Written yesterday...Sunday Jan 22, 2023
It's been five weeks since Penny died. And two weeks since we rescued two cats who lost their person 6 days after we lost Penny.
We didn't get through three weeks. Penny's loss was that devastating. I ended up in ER twice, and if they hadn't been so dismissive I would have gone a few more times. My thyroid is fully collapsing again, I am quickly declining to nonfunctioning, and stress is actively making it worse. Both my mom and I couldn't sleep, eat, or interact with anyone. The world just felt empty and cruel.
3 weeks after Penny passed, I saw a post of someone asking what to do about two terrified cats who lost their person two weeks prior and have been alone except for a daily feeding, and no one could or would take them. I immediately messaged my mom asking if she wanted me to get them, even if we didn't keep them, it would get them out of that house where they were alone with no one willing to rescue them. She immediately replied "yes".
So I reached out...less than 2 days later I entered a situation i was not prepared for. an 80+ year old greeted me. I entered the home, and immediately noticed the filthy condition. It looked like it hadn't been cleaned in a decade. There was a permanent layer of grime everywhere. I immediately asked the man about collecting food or water bowls, toys, cat items, he handed me two very dirty blankets, and said this is it. And a very large bag of cat food that was almost empty and that was torn in a way that it didn't close. So the food was exposed to air for who knows how long. When I entered the bedroom I noticed the litter box was so filled with feces and urine that there was no litter remaining in it. The carpet was filthy, with dust and dirt...but no cat urine or poop. Then I noticed there was nothing remaining in the home. the cats had been in there two weeks alone except for people coming in and removing everything that was their person's...the only few things remaining in the apartment was a shredded couch, a mattress with no sheets on it on a broken bedframe, a side table, and some of the last of the kitchen things.
it took two hours to catch them in a two room apartment. And it was not as smooth as I was hoping. I had to trick the orange kitty, who was pissed off at me for hours afterwards, and the tabby kitty wore himself out and possibly injured himself climbing a window, and collapsed in front of the bedroom door, and then very sadly surrendered to me to place him into the single broken cat carrier the man there had provided to me. I think they truly thought they were going to die.
We brought them to my mom's, and it was very apparent immediately that these cats were severely traumatized and neglected much longer than two weeks. And they were in no mood to share space with humans they didn't know.
That first week was a lesson for me in managing my own fear. They were terrifying. the first three days they didn't eat, drink, or pee or go poo. they hid under a metal rack that was 5" high. These are 15lb boy kitties.
They hissed violently if you looked at them. then in the 3rd night they explored...the tabby cat under the table where we built a better hiding space, and the orange cat pissed on himself and got stuck under a shelf in my mom's room. the tabby cat was having asthma and breathing reactions, but was put on antibiotics for bad teeth and the breaking issue seems to have cleared up.
After that I was forced to try to pick up and move the orange cat because he wasn't about to go back to his brother. Instead he ran down the hall and cowered in fear. I blocked the pathway to everything the wasn't the bedroom door, and tried to get him to run out, but he ran the other way and tried to get behind the dryer. i slowly reached down and picked up a terrified ,shivering, cowering cat and ran him to the other room and dropped him right beside his brother under the table. He sat upright for over a half hour clearly processing what happened.
After that i made a little space i could reach in to pet them and see them without actually being able to grab them, so they could work on desensitization. that third day I reached back in and worked to find the tabby cat's sweet spots. he immediately purred when i did so, and kept purring louder. the orange cat then jumped in for attention and purred and had me pet his entire body. it was amazing after 3 days of hissing. after that the orange cat turned to go eat for the first time in 3 days followed by the tabby, and within an hour both used the litterbox for the first time. it was as if they wanted to know the world was still loving and kind to agree to participate.
Day 5 meant vet care in home, and the vet was amazing and got them both checked and vaccines despite a ton of hissing and fighting. The tabby cat has several possible health issues, including needing several teeth removed and a possible enlarged kidney. Possible auto-immune diseases, viruses, and possible asthma. Orange cat bit me because he is so big I couldn't pick him up right and it scared him, and i had to go to get antibiotics.
Day 6 was weird as they were ill from the rabies shots, so i hold nothing against them for their bad behavior that day. Orange kitty in between just wanted to be pet. Tabby cat hissed more than he had up to then. so much hissing. But by here i started to think it was almost all drama, instead of actual threats.
Day 7 they completely calmed down. Tabby cat changed entirely. The calmness on his face once the antibiotics kicked in was amazing to experience. And the orange cat increased seeking petting. It was this day that gave me hope they could be helped by us. That they wanted to live and were okay with it being with us.
After then it has been a blurred series of events, but nothing bad. I had to teach my mom to interact with a hissing cat.
Each day they have learned or discovered new things: the window, the toys, the tv. I'm so proud of them.
i'm getting sleepy and will wrote more about them soon.
I still miss Penny; the sting of her loss is extreme, but the soothe of these kitties is helping.
Next entry about learning to play...