(Edit: Vegancat started a discussion about Remy on STOMP, on 1 Jan 07)
Remy was found abandoned outside a food-court with a tipped ear, badly crusted eyes and severe diahrrea. The vet found the sharp tip of a toothpick in his empty right eye socket, and deduced the missing eye was long gone. He was also found to have a very badly burnt tongue, probably from trying to eat very hot food people at the foodcourt threw to him. Estimated to be 5-7 yrs old, the vet confirmed he is sterilized. He is a very gentle male with a very soft voice. He enjoys attention and will politely bat your hand for more if you stop stroking him. He is fully recovered, and safe in a foster home, awaiting a loving permanent home. In addition to the grooming needs of a long-haired cat, his eyes will need to be cleaned once a day, everyday, to help rid him of the crust that accumulates. Sterilized, litter-trained, vaccinated, suitable for single/multi-cat family. Free to a caring, responsible, good home only.
(Adoption notice on 22 May 05)
Sometime in September 2004, our mum told us she spotted from a distance, a pair of long-haired cats wandering in the neighbourhood marketplace. One was an adult, the other was a kitten. The kitten was earnestly following the adult and they were walking away.
Before she could catch up for a closer look, she saw a woman approach the pair, and scoop up the kitten and left. The adult then disappeared around a corner. Our mum couldn’t find the cat by the time she got around that same corner. It was a workday, either Monday or Tuesday.
Now, it is common knowledge that our DSH are well, DSH, and long-haired cats don’t hang out by themselves on the streets. So since that day, she tried to find the long-haired cat – she would go to the marketplace earlier and walk around a few times. But no luck. We also tried when we got home from work. The cat eluded us, or someone, nice or with a penchant for “breed” cats, picked him up.
On that Sunday, btmao and I went to the market for our breakfast without our mum – we were going to visit Foster Mum’s early. After breakfast, as we were leaving the marketplace, I don’t know why but I happened to turn around for a look past the side of the marketplace building, which I’ve not done before – obscured by trees as it were, and there it was: the long-haired cat!
We called to it, and it came up to us very calmly. It had very crusty eyes, but the fur coat looked to be in ok condition. I stroked it and ran my fingers along its flanks. The fur left dust on our fingers.
The cat looked scrawny as hell, but felt worse than Corrie’s initial condition – if not for its furry coat, I think we’d be shocked at the emaciation.
Despite the condition he was in, he was extremely trusting and friendly. He was purring his heart out as I touched him.
Interestingly, he also had a tipped ear.
btmao and I debated for a bit, and then we called Foster Mum, and asked if she could could foster the cat while we look for a home for it. Thankfully, she said ok.
Then, I watched over the cat as btmao went home for the carrier. I checked it more closely while entertaining it.
The fur did not return immediately when I lifted a flap up – dehydration for sure. The right eye was nearly closed because of the goop and sight in the left eye was at least 50% obscured. It’s a wonder it could see at all. The crust was so bad I couldn’t even make out its eye colour. I had a bad feeling about its eyes, especially the right one. I hoped it was ok.
Since it was friendly, I flipped the tail, and parted the furry bloomers for a look – a boy! This guy had a genteel, stately vibe to him, despite his condition. Even his voice is very soft and gentle. A name was starting to surface.
At this time, he crossed the same slip road and assumed poop position. He strained very badly but nothing was coming out. I was concerned to see orangy, pink tissue showing out of his ass – he’s got prolapsed rectum syndrome.
Then to my further horror, the boy squirted out runny light yellow-brown stuff. Poor thing. He must be suffering very badly from the change in diet he would have been enduring.
By the time btmao came back with the carrier, a Chinese uncle on a bicycle had stopped by to observe the proceedings. He’s seen the boy around the week past, but did not know anything else.
The boy did not protest but struggled a little bit as we put him into the carrier. He weighed practically nothing.
In Foster Care
Remy, a week into foster care. His condition then was a lot worse than this picture suggests.
At Foster Mum’s, he continued to demonstrate he’s the sweetest thing ever. She cleaned out his eyes, and it was then that we knew for sure – his right eye was missing, there’s only an empty socket where his eye should be. His left eye seemed fine.
Foster Mum then bathed him – he did not struggle or protest at all!
We agreed that he’s probably malnutritioned and needed to be watched over until his diarrhea cleared up – hopefully his prolapsed rectum was due to runs and nothing more serious. Foster Mum would also send him to the vet for an examination, because his crusty eyes may be a sign of other illnesses.
But the boy looked happy to be in a home environment; he was accepting of the change in his environment and seemed to settle down immediately – unlike most cats. Even newly abandoned pets freaks out at the initial stage of being moved into foster care, though it is a more familiar environment than the cold hard streets.
On the way to Foster Mum’s, we settled on a name. Remy seemed a good name for him. So Remy he became.
Remy was a hungry boy, he ate like a mowing machine, and cleaned up everything given to him. But at times, it seemed something was bothering him and he would slow down for a while.
Still, he wasn’t given all that he wanted to eat. With his diarrhea, his food intake has to be very controlled to avoid aggravating his problem further.
It would take time, but we would get to fulfilling his full intake eventually.
What Did He Go Through?
A few days later, Foster Mum accompanied him to the vet. The diagnosis:
- Severe diarrhea and dehydration
But of course. This helped confirm our suspicion that Remy was an abandoned home cat. Sudden diet changes tend to upset home cats, and given what was available to Remy, it was a wonder he was still alive after all that diarrhea. The dehydration was as result of the diarrhea.
- Prolapsed rectum – probably, hopefully, due to the diarrhea
- Chronic eye discharge which will constantly cause his eyes to be crusty
No wonder he was all goopy-eyed
- 100% burnt tongue
This amazed us all given how he was able to eat normally. This boy is really stoic. He probably got his tongue burnt from trying to eat things like hot fishballs patrons at the marketplace eateries threw at him. Poor thing. Or perhaps it was an deliberate act of cruelty? Because the reflex reaction to having something too hot is to spit it out – and so it is very unlikely to cook a tongue so completely just by popping something too hot into the mouth.
- Right eye missing, but something’s in the socket
The vet fished out a part of a toothpick, the sharp end of one to be precise. His eye was judged to be long gone. But how long had that toothpick head been in there? How had it got in there? We were even more amazed at this boy’s stoicism. It must have irritated if not hurt him when Foster Mum cleaned his eyes every evening, but he never struggled or protested.
- Age: at least 5-7 years old, optimistically
Another reason for abandonment?
Remy was given a tongue salve, medication for his diarrhea, supplements for his malnutrition, and eye-drops.
Foster Mum slowly nursed him back to health, and his prolapsed rectum syndrome dissipated. Every evening, without fail she would wash his eyes and help clear the crust. Not a day was skipped because it would build up phenemonally every day.
In early 2005, around February/March, Foster Mum sent Remy for full bloodwork and physical. He was certified fully healthy. We were relieved at the results.
Remy was a quiet boy, and he never picked quarrels with anyone. In fact, he’d studiously stay out of trouble. He did seemed a bit clumsy and would fall off shelves because he misjudge the distance to jump. His missing eye was definitely a problem for him.
At first he was also very adamant about doing his business outside of the litterbox. We got a bit crazy over it because it’d be tough to rehome him if he did not become civilised.
Later he did get over it and learnt to use the litterbox as all good boys should.
Then we found another issue. Remy had curly fur – you heard that right. And so his fur gets matted very easily. He needed regular trims, otherwise skin problems may result from the matting.
Through it all, Remy remained the stoic boy. He’d respond when called and purred his heart out even before he got the scritches he was hoping for.
He was also scrawny, but continued to eat like a machine. It was only sometime in March that he started padding up and looking more like a cat given full square meals on the dot.
Quest for a home
We felt it time to start his adoption run. There were a number of things against our pinning hopes on his getting a home –
- His looks were against him. His right eye was missing, but his eye socket and eyelid were still there, and with nothing to prop up the eyelid. It can look a bit disconcerting to see his almost closed eyelid and a bit of the pink flesh of the socket in the area where his eyelid didn’t cover. To some who hold great store by aesthetics, he was an ugly-looking brute
- His age
- His coat – he definitely needed regular and attentive grooming
- His appetite – he’s a voracious eater
So we began his adoption run in May. As we expected, there was nary a pip of interest in him. But look at him – is he any less of a cat because he’s one eye short?
We didn’t think so. Patience was what we needed.
Then it happened, the first enquiry ever. Sometime in July, someone wrote in through the CWS adoption board, indicating an interest in giving the old boy a home!
Laying it down
It was difficult to contain our excitement, but we had to be sure the potential adopter understood the care Remy needed. We were also nervous because we were very new to the adoption process.
Before the visit, I had a long chat with S, the lady adopter. She and her husband, G, already had 4 cats – adopted and rescued, and they were ready to add a fifth, with the caveat that the new addition is able to fit in with the residents. They had also decided to take in a cat that did not have a high chance getting a home, a handicapped cat for example.
Why Remy? He was on the CWS adoption board for quite a while and he’s handicapped. Plus, they were the first to enquire about him after 2 months – he’s definitely got only a teeny chance for adoption.
The old boy certainly fit their requirements too, he’s the sweetest thing in the cattery, so much so Foster Mum has a special soft spot for him.
We arranged a visit, and the couple brought along their son and their helper. While the family sized Remy up, Remy was happy to give over and accept all the head rubs and chin tickles he could get. We were also happy to know S and G also does TNRM.
We ended the visit with S and G saying they’ll take Remy!
But they had just moved into their new place, and needed some time to get ready before they can bring him back.
No problem! We could hold him for them!
I’ll drink to that!
When we told Foster Mum, she broke down and cried, with happiness for Remy and with sadness that he was leaving. But there was still time for her to say her goodbyes.
At last the day came for Remy to go home. It was a Friday evening, a bit out-of-schedule for us, but we wanted to be there to send Remy off. Foster Mum had prepped him – bathed, nail-clipped and frontlined. But she wasn’t for sending Remy off – too much crying would result she said, so after she had kissed him farewell, Foster Mum left her home, and said she would return much later, after Remy’s on the way to his new home.
Remy was ready to go, and in fact walked into the open carrier without any prompting or prodding.
S and G gave us a lift home. Just like the first time we travelled with him, Remy just sat calmly in his carrier and watched. No protest, no struggle. We’ve never seen a cat take to being in a carrier so peaceably.
Terror in the House?
It seemed a great place to end the part of Remy’s story we know, but well, it wasn’t to be.
Remy started life in his new home in a room – to ease the introduction process for every cat.
By month’s end, he had settled down, but not in. At this time, S was cat-sitting for a friend. The guests were housed in Remy’s old room. Of all things, the silly boy took to stalking the door: territorial behaviour. What a change from the non-confrontational policy he lived by in the cattery.
On hindsight, it was instinctive, and indicated that he’s established himself. So it was a good sign, of sorts.
That door-stalking was a first but not the last of a long list of antics that we would not associate with the Remy we knew in the cattery:
- he picked up his old habit and took to pooping everywhere but the litterbox
- he made an enemy in the resident alpha cat
- he was forever in the kitchen, stealing food, getting in the way and and making a mess. Even plain spaghetti was not safe from him
- he lived in the kitchen and did not mingle with the other cats
- S once cooked a bowl of noodles with a cob of corn for G, but he did not see it in his bowl. It was a mystery. Remy was quiet and refused dinner that evening and the next day’s breakfast – an unheard of event in gluttonous Remy’s short history. But by evening, he gave up the corn cob and solved the mystery for S.
- S lost a whole slab of meat… yup, Remy stole it.
Is this the face of a monster?
S and G had a really trying time with Remy, and we were braced for his return. They also seemed to have problems bonding with him. But who could blame them? Remy’s not helping the situation with his behaviour, especially his insistence on living in the kitchen and being uninterested in everything but food and food stealing.
Frankly, it was also a bit embarrassing to us that he’s acting like it was Dr Remy Jekyll in the cattery and Mr Remy Hyde in his new home. We should have checked for potion stashes in his luggage before allowing him to leave.
But now, 15 months since his adoption, Remy seemed to have mellowed out, to everybody’s relief.
S appreciates his affection. He’s no longer pooping everywhere, he’s no longer staking out the kitchen, he doesn’t steal food (quite as much), he’s found his place in the kitty hierarchy, he’s affectionate and purry and he’s back to being the sweetest and most stoic cat we know.
How do we know? S said so herself. He’s now latched onto her as Mum, and follows her around the house sometimes. She trims his fur herself because he needs such regular care that it’s too costly to send him for grooming. And she gives him a buzz-cut every time – his curly fur mats too easily otherwise. He would sit or lie quietly while Mummy Barber’s at work. At times, she would trim too close and nick him, and all he would do is let out a little yelp and continued as he was, purring and trusting to Mum.
S told us about the home-grooming and apologised that it’s not the greatest fashion statement in the world, but to her it was more important that he was comfortable and his fur kept mat-free. We wholeheartedly agreed. Looking good is only superficial, and Remy doesn’t need the approval of others on his looks, all he needed was the love of his mum and dad.
How to rationalise the angel and the hellraiser? We think he just needed to get it out of his system. He may be stoic and the easiest-going cat in the world, but it must have been frustrating and scary to be abandoned, abused, suffered on the streets, get some stability in his life in foster care, and then to adapt to another totally different environment. And in the process he’s lost his eye, and was clumsy, and no longer sharp and sure of his landings. For a cat that must be very frightful indeed, what more a cat his age.
It just took him quite a bit longer than usual to work it out all. Thankfully, his parents were patient and understanding, though they did not, understandably, appreciate some of the monkeying he got up to.
Remy’s safe now, and he’s among family. The next time we visit, we shall try to take his pics and pics of his housemates too. (UPDATE: Phots from 16 Sep 07 visit here)
(Edit: Vegancat started a discussion about Remy on STOMP, on 1 Jan 07)