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2014 Christmas, Special Tails

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At PPCR we have volunteers with a wide range of skills. For many cats, fostering is largely a matter of providing a warm place, food, and a clean litterbox, with more or less human interaction, depending on the cat. But in some cases, a cat needs much more focused attention to deal with grief, fear, or other negative emotions that can affect behavior and make it more difficult to prepare for a new life. Fortunately, we have some volunteers who are especially skilled at helping those sensitive cats.

When one such volunteer met her, Olivia (aka “Miss Olivia”) was still a young cat, but the golden eyes that peered out from a mass of dark tortoiseshell fur made no secret of a very deep discomfort. A long time had already passed since Olivia had seen the inside of a private home; still, she obviously did not feel settled in her no-longer-new environment.

People warned the volunteer that Olivia was prone to turn suddenly and scratch, yet this behavior was never in evidence when the volunteer sat with Olivia. Why not? Maybe Olivia was one of those cats who are easily over-stimulated, a problem many cats have until they learn that there will be plenty of petting and that humans don’t appreciate claws.

It still breaks the volunteer’s heart to think of how Olivia looked when the two of them started spending time together. In addition to behaving in a way that would deter potential adopters, this really quite extraordinary looking kitty was matted and overweight, and to make matters worse, she had mysterious intermittent pooping issues. Poor girl.

She responded well to love. Who doesn’t? In no time she learned not to scratch, although she would still sometimes bat with claws withdrawn. Our volunteer spent a long time wondering about Olivia’s past and thinking about what it would take to get her ready for family life.

The first order of business was to take Olivia to the vet to get rid of all those mats. Some cats have a very dense undergrowth of fur, so the mats are especially tight next to their skin and don’t show up on the surface until a second layer of matting forms on the more visible coat. Olivia had this kind of fur, and given the mats, she had been impaired in her movements, couldn’t exercise or walk well, and had trouble getting in and out of the box. Also, according to the vet, she had 4 teeth needing to be extracted, and one tooth broken to the gum so that a nerve was exposed. Who wouldn’t be unhappy!

We had her shaved down to her skin and got her the dental she needed. We changed her diet to exclude grain and include probiotics. She started moving around, her poop issues cleared up, and the batting stopped entirely.

Olivia had been in rescue for 3 years when a potential adopter called. The adopter had seen Olivia’s picture and knew this was the cat for her. Within a week Olivia went to her new home in the Napa Valley, with an angel of an adopter who didn’t care about her special diet or emotional sensitivity. This amazing woman just knew she was right for Olivia and vice versa.

Months later, Olivia, now named Miss Coco, is enjoying her new life. At home she is calm, purrs a lot, and loves to bask in the sun. Her special, safe place is the bed; when Mom goes to work, Olivia curls up on the bed, and that is exactly where Mom finds her at the end of the day. Her fur has grown back in–the better to decorate the house (but who minds vacuuming). When Mom wrote us the update, Olivia had just crawled into her lap and was purring.

What a happy ending for an initially unhappy cat, and thanks to everyone who helped to achieve this wonderful outcome.