Some of you might remember my posts from last summer about Lucy, the foster kitty that I brought home from the rescue that I had been volunteering at for a few years. Here's the post: viewtopic.php?t=7294&start=30 With your help and advice, I think we've almost cracked it. All but a couple of her scabby patches have dried up and the fur grown back. She will always have the scar tissue but it's well hidden and now she's a fluffy, glossy, chirpy little princess again (if slightly plump after the months on steroids, but we're working on that).
https://photos.app.goo.gl/PAXuMQ2eRDJu6R1MA & https://photos.app.goo.gl/v4ehEmjdSU2VVQCp7
For the first couple of months she was with me I was updating the rescue via messenger - both the woman in charge and the cat co-ordinator - with her progress. There wasn't a lot of progress to report to be honest. It soon became clear that it was going to be a long road for us and there was little change from one week to the next. I didn't feel that they were particularly interested either to be honest, from their short responses and lack of contact from them... they never actually asked me about her, and that's the truth. It was always me initiating contact. Around late August I sent a message asking for referral to their vet, and when I got no response I realised that I was going to have to deal with this on my own. I registered her with my usual vet and we had monthly visits for the first eight months or so, and a course of steroids, and then six-weekly visits for a while whilst we tapered her off, and as of October, she's been off the steroids completely and we've only needed a couple of check-ups since. The vet is very happy with her progress. She's been on Hills z/d for around a year or so too, with RC Anallergenic kibble for a change or as a treat. She still has a petulant bit of scabbage on her left neck, and a few tiny patches from where she's managed to get at someone else's food but we're facing the right direction and it shouldn't be long before we have it totally conquered.
Now here's the detail I didn't go into in my earlier posts: I took Lucy on to get her out of a desperate situation. Over the course of the six weeks that she was in that pen she was an abysmal state... she was just being ignored and her wounds were getting worse. She had an oversized, grubby e-collar tied on by a scrap of blood-stained bandage and it was cutting into her open neck wounds. She had dried faeces on her backside fur from not being able to wash herself. I'd find random food in her bowl and Dreamies on the floor even though she was supposed to be on an exclusion diet, and there was a scrappy note stuck to the pen door basically saying 'this is Lucy... she's around 4 years old, blah blah blah... and she's allergic to something but we don't know what'. One weekend I ordered and paid for a Comfy Collar to be sent to them by next-day delivery so that she could at least eat and sleep better. When I turned up the next weekend she still had the filthy e-collar on. I asked them why and they said she 'kept taking the other one off' (!!!). When I asked them for it back they said they'd lost it. There was absolutely no intention of getting a grip on her issues and potential adopters were avoiding her like the plague. She was just left to scratch and fester. They were just hoping someone crazy enough would come along and take her off their hands, and so I did. It broke my heart seeing her like this week after week and I promised her I would get her out of there somehow. I took her on because she was a genuine welfare concern. Since then, I've spent over a thousand pounds on vet bills, steroids, special food and medical treatment for her wounds. To look at her now, it was money well spent and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. I've also driven home at lunchtime every working day for the last 18 months to see her and give her some fuss because she's stuck in the house (she can't go out, since she's a foster cat). She sleeps on my bed every night and we have cuddles at breakfast because she loves to stomp and dribble on my fluffy bathrobe. She's an absolute darling and if I had even one cat less than I have, there'd be no question of giving her up. Since then, I've also taken in Sir Humphrey from this post: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6964 and that makes five! But we're waving not drowning.
So. Fast forward to a month or so ago. I'd been meaning to send a message to the cat co-ordinator to update her, but it had been a year of taking two steps forward and one step back. With such slow progress there was little to report and I genuinely felt they were no longer interested in her anyway. A number of people warned me that they were just staying quiet in the hope that I would keep her. There was no rush for me however, I still had work to do on her. Come mid-December I'd finished work for the holidays and had time to sit down and send an email to the cat co-ordinator to let her know how well Lucy was doing and to see what she thought about the next steps. I said Lucy wasn't quite ready yet but maybe sometime in the New Year, it might be safe to look at finding her a nice new home where she didn't have to deal with other cats in the house; she's a bit of a princess, a bit possessive too, and I think she'd flourish much more being an only cat and having her own person all to herself. The response I received to that email was cold..."To be honest after all this time I thought she was with you permanently, I never considered she may need rehoming". Now this was either an epic memory fail on her part, or an outright lie and knowing what I know about her now, I'm going with the latter. She would have been at least consulted about my offer to take her out of rescue for some TLC, and definitely the one to give permission for it. There was never any intention to keep her permanently, they knew this and it is clear from messages between us. They even joked about giving me her adoption papers but they knew (and I made this clear) that with three other cats here, and living on my own/being the only income, I couldn't commit to another permanent resident. I reiterated that there was no hurry, because she’s not quite scratch-free yet, and that when she is ready, perhaps we can look at doing what they’ve done with a number of other foster-based cats and dogs and rehome directly from foster, similar to how CP and our local RSPCA work.
The next response I received told me to bring her in to the rescue that weekend and they'd put her in a pen. No matter that it was that very environment of filth and neglect that exacerbated her issues in the first place! I have since spent the last few weeks challenging her on this, but with no success. Apparently direct rehomings are too much hassle and Lucy won't benefit from walk-by exposure. I can tell you now that it'll be a matter of days before the stress and neglect takes its toll on that poor sweet cat and all our progress will very soon be undone. Our local RSPCA welfare officer has even offered to take Lucy onto their books so that I can sign up as an official fosterer and she can be rehomed direct without having to go back into a pen, with the benefit of website and Facebook marketing, and I said I would pay her adoption fee so that they didn't lose out on it, but they rejected this idea within minutes of me sending the email. It's gone from 'we thought you were keeping her' to 'she's our cat, you'll have to bring her back'. It's no secret that the cat co-ordinator has never liked me, and she doesn't try to hide it, but I never thought she would do something like this just to make a point. I've offered to adopt her myself rather than return her to a pen to fester, but she refused. Just before Christmas I sent a rather honest email. There'll be no coming back from what I said. It's no longer a matter of playing nice and trying persuade her that this is in Lucy's best interests, because that's not what this is about for her. It's clearly personal.
Where are we now? Lucy's here, and the cat co-ordinator is still insisting that Lucy goes back. I'm holding fast... not refusing, but not rushing into my next move. Lucy's happy and we're making progress and that's the important thing. Today I received an email from her again saying there are 3 or 4 potentially suitable families for Lucy so can I let her know what date she'll be returned so she can arrange viewings. I haven't replied. I don't trust her one iota and if Lucy goes back and these people never materialise it'll be devastating for her. I just can't let that happen.
I've even spoken with the owner of another rescue who has told me to send a cheque for her adoption fee and if it's cashed, she's mine and there's nothing they can do! But the fact remains, in the long-term, I don't think I can manage 5 cats. I'm probably going to moving house later this year and downsizing. Humphrey probably isn't going anywhere now with all his issues, so there's already going to be 4 in the house. And I don't want the trouble (and these people can cause trouble, from what I've heard since I stopped volunteering last spring, which in hindsight, may well be what has turned her against me). All I wanted was for them to do what they've done a number of times before... have potential adopters come to meet her here and see her in a home environment, happy and relaxed and playful, and for me to be able to talk to them about how to deal with her allergy if it flares up again.
Lucy is such a sweetheart but she's delicate and easily stressed. Even the vet said that managing her diet is all well and good but managing her environment and eliminating stress is just as important.
As far as I see it, I have a few options here:
- to take her back and walk away and forget about her. This will break my heart in two.
- to refuse to take her back and see where it goes, but if she's chipped to them or a previous owner, I won't be able to rehome her and keeping her isn't a long-term option.
- to keep on insisting on a direct rehoming so that she doesn't have to go back into a pen and risk a relapse, although I don't think I'll get anywhere with that. After my frank and honest email, I think she's worried about what I might say.
If you've got this far, thank you so much, and I would really welcome some advice and wisdom from all angles.