Rescue Me

He waits at the top of the stairs, peering between the bars of the railing. And then he meows. And meows. And meows.

He meows for me until I come upstairs. This is a new behavior, I’m not sure how or why it developed, but he won’t go to sleep until I come upstairs and scratch him under the chin. Well, how can I resist that face? Impossible.

Tony was rescued ten years ago by Toronto Cat Rescue. He was found barely alive, underneath a couch in a house too full of stray and abandoned cats. He was taken to Queen West Vets where he was operated on several times by a team of veterinarians. And then he was placed in the office of the clinic, away from the other animals – for a month! – while he recuperated.

Then we got the call.

When I first saw Tony, my immediate reaction was to gasp and cover my mouth with my hand. There were sutures sticking out from his eyelids. And I hadn’t expected him to have such a large head. I now realize that his head looked large partially because his body was still too small – as he had been starving when discovered. His fur was thin and coarse, like a rat’s, due to malnutrition, and he had open sores around his neck from scratching, as his ears had been chock full of ear mites.

The worst had been Tony’s hernia. It had taken two operations to reposition Tony’s organs up where they belonged and to close the muscle that should have been holding everything in place. Apparently, when he was brought in to the clinic and placed on an examination table, his abdomen hung down to the table. It’s hard to know if this was a birth defect – something Tony had coped with for several years – or if it was the result of some horrific injury.

Another operation turned Tony’s eyelids outward, the way they are supposed to be, as his were turned inward, resulting in two badly infected eyes.

It’s hard to imagine how he survived, how he endured such torment for so long – or why no one got him medical help sooner.

Obviously, Tony was scared. And still not feeling very strong. I wasn’t sure if he’d allow me to touch him. I reached out very slowly, and gently touched his neck. He decided that was alright. A veterinary assistant came into the room and lifted Tony out of his sleeping teepee. He immediately moved for cover under in an upturned box. From there, he got a bit bolder, signaling with his paw that he wanted more scratches.

I knew then that this was going to be Tony’s favorite thing: falling asleep while having his neck scratched. So I can’t complain. He gave me fair warning, and I adopted him anyway.

Featured image is of Tony. Photo by Beth French.

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