Rescuing a Cat With Special Needs – A Story of Transformation

Rescuing a cat with special needs is gratifying, but when you see their transformation to health and well being, there’s no better feeling.

I remember the night well. It was winter—another dark, cold, rainy and windy night. But this night was different. A new cat appeared at our back patio doorstep—a big orange tabby male was hungrily eating our feral’s food outside. When he lifted his head from the food bowl, he saw me, and quickly ran away. Or more accurately, hopped away. I could see something was terribly wrong. But he was gone. He returned the next night for more food, and again I came to the window to see him, and as he was hopping away I saw that he was missing one of his hind legs. The leg was completely deformed and twisted backwards, and he was severely handicapped.

Rescuing a Cat With Special Needs
No Longer a Homeless Cat

Well, they say the third time is a charm—and sure enough on the third night I was prepared! Trap was set, tuna fish inside, and I waited! Bang—I got him! Thankfully, he was not a trap-savvy cat! So I took this big, heavy boy upstairs in the trap to our bathroom. I could quickly see that he was friendly. Very friendly! I was relieved that he wasn’t feral, which would mean I’d have to release him back outside, but there was just no way that I would do that with this injured back leg. The next morning, as I was driving him to the vet, I named him “Piev.” I have no idea where this name came from, I had never heard of it before—but it sounded beautiful when I said it, and it seemed to fit him. He was masculine but gentle, and the name was as unique as this special boy was.

Piev had been outside, abandoned for some time, possibly years. He was completely flea infested, dirty, and his hind leg had been badly broken—shattered (both bones) and not by a car—and they had developed badly from when he was a kitten into being completely deformed.

As it turned out, Piev had a lot of problems from living outside—he had a bad case of skin cancer and many “mast” cell tumors, or Mastocytoma, on his skin that had to be removed. His coat was largely white and white haired, calico and orange tabby cats are more prone to skin cancer from sun exposure. A full feline upper respiratory panel revealed he had Feline Bordetella, or Bordetellosis, a highly infectious upper respiratory disease that is more often associated with dogs (known as kennel cough). And is commonly found in cats with Feline Herpes Virus, which Piev was diagnosed with also. In addition to two X-rays for his back leg, and the upper respiratory panel test, Piev was given a skin/ear swab cytology, an FIV/FELV test for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia Virus, and his FVRCP shot. He was also neutered the same day. Later, I deflead him with Advantage and started his deworming process. It was a BIG day for our big boy! His surgery to remove and biopsy his mast cells was made for three weeks later following his antibiotic treatments for Herpes and Bordetella.

Rescuing a Cat With Special Needs
Piev — the Cat With the Great Big Heart

So Piev started his long road to recovery and health. He revealed immediately what a special, loving, BIG personality he was, full of life, vigor, gentleness, sensitivity, and a mind of his own. Though he had been neglected, evidently abused, and uncomfortable fending outside for himself, he still came to immediately trust and share his big heart with us. He loved feeling safe inside, protected from all the dangers outside, for possibly the first time in his life. He could finally relax.

Rescuing a Cat With Special Medical Needs
Grabbing a Quick Cat Nap

He adjusted quickly to his new home upstairs, sharing four rooms and a hallway with five other rescue cats. But Piev was a loner, he had no interest in the other cats, or in having cat friends, and only wanted his people friends. His tail area was extremely sensitive from his accident, and he would snip at us, warning us not to touch him there.

Rescuing a Cat With Special Needs
Time for Some Sunbathing!

I’ll never forget coming to know this one special quality about Piev—where suddenly out of nowhere, Piev would start growling and tearing around the room at breakneck speed. Like a bee stung him, he would just take off—growl, run, growl, run, spinning around, growling, tearing into the next room, then growling more, tearing back into the room like he was running for his life— growling all the while. This would go on for 15 or 20 minutes, until he got whatever it was—out of his system. The “force” was with Piev in those moments, and he was possessed! Then exhausted, he would just crash, plop down on the floor, look up at us, like what just happened?

Rescuing a Cat With Special Needs
Watching Life Go By
Rescuing a Cat With Special Needs
Piev loved watching street life!

Piev absolutely loved looking out the windows and watching life go by—he would literally run downstairs at full speed (only he was allowed) to our library room at the foot of the stairs, where we created a bench for him, so he could study the street life outside. Every morning after his breakfast he would run downstairs yowling and jump up on his bench for hours. He was fascinated and enthralled with the street life. Of course, he wanted to be out there too, but there wasn’t a chance! He could sit for hours watching people walk by, people walk their dogs, children playing in the street, runners running by, and people coming to the door. These were his favorite moments in life, and every day (literally!) he ran downstairs to sit by this window.

Piev was like no other cat, he was exceptionally special, wise, sweet, loving, smart, and full of life as he possibly could be. He had a larger-than-life personality and he blessed us every day with his unique, beautiful, inquisitive being. Piev went on to have two mast cell skin surgeries to remove all of his skin cancer from which he has healed beautifully, and so far—there has been no sign of recurrence.

Here is the story of Piev’s amazing adoption. We miss him terribly, but we are so grateful for his new kitty mom and for how she honors his amazing specialness, showers him with love and treats (catnip!), and appreciates all of the unique qualities that make him the survivor and incredible cat that he is.

Rescuing a Cat with Special Needs
Cooling off in the sink on hot days


2 thoughts on “Rescuing a Cat With Special Needs – A Story of Transformation”

  1. Oh my god, he’s beautiful! Reminds me of my beloved rescue Oz, whom I adopted from shelter at age 9 & lived until 18! Lord he was Best Cat Ever; his ashes & paw print live on my mantle now.

    Since my 30’s ive only adopted either elderly or “flawed” kitties. My Peanut has septal nasal defect, causing chronically runny nose and snotty sneezes, and watched all her litter siblings get adopted before I spotted her at a Pet Smart event when she was 18mos. That was 5 years ago, and since she was raised in rescue environment, she’s silliest sweetest most trusting cat ever, with the body type of a Porkchop.

    Then there’s Patsy. I rescued her at about age 11 from a terribly neglectful & abusive home environment, where a pitbull was regularly sicc’d on her for sport, and then when she stopped using litter box (because her people never bothered cleaning it), they threw her outside for several years to fend for herself. Incredibly, she stuck around their house all those years, though she was so skittish she wouldn’t let any human approach or touch her. I quickly learned that the food she got was inconsistent, infrequent, often left to spoil or be raided by raccoons, while no water was ever left out. She was skinny, full of fleas & worms, and worst of all, exposed to the elements with no roof, and petrified of people.

    After convincing people to let me, I trapped the poor girl with a pretty but shabby torby coat, and immediately proceeded to vet. Although geriatric, skinny, dehydrated & infested, amazingly she was in otherwise decent health. While still terrified of people, she made absolutely no aggressive gestures to any of the staff or me during the exam or blood or urine draws.

    Physically, a good diet & clean water will do wonders, but it will be a long psychological road to ever trusting a person again. It’s only been a couple weeks, and she remains in her own special suite for now – my bedroom & bathroom, with many lined boxes & covered lined cubbies & window shelves to choose from, but so far still just cowers in one cubby, but when I leave & return, I find evidence of great appetite & perfect litter box manners.

    I’m deliberately not touching her, since I don’t think it’s soothing but still stressful at this point. Instead we exchange many slow blinks with each other, which always eventually stirs up a loud purr. When she’s ready for touch she’ll let me know.

    Until then, she’s teaching me how with work & patience, relationship repair cam be as satisfying as a trusting one out of the box. She can take her time; she has forever with me.

    1. Tallison, thanks for sharing your beautiful rescue stories of both Peanut and Patsy. Your compassion, patience and love will heal Patsy. When cats feel safe, healthy, comfortable, and have their basic needs met over time, they begin trusting again, but it can be a long, long road for some. My Dusty who had been severely abused when young, has taken years to trust us, and finally in his 17th year (after 12 with us) he has turned an incredible corner and allows us to freely pet him, hold him, and come up to him. He’s still afraid, but he trusts us now. The cat we just trapped and rescued from the outside, Alex, was abandoned outside about 10 years ago, is coming around slowly too. He was not abused, but it will take time after so many years outside and independent to accept human touch and affection. Meanwhile, we feel like you — Alex can do anything and be anything he wants, we have no expectations for him other than comfort and love. We just wanted him to be safe, healthy and comfortable again, and hopefully happy! Thanks again for sharing your amazing stories and for your deep compassion and kindness for Peanut and Patsy (and Oz too!). You are teaching people to respect these beautiful creatures. Good luck with Patsy!

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