A One-of-a-kind cat
by Barb Wehmann
In memory of Joey who lost his battle on 1-26-2010. So special. So loved. Missed forever.
Joey when rescued: Matted, thin, starving, and ill, yet loving and grateful for a bed and food.
On 9-23-2008, Joey didn’t know it was his lucky day. However, when he slowly strolled to the back patio of a house, his life took a new direction. We happened to be visiting a relative at the home, and we noticed how emaciated and matted the cat looked--near the end stage of a serious illness, we figured. He stopped for a little of the dry food and water we put out and then started to leave. Quickly, we brought out some canned cat food we keep in our car. Joey went through three cans, which didn’t fit the behavior pattern of a very sick cat.
The smell of food brought four of his stray buddies to the area, and they all enjoyed a meal. The other cats were very hungry, but none looked as bad as Joey. Ill or not, it seemed clear Joey was starving to death. After eating, he started to wash his face-- something he apparently hadn’t done for a long time. Joey started to walk back toward the wooded area, but continued looking back at me. I called for him, and he trotted back. This time I touched his backside, and cringed . . . it was just fur and bones. I checked all four paws--no claws. He had been neutered as well. Joey had a home at some point. Did his owners move and abandon him? Did he get lost? Most likely, he just was no longer wanted. It was clear he needed medical care quickly.
At the veterinary hospital, Joey purred and allowed the veterinarian and technicians to do whatever they needed to do. He looked so sick, sad, and tired. We were expecting to hear very bad news and reassured ourselves that at least Joey wouldn't die alone in the woods. He would know that people cared about him. The first bit of news came: he was negative for AIDS and leukemia. We were shocked, given his appearance. Joey weighed just 6 pounds--about half what he should weigh. We sadly thought how, by comparison, our 4-month-old kittens had weighed 5 pounds each the previous day. Joey couldn't have lasted much longer on his own. His blood work showed kidney levels out of the normal range and that he was anemic, but it was unclear how much was due to starvation and dehydration, or some other disease.
Joey spent the next two days in the hospital, where he was given IV fluids and all the food he wanted. While many cats would be too scared to eat in a strange place with an IV, Joey ate all he was given. He came home to us each evening so we could care for him through the night. After two days in the hospital, his kidney values improved, but kidney disease remained the diagnosis. While to most people this would be bad news, to us it was better news than we ever expected, and we felt hope for Joey. It was then that we made a promise to Joey to be with him for the rest of his life.
For the next 16 months, Joey lived in a room with two other cats, Tony and Milo. They quickly became friends. Over the next 16 months, Joey's weight stabilized and he learned to sit still for his fluid. He played and thrived in his new environment. Joey especially enjoyed when people came to visit him and he would reach up to kiss them. He was a constant joy to have. It was a very sad time when the bad news of his most recent blood work was received. For the next 3 weeks, he made the most of each day. Three days before his death, it was obvious that the end had come. Milo and Tony refused to eat and Milo stayed within a foot of Joey while he rested.
When Joey took his last breath on January 26, 2010 he was at home with his feline buddies, Tony and Milo, by his side, and he was in the arms of one of his rescuers. He passed away without veterinary intervention. Joey was one of a kind.