Music: Bob Mould: Workbook (1989)
I haven’t read Dante in a while, but I do believe there is a special rung in Hell reserved for those people who abuse and neglect companion animals. Yesterday I met one of these people, and it was all I could do to keep myself from punching her in the face. Let me explain.
For about five years I have been helping animal rescue organizations, primarily the Devonshire Rex Rescue League helmed by my friend Angela. I’ve fostered thrice, successfully placed two sweet Devons (Cosmo and Zappa), and just took on my fourth foster. This time I’m working with a pair of white cats who are supposedly Devons, but in actuality some sort of Frankenkitty. So-called “Backyard Breeders” like to breed Devons with Sphynx and vice-versa, which, of course, is a no-no because of the recessive gene issue but, you know, whatever. These people get a special place in Hell as well for breeding cats that have horrible health problems.
So, Obi died Friday, June 20. On Sunday I got a note from Angela about an urgent rescue in Austin. This was too weird of a coincidence, so I said “bring ’em on.” The official story is that a man who had adopted a pair of two-year-old Devons six years ago had to be moved into a no-pet, assisted living facility. The cats were dumped into a garage of a friend for some months, then taken by his sister. The sister, herself on a limited income, could not afford the vet bills for this “loving” pair of kitties and contacted rescue for help.
After trying to contact the sister for some days, I finally received an email and we agreed that I would receive the cats “early” Saturday morning. I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m., woke up with a battle, and went about my day. Hours rolled by. At 11:30 a.m. I was very annoyed (I thought I might join a new friend for some of the Keep Austin Weird festival yesterday afternoon, but then decided the cats were more important). I sent a blunt email and left a similar phone message. The sister finally called back:
“Uh, sorry Josh. I don’t have a car, so had to borrow one from a friend, and they were late in dropping off the car. I had to run a lot of errands and so I’m a little late. I should be there sometime this afternoon.”
“I have to do things today; I need to know when you intend to be here. Two o’clock?”
She responded she would be here by 1:30 p.m. at the latest. At 1:40 p.m. she called and said she left the directions to my house on her desk, and so I had to give her directions again. She arrived shortly after 2:00 pm. I met her at the car, and told her to help me get the cats to my bedroom.
It’s always suspicious when a pet owner doesn’t have a dedicated carrier; these guys were in cardboard boxes from PetSmart (which means vet visits were infrequent if ever). And it’s hard not to be judgmental when I saw the condition of the cats. They look very sick, the boy with very pale looking skin and lots of bald spots. In the photos you’ll see Keelee first, the rather large boy (overweight). Keelee is on the toilet seat. Kue is cowering next to the toilet (very much underweight—too skinny). Now, the Sister said she bathed the cats last night, but they’re still quite filthy. I want to bathe them right this second, but they are hissing and carrying on pretty terribly whenever I enter the bathroom. Hopefully in a day or so they’ll calm down but, at present, they are not taking handling.
Keelee has a white coat, but is completely naked on his inner thighs and underside, and from his neck up. Kue is almost totally naked (almost like a Sphinx). I said something to the Sister about stress causing them to lose their coat, but she said Kue has never really had much hair, but that the antibiotics she administered last week was supposed to help. There’s a small growth on Kue’s right leg, which could be life-threatening.
I’m no veterinarian, but to my eyes these cats appear to be in bad shape. It could be that they are just Frankenkitties and will never “look normal,” but they are also behaving in that classic “I’ve been mistreated” sort of way. It makes me very sad and then mad. I have often felt guilty for letting my Sphynx go weeks without a bath . . . but her dirty girl impression is nothing up against these two.
After we released the cats to their inevitable under-the-bed sanctuary, the Sister unloaded from a very dirty car a series of very dirty cat beds and a cat condo, all of which smelled like cigarettes, shit, and mothballs. I promptly threw this stuff into the dumpster after she left, except for the cat condo which is with them currently (but which will also go to the dumpster ASAP). The sister also smelled similarly (think here of Aughra from The Dark Crystal).
Of course, the paperwork on these cats has been “lost”:
“Do you have their paperwork?”
“No, it’s probably long gone. My brother didn’t keep very good records.”
“Do we know who the breeder is?”
“No, someone in New Jersey I guess. My brother took them from someone who had them for a couple of years.”
“Are they up on their vaccinations?”
“Keelee is up to date. Kue isn’t, because she was on antibiotics and the vet wanted to wait until that was over before we vaccinated.”
“Ok. So do you have the paperwork for those recent visits.”
“Oh, yeah. Um. It’s on my desk at work. I can mail it to you.”
“Could you scan them and email me the records as PDF files?”
“Oh, yes, yes, yes. I’ll do that first thing next week.”
And monkeys will fly out of my ass bearing Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh when Christ returns next week.
So the next step is vetting. First, I have to get this “thing” on Kue’s leg checked out. Then, we need FIV/FELUK tests. If those are negative, then a full blood panel. Dentation problems are big with Devons, and by the smell of Keelee’s breath some extractions are definitely in order. These poor kitties are a mess. I have to say, though, that getting them healthy is a good way to mourn Obi’s passing.
And since I’m in the middle of a rescue, I cannot help but urge my buddies in Chapel Hill to adopt Mona. She’s a very sweet, well-fed kitty who needs a forever home. DRRL also accepts donations, which are tax deductible. Click here and scroll down to the Paypal link or a snail mail address. Just $5 would be great. Please put “in honor of Obi” in the note field.