Thursday, November 3, 2011

Conservatory Cat

It's been a stressful week here at Our Little Acre. Family events have conspired to create an atmosphere that isn't quite normal, but then that's life, isn't it? You never know what will happen next, and you deal with situations as they come, making the best choices you can at the time.

Grandma and me - Mother's Day 2011
My grandma will celebrate her 97th birthday next month, God willing. In September, she fell and broke her arm. It was a bad break and one that they would normally have performed surgery to correct, but due to her age, they simply put it in a sling. Being that it was the second time she'd fallen this year and that with a broken arm, she couldn't perform simple tasks, she was moved from her home to assisted living.

It's been a difficult time for her in many ways. She contracted pneumonia shortly after she broke her arm and spent some time in the hospital. Due to her not being able to return to her home, she could no longer care for her cat, Abby, so we've been trying to find a home for her. This has only added to what has been a big adjustment for Grandma, because Abby spent most of her days for the last four years curled up on Grandma's lap.

Abby is a purebred Bengal cat who was born in a cattery in Tennessee, about nine years ago. As a kitten, she escaped from the cattery and was out in the wild for about six weeks. Someone found her and took her to the animal shelter. They recognized that she wasn't your ordinary alley cat and tried to locate her owners. When they found them, the owners of the cattery didn't want her, since she'd been "out and about."

No one came forward to adopt Abby and she was scheduled to be euthanized until a shelter employee stepped up and took Abby home with her. She later got two  more Bengal kittens, which Abby proceeded to pick on until the kittens became cats and turned on Abby.  She would come home to evidence of outright fighting and Abby took to retreating on the top of the kitchen cabinets all day long.

Just prior to this, the shelter employee moved to the Ft. Wayne area, and decided to try to find a new home for Abby. One of my former dental hygiene patients who was involved with animal rescue learned of the situation and knew that we had rescued cats in the past. She sent me an email, I talked it over with Romie, and we made a trip to Ft. Wayne.

Abby in our home in 2007

We came home with Abby, having been alerted that she was very shy and that it would take weeks, perhaps months, for her to adjust to the move, and especially to our two cats, Simon and Baby. We kept her in the dining room and after a month or so, started to introduce her to the two of them.

Things seemed to be going well, until I caught Simon biting Abby in the back for no reason. Twice. And Abby began retreating to the top of our refrigerator. I'm sure she thought, "Oh no. Here we go again."

About three months before this, my grandma had lost her kitty, Elvis, to cardiac arrest. She didn't think she wanted another cat, but soon changed her mind. We offered her any one of our eight cats and she chose Abby, knowing she was being picked on by Simon. She knew that she could give Abby a loving - and safe - home.

Abby has been a wonderful companion and pet for Grandma, though she remained shy and always hid whenever anyone came to visit. Over the last couple of years, Abby developed gastrointestinal issues and lost a lot of weight. Thanks to the persistence of the veterinarian over a period of months, Abby is now healthy as long as she eats a specific special food, Hill's Prescription Diet z/d, for cats with food allergies.

Grandma always worried about what would happen to Abby if anything happened to her. When you're in your 90s, it's a concern. I told her I would find Abby a home, if that day came. And now it has. We have spent the last six weeks trying to find the right home for Abby. There have been fliers placed, with details of Abby's needs. The Great Lakes Bengal Rescue had an ad on their site. Area veterinarians have assisted in the search.  Many, many phone calls were made. We posted on Facebook.

With no suitable home to be found, with much thought and agonizing over the decision, it was decided that Abby would be euthanized. Rather than having her go to a situation that would be stressful for her, we felt this would be best, and Grandma agreed.

The minute I entered the veterinarian's office, I began crying and couldn't stop. The vet sat down with us and told us that he just couldn't go through with the procedure. To end a healthy cat's life before its time went against everything he did as a vet, which was to help animals, not harm them. He understood our dilemma and didn't criticize us for our decision; he just couldn't be the one to do it. He apologized over and over, but I understood and told him I admired his integrity.

We spent 30 minutes discussing options, and I decided we would take Abby and she would live in the conservatory. It isn't an ideal situation, but he assured us that she would do just fine, and so far she seems to be content out there in her own little jungle.

We had eight cats already, with all but one of them being rescues. Costs associated with caring properly for that many cats are high. Monthly flea treatments alone cost $100. And then there's the litter for the two inside cats, food for all of them, and yearly immunizations. They've all been spayed or neutered and of course, one or two get sick every year and there are veterinarian costs for those visits.

I'm not complaining, and we of course are happy to help these kitties out - kitties that someone decided they didn't want anymore so they dumped them out for someone else to care for. Likely they think that a cat can fend for itself, but most domestic cats, while fairly self-sufficient, lead pretty short lives when left on their own that way. It's just a cruel thing to do. But that's another issue that I've already talked about here.

Grandma is thrilled that we have Abby and she has said she hopes she gets well enough to visit us and can see Abby again. Even if she doesn't, we can always take Abby to visit her.

I have to say, even though we didn't want another cat, Abby is special. In a way, she's come home again. She's had five different homes in her lifetime and even though we tried our best to find her yet another one, this will be her "forever" home as long as she's on this side of heaven.

I just spent a little bit of time with her out in the conservatory, and though she's still a little shy, she is already becoming more trusting, letting me hold her for great lengths of time. She purrs and trills and rubs her head against my face. When I put her down, she lays on her side, looking up at me and giving that cute little meow that just melts my heart.

Some things just have a way of working out, don't they?


Candi @ min hus said...

What a cutie! I think it's great that you were able to find a solution for Abby. It's especially nice that she will still be able to see your grandma sometimes. I'm sure the transition is hard on both of them.

And I think it's super great that you have rescued so many kitties. Three indoor cats can be more than a handful at times, so I can't imagine eight!

I hope your grandma is feeling better soon.

Erin @ The Impatient Gardener said...

Awww ... you're a good egg, Kylee. I'm so happy for Abby and she looks quite content in that last photo. I hope it continues to work out well and that she lives out her days just as contented.

And I'll keep your grandma and your family in my thoughts. I know how difficult these times can be.

Terra said...

I shed some tears when I read how you cried in the vet's office and I am very GLAD Abby now has a forever home. God bless you for finding her a home with you.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I'm so sorry that your Grandma had to go to assisted living and give up her beloved kitty. Hopefully she will eventually be accepted by the other cats and feel more at home there.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Every conservatory needs a cat. Abby seems perfect for this job. She is a lucky cat. My neighbor has a couple of these cats. I didn't know they existed until she moved in next door. Beautiful creatures.


Your vet should be applauded for guiding you to the right decision. Like people, cats and other animals come into our lives for a reason...and Abby needed you...particularly since she was your Grandmother's precious little companion...I could never put a healthy animal to sleep! I'm delighted and SOOO relieved that Abby now has a forever home with you! I'm sure your Grandmother is as relieved as Abby. :o)

Deb Berning said...

What a wonderful solution for Abby. So happy for you. She seems as if she's adjusting quite well. I have some opinions on people who drop off cats to "fend" for themselves. I have many, many rescue cats due to this to the dismay of hubby. But who, that is humans, can leave a tiny kitten to starve to death when they end up on your property? Kudos to you for taking care of your Grandma's kitty. I hope she can come and see her. Happy Birthday to her in advance, how wonderful she's still with you on earth.

Amy Junod said...

I'm so sorry that your Grandmother has had to have such a big life change. It's so stressful for them. You're so compassionate to help her with Abby as she's such an important part of your Grandmother's life.
Things do work out don't they? I bet that Abby is so pleased and comfy in her new digs!
Love the photo of you and your Grandmother.

blogger templates | Make Money Online