Rescuing and Fostering Cats – The Story of Gigi’s Rescue and Rehabilitation

Fostering cats is a rewarding and satisfying experience that I am honored to have. By fostering a rescued cat you provide a needed home for a cat that otherwise would remain homeless, or stay in a neglectful or abusive home, or possibly would be euthanized at a shelter. But when you take in a new foster cat, especially an adult cat, you never really know how long it may be before they are adopted—or how long it will take to find just the right home for that particular cat.

Rescuing Gigi
Rescuing and fostering cats
Gigi’s first night at home, after her rescue – She was very, very sick

I found Gigi—a beautiful, graceful Calico—abandoned and living along the Iron Horse Trail in Walnut Creek between two busy streets–just after receiving a hotline call to the cat rescue group I belong to called Community Concern for Cats (CC4C). The caller was concerned about a calico cat that looked thin, sick, and weak, and was seen falling down outside of the local feed store near the trail. Living close by, I walked the trail to see if I could find her near the described spot. I started feeding every night—putting wet and dry food out by some bushes along with a bowl of water. Two weeks later, I finally saw her! She appeared from a ditch right beside me that was completely covered by tree branches, probably hiding while waiting for me. She knew it was feeding time. Scared, hesitant, but trusting me—she allowed me to touch her and pet her. Once her trust was gained, I ran home, grabbed one of my cat carriers, walked back quickly to where I had left her, and the rest is history.

Medically Treating Gigi

Rescuing and fostering cats
Gigi is much happier after getting medical treatment

Once home, I set up my big cat cage with a 2nd shelf for her bed, put in a litter box, water and food, and immediately took her upstairs and put her in the bathtub to wash her. Poor Gigi was covered in a black blanket of fleas and the water quickly turned a dark grey while they tried to abandon ship. Following her bath, I combed her with a flea comb to remove the remaining fleas—I think I counted over a hundred fleas from just from the flea comb alone! So I knew she was dealing with possible anemia amongst other health problems. I put her to bed, and the next morning woke up and found blood in her cat bed. I sat and observed her for a while and noticed that she was going in and out of her litter box several times, straining, and unable to urinate. So I raced her to our wonderful veterinary hospital, Four Corners Animal Hospital, for a complete workup—blood test, urine test and culture, X-rays and routine checkup. Her urinary test proved she had a raging urinary tract infection needing immediate treatment. The X-rays showed that the lining of her bladder had grown thick and inflamed from having a urinary tract infection for so long, and left untreated. And as part of her full blood panel test, she was also combo tested for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FELV (Feline Leukemia Virus) exposure, which she thankfully tested negative for. I brought her home with a two-week supply of antibiotics and some lactated ringers for subcutaneous fluids.

Medically Rehabilitating Gigi
Rescuing and Fostering Cats
Gigi is now healed and settling into home life again

So treatment began for Gigi—giving subcutaneous fluids to treat her dehydration every day for a week, then every other day for a week; antibiotics given twice daily; Advantage for fleas and Drontal for deworming; and lots of love and attention to reassure her. Within a day or two, she was so much happier and more comfortable, in significantly less pain, starting to play and enjoy life, and very affectionate as her health continued to improve. I could tell that she was so grateful for being rescued from the hell she experienced outside, alone, afraid, in pain, suffering, and with no ability to find food or water. Gigi quickly became this amazing, trusting, incredibly loving, beautiful cat—who thanked us every day for making her feel better. We fell in love with her.

Rescuing and Fostering Cats
Gigi goes up for adoption

Within a couple of weeks her treatment ended. She had gained weight and I moved her upstairs to join our five other rescue cats that live on our second floor. She proceeded to bully all of them and became the alpha cat, which made our oldest cat very unhappy!

Rescuing and Fostering Cats
Jennie Richards and Sweet Gigi

I began taking Gigi to CC4C’s adoption weekends. I took her every weekend for several months and posted her on the CC4C website. But Gigi was always overlooked for younger cats and those adorable kittens. She was the diamond, but no one could see or appreciate her beauty. She didn’t show particularly well and would turn her back to every person who tried to pet her and pretended she wasn’t there! I went through periods where I thought we would just keep her and have her join all our other cats who were never adopted, are blind, feral, shy, have extreme allergies, or are chronically ill. But Gigi was healthy and loving, had no issues, and would make someone incredibly happy so I had to persevere and continue to try to find the home that she deserved. Gigi would come to live with us for a little more than two more years, until she finally found her forever home. That is another story saved for another day!




2 thoughts on “Rescuing and Fostering Cats – The Story of Gigi’s Rescue and Rehabilitation”

  1. Jennie, I never knew the entire story of Gigi. Thank you for taking time to share. If only we all had the heart and compassion to be an angel like you.

    1. Thanks PJ, Gigi was an amazing cat, and happily found a home that loves her and is grateful for her. So I’m glad!

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