After learning about the wonderful work that is being celebrated on Three Chatty Cats, I wanted to share a heartwarming story about a cat named Albie. Albie was a feral cat living near my friend Beth’s home. She and her husband, John, would see Albie out in the yard and he was more than a little bit intimidating. They even wondered if he might be vicious. After watching him for quite a while, they decided to try to trap, neuter and return him. According to Alley Cat Allies, “Trap-Neuter-Return is successfully practiced in hundreds of communities and in every landscape and setting. It is exactly what it sounds like: Cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be neutered and vaccinated. After recovery, the cats are returned to their home—their colony—outdoors. Kittens and cats that are friendly and socialized to people may be adopted into homes. Scientific studies show that Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.” Long committed to the welfare of the feral cat population in their community, Beth and John had personally trapped-neutered- returned at least 8 cats before Albie. This was done at their own expense, out of love, compassion and concern for feline welfare in their area.
Albie, was a big cat who had been aggressive to the other ferals, so John carefully set a Havahart trap, which is a humane, easy to use live trap, to capture him. This would allow him to be safely transported to the veterinarian. He was caught much quicker and easier than expected and when Beth and John took a look at him close up, they realized just how bad a shape he was in. John recalls, “His fur was all matted, his eye was bulging out and teeth were broken. He had ear mites so bad they had started eating the skin right outside of his ear. It was like he knew he needed help”.
Once at the veterinary clinic, Albie was surprisingly friendly to the doctor and the other hospital workers. He let them examine him and run tests. He was neutered and it was discovered he had FIV, a respiratory infection and a number of other things wrong with him. While there, he also got a haircut, relieving the painful, pulling snarls in his fur. Albie was in the hospital for about two weeks but he was a fighter and got better and better each day. It was obvious he was a senior and his age was estimated at about 13 years old. At the end of those two weeks, I imagine he felt better than he had in years.
Once he was released from the hospital, he was returned to his outdoor colony. Beth explained, “We had no idea that he would calm down so much! After he was neutered, it was like night and day. He went from the cat all the others feared to the one that would hang out and make sure any kittens were safe and corralled.” He became affectionate and would allow both Beth and John to pet him. John said, “This is when we decided to bring him in. I tried trapping him again but he knew now what the trap was. I tried every day for two weeks and he would just look at the trap and walk away. Finally, one day I was sitting on the back porch and he came up and put his head on my lap. I reached down and just picked him up.” Beth had asked to try to bring him inside as a birthday present, but the real gift was for Albie. According to Beth and John, his adjustment was surprisingly rapid. He was relaxed and when the door was open, he never showed any interest in wanting to return to the outdoors. He now had a safe, warm, comfortable home with plenty of food and love. His medical needs had been addressed and now it was time to enjoy life!
The Good Life
Albie became sweet and gentle and was so happy to be a part of the family. He lounged in sunbeams, napped on soft blankets and like all family members could be a little mischievous at times. At a Super Bowl party one year, he even plotted to steal a chicken breast from the guest he was snuggled up beside. His plan succeeded and he disappeared under a tablecloth like he had never been there at all. One of the things Albie enjoyed most about having a family was Christmas. A tiny table top Christmas tree sat in Albie’s room during the holidays and he thought it was magical. He would get up on the table, sit next to it and stare at the lights. How different his life had become.
Thanks to the kind hearts of people like Beth and John and the wonderful work of feline rescue groups, innumerable cats are living happier and healthier lives. Once they had witnessed the change in Albie’s temperament, Beth and John were willing to take a chance on him – and from that day on; every day was Christmas for Albie!