Sunday, March 17, 2024

One Down, Eight To Go

 A little over a year ago, I experienced a devastating loss in my life and really did not think I would be able to overcome it. I thought about it day and night, night and day, and it sometimes overwhelmed me so much I didn't think I would be able to breathe. I worked very hard on not completely losing it, although I don't think I did as well as I could but I tried

One night as I was wailing to The Void as per usual, it sent me a creature of the night right to my window. He was scruffy, had a goopy eye, and was sneezing long snot ropes all over the place but he was starving for love more than I was at the moment and I completely and totally melted.

Hello, Laaadieeesss...

I had a little bit of eye ointment left over from my other cat, Pete, so I was able to get the goopiness out of his eye a bit but by morning he was doing so poorly that we had to rush him to the emergency vet. He had crawled underneath a bed in the guest room and it looked like he had picked his final place to sleep forever. He was drooling and feverish and I was terrified that this cat I hadn't even given a name to yet was absolutely going to pass away in my house. 

We got him to the vet and they stabilized him. He needed a lot of fluids and had infection in his entire head and lungs. We were given a lot of medicines to give him and made an appointment with our regular vet to find out just what exactly was wrong with him because it was definitely more than just a cat cold with infection. 

It is hard enough to try to get medicine in a cat that knows you, ask me how hard it is to get medicine into a cat that doesn't know you. THAT was fun (no, it was not). 

This is the face of rage.

We eventually found out that the cause of the infection was he had an oronasal fistula that needed to be repaired and had to have almost all of his teeth removed. It was going to be (and was) a very expensive surgery but I will thank Banfield at Petsmart until the end of my days because with their Wellness Program, we were able to cut the cost of his surgery down from $2,800 to $1,300! No, this is not a sponsored post for Banfield, like I said, I am just thankful that they were able to work with us and get the cost down so I could actually give him all the help he desperately needed.  He had to take some pretty heavy duty antibiotics for a month and gain quite a bit of weight to prepare for that surgery, but after about a week he got used to the routine (and I discovered Pill Pockets!) and took the medicine and gained all of the weight and then some and had his surgery. He actually does have all of 4 teeth left after the surgery and has not had any trouble in the health area since.

That first week was probably the scariest for me because I just wasn't sure if he would pull through. I kept him in my bedroom away from my other cat (who was weirdly overjoyed to have another cat in the house which I did not expect at all) and dog and just spent all of the time I could with him. He was grumpy and hissy and bitey but thankfully realized that I was trying to help him. Once he got to the point that he was up and alert, I slowly introduced him to the rest of the house and everyone in it. He settled in and to my surprise, did not even try to go back outside at all. I did not realize at the time that it was only the beginning of an entire year and then some of saving both of our lives. I was so focused on trying to save this cat that I didn't have time to wallow in that dark depression hole I like to crawl into and hide when terrible things happen. I had a goal, a mission if you will, and I was determined to save a life after losing another.

Mission Accomplished

However, it seemed that getting him physically healthy was just the beginning. The vet was able to determine his age as only 8 months old at the time and in just those short eight months, he had been through incredible trauma. I had seen him around the neighborhood around August and had assumed it was someone's outside cat. I did not realize until he showed up at my window in February that he actually was either abandoned or feral. I live in a college town and people come and go in my neighborhood constantly so while I don't like to guess, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where he came from. He was fixed already so clearly he had been someone's cat at one point so what happened? If I tried to tell you all of the theories that I ran through in my brain about his origin, we would be here all year. Shortly after he was physically well, though, I started to realize that my work was only halfway done. He got overstimulated very easily and would lash out. One minute he would be loving and want your attention and the next he would be growling and trying to bite me or my husband with his whole 4 teeth. When I say bite, I mean, viciously bite and scratch us and leave scars. We made a little place on a cat tower that we called the "spicy spot" that we would put him when we had trouble calming him down and got him some toys to bite on and would let him expend that energy in a better way than trying to murder us. 

This fish has been murdered one million times

I was at a loss as I knew very little about helping a cat like Huxley, but again, I was determined to help him, anyway. I read every book, scoured the internet, and talked with the vet on what I could do. I was able to find a lot of helpful information and start putting it to work. I found that so far I had been dealing with it pretty well by removing him from the overstimulation and being patient. I also learned all about what trauma can do to a cat and it opened my mind to new ways of dealing with my own trauma that I had encountered in my past. Slowly but surely, I think we both got better. He still has his moments, so do I when it comes to trauma, but learning all of the different ways to help really put into perspective how important it is to recognize trauma so you can heal trauma. Also, much patience.

I thought I had worked through a lot of things in my life, but helping him made me realize that while you can get better after trauma, it never really goes away. You will carry those wounds and they show up in surprising ways, sometimes when you least expect it. What it made me realize the most, though, is that if you can stay committed to healing, you will be rewarded with the calm life you always wanted and needed...with quite a few treats here and there!

Huxley The Void 

I like to tell people that he won the cat lottery by showing up at our retired, empty nester house window but most days, I think we all won in our own way. 

Bonus photo of my other cat Sweet Pete just because


  1. Wow. That is quite a journey with your cat. Glad it all turned out for the best. and, even more glad that the cat helped you as well.

  2. What a heart warming account. Am glad you're finding the journey so rewarding and would surmise that both you and Huxley are lucky to have each other. Thanks for including the photo of both cats. They are soo cute xx

  3. Such an inspiring read! Animals are a gift from God and they really are precious. I've got a few special needs pets of my own, so I can relate.

  4. Wow, what a journey! Our cats are our babies and are tied to us in so many ways. I’m so glad everything turned out well it’s devastating losing a pet! My kids still cry over the loss of one of our animals

  5. What an incredible story! I always love learning about what led people to getting their pets and this was such a lovely read.

  6. Stephanie, I just checked out your recent post, "One Down, Eight to Go," and I was captivated by your stories about your lovely feline companions! Your heartfelt anecdotes about your cats are not only heartwarming but also incredibly endearing. It's clear that your furry friends hold a special place in your heart, and your passion for sharing their adventures shines through in your writing. Keep sharing those adorable moments with your readers - they're sure to bring a smile to everyone's face!

  7. This reminds me of the time I took in a litter of abandoned kittens. It wasn't an easy feat but their company and the joy they brought with them made it worth it.

  8. So many things have happened with your cat. Life indeed has a funny way of giving twists and turns but, in the end, we're just glad that everything turned out for the best.

  9. What a heart warming story. We need them as much as they need us. Pets are angels, I am glad this earth angel found you. <3

  10. Such a very inspiring story. I am grateful for your good heart to helped the poor cat. Now, he found a family that will love and care for him.

  11. I appreciate anyone who helps animal which is life that we should take care too.

  12. I bet you brought kittens home when you were a little girl. You have a kind and tender heart. I loved the story.