fairly rightly, feels that Patchy is taking over his territory and his people. I'm a bit more upset with Patchy, since he's usually so loving and grateful, for taking his Jack-based anxiety out on me.

      Last night, both cats made damn clear that they weren't about to be wrangled into a room, so they both just got left out. Jack is now capable of ignoring Patches for long periods of time, but Patches insists on hiding by a bookcase, where we can't reach him. I'm going to have to corral Jack after work and see if I can get Patchy out for a bit.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

14 July 2010

     Patches is currently on my lap "helping" me write this. Last night did not go well for the boys.

     After I'd cleaned Patchy's wounds and was sitting with him on his side of the barrier, Jack sat on his side doing his usual howling and swiping. Patchy decided to shut him up and leaped over the barrier and attacked Jack, who is about 3/2 Patchy's size and all muscle. I turned the water spray bottle on them to break them up, but they instead took their fight under the sofa. Patches eventually came out and started licking off his Neosporin and then Jack came out, causing Patches to hide by the book shelves. For hours. We eventually shut Jack up in the closet and Patches did come out around dawn and sat with us for a bit. Then he woke in the morning with his cold nose.

     Later, I put Patches in the bedroom, so that I could put Jack in the bathroom, and then move Patches into the closet, so that Jack could roam the house. It felt like logic puzzle. I have to keep them apart, since us being there is no longer enough to keep the peace. However, since they never saw each other get shut up in a room, they are suspicious that the other is lurking. Jack is now in the bedroom while Patchy Cat spends an hour or two loose. I can't wait for them to establish a peaceable co-existence, but at least they are both still comfortable around us. When Jack is around, Patchy growls at everyone and everything.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

13 July 2010

  Another stop by the boutique pet store and we now have more healthy cat food (I'm expecting to go mildly insane attempting to research and find the best possible food for the health of each cat) and tags (Jack will be re-collared tonight, after months of us being unable to find the safety collar that he lost somewhere in the house).   Patches is starting to lick the Neosporin off of his wounds, which is leading to some infection, so he may need an anti-biotic when return to the vet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

12 July 2010

     Patches and Jack were each left out on the opposite sides of the barrier today. Christopher had to leave them alone for a minute, and asked me to check on them.

     "Why are they both on your night stand?" I asked.

     "BOTH of them?!"

    Jack can jump the barrier, but as we've never left them unattended with just the barrier (and not also a shut door) between them, it hasn't been an issue.

     Christopher watched them both run free through the apartment, with some growling and minimum attempts at combat. I think that if Jack starts feeling secure, content to be top cat with out being the only cat, Patchy will be willing to take a submissive role, so long as he isn't under attack. However, after being around each other for an hour or so, both cats got very tense and growling, so Patchy is back in his closet for a bit.

11 July 2010

     Under vet's orders, we are not trying to both fatten up Patchy Cat and introduce him to Jack.  Patches is eating a kitten chow not designated for indoor cats, some vitamins that are designed to taste like treats, and a coat & skin health additive that is made largely from fish oil and fatty acids. 

     We took the towels that were in the cats' carriers on the vet trip and switched them, so that Patches's towel is on the corner of our bed where Jack likes to sleep and Jack's towel is in Patches's carrier, which he sleeps in like a den.  So far, they seem not to notice the other's smells on the towels.Patchy also got a chance to hang out in our room with us for a while.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

10 July 2010

     Excellent News -- Patches is well!!!

     My sister, Jess, helped me take the boys to the vet today.  Jack went first, and during his physical the vet said I got a "gold star" because he is in peak condition; 10.5 pounds of pure muscle, excellent health & temperament.  He got all of his vaccines.

      Patches went next and the vet was very impressed with his health.  She said that she'd seen that type of injury before and that it's what happens when cats go under a hot car and hot oil leak on them, which is quite logical since we found him in a car junk yard. He tested negative for FIV, leukemia, heart worms, and all of the other dangerous conditions for which they can test. The vet said that other than the injury and him being under weight, they wouldn't have guessed that he'd ever been outside. The rest of him was in such good shape that he had probably been abandoned quite recently.

     He got all of his vaccines and a heart worm preventative and both of them got parasite repellent. We need to go back to check and treat/prevent heart worms for Jack and to supply stool samples to check for intestinal worms and such, but the they are both negative of anything incurable and have been vaccinated against contracting anything.

     The vet also told me that Patches, now 7 pounds, could still grow up to Jack's weight. He's being fed now, of course, and we're starting him on a high-fat kitten diet, but we also need to watch his thyroid. The glands are slightly enlarged, but maybe not enough to actually make a difference. If he can gain weight just by eating, we're fine, but if he can't, then he has thyroid problems and would be at risk for high blood pressure. If that's the case, he'd need pills and/or surgery and/or regular injections, so here's hoping that all he needs to gain weight is people that feed him!

     Also, his wounds are healing up very nicely, and some of the follicles are still intact, so he may regrow some of his hair, which would make it more comfy to put a collar on him. Despite them both being indoor cats, we're going to get them collared and chipped just in case. While Patches is under to be chipped (we'll wait until he's healed and at a better weight) we shall probably get him fixed.

     The vet expressed surprise when she saw Patches's face after looking over Jack. "They're both part Siamese! I guess you like that bone structure in cats." I hadn't known, and, in truth, both cats picked me. She said that that's part of the reason that they're both so chatty and it also bodes well, since Siamese cats usually live in to their 20s.

     She confirmed that once Patches finishes his 10 day observation (even though it is very unlikely that a cat that shows no rabies symptoms after 5 days and has no other communicable diseases will develop any) we can start doing the introduction process between the cats.  Christopher and I would both prefer to keep Patches, rather than rehome him, but how the boys interact will determine that. the fact that they can sit calmly near each other (each in their own carrier or on their own side of the Plexiglas) makes me hopeful that they'll come to appreciate the other's company.

Friday, July 9, 2010

9 July 2010

     I confess that yesterday Patches held me "hostage" for half an hour by sitting on me and "head bonking" me to mark me as his own, and during that time I thought "well, you're sure not showing the mood change that we should expect in a rabid cat in the first 2-3 days," only to have him open and close his mouth a few times and make me wonder "is that the "snapping at air/imaginary objects" for which I should be looking?

     I'm not a vet. I know that the things I'm meant to look for in a rabid cat -- temperament change, drooling, snapping at air, pica, aggression, paralysis, and death -- aren't things that I've been trained to observe. I know that even if Patchy Cat isn't rabid, we still may have to put him down based on the FIV (feline HIV) or leukemia results (he gets tested tomorrow, but I don't know when we'll get the results back) and I know that some false negatives are possible.

     I know that a closet door a few feet of carpet and a sheet of Plexiglas aren't perfect Quarantine, especially not with Christopher and I petting the cat and treating his wounds daily, even though we each have a designated set of "Patches Clothes".

     While most people have been positive and supportive, and surprisingly impressed, we have one friend predicting our deaths of rabies. To be fair, she does have veterinary training, but considering that there are only about 5 cases of rabies in humans in the US each year, that many strays do get put up for adoption, and that the county people effectively encouraged us to keep Patches, I think that she's over emphasizing the correlation between stray cats and rabies deaths in humans. After all, there are treatments for rabies in humans and animal control isn't exactly on a quest to put down every stray cat they find.

     Which isn't to say that there isn't a risk to ourselves and Jack. That's why we are taking the precautions we can while preserving quality of life for both cats. In this and in all other causes, people don't help others because it's risk free, they do it because they don't want to be the kind of people that don't.


     Patches is the only cat for whom I've ever done this; it isn't a habit of mine to take in every stray I see. It was just the precise combination of such a psychologically well cat with such wounds and the advice of the county animal people that made me do this. And, of course, I'm keeping him quarantined until he's negative for everything that puts him at risk, let alone me, Christopher, and Jack. This friend of ours felt the need to tell me to do these things in a comment on a post that I made on a personal social networking site that expalined that we were doing these things.

     So, maybe, she's just assuming that we're doing this without thought because many people don't think. Maybe our other friends are just impressed that we're helping Patches because so many people, like the junk yard employees, only care as far as they can without inconveniencing themselves. If either of these assumptions about the nature of "most people" is true, I hope to never be amongst their numbers.

8 July 2010

     Patches seems to be doing quite well.  He has been very social, giving intense "head bonkies" and sitting with or on us. He's eating more, and particularly likes the cod liver mixture that I got for skin & coat health. His wounds are looking a lot better too. They're still kind of disturbing, but now look more skin instead of scabs and dead skin.


Here are more views of the healing wounds:
Left face and neck
Left full profile
Right face and neck
Right full profile

Thursday, July 8, 2010

7 July 2010

     New vet appointment have been made. Jack will get his booster shots on Saturday morning, and Patches will get blood drawn for tests. If those go well and he's acting fine on the 16th, we can consider him healthy enough to start making plans for if he's going to be our cat or if we're just hanging on to him until he can be rehomed.  The major factor in that is how he and Jack get along, and I'm impressed that Jack is pretty calm about the whole thing. Well, calm for Jack.

     Patches is downright zen.  When his wounds are being cleaned, he leans into it like he's being pet. The only thing he doesn't like is how wet the antiseptic is, so he shakes like a dog getting dry or takes a step or two away.  If I tried something like that with Jack, he'd squirm his way free and run for it.

Patches always closes his eyes at the camera flash.

These pictures show just how hurt Patches is:
Right Profile
Left Profile

6 July 2010

    Jack needs to have his rabies and distemper booster shots, and Patches needs, well, everything. I called our vet, but the first appointment available is the 26th. I took it, but I'm not pleased.

     Neither is Jack, for that matter. He knows we've got another Tom Cat here and that this cat is occupying part of his territory.  There's been some growling and yodeling, but letting Jack see Patches through the Plexiglas so that they can get it out of their systems has helped. Jack still stands guard on his side of the partition staring at the closed closet door, but he's quiet. I'm really proud of him for handling this so well.

     Patches is tired and weak. He eats, but not much. He cuddles, but mostly sleeps.

Patches snuggle
Patches sleeping, using my leg as a pillow.

Jack is thrilled.
Jack doesn't think that "fun" is an accurate description of what we brought home.

5 July 2010

     The poor cat preyed on my mind. Both Rachel and I had cats at home that we didn't want to expose to the potential danger of a stray, but the little stray needed help, and neither of us was convinced that the junk yard employees were going to do anything to help her.

     The next day, on a break at my work, I called the county about the cat. They didn't have the resources to go out and chase a mobile cat, they told me. I would have to get the cat in a box for them to help, and Rachel was busy finishing up a project for grad school, so I am incredibly fortunate that my fiance, Christopher, was equally willing to go on this trek and help this cat.

     It didn't take long for the little gray cat to find us and eat the cat food that we had brought as a lure. We wrapped her in a towel, put her in the cat carrier, and called the county again. They said that we could bring her to their animal facility and gave us an address. Rachel, with coincidentally perfect timing, called to see how things were going. Since we were in her neighborhood, 10 exits down the highway from our own, and the county animal facility was a further 10 exits away, we needed directions, and she was able to look them up and read them to me over the phone.

     When Christopher and I reached the animal facility it was fairly late in the evening. We brought the cat, whom we had started calling "Patches", to the intake room.

     "Just fill out this form," said the assistant animal tech at the front desk, "and don't worry about putting down your info, we almost never call anyone. That's just if we have to tell you about a health risk, like if the cat has rabies."

     "Actually," I said, "we'd like to keep up with how she's doing. I know that it's hard to adopt out injured animals, and we'd hate to see her put down for cosmetic reasons. We'd rather take her ourselves than let that happen."

     The tech looked grim. "There's really no way for us to do that," she explained.  "The cat is injured, so the vet will probably suspect rabies, and if that happens, she'll have to be tested. Even if the vet determines that the wounds aren't animal bites, there's no way that this cat will be put up for adoption. We're so over crowded that we have to put healthy eight-week-old kittens to sleep. A cat that has anything wrong with it doesn't have a chance. You are welcome to keep the cat, though."

     "We have our own cat," I explained, "We don't want to put him at risk for rabies or anything."

     "You said that if the vet thinks the wounds are animal bites, they'll have to test for rabies," said Christopher, "What kind of test is that?"

     I winced, knowing the answer, but unable to bring myself to say.

     "They have to cut the head off, and look at the brain," she said.

     The supervisory animal tech and another assistant came in to see why the intake was taking so long.

     "The cat's hurt, so I explained that if they signed her over to us, we'd have to put her down, but they don't want to put their own cat at risk of rabies or anything," the assistant told her boss.

     "Let's take a look," said the supervisor, opening the carrier, and finding herself being cuddled by the gray kitty. "Oh, it's a little boy, about three I'd say. The fur is singed; these are burns, not animal bites. There's no puncture wounds."

     A glimmer of hope.  "If those aren't animal bites, then the risk of rabies is minimal," I said, "what are the symptoms of rabies and how long does it take for them to show?"

     "Rabies is neurological," said the assistant, "so you'd be looking for a change in behavior. This guy would stop being friendly and start acting aggressive."

     "That's right," said her supervisor, "you should quarantine for 10 days, you'll see symptoms with in that time if he has it."

      Christopher and I spoke together for a minute, we could keep the cat isolated in our walk-in closet for 10 days, and then find Patches a home.  We'd be acting like a no-kill shelter.

     "How do we make sure that Jack is safe?" I asked.

     "Just keep them apart, and make sure that he's up-to-date on all his vaccines."

     "And how do we treat the wounds? Is it just like human first aid?" I asked, finally finding a use for that first-aid training I'd taken years ago.

    "Yes. You can actually just use Neosporin on cats."

     We had a plan. We thanked them for their help, and they were glad to see Patches go off in safety, instead of stay with them, when they knew they'd have to put him down.

    I updated Rachel, and we stopped by to visit Christopher's sister for an extra cat carrier and moral support. We bought some supplies, and went back to rearrange the cat living area.

     At home, we set up a huge piece of Plexiglas up to keep Jack out of the end of the hallway that connected the closet with the bathroom. All of Jack's stuff was moved to the front of the apartment and the very rear is where Patches is staying. Patches lives in the Closet of Quarantine with supervised excursions in the part of the hallway that is quarantined from Jack and daily wound cleaning in the bathroom.

     That first night, Patches ate ravenously and rubbed against us with love and gratefulness. It was so sweet that it was painful.  He understood that he was comfy and well fed now and that we had made it so. He cuddled as though he didn't know that the parts of his body he rubbed against us were scabs devoid of fur.

    He's such a sweet cat that it's impossible not to get attached, but still, if he shows signs of rabies or tests positive for FIV or feline leukemia, this will just be hospice care, not a new beginning.  I keep saying "if" he's OK and "if" we keep him. I don't want to plan for Patches to be part of our family until I know that he doesn't have anything that's fatal, incurable, and contagious.

Patches on his first night with us. Photo by Christopher.

4 July 2010

     I was not looking for another cat. Christopher and I have our hands full with Jack, our 1.5 year old black cat that we got from a rescue organization, and Jack is as rambunctious, playful, and troublesome as a toddler with a four foot vertical leap. We love Jack to bits and, living in an apartment, we didn't feel like we had room and time for another cat.

     No, I was out looking to get some photos of fireworks on the 4th of July (Independence Day here in the USA).  My friend Rachel was playing hostess to a few friends who were content to watch the TV broadcast the celebration down town, but she and I decided to briefly walk around the neighborhood and see if we could see the live fireworks going off at a local University.

     We found that we had a decent view from the parking lot of a junk yard adjacent to the park that borders her neighborhood. While we were there, a teeny cat came up and started rubbing against her. Also a cat lover, Rachel reached down to pet the friendly cat -- and didn't feel fur.

     By the light of our cell phones, we could see that the friendly little cat had serious injuries to her (we presumed the cat a young female based on how small it was) neck and shoulders. I held the cat while Rachel called her sister-in-law to look up phone numbers for the humane society when a pair of gentlemen that worked at the junk yard came out to see what we doing there.

     "Is this your cat?" she asked them.
     "Yes, " replied one of them.
     "She's really hurt; she needs medical attention."
     "It's not ours; we just feed it.  We don't take it inside or anything."
     "Well we need to call someone to help her."
     "We didn't know who to call."

     Rachel proceeded to give them the phone numbers she had just obtained. We decided that we couldn't expect someone to come out on a holiday or a Sunday, let alone a day that was both, so we got the men to agree to call the next day.  I took a reference photo of the injuries, in case this turned out to be a case of abuse and not an animal attack or accident. Still, the cat was so good with people, that we didn't think that was the case.

     "She just needs a little TLC," Rachel said, repeatedly.