A Letter to My Senior Shelter Kitty’s Former Owner

Winston's Shelter Pic vs New Home Pic
I wanted to compare Winston’s shelter pic to what he looks like after a month in our care. See how the light went on behind Winston’s eyes?

INTRODUCTION

On August 15, 2019, this post came across my Facebook News Feed.

Winston's "Timestamped" Post
This was one of the pictures I saw on my FB News Feed about Winston

Although I was sick with a fever and a sinus infection..

Didn’t have the space or the money..

Already have issues with my indoor cats getting along as it is..

And I had the intention of rescuing Charlie before Winter..

Something about this 14-yr-old kitty who only ever knew one owner and was timestamped to die that evening just GRABBED by heart.

More on Winston’s Rescue to come. Here’s the Facebook post when I left the shelter with him.

On the One-Month Anniversary of his rescue from ACCT Philly, I finally composed myself enough to write a letter to his previous owners…what he knew as his “family”.

To Winston’s former owners:

Note that I didn’t say “former family”. Because family = unconditional love.

One month ago today, at 5:24pm, I took Winston out of that nightmare of an animal shelter where you left him…

Where he sat in a metal cage for 15 days and nights, listening to the never-ending, deafening sound of barking dogs, smelling stench that I cannot even describe.

Video of Winston in shelter posted by ACCT Philly Life Saving Team

I got him out of there 2 hours and 36 minutes before he was to be killed.

I want to judge you.

I want to run into you on the street and cold clock you.

But I can’t.

You said you were moving and “don’t have no space”.

I don’t know your circumstances.

All I know is that I saw a picture of your pet online. The look of fear, despair, and heartbreak on his face was so great, I couldn’t bear it.

Winston's Shelter Pic
The heartbreak, despair, and fear are written all over his face.

I could read into his soul in those pictures.

And I could NOT allow that to be his “ending”.

So, even though I truly had no room nor the finances, I had to make it work.

I guess I saw something in your pet that you just couldn’t see.

And, apparently, so did my online friends. Because MANY of them chipped in to help me help your pet.

You reported him to be quiet, shy, and said he likes to hide a lot.

But that he was a “nice cat”.

You stated you didn’t have a vet and he never saw the vet.

You said that you got your pet from a friend. Does that friend know where your cat ended up after 14 years?

Like I said, I, too, had no room, because I already had a house full of forgotten former feral cats.

But something pulled me to him.

Did you know that your “quiet” cat is really quite talkative?

Did you know that since your cat has a nice little cubby in his cat tree that he really doesn’t “hide a lot”?

Winston doing Happy Stretch
Winston doing the Happy Stretch to greet me when I went into his room.

Did you know that your “shy” cat solicits our attention every chance he gets?

Did you know that your cat LOVES to play and already has two favorite toys that he places on his beloved tissue paper we set out for him?

Winston playing with his favorite toy!
Winston playing with his favorite toy!

Did you know that your cat, who never saw a vet, is rather healthy and active for a 14yr old cat now that he’s on the right diet?

Did you know he has a hip problem that makes his right leg bow inward when he walks?

Did you know his mouth is in a lot of pain?

And, be honest with me because I already know the answer…

Do you even CARE?

That’s okay.

Because he is OUR pet now.

I will get him fixed up.

Winston with his new vet, Dr Matt
Winston with is new friend, Dr Matt, during his first vet visit in I don’t know how many years.

He knows happiness and love.

Winston relaxing after I moved him into his new room!
Winston on Day 2 of his New Life relaxing in his new room!

He enjoys the fresh air of the South Jersey woods, watching the deer and wildlife in the backyard, and having the kittenhood I suspect he never had.

And if he doesn’t like living with our other cats, I will find him the perfect HOME.

No matter what, as God as my witness, Winston will never, ever set paw in a shelter again.

He will never be homeless and forgotten again.

I made him that promise when I got him out of that horrible place where you left him.

Winston relaxing in his carrier on his way home from the shelter
Winston’s Freedom Ride HOME!

And I promise you that, too.

Winston was rescued by someone who thought he was important enough to make it work.

Because he is.

I’d love to say that I hope karma doesn’t come back to you to bite you, but I’d be lying.

And I always tell it like it is.

Signed,

Winston’s FAMILY ❤️

Winston and his new Grandmommy
Day 2 of Winston’s New Life and he clearly chose his person – my mom!

 

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A Letter to the OG of Our Feral Cat Colony and Our Lion King, Oreo

Oreo-Winter, 2017

It’s been one year since Oreo crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

That first anniversary is always the hardest, isn’t it?

I decided to write him a letter to let him know what was on my heart…

Oreo, 

We watched you for years as you ran around the neighborhood. Dad would go out on his walks and talk about this super-fast black and white cat on the next street over.

You lived under my neighbor’s barn across the street. Feral. Afraid of human contact. 

When I first started feeding in 2014, you would sit in front the barn and feel the ground vibrations so you would know it was safe to cross the street and come over to grab a snack.

Sometimes, I would see you on the heated bed inside the shed the morning, waiting for me to bring breakfast. 

I always told you to stay. But you never did. 

Sometimes you greeted me with this loud meow that sounded like a cat bird. 

If I took even one step too close to you, you would run away. 

You protected Fluffy and her Kits before I rescued them. I remember The Kits stealing your food right out from under you inside the shed. So I would meet you outside of the shed with a bowl of food to call your own. 

Oreo – Summer, 2015, eating with The Kits

When you were recovering from your neuter in our bathroom in 2015, you started crying at the top of your lungs at 3am and didn’t stop until I released you around 8am 😂😂

But not before you got loose in the bathroom and we stood there for an hour, both too scared of each other to move 😂😂

You were over 10 years old when you were neutered…

You took Trouble, who was just a kitten at the time, under your wing in Winter, 2016. 

You spent two years grooming him to be the next Lion King. 

You and Trouble had one of the cutest and most dysfunctional relationships I’ve ever seen ❤️❤️

Trouble and Oreo – Spring, 2016

You FINALLY officially moved here in Winter, 2016. And, thus, our colony was born. 

And you were The Lion King. 

The first time I played with you, you were too interested in play to be scared of me. 

You danced around my legs for over a month before you got the nerve up to make contact. 

It wasn’t long after that I was FINALLY “allowed” to pet you and show you how much I love you. 

Your colony lives on. 

Your little “seedlings”…Charlie, Junior, Domino, and The Kits…carry your legacy. 

As well as your little Lion King “in training”, Trouble, who is sitting right next to me, purring, as I type and I cry. 

Your grave and flag overlook the colony that YOU created, protected, and mentored. 

Oreo’s final resting place – March, 2018

At last, you found your FOREVER HOME. 

You live on in our colony and in our hearts. 

This morning, I heard your signature “meow” in two cat birds carrying on right above us. 

We hardly ever hear cat birds here. 

I know that was your way of telling me that you are still here. 

I hope you know how LOVED and MISSED you are. 

Thank you for giving me the chance to make right when other humans failed you. 

Thank you for caring for us, our property, our colony and Fluffy and The Kits. 

Thank you for letting us LOVE you. 🌈🎈❤️ 😇 

Love, 
Mommy Kitten 😘

Trouble (left), Rascal (inside) and Oreo – January, 2018. Oreo took his last breaths here just two months after this pic was taken.

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Oreo Crossed the Rainbow Bridge-Surrounded By Love-With Me By His Side

Oreo and Trouble 11.1.17
Oreo and his protege, Trouble-November 2017

Too Soon After Penny Passed

I think I mentioned in Oreo’s Introduction about a thousand times that if Oreo were to become terminally ill and unable to care for himself out there, I hoped I would be able to take him in so he wouldn’t have to die alone under a bush somewhere.

That time came March 1, 2018. His official “Gotcha Day”. I noticed weight loss in February, which is much too early for the Yard Cats to start their “Spring Shed”, especially with harsh Winter we had here in New Jersey. He then started refusing food. I knew right away it was the beginning of the end, but the eternal optimist in me decided to try a few things to help him out. Especially since it was too soon after losing Penny.

I first tried Revolution for fleas and Drontal for any worms he may have had, especially since I saw that he had diarrhea. Oreo was chewed up by ticks in the Spring of 2017, and he had fur mats in the areas where I pulled the biggest ticks out of him.

Once he got Revolution, he was able to pull those fur mats off. He had one on his side that he got off, and I noticed he ripped off a small piece of skin. He developed an abscess that burst, so I started giving him 125mg amoxicillin once per day, which was a challenge since I couldn’t pill him outside without him running away from me. We managed to get six days worth of antibiotics into him and he appeared to be doing better on Days 5 and 6. He started to get back to his old self again…eating, running to greet me, hanging out in my neighbor’s yard during the day…but he wasn’t playing as much as he had been this past year.

Oreo’s Rescue

In hindsight, I realize that was his last rally before his final decline. He started refusing just about anything I tried to feed him. In an attempt to separate himself from the others, he moved out of the shed and started using the heated shelter I have under our back steps. That one isn’t as wind-proof or waterproof as the shed shelters.

They were forecasting the second of four Nor’Easters (in less than a month) to hit NJ. They were calling for 10″ of heavy, wet snow, 60mph winds, and widespread downed trees/power outages. I was REALLY worried that he would run off into the woods and die during those conditions . And if he didn’t, it still would have been rough out there for him since he was so sick. so I brought him in.

I got him the evening the storm was starting to hit. He was TERRIFIED. He would not calm down even with his carrier covered with a sheet. My vet came to see him right after he came inside and we found he was in full blown late stage liver disease. I didn’t want to put him through extensive testing and treatments and break the trust I worked SO hard to earn. Especially since I knew it the back of my mind that there was a good chance it wouldn’t help.

After the vet left, I put him in the room with is pal, Fluffy, who I rescued just two weeks prior. He was sound asleep in his carrier and even when I opened the door, he stayed asleep for the first 15 minutes. This, after all of the excitement and fear. That’s when it really hit home how sick he was.

I REALLY Wanted to do More!

He didn’t want to be inside. I knew that. I didn’t really have a choice. After that bad storm, during which we lost power and heat for 30 hours, we had two more Nor’Easters in the following two weeks. I wasn’t even able to entertain the thought of trying to put him back outside. My heart broke every time he sat in the window and cried when he saw his pal Trouble.

I resisted the urge to break his trust completely by giving him supplements, sub q fluids, B12 injections, appetite stimulants, etc. For his sake and the sake of our relationship, I had to go with the minimal treatment of antibiotics only.

He did allow me to cuddle him and even played with a peacock feather from time to time. My poor boy held his pee for the first two days until I got the idea to go outside where he usually went to the bathroom and get a leaf from that area to put inside his litter box. Once I did that, he used the litter box maybe an hour later and used it faithfully throughout his time inside. I must say…he was remarkably easy to pill for a feral cat!

It Was Time…

Unfortunately, it didn’t help. He was at least 13-14 years old, FIV +, with extensive dental disease. After two weeks on antibiotics and one week of him flat out refusing ANY food, I had to make the gut-wrenching decision to let him go.

It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. I really hoped that I could get him healthy and return him back outside. Or at least give him a good year or two inside with the cats he protected and played a big part in saving.

Trouble, Oreo and Rascal
(Outside) L-R: Trouble and Oreo
(Inside) Rascal. this is where Oreo took his last breaths.

When the vet came, I was clinging to the false hope that maybe we could try something else. I know Dr Matt very well. If he truly thought there was anything else we could try that would help, he would tell me. He felt that there was nothing more we could do.

And I knew it, too. I was just living in Denial Aisle to get me through the heartbreak.

His Final Moments

They administered a sedative so that I could take him out on the back step where he used to nap in the sun. I wanted his last moments to be where he considered “home”. Dr Matt and his assistant stayed inside while I sat with Oreo on the step. I called Trouble over to us to say “goodbye” to him. That was important to me and I’m sure important to Oreo. They had a very weird and special friendship. Oreo didn’t react to Trouble because of the sedative, but I have to believe that he knew Trouble was there.

Once Trouble left us, Dr Matt came outside. We sent him to the Bridge, with me by his side, petting him, and telling him how loved he was.

Just like I hoped, he passed surrounded by love, not alone under a bush.

For the past two years since he moved here, I always told him that this was his forever home.

And it is. We buried him in our backyard with his flag overlooking his colony.

RIP Papa Oreo. Thank you for making a profound impact on our lives, Fluffy and The Kits’ lives, and the Yard Cats’ lives.

You will always be here protecting us. We love you!

Oreo's Final Resting Place
Oreo’s Final Resting Place overlooking his colony.

**This post contains affiliate links, which means we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products that we use and wholeheartedly believe in!**

Any treatments, food and supplements I mention in this post are the result of my own research and experience. Please consult with your vet as necessary.