Vanessa the Magnificent

I love most cats, but there are some cats who are truly extraordinary. Vanessa is one of them. Give her 30  minutes and she will be your BFF. It is difficult to imagine cats much sweeter than this little girl.


I picked her up from the vet’s office today, where she was clearly adored as well. She’s made herself right at home in her crate. Within an hour of arriving here she was head butting me for pets and cuddles. Total love bug.

She is pretty thin, with hips sticking out, but she is eating happily. The vet thinks she is around seven years old, so young enough to be lively and energetic to the best of her ability still. I’ve been letting her out of the crate to wander around, hoping it might help her muscles. It clearly helps her morale. She wobbles a good bit, and reminds me of some of the cerebellar hypoplasia cats a bit. She walks with a very wide stance and falls over on her side often, but she still gets around. She even plays with the cat dancer from a lying down position. She’s got lots of heart.

And she is absolutely beautiful. Beautiful red/blond color running through her fur…quite stunning.


She even used her litter box successfully this evening. Maybe the low-to-the-ground box will work for her after all.

Vanessa is clearly an extraordinary cat. I have no idea how she ended up outside and in such dire circumstances, but I’m glad she’s safe now. Hopefully the wobbles will go away, but even if they don’t she’s an amazing little girl. We’ve going to have to work with all of our rescue partners to find her the home she deserves. Anyone would be more than lucky to have this little one in their home.


While most of the work of Derry Township Community Cats is about trap/neuter/return (TNR) occasionally we get calls about stray cats who appear to be sick or, in most cases, dying or already deceased. We are not a rescue organization so we don’t take in strays in general, but if they are in distress we try out best to capture them, take them to the vet, and if need be the vet helps them out of this life as peacefully as possible.

That’s what we thought would be needed last Thursday when my trapping buddy, P., got a call about a cat who had not moved in a couple hours. Would we come get the cat? You never know what that’s actually going to entail, and P. and I have had some adventures capturing cats here and there. This one, however, turned out to be easy, and P. was able to just place her right in a trap and take her to the vet’s office.

Turns out she wasn’t a dying cat, but she was very wobbly and having trouble standing much less moving. Vestibular Syndrome is the technical term…it was new to me. Think kitty vertigo. But she was otherwise bright eyed, meowing, and very thin. Probably hadn’t been able to eat for a bit. She certainly was in no shape to catch any food. She was front declawed as well, and really had no business being outside.


(Photos courtesy of Animal Health Care Center of Hershey.)

We certainly weren’t going to euthanize her without more reason, so it was agreed that she would stay at the vet’s office for a bit, get checked out, and we would all see what was up with her.

In the meantime, I posted her picture far and wide on Facebook, hoping maybe someone had lost her. It was shared a zillion times (well…close to that) but so far no calls. That doesn’t mean no one is looking for her…not everyone is on Facebook…but the chances that someone is looking for her are certainly smaller.

She’s eating and purring, a total sweetheart according the the vet staff. She’s been tested for FIV/FELV and is negative, which is a blessing. Her blood work isn’t bad, though she has a low white blood cell count, so she’s on an antibiotic.

The litter box has been a bit of a challenge for her since she is so wobbly. The wobbles might be temporary…paws crossed…we will have to wait a week or so and see if they improve. May be related to the white blood cell count…might not. Lots of unknowns for now.


What we do know is that she’s sweet, and deserves a safe place to live out her life. She’s at the vet’s for the weekend, but Monday she’ll come to my house for a bit while we figure things out for her. I’ve got  a safe dog crate set up for her in the office where I spend a chunk of my day so she’ll have some company. Her litter box is just the base of a case of cat food…very low to the ground so her chances of using it are as good as we can make them. She can’t have a big pillow to sleep on since she’s so wobbly, but I have some nice warm soft fleece for her…easily washable if she has any accidents.


I’m going to call her Vanessa for now, and look forward to getting to know her a little next week while we watch and wait and plan for her. She’s had a rough time, at least recently. We’ll see if we can make sure the rest of her days are a bit easier.

Sorting the cats out

Now that I’m feeling like a human being again (thank you antibiotics and dark chocolate!) I’ve been busy trying to sort cat stuff out in the house. There have been many more cat fights in recent months, and also a lot more peeing outside the litter boxes. Favorite spots are the microwave and the coffee machine, which is completely unacceptable. I should invest in some of the kitchen disinfecting products…we’ve been using tons.

Some of this is, I think, the result of Thomas’s death a few months ago.  (Thomas is the grey one being groomed by Gabi, our calico.)

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Thomas was a very mellow cat, and the peace-keeper in the group. Loved by all the cats, he kept things on an even keel. He was Annie’s best bud – she was constantly at his side. With Thomas gone, the center kind of left the house, and the cats are still sorting themselves out. Annie is trying to convince Minh to be her new best bud, with some success. I came downstairs in the middle of the night last week to find the two of them sleeping together on a chair. Minh isn’t nearly as interested in Annie as Thomas was, but he’s doing his best to be supportive of her.

The peeing problem, however, needed some resolution. With seven cats in the house, you’re going to have some inappropriate peeing, but there is a limit. And the kitchen counters are certainly off-limits. But the first question with these problems is always whether there is a medical condition. I know Minh pees outside the box and hangs on the kitchen counters, so he (along with two other counter surfers) were on my list.

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Got Minh off to the vet yesterday and they took a urine sample from him, and bingo! His white blood cell count was “too high to count” so he got a nice shot of Covenia, a two-week delayed release antibiotic. Paws crossed that helps solve part of the problem. And if it doesn’t, I have a plan B in mind.

But the cats weren’t done with adventures yet. I woke up and found a roundworm on the floor outside the bedroom. If you don’t know roundworms, they look like a piece of spaghetti. Hiro, our only indoor/outdoor guy probably picked it up outside, but if one cat has it, the rest do or will. So everyone needs to be treated. Hiro got some Drontal (pills) to swallow, which is not much of a problem with him. The others all got a dose of Revolution, which is not a problem for anyone but Annie.

Annie, as some of you know, is still pretty feral and touching her is not something she permits much. A few pets at feeding time is about it. Getting Revolution (a topical) on her was thought to be the most likely way to treat, but not easy by any means. I tried throwing a towel over her at mealtime, but missed., and the little bugger moves fast. After a couple frantic minutes, I gave up, not wanting to stress her unduly. Trust is a huge issue for her still, and I’m afraid of destroying the small amount I’ve built up with her.



Watching for my opportunity, I got her last night. She was up on the breakfast bar with some of the other cats (we do let them hang there…) and she had her back to me. I quickly squashed her down on the bar, called Marley to come fast, which he did, and we were able to get most of the Revolution on her without incident or harm. Phew. She’s a bit more wary of me now, but I’ll just have to double down on my efforts to tame her.

There is never a dull moment with seven cats, and one blind dog.


Annie’s progress

Some of you might remember a recent post about Annie, our little feral. New Alliances. She hasn’t let me touch her much since she was a sick (close to dying) kitten some years ago. She eats from my hand and she will sometimes let me pet her when I give her a meal, but that’s about it. When her buddy Thomas died a few months ago, she was set adrift, but she’s really courting Minh, and that’s getting her closer to me.

Minh likes to sit on my lap, and Annie wants to be with Minh. So last evening, as we were watching television, guess who climbed on up and sat on my legs, next to Minh. Baby steps…


New Alliances

For those of you who have been following along, I’m abandoning my January challenge to myself. This walking pneumonia thing has been kicking my butt, chocolate or not, so I’m taking the time I need to recover, and not worrying too much about photographs right now.

In the meantime, I’ve been watching a developing alliance in the house. Since Thomas died a few months ago, Annie – who was attached to Thomas at the hip – has been kind of lost. Hiro is top cat in the house without question, and Stripe puts herself at the bottom of the heap acting like prey all the time. Several of our cats don’t give a damn about hierarchy and just get on with their days. But Minh and Annie had been vying for second place below Hiro, and there have been some uncomfortable days. But lately Annie seems to be trying to cozy up to Minh and I find them sleeping in the same chair some evenings.


Annie seems more anxious for a new friend than Minh in general. I watched Minh stand on Annie last evening and bite her scruff after the two had been sleeping on the same chair. Didn’t seem affectionate to me, but what do I know? But Annie’s not giving up. She really needs a buddy in the house, and Minh has been tagged “it” like it or not.

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Both cats were born outside, and didn’t come in until they were older kittens, so these two have a lot in common. Minh is very happy to be around people, and Annie isn’t totally there yet, but she continues to make progress. Because Minh has been on my lap a couple of times recently Annie jumped up to join him before realizing it was a human lap she was on, and departing. But she’ll get there. I watch the budding alliance with great curiosity.