Checkers – The Sick Stray Cat Who Broke Our Hearts

 

checkers

Checky, March 9, 2015

And I want to honor him today as today is his Gotcha Day. This post was originally written on March 9, 2017.

 

The first time I saw Checky, he was in my back window and I thought he was my old guy, Oreo. But, back then, Oreo wasn’t as social as he is now. And this cat was awfully thin to be Oreo. We had just gotten out of one of the coldest Februaries on record and it was raining this particular evening. I usually don’t feed my feral cats after dark but I went out there to feed him.

As soon as I went outside, I KNEW it wasn’t Oreo. He was all over me like stink on poo and VERY VERY hungry. I fed him and tried to coax him to stay on the heating pad in the shed, but he just followed me to the back door. I snapped this pic to post on social media in case somebody local had lost their cat.

But, I live in the woods. So I know what happened. This poor baby was dumped. His ass was kicked. He was rail thin and sicker than ANY cat I had ever seen.

I found out the next day that he had been staying in neighbor’s garage and living on their covered porch. But they were feeding him table scraps and didn’t vet him or anything. As kind as they were to him, I knew he needed more.

So I SCRAMBLED… contacting the local rescues and NO luck. I finally got a local rescue to agree to help him. It was the ONLY rescue in our area who stepped up! So we set up an emergency vet appointment for the next day and I set out to trap him.

The neighbor called me when they saw he was on the porch the following morning, so I went over and got him to take him to his NEW life.

We took him to the initial vet appointment. By the time we got him there, he was covered in diarrhea. He was Snap tested… everything negative…initially looked okay but just malnourished and everybody chalked up the diarrhea to worms or a parasite, so he was given all the meds for those problems. I took him over to the rescue. When the director put him in that cage, he looked ABSOLUTELY heartbroken. He didn’t want me to leave. I wasn’t sure what to do because we didn’t know what was wrong with him, and I had Penny, who was diabetic and therefore immune compromised, and Weeny, who had MAJOR “cat issues”.

But I couldn’t get his heartbroken little face out of my mind and heart that night.

When the rescue called me two days later to tell me that she couldn’t keep him, he was just too sick and she was going away and didn’t want to put his care in a volunteer’s hands, I knew I just HAD to take him. He trusted me and I couldn’t let him down.

So Checky became our pet that day. He just didn’t know it yet. And I was excited. I couldn’t wait for that moment that I would return to the rescue and pick him up to bring him home later that week!

checky sleeping

Checky sleeping in his favorite spot in Mom’s laundry basket.

She agreed to care for him for a few more days to try and get him stable before he came home. She was making little progress. No matter what she did, she could NOT slow down his diarrhea. She bathed him multiple times, which was hard because he was so bony and frail, and she would go check on him in the morning just to find him covered again.

So we took him to the emergency vet. And spent $500 to find out that nothing was wrong in his blood work. We even got him 2nd and a 3rd opinion.

Poor Checky had had FIVE vet visits in four weeks.

I did manage to slow down his diarrhea but we could not get him hydrated or gaining weight (and I used Young Again Zero, Nature’s Variety Instinct, Fancy Feast…anything high protein/low carb/high quality that he would eat). Then he started peeing over 12 times per day. Yet, his kidney and thyroid values and blood glucose were fine. No matter WHAT I did, I just could NOT get him stable.

And then I made a decision. I could not torture this poor cat any longer with vet visits and medications. I’m not a big fan of over-medicating cats. Enough was enough. I stopped all meds except for the B12 injections and probiotics to try to slow his diarrhea down, kept him well-fed and well-hydrated … the rest was between him and God.

He was camped out in Mom’s room because we didn’t want to bring him out with Penny and Weeny until we were sure he didn’t have something contagious. He snuggled Mom every night…ALL night. He would go up to her while she was sleeping multiple times and just tap her arm so she would pet him. Every time he saw us he would start “making biscuits”. And he had this sweet little meow that reminded me SO much of my late Tabby.

Then he stopped eating. He wasn’t able to eat because of a mass or infection in his mouth. We spent his last days spoon feeding him baby food, bone broth … I even made him homemade pureed chicken with bone broth. It would take the poor little guy a half hour to finish maybe 1/4 cup of cat food.

I knew he would not survive a dental. No way. Not in the condition he was in. My vet agreed. To this very day I don’t know if it was oral cancer or just an abscess, but since he had had several courses of antibiotics, including two courses of Convenia that was still in his system, I knew it probably wasn’t an abscess.

So we made The Decision. And it was the hardest one for me to make. I feel he had been cheated out of the life this sweet little guy SO rightfully deserved. He deserved better than being dumped, getting his ass kicked, finding us… only to die. That’s why today is SUCH a difficult day for me.

So, on April 13th I called the vet to come out and help him cross. While we were waiting for the vet appointment, I went into his room to spend some time with him and let him know just how loved he was. We had a radio playing country music (that was the only station we could get on the radio).

And while I was spending time with him, “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts came on. I’m not a Country music fan but I think the entire world knows this song. And I just cried and held him and told him how much I loved him. I know God sent him to us to know love and comfort and good eats before he died. And I’m grateful God chose us to love him and make him a member of our family, if only for a short time.

Checky passed peacefully, surrounded by love. Even our vet cried when he gave him the injection. Hundreds of people on Facebook, who had been following Checky’s story, cried along with us.

This little cat doesn’t even know the impact he made on this world in his short time in our family.

He’s buried in our backyard with all of our other family pets. We promised him that this was his forever home. And that’s exactly what it became.

Fly free, Checky. You will never, ever be forgotten. We love you!

Checky April 2015

Checky, as he realized this was his forever home.

Checky’s Official Song: “Bless the Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts

Nicknames: Johnny (he was initially going to be named after my late dad and the Rescue Director’s late dad), Checky.

All treatments, foods and supplements mentioned in this blog are based on my own research, experience and done with my vet’s knowledge and consent. Consult with your vet as necessary.

Meet Oreo – “Fake Feral” Cat Numero Uno

From hardened feral cat to lovable mush!

And then there are the “fake” ferals. The ones who came to me, feral, or at least out on their own long enough that they WERE afraid of me, till they realized that the more they get used to me, the more they get the perks of being a Wilson cat!

 Oreo is one of my “original” feral cats. When I first started feeding in 2014, he was one of the three cats who came around once per day to eat, usually at dusk. He lived under my neighbor’s large barn across the street.

I remember my dad talking about a black and white cat who he would see running around when he went on his 2-mile walks. He would remark how FAST Oreo ran and was blown away by how stealth he was!

Oreo learned to talk to me, but would NOT eat in the shed until I walked out. And, of course, he would run away if I walked toward him.

In the Summer of 2015, when Fluffy was around and pregnant with the kits, Oreo would show up for his usual nightly feedings when Hitler wasn’t around. Or they would be out there arguing and eventually Oreo, the Big Man on Campus, would win. A few weeks after Fluffy gave birth, and after Hitler decided family life was not for him and he went on his way, Oreo was spending MUCH more time here.

Oreo, Summer 2015 with my kit Spunky just before I rescued her.

He would patrol here DAY AND NIGHT and would come eat with Fluffy and the kits, often allowing them to steal his food and I would have to bring another plate to him outside of the shed. As much as he was Alpha King and the bully out there, he was gentle as could be with Fluffy and the kits.

That’s when I started to fall in love with him. And after I rescued the girls, he spent day and night looking for them for a few days and my heart BROKE. I felt so bad for him because up until Fluffy and the kits, he was a loner…at least that I know of.

He went back to living across the street and coming over once daily to eat. I never gave much thought to neutering him because I thought he was a SHE until I saw him walk out of the shed one day and saw his “family jewels”.

I had been HAD. Again!

He was pretty old by the time I went on a castrating spree so he was one of my last thoughts; I honestly felt that he was “too old” to reproduce. But then I did my research. And after two years of feeding Oreo, I managed to trap him and get him neutered and vaccinated in October, 2015. The vet guestimated him to be over 10 years old at the time of his neuter.

And boy…does neutering CALM THEM DOWN!

In Spring, 2016, after Fake Feral #2, Trouble, showed up and started having major problems with another feral cat. Oreo took it upon himself to be Trouble’s “protector”. They became thick as thieves and Oreo would follow Trouble EVERYWHERE. Trouble would challenge Oreo, but when push came to shove, he would roll over submissively and gaze at Oreo upside down and all sweet and whatnot.. lol.

Then, after two years of only coming once per day to eat, despite my best efforts to make my yard Disney World North for these clowns, he FINALLY decided to live here full time! I have all the amenities out there and he FINALLY figured out that he would have it MUCH better here than where he was living! By then, he REALLY looked worse for wear. I, as well as a couple of my neighbors who know Oreo as he truly is our “community cat”, didn’t think he had much time left. I remember asking St Francis to please let him allow me to care for him if he ever got to the point that he couldn’t care for himself.

Not long after that, Oreo would start eating in the shed WHILE I was in there and would dance around in front of my feet….just TRYING to get the nerve up to rub against my legs.

And then he did! And then he would rub against me when I crouched down. He’s so strong that he practically knocks me OVER when he head butts me! I remember him really sniffing my hand when I put his food down so I would let my hand linger so that he would associate good things with my scent. And then I would feed him treats.

Today, we cuddle ALL THE TIME. He loves chin rubs and “noogies”. I even hand-feed him cheesy snacks with Dasquin wrapped in them for his limp. I still can’t scruff him but I keep trying to “train” him for that in the event I ever have to pill him. Oreo runs to greet me when he hears the back door open and follows me ALL around! I know now that if Oreo ever became debilitated, I would be able to handle him enough to care for him and bring him inside. If Oreo doesn’t take off to be alone, that is.

I owe him that much. He protected Fluffy and the kits, he protects any young lad who he deems a candidate for our colony, and he even protects Mom when she’s sitting outside.

This once feral cat has now become my outdoor pet. He has a home, a family, and knows the love he so rightly deserves after caring for everybody else for SO long. He protects our property and the other feral cats and takes his “job” very seriously. We are bonded now. My hope is that when his “time” comes, that I will be able to be with him and make sure he knows LOVE in his final moments. And God be willing, if he doesn’t go off on his own to pass, I will bury him out back and REALLY make this his “forever” home.

NICKNAMES: Mr Oreo, Bubba Booey, Lion King, Lieutenant Oreo (of the Hooven Estate Police in honor of my dad, who was a retired NJ State Trooper)

OREO’S SONG: “Circle of Life” (theme from Lion King) – Elton John

oreo-summer-2016-2

Oreo, Summer 2016, hoping to grab a free treat or pet from me!

The Bench

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Dad and Mom on The Bench in 2012 waiting for me to come home from work so we could go adopt Penny & Weeny.

I started this blog to let others who naively believed that they adopted cats and are ‘cat parents’, and later figured out that their cats, in fact, own THEM, know that they are not alone.

The cats get my food budget, my clothing budget, my free time, my dating life, and now, apparently, my outdoor patio furniture.

#catsrulehere

Let me tell you about The Bench…

When Mom retired a few years ago, she purchased this bench so she could sit outside and watch the grass grow, which is what we do here in the NJ Pine Barrens in the Summer. And the bench SAT and SAT and SAT in this box for MONTHS while she waited for my dad to assemble it.

But he never got around to it.

So I decided to take a stab at my handyman skills and I was THRILLED when I got it to together, the folks sat on it, and nobody got hurt!

The Bench has very sentimental value. My folks were sitting on this bench waiting for me to come home from work on May 2, 2012, so we could all go adopt Penny and Weeny from a rescue. My folks spent many a summer night on The Bench listening to cicadas and tree frogs in the last years of Dad’s life. The Bench served as Dad’s link to the outside world in the Summer of 2014 when he was mostly bedridden and dying from cancer.

Now, the feral cat and the neighbor’s outdoor cat have claimed it as their own…

This week, we are enjoying some May-like weather here in South Jersey with temps in the 70s. I did some yard clean-up the other day and figured I would set up the cushions so that Mom could enjoy the warm, sunny weather.

trouble-bench-feb-2017

Trouble-within minutes of me setting up the cushions.

Mom has NOT had a chance to enjoy it because not ONE hour after I set up those cushions, Trouble claimed it as his napping area every morning after breakfast. He worked out a deal with Blacky, the neighbor’s cat, so that Blacky could have it in the afternoons!

Where does that leave Mom? Sitting INSIDE on this beautiful day watching HGTV.

blacky-bench-feb-2017

Neighbor’s cat, Blacky, taking the ‘afternoon’ shift on The Bench.

And so it goes when you are owned by cats… Even feral cats and neighbors’ cats!

I have a lot of experiences and stories to share about my five indoor cats, my eight or so feral cats (YES THEY ARE NEUTERED AND VACCINATED), and my ‘late’ cats and others who have passed through in my life.

They have ALL been lessons and blessings! I hope to entertain you, share what I have learned from Penny’s complex medical issues, caring for feral cats and the challenge of cat behavior, and connect with you along the way!

Stay tuned!