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!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

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.

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