Chloe is a sweet cat that has had a bit of a rough time. Apparently she was kicked out of her home and while out on the streets she got skinny, got into fights, lost some teeth, and got pregnant. The shelter I work with found her right before Thanksgiving, matted and dirty, very tired and, to their surprise after a vet visit, VERY pregnant.
She was so malnourished, the vet thought her pregancy might not come to term because her body had begun to reabsorb the babies. But, alas, they rescued her just in time and she gave birth to 5 (!!!) healthy babies. (I have pictures, but I haven't scanned them in yet. This was in the pre-digital camera days. But they looked like fuzzy beanie babies that were smaller than the palm of my hand. And I have very small hands!!)
A woman took Chloe in to help out while Chloe raised her babies until they were old enough to get adopted. Apparently there was something "not quite right" about this situation that the shelter woman discovered after-the-fact. Here's where I come in:
"Hi, Liz. I wanted to see if you could help me out," the shelter owner explained. "I have a woman that's fostering a mom cat and her five babies that were born yesterday. I'm trying to find another foster home because I'm out of room at the shelter and my house. Apparently the house where the mom cat is staying is occupied by two vicious rotweilers that I found out killed a neighbor's cat and several birds. The mom and babies are living in this woman's bathroom right now and I'm a little concerned about their safety..."
Anyone who knows me can guess what my response was...
"Oh my goodness!" I said. "We have an upstairs guest room that's away from our own cats. We'll be glad to have them there..."
Right after Thanksgiving Sarah and I made our way to an area of Massachusetts that we'd never even heard of. After getting lost several times, we found the correct street. We passed several nice, quaint little homes along the way, then came up to a ramshackle house that had trash everywhere and crooked windows. It looked like it was on the verge of collapse.
"I think this is it," I said.
"Yikes!" Sarah said. "It can't be the one, keep going."
"Uh, the road dead-ends," I shook my head. "I'm afraid this is it."
Sure enough, a woman wearing a red coat that went to her knees with a hood where you could only see her nose came around the side of the house. I got out of the car and jumped... the front door suddenly shuddered with a BANG and the blinds started flipping around. A rather large barking dog was hurling itself at the door.
I looked at Sarah... she shrunk back into the seat and shook her head at me. "I'm not getting out of this car... it's scary out there!" she hissed at me.
I went over to the woman. Let's just say... F R E A K Y! Very Jerry Springer-worthy personality. Her neighbors must LOVE her...
Long story short, the cats were living under the toilet in a cardboard box lined with newspapers. Within 20 minutes they were in the backseat of my car in a carrier.
As we drove, I kept looking back at Chloe, the skinniest cat I'd ever seen. She peered back at me timidly as 5 little beanie babies huddled against her. "Hello, little girl," I said soothingly. (We hadn't named her yet) Chloe just looked at me intently as if to say, "I hope you're taking us away from that scary dog..."
Within a couple of days it was clear to me that Chloe absolutely loved people, but had been abused. Everytime I entered the room, Chloe would meow a greeting, get up out of her box, come over to me, arch her back and rub up against me to say, "pet me now, please!" Then she'd go right to her food dish and begin eating while purring. This indicates that she came from an environment where she only ate when food was given to her. (And from the looks of her, she wasn't given much)
The funny thing about Chloe is that she's very trusting. However, I think she was physically abused because if you reach toward her with two hands, she backs up, flinches and shakes her head. Totally breaks my heart... especially as I've gotten to witness her loving behavior toward her babies, affections to me and how patient she is when we do things like clean her ears. (She has bad ear mites, so the process of treatment and cleansing is very painful) She yowls a bit, but she never scratches or tries to bite.
Fast forward to 7 weeks later and here's what we've got:
A happy, yet still skinny Chloe and 5 healthy, active kids (the pictures are deceiving, if you look at Chloe from the back or top, she's shockingly thin) -
Tiny Tim... The smallest, yet most outgoing camera ham-
Tiny's "twin" brother... slightly larger and longer haired Smudge-
Two girls that are already spoken for by a 6 year old (they're going to their new home this weekend)... Miss Purrvis-
And scruffy-haired little calico Marie, pictured here with her brother Trevor-
Here's Trevor by himself... he and Chloe are VERY attached. We're currently trying to find a home for Chloe and Trevor together-
So, yes... Sarah and I are currently housing 12 cats. But 6 are leaving soon and our house does not smell at all! (With the help of a cleaning lady and our own rigorous cleaning rituals) Though I have the sole responsibility of the litter boxes... let me tell you how NOT fun it is to scoop 5 large litter boxes everyday and then change them 2 to 3 times a week. Blah.
Despite how full our house is, I'm glad Sarah and I took Chloe and her babies in. The babies are healthy, happy and LOVE humans (to the point where they run to us when we enter the room... something I have never seen in any kitten besides Mia). And Chloe is getting proper pampering, love and food. I will see to it that she NEVER endures anything like she did on the streets ever again.
(And when the babies are gone, she's getting a bath!! Her fur is so dirty!)