Welcome to the tale of how I met my dear cat, Abygayle. Before I begin, I have to apologize that this blog is rather lengthy. I have included some links if you’re interested in learning more about a particular topic.
Audubon Society and Feral Cats
Aby was part of a feral cat colony near the wetlands by highway 101 north heading up to San Francisco. In 2013, the Audubon Society said they had had enough with cats killing birds and were going to put an end to this feral cat colony. Whether or not, the Audubon Society was going to do this by mass euthanasia or by poisoning, is anyone’s guess.
The cat rescue groups who go out there daily to feed the cats and TNR (trap, neuter, release) were not happy to hear about this. One of my friends knew I had a huge rodent problem and asked me if I could use some “barn cats,” as feral cats are sometimes referred to. She explained the cats’ situation, and I told her that yes, I could take a couple in.
The cat rescue lady delivered the kittens to my house. We made my outside kennel as secure as possible for them. They were still in their humane trap. She told me it would be awhile before they’d come out, and I don’t need to watch them. She left, and I continued to watch these two new kittens of mine. The boy, “Topaz” was grey with black stripes.
I watched them for awhile, but they were so scared. I walked into my house to get some coffee. I came back out about ten minutes later. Topaz wasn’t in the trap any more. I went into the kennel to locate his whereabouts. He wasn’t in either of the two crates that were set up. He wasn’t anywhere. 🙀 I closed up the kennel and ran around the yard looking for him. He was gone! 😿
I went back into the kennel and saw Aby – she was laying in the cuddle bed inside one of the crates. She looked so small, even at six months old. The sun was setting. The temperature had dropped significantly. I knew that without her brother in the kennel with her, I couldn’t bear to leave her all alone. I grabbed a blanket and placed it on top of her and the cuddle bed, and then scooped it all up. Carrying her close to my body, I brought her upstairs to my bedroom, where my cat, A’more was. Aby and A’more became fast friends – snuggling together, eating beside each other, grooming one another. ♥️
I never saw Topaz again. 😿
Although I set traps (humane cat traps) across the road for Topaz with fresh water and yummy canned food, I caught everything but him. I eventually gave up. I had caught a rat, a scrub jay, a raccoon, and a black cat, but no Topaz. I was scared that I was going to end up catching a skunk!
Maddie & Aby
Maddie also lived in the upstairs but only ventured out of her hiding spot occasionally – she lived mostly on the left hand side of my bedroom, whereas Aby took up residence on the right hand side, under the desk and in the closet. These two girls may have been close to each other in proximity, but they were not close in any other way. They tolerated each other. They would both sleep on my bed occasionally, but would not touch.
When A’more passed away in 2015, I felt badly for Aby. She was so close to him. I could at least pick up and love on Maddie. But I couldn’t even hold Aby. Heck, I was terrified of her!
I was so frightened of Aby I couldn’t even hold her to trim her nails. At one time, I was considering having her declawed. I was worried that she’d get her nails caught in the curtains and rip her nail out. (This happened with another cat of mine, but he lost his nail in the carpet and bled a lot.)
I finally found a veterinary clinic that still did declaws, and explained my situation to them as to why I needed to get Aby declawed. They told me they wouldn’t do it unless I could pick her up and hold her. Hmm 🤔 well if I could do that – then I’d be able to trim her nails and wouldn’t need to go through with such a barbaric procedure, now would I?!
BIG MISTAKE – Little Brother
So, as I was saying I felt badly for Aby because she didn’t have anyone. A’more was gone. Maddie ignored her, and I was scared of her. I decided to get her a little brother which turned out to be a huge mistake.
My friend, Callalily, had a feral that had kittens in her yard… I adopted one and named him Felipe and had him upstairs as company for Aby. Well unfortunately, Aby hated her little brother. She hated him so much that she took it upon herself to hide from him.
The queen bed that I had, had four drawers on its base. The two drawers closest to the foot had cubby holes that I wasn’t aware of. Apparently when the drawer is completely shut, there is a hidden compartment off to the side… a perfect place for a cat to sit. If the drawer is completely shut, the cat cannot climb back into the drawer. Aby has on occasion climbed into these drawers before, but usually if she’s in the drawer – I cannot shut it all the way closed.
It was in the winter when I couldn’t find Aby – January 2017 to be exact. I looked for her everywhere upstairs. The upstairs isn’t that big, but by golly there are a lot of hiding spots for a cat!
Where Is She?
I looked everywhere. I looked behind the curtains of all of the windows. Five windows in my bedroom. I looked behind the desk, under the desk, behind the bird cage, behind the bookshelf, in the closet, in the drawers of my bed, in the crevice between the wall and my bed. She was nowhere! I called for her. She didn’t come, she didn’t meow. I searched the drawers again and shut them. I didn’t take the drawers out though. I searched everywhere again. I was getting rather desperate.
I cannot honestly say when I first realized that she was missing. It could have been a couple of days before I started looking, or it could have been a few days. My cats are free fed. I just happened to notice that I hadn’t seen her around. When I still didn’t find her on the second day, I started tearing my room apart. I took the drawers out and that’s when I noticed that darn hidden compartment. She was just sitting there.
She was severely dehydrated and her skin was jaundiced. Once a veterinary technician, always a veterinary technician, I knew what I needed to do. I couldn’t immediately take her into the hospital as much as I wanted to due to the road closures. I had medical supplies on hand and after wrapping her up in a blanket, I gave her subcutaneous fluids. I also offered her some food which she did eat, but didn’t finish. (When I first found out she was missing, I put Felipe downstairs.)
It was January 9, 2017 when the roads finally opened up and I was able to bring Aby to the hospital. She was diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis which is also known as fatty liver disease. It is very common in cats who stop eating for whatever reason. The liver breaks down stored fat for energy and eventually the cat can become icteric (their skin and mucous membranes take on a jaundiced or yellow appearance.) She would need to have an esophageal tube surgically placed so that I could get enough calories into her while her liver healed. We had a long journey ahead of us.
Aby isn’t the easiest cat. She is a feral. Or maybe I should say she was a feral. I had to wrap her up in a blanket to give her her medications and feed her. Little, by little, Aby started coming around. I think by having to give her these meds and feeding her through her tube, I got used to her, and she got used to me. I was finally able to trim her nails which I hadn’t been able to do since the day she came to live with me. Eventually her tube slipped out, and we had to drive back to the hospital to have it replaced. But after awhile, she got better and started eating on her own again. 😻
Aby is a love bug. I cannot believe I was ever scared of her. She allows me to set her on my lap and trim her nails – on all of her paws. She still growls, but it’s all talk. She loves sitting on my shoulder like a parrot, telling me all about her day. She also loves to drool 🤤 on me. It’s quite disgusting. I’m not talking about a little bit of saliva either. She will leave a huge wet spot on my arm, neck, or wherever. When she shakes her head, spittle goes flying everywhere.
Thank you for reading about Abygayle!