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Some encouragement to others -- here is my success story!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've been reading these forums and just want to offer some encouragement to people who work with strays and feral cats. On Christmas Eve, I took in a stray cat (=Nano) who had clearly been homeless for several months. She was severely underweight, had fur problems, showed signs of losing fights with other animals and had obviously been abused by humans. All of this had made her semi-feral and she was in very bad shape by the time I took her in.

Rescuing a stray can be a lot of work and take lots of patience. For the first four days she did little more than sleep, snarf down her food and vomit. I had her quarantined in one area, and the fifth day I saw she was having a hard time balancing herself to walk. I thought very seriously that perhaps she needed to be put to sleep, but I looked her in the eyes and could see she had fight left in her. I'm glad I waited because the next day she began walking, albeit it with some difficulty, and at the seven day mark Nano could eat a full meal without getting sick.

We're approaching twelve weeks together and her physical recovery is nearly complete. Probably another 2-3 weeks and Nano's fur will be done growing back and appear to be evened out. She has gained a lot of weight and the only noticeable physical problem is that she stumbles if she tries to stand up too quick after a long nap. Nano is able to jump, has good coordination and can run with the best of them.

Her temperment is improving but there is a lot of work left. She enjoys being petted, will give me her stomach and is an affectionate companion. I am the only one who can touch her but Nano now tolerates visitors and won't try to hide. She doesn't like to be picked up or handled, but will tolerate it from me because she knows I won't hurt her. I am hoping that soon my girlfriend will be able to pet her -- Nano has begun sniffing around and is becoming more relaxed around her.

It takes a lot of work and Nano might never become as socialable as other cats. She is eccentric in an amusing way, but you can see she has used up seven or eight of her nine lives with all she has been through in life. The vet estimates her to be 6-8 years old and I am looking forward to spending the next 5+ years with Nano. I can't change what happened to her in the past but I can provide her a "forever home" where she only has to worry about normal sickness and old age.

Anyway, this is just a thanks to the other people who work with strays and also encouragement to the people who are thinking of giving it a try. It takes a lot of patience but the relationship I have with Nano is much better than what I would get going to buy a random kitten in the pet store at the shopping mall. It is sad so many stray cats die so quickly, but the ones who somehow survive usually have a very strong will to live.
post #2 of 11
You are right, it take time, and patience, and time and patience, and patience and patience, but it is so rewarding!
post #3 of 11
This is a great story - you truly saved Nano's life! You and she will share a very special bond forever.

I wish more people had the virtues of kindness and compassion when it comes to homeless cats, something you clearly have in abundance.

Thank you for telling us Nano's story and thank you for saving her. To call her lucky is an understatement!

We'll be looking forward to reading about her progress.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
In the last two weeks Nano has continued to improve. She had a hard time crunching the Nutro dry food so I have switched her to Authority (Petsmart's generic brand). Between the diet change and her being healthy enough to enjoy some interactive games, Nano is looking spry and very energetic in the last week.

"Cat Dancer" is not only fun but it has helped improve her mobility. While she used to jump onto counters, she had to lunge very hard and "grunt" to make the distance. A couple nights ago I saw her do something amazing -- she gracefully hopped on the 4' counter followed by a running leap across a 4-5 foot gap onto the 5-6' tall refrigerator. Nano turned around to give me a wink and a yawn to show me how easy it was.

It is not just the jumping. Recently she is able to move so silently and effortlessly without signs of pain. Not that she was horrible before, but sometimes she acted more like a 14 year old cat than a 7 year old cat. There are also signs of increasing comfort and adaptation to her physical environment. I think she figured out she has free run of a medium sized apartment and is at liberty to enjoy herself.

She is also making advancements with her socialization. Today she grudgingly let me look closely at her teeth and all around her mouth. Earlier this week, with the bribe of "Whisker Lickins", she finally allowed a second person to pet her. It only lasted about fifteen seconds but it was a favorable interaction that can probably be repeated tomorrow.

And I'd say her fur is 98% regrown and healthy now. The black and white fur has taken on a shiny glow and the orange/tan areas are finally rounding into form. Again, it is an ongoing process that takes a lot of patience but I am glad Nano is doing so well right now.
post #5 of 11
Very, very, very well done!

When it's possible, give Nano a hug for me, and tell her "thanks" for learning to trust again.

I'm working with a feral right now, and it's been more than a year, but huge progress has been made with Pengy. She still isn't comfortable (and may never be), but has been doing very well taking her own steps forward. Hissy is right - it's all about patience, patience, patience...and then add more patience, and you've got the start of the patience you'll need. But it's soooooooo worth it.

Well done, thanks going to you as well, and congratulations.

post #6 of 11
Originally Posted by noni
When it's possible, give Nano a hug for me, and tell her "thanks" for learning to trust again.
and a hug from me as well

thankyou for sharing this story with us and thankyou for taking Nano into your home & heart

looking forward to hearing of her progress
post #7 of 11
What a heartwarming story. Bless you for being there for her.
post #8 of 11
This is such a great story.... It gives me real hope that someday Tyson will be well adjusted to his new home. He also has trouble jumping up... He tried to jump on my bed the other morning and failed I'm not sure if it's because he has problems jumping or because he is sooooo short!!!!

Congratulations to you and Nano
post #9 of 11
Great, great story! it takes extreme dedication and love, and i think you proved yourself in Nano, she sounds wonderful
post #10 of 11
A super outcome for this poor cat. I hope you love each other for many more years!
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the nice comments. Let me give a brief update on Nano's socialization:

My girlfriend was the "second person" who petted Nano. Since then, Nano has begun to really accept my girlfriend as a secondary caretaker. Nano will give her headbumps and approaches her for affection in the bathroom or around the kitchen area. There are still many games and forms of communication that exist only between Nano and myself, but some of the special interaction is now shared between Nano and my girlfriend.

What would probably frustrate most people in my position is how nonlinear the progress is. One day someone will stop by and Nano will walk around the living room comfortably, taking a long stroll down the back of the couch or playing on the bookcase. The next time she might go hide under the bed until everyone is long gone. All of these people are friendly but she still perceives threats even when I am there to re-assure her. For instance, Nano refuses to let my girlfriend actually handle her (picking up, examinations, grooming, etc.) -- she runs away or hisses at her with a bushy tail.

On a positive note, I am pleased to say that Nano was recently touched by a third person. I have a friend who had been over three or four times since January, so she knew his voice and had felt comfortable walking around the apartment with him there. We were standing across from each other by the kitchen island, drinking beer and eating pizza from a box, when Nano hopped up on the counter. She noticed him standing there and quickly hunkered down. I told my friend to go ahead and pet her. My friend touched her for about ten seconds. She tensed up yet didn't resist, but when I noticed Nano's body language change I warned him to stop. Nano slowly stood up, shook herself off and hopped down before running back to the bedroom. Then to re-enforce things, I put her special treats on a plate and asked him to present it to Nano. She ignored the plate at first but I checked later and Nano had eaten all of the treats.

That was a major step. My girlfriend had spent so much time in my apartment (including spending the night 2-3 times a week) that it is natural Nano would eventually accept her. But my friend had only been in the apartment a total of about 10 hours and he was much more of an unknown entity to Nano. There are people who have spent 50+ hours in my apartment since January and Nano will hide behind the water heater until they are gone.

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