Lisa’s fundraising page: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/lisa-kitty/65133
Lisa came into the shelter where I volunteer, the Pompano satellite shelter of Broward County Animal Care, one day late in April. When I met Lisa, she looked like this:
Seeing kitties with this kind of body language is sadly common. The adult owner surrenders tug at my heartstrings especially hard. People usually get their pet cats as kittens, so from when they were just little babies the cats got used to a safe environment, people to feed them and hopefully treat them kindly, and then one day one year, five years, even 15 years in the future (yes, cats are surrendered at 15 years old) they find themselves in a smelly, very loud, very scary shelter with NO idea what’s going on. I have seen cats completely shut down; hiding under their litterboxes, facing the back cage wall frozen stiff, crying incessantly… It’s heartbreaking.
So here was Lisa, with her ears back. A plump, cute kitty, in a very scary situation. All I knew about her was her name and that she was five years old and that her owners surrendered her. I made a note on the cage card for the next photographer (a note for myself or my friend Kate) to re-take the photo when Lisa had calmed down because it made me sad the only photo I had of her made her look so fearful. Notice her ears in a normal position in her intake photo. Poor girl had no idea what was about to happen; she was just going for a ride in her carrier.
My friend Kate went to the shelter next and noticed that Lisa had calmed down, so snapped this photo:
She likely was still scared and still unhappy, but at least she had grown accustomed to the shelter environment and looked like her cute self.
While I was at the shelter on June 1, I overheard talk of Lisa being adopted. What a happy day, an adult cat being adopted! (People, PLEASE adopt an adult! Please? No one else does.) News like that always puts a little spring in your step and helps you have a little hope in a very hopeless feeling place.
On June 8, when I arrived at the shelter one of the awesome staff members told me to make sure I saw Lisa; she was back and she looked bad. I did my usual walk-through to see the new arrivals in the adoptables room when I came across Lisa’s cage. My heart just sank, and my stomach shifted. Poor Lisa was back, only now her face was extremely swollen and she had spots of blood and pus near her whiskers.
I asked the shelter staff what had happened. They explained that the adopters had dumped Lisa back off at the shelter and when they were questioned about her injuries, they pretty much shrugged them off and said they had to leave.
Our rescue does not specialize in adult cats for the simple reason that we cannot adopt them out; no one wants them, a fact that frustrates me all the time. If someone wants a kitten, they want them as young as they can get them. I could have two identical cats, one at 8 weeks and one at 10 weeks and almost everyone would choose to adopt the 8-week-old cat. I have as many foster cats as I can and nowhere to show them for adoption. I love to help adult cats, but we have to have a plan in place before we take them. In this case, however, I looked at the staff member and said I would take her. If I weren’t to take her, I knew what would happen — she would be sent to the other shelter to see a veterinarian and euthanized. After sitting in a cage suffering for who knows how long. The rescue also has a lot of medical cases on our plate right now, so taking on another worried me just a little, but.. again, I could not leave her to suffer and die after all she had been through.
So, my friend and I drove her to the emergency clinic. I had another rescue mission to complete, so we left her in the care of the clinic staff and asked for an update when they could look at her.
When the vet called, he said it was bad. He said when he went to clean the blood and pus off her face, the skin came with it. He said she was in bad shape and in a lot of pain. He said we should consider euthanizing her, but that he would like me to come see her for myself so I could get the depth of her condition.
I can’t really describe the shock of when I saw her. I had thought when we brought her in that she would need some cleaning up and some x-rays in case it were an animal attack and they needed to check for broken bones, but I never considered her skin coming off like it did. It was incredibly raw, shiny with blood and pus. As she was not eating on her own, she needed to be syringe fed. I helped with that. When I would give her a bite of food sometimes blood would drip off her face onto her bed. I told the vet I would like to at least try for a bit and see if she could recover, but that we would have to be careful to not let it go too far. I stared at her and wondered if I was making the right decision by keeping her alive and suffering, but was hoping there could be a silver lining to the experiences of her past couple of months. Lisa was given lots of pain medication, put on an IV, and treated with antibiotics.
The veterinarian flushed out her wounds and the shock of seeing her in her cage was dwarfed by the shock of seeing that she had holes in her face, something I could describe as pockets that extended deep into the side of her face.
A censored mid-cleaning photo:
Again, I wondered to myself if we were making the right decision.
While all this was happening, the folks on Facebook were abuzz with Lisa’s story. And miracle of miracles, I received an application for adoption for Lisa in the case she recovered. I had someone else step up to foster her while she recovered and until she could get to her forever home. Folks started donating towards her care. Amazing things for Lisa! She had a bright future ahead of her, if we could just help her reach it!
One of the big questions in Lisa’s story is — what happened? We have no way of knowing. The vet said it looked as if it could have been a bad snake bite. Someone else said maybe she was attacked by a raccoon. She could’ve had some other kind of trauma; what appeared to be bite marks could be holes caused by an abscess bursting. Unless her adopters tell us, we may never know what happened to Lisa. We do know that it probably happened just a few days after arriving into her new home. By the time Saturday came, she was dehydrated and jaundiced; the vet estimated she had been suffering for 4 days without eating or drinking before the adopters dropped her off at the shelter.
Since the day all this started, Saturday, things have.. well, they haven’t gotten worse. That was a genuine fear.. if the infection were bad enough, or if the injuries were caused by snake venom, or if she had a flesh-eating bacteria, MORE of her skin could’ve fallen off. I would not have expected Lisa to live through that. But during Sunday’s cleaning, nothing new came off. By Monday her wounds were not the bright, shiny, raw ones of Sunday.
Lisa hadn’t been using her litterbox on her own since she came out of the shelter on Saturday, she would just pee where she laid. She had to be bathed every time she was put under for a cleaning. But today I saw her use the litterbox! Yay, Lisa! She has not started eating on her own either. We have been syringe feeding her, and if she doesn’t start eating on her own within a few days or we will have to fit her with a feeding tube to keep her at a heathy weight while her body tries to heal itself.
Here is Lisa today at the vet’s office:
The holes in her face are seeming to want to close. Her face looks awful, yes, but nothing like it did on Saturday. Lisa is starting to move around a little.. we even saw some attempts at grooming! These are all hopeful things. She seems very sad and depressed, but considering what she’s been through in the past couple of months, I would expect nothing else. I try to balance the syring feeding with lots of petting, combing, and sweet-talking and hope Lisa starts to realize soon that very good things are in store for her if she recovers.
We have followed up with Animal Care, and they have assured us that a citation will be served to the adopters as soon as the officers are able to make contact with them. They can plead guilty and pay a $500 fine, or they can contest it and go to court, in which case I will be appearing with all of the uncensored photos of Lisa I have to make sure that they are punished for whatever cruelty or neglect they inflicted on this poor cat.
Please stay tuned to the Good Karma fan page for updates about Lisa: http://www.facebook.com/GKPetRescue. We are so hoping to share happy photos of Lisa soon.
If you want to contribute to Lisa’s care, visit Lisa’s fundraising page: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/lisa-kitty/65133. You can also donate via PayPal directly to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatever funds are left over after Lisa’s care will be utilized for one of our other animals in need, such as Joe who needs entropian surgery, Mariah who needs mammary masses removed and her leg amputated, Daffy’s dry eye treatment, mama kitty Fiona’s hospitalization, food for the eight puppies just born, etc. We really appreciate everyone’s support.
UPDATE: Sadly Lisa passed away while in our veterinarian’s care. Thank you so much to everyone who supported her and hoped for a full recovery.