Ark Animal Sanctuary – Week of October 21, 2019

At the Ark there is a cat named Luther. He is a big black cat who also happens to be very feral. Luther has been with us for a few years and came in with a few other cats that we took from a feral cat colony. We took these cats in with the intentions of neutering and releasing them, but that never happened. The weather turned very cold and we did not have the heart to put them back out there knowing the kind of life they would have. 

They remained at The Ark, and we actually set up a place for just the feral cats. The room has 10 feral cats in it, all of whom get along very nicely. They are family and have settled in quite nicely, and they are safe and warm. They never have to wonder where their next meal will come from and they get medical attention when needed.

  Luther is a handsome boy, but had made it very clear: “Do not try to touch me and we will get along just fine.” 

He comes to the door in the morning to get his pate and never misses a morning. You get to know their routine and you know when something is not quite right. 

Luther was not looking very good and he had stopped coming to the door. He just kind of sat in the corner all hunched up. At this point we knew he needed to see a vet and the plans were set in motion to catch him, which we knew was not going to be an easy feat. After about three hours of trying, he was finally caught and no one was injured in the process. The next step was transporting him to the vet.

  Luther had to be sedated at the vet to be examined and to have X-rays taken as well as bloodwork. He was dehydrated, and the X-rays showed a cloudy area, which was a mystery to everyone. The blood work showed that his thyroid was off and that he had an infection. So Luther would come back to The Ark after being hydrated and given a long-lasting injection of antibiotics, plus thyroid meds that he needed twice a day. We could use a transdermal thyroid medication, which goes on the ear and meant we would have to handle him, or we could use the pill form and put it in his food — but Luther wasn’t eating, so that was a problem.

  When all was said and done, we came back with both transdermal and the pill form, figuring if we could get started with the transdermal and get him feeling better he would eat on his own and then we could use the pill form. 

If you have ever medicated a feral cat, then you know what we were up against and that it is not an easy thing to do. Armed with gloves and towels, we gave him his first dose of medication, and I have to say it went much easier than expected. It only took about 10 minutes, but I think that was because he just didn’t feel good and didn’t have much energy to fight back. 

After about a week, Luther was feeling better and eating on his own, so now we could put the meds in his food. This worked out perfectly. The only drawback is that Luther was living in a crate and that was no life for him. After much back and forth and rearranging, we were able to come up with a room for Luther, a room with a window so he would have sunlight.

  Right now he is the only cat in the room to ensure he is the one eating the food with the meds in it. We are in hopes to move in a couple of friendly cats so we can take them out of the room until Luther has eaten.

  Over the past few weeks Luther has become more trusting and now he actually lets me pat him on the head. This is so exciting for us, because we were not sure we would ever reach this point. Slowly Luther is learning to trust and be a normal cat. It’s at times like this, when all of your hard work pays off, that you know you are making a difference. That’s when you cry those happy tears — because every life matters, even feral ones.

  Thank you for your continued support, and as always, thank you for reading our column.

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