Rima is a beautiful black cat with giant yellow eyes, who I have been feeding for about 3 years. As I do all the neighborhood ferals, I trap them then spay and neuter them. Rima has always been my favorite, and I even named her after my rescue mentor’s first rescue kitty.
About 6 to 8 months ago, my ferals started to disappear, one by one. Ferals don’t typically travel far from their food source, so this was fairly alarming to me. I had about 6 disappear within just a couple months, and that is too many for it to be a coincidence that they all got hit by a car or killed in an attack my another animal in that period of time. Then Rima disappeared.
Even though I had never been able to pet her, we definitely had a connection that was established through me talking to her as I fed her, and her getting used to me and my smell by sniffing my hand. So, you could say I was pretty upset when days turned into weeks without any sign of her.
About a month after Rima disappeared, I was socializing with a neighbor across the street when I saw a cat that looked just like her, feebly hopping across another neighbor’s yard headed toward my porch. Not wanting to get my hopes up because solid black cats can obviously look very similar, I ran home to peer out my patio door, to see a skinnier version of Rima, using only 3 legs, scarfing down food like she hadn’t eaten in a month. Well, she probably hadn’t.
Rima where have you BEEN?!?! Her dangling back leg was covered in what looked like dirt and puss, and I knew I had to catch her to get her to the vet.
With the trap set, I sat in my living room in silence for hours, waiting to hear the snap of the door. I was gleeful when I heard that familiar noise that rescuers love to hear when trying to trap, and ran out to see who I had gotten. Yep, it was my girl. Staring back at me with those HUGE yellow eyes of hers.
Off to the vet we went, and I went home to wait for the phone call about her prognosis. Sadly but not unexpectedly, her leg was mangled, broken in several areas, and, degloved. Degloved means the skin was peeled back like a glove or a banana, and you should not google that term if you do not want your stomach to flip inside out.
The nature of Rima’s injury was indicative of an “inhumane” trap injury – one in which she very luckily escaped from.
The prognosis was not good, her leg was badly infected and even with skin grafts, it was very unlikely they would be able to save it. Ok, well we just amputate her leg, right? Wrong. You cannot just release a 3-legged cat back out onto the streets. It’s dangerous enough for them out there, but with only 3 legs, the more humane thing for her would be euthanasia. This is what the vet recommended, and I needed some time to think about it. What were my options? What was I going to do?? I just couldn’t put Rima to SLEEP! This is when your heart takes over your head – a common occurrence which plagues rescuers. So I asked for an estimate on the cost, and turns out it’s a $1,000 surgery. For a feral cat. Who I have never touched before – but I have always felt a connection with. (After all, she was named after my mentor’s first rescue cat for a reason).
I thought about it for maybe an hour (try 5 minutes), and decided that even against the advice of my rescue mentor AND veterinarian, I should amputate her leg, and I will domesticate her and keep her myself. Did I just say that out loud? I have a 600 square foot condo, with 2 dogs (one 13 year old special needs) a 17 lb tabby cat that is aggressive towards other cats, and a litter of kittens I am fostering in my bathroom. Brilliant idea, right?
I call the vet with my decision (however insane it might be) and tell her to go ahead with the surgery. Ok, it’s scheduled for the next day. Great. In the meantime, I am going to freak out about how – and where – I am going to integrate this feral into my small condo. That is, until I get the phone call that her blood work is terrible, due to suffering with a bad infection for so long, and she would not survive the surgery. The vet recommends euthanasia, again. I just can’t – are there ANY other options? Well… she says… one other option, but it’s a shot in the dark. They treat Rima with antibiotics for a week, give her lots of food for good nutrition, and cross fingers it improves her physical state enough to go through with the surgery. Let’s do it.
Longest week of my life. 7 days of pure anxiousness, calling the vet every day to see how she is doing, and visiting her so that she sees a familiar face. I don’t attempt to pet her in her cage, even though the staff has said she doesn’t give them any trouble during treatments or feedings. Luckily Rima is not an aggressive feral, which the only reason why I considered all of this anyway. Oh, that and she is an awesome cat.
Day 7, and Rima’s blood work is perfect. Literally perfect. The vet is amazed. See, I told you she is an awesome cat. Surgery scheduled for next day.
Again, on pins and needles waiting to hear about how the surgery went – regardless of how good the health of an animal might be, surgery is ALWAYS risky. Nervous, nervous, nervous.
Long story short (haha TOO late for that…) Rima’s surgery went exceptionally well, and she will be ready to go “home” in a few days. Home. Wow – MY home. Crap, how is this going to work?
I go to pick my girl up, once again gleeful and proud of her for being such an awesome cat. Is she not adorable in her little e-collar??
Rima’s new home is my bathroom, which no longer has Percy, Pacey, Tater or Tilly in it because my friend and rescue partner in crime, Leslie, now has them at her house.
Rima is scared, but grateful. I am able to pet her, and it doesn’t take but a few days before she is purring and making biscuits.
It also doesn’t take but a few more days, for Rima to decide she is not interested in the bathroom, and she wants to be a part of the family. Into the living room she goes, and up goes the barricade so Reese, my tabby, doesn’t cause problems with her.
She is healing up nicely, isn’t she??
I think she is quite enjoying life off the mean city streets.