Cat Sanctuary

Back from the Edge

Shortly before last Christmas, an emergency came our way. We were told of a case where an elderly couple had died at home together, and their deaths had gone unnoticed for several weeks. That must have been dreadful for the family, and for the responders; where RAPS became involved was that there were two cats in the home, and they had had no food or water – or only what was left – for all that time.  Many living creatures can survive on a greatly reduced diet, but when there is no food and water, cats’ systems will shut down as ketones increase, insulin drops and electrolytes are depleted.

Two sad, scared, weakened cats when they arrived.

There is a condition called refeeding syndrome, in which the unwise rescuer overfeeds a starving animal and makes the whole situation worse, since the body cannot cope with a sudden abundance of nutrition. Luckily, the rescuers of these two knew the dangers, and Benjamin and Olivia came into our care – initially to the RAPS Hospital for an emergency response, and then once they were stabilized, to the Sanctuary. Initially they were skin and bone, and with claws and whiskers disintegrating for lack of calcium and vital minerals. Under the care of our med-staff, they were fed small amounts slowly – a high-fat, low-carb diet with carefully balanced nutrients to allow their bodies to recover slowly.

Benjamin & Olivia (BC)

We discovered that they were a fairly young pair, and likely siblings, though from different litters, since Benjamin is older than Olivia; both are long-haired, Benjamin an orange tabby and Olivia a sweet tortie with the distinctive split-face feature some tortoiseshells have. We found that he had been neutered, but she had never been spayed; safe enough for them to live together, but hard on her – female cats can come into heat every 2-3 weeks, and they can be very vocal about their discomfort. Luckily, she had been kept indoors – this sort of situation is why we sometimes get a surge in feral cats, when a female manages to escape, and within six months the consequent litter of kittens will all have had a litter of kittens!

Benjamin, Olivia (BC), and happy and well (LBF)

Under our care, Olivia has now had her spay surgery, and is recovering well.  The two of them are sharing one of our big cages in the Hill House, and feeders, cleaners and Kitty Comforters have all fallen in love with them. Both are friendly and used to being handled; they love to play and are the subject of much curiosity from the cats in the main room. They could be transferred over to the Adoption Centre as soon as Olivia is fully healed, but they have more space at the Sanctuary than in the smaller AC cages, and though we hope that they will find a loving home for their remaining eight lives, we’ll make the most of their company while we have them.

Blog by Brigid Coult
Featured image: “Benjamin & Olivia” by Lisa Brill-Friesen
Photos by Lisa Brill-Friesen & Brigid Coult