Let me explain and for that I have to go all the way back to last April when we adopted Maya (read more HERE). We had promised our daughter that she could be the one who goes to the shelter with my husband to adopt a cat. Before they went, her and I had looked on petfinder at a couple of shelters. And that’s when I saw Anthony and his sad eyes. My husband and daughter went to a different shelter though and brought home Maya but Anthony remained on my mind ever since and I periodically checked in to see if he was still there. I even posted his link on Facebook to see if someone would adopt him.
After Lucy just passed away, I had the thought of adoption in mind again. It wasn’t an option to adopt a cat while she was still here because I didn’t want to stress her out again. Having young Willy and Maya in the house had been enough for her.
So last Monday I decided to go to THAT shelter…
…to meet Anthony. I had never been to a shelter and the truth is I wouldn’t have went had this been an awful shelter with cages or even a kill shelter. I don’t think I could handle that type of setting and only bringing one home with the thought of what fate the others might face.
This shelter is pretty close to my house and a pretty wonderful place in my eyes. It should be called a sanctuary. The cats are in one room with shelving, perches and beds everywhere. They have plenty of clean litterboxes, water fountain and dry food stations and volunteers who come daily for several hours to interact with them. There is an in-house veterinarian for outpatients and for the shelter animals. The animals are really loved and well taken care of.
Nevertheless it did overwhelm me to see so many cats and suddenly of course wanting them all.
Here is the photo of him that I fell in love with on petfinder:
And here is what the description about him said:
“Say hello to Anthony! This handsome young fellow was found as a stray and was a bit overwhelmed when he first came into the shelter. Now though, Anthony will come greet his volunteer buddies for petting and love. He might take a little longer with people he has never met before, but just give him a little time and he’ll come right out of his shell! Anthony definitely has an appetite for playtime.. wave a string around and he’ll come running and jumping up to it. He occasionally can be seen playing with his kitty friends too and gets along with them all really well! He would definitely enjoy having another cat in his forever home. Anthony is also a biiiiiig fan of wet cat food. He is right there whenever any is served and is known to quietly sneak himself into other cats’ food dishes if he hasn’t been served yet. Anthony would prefer a bit of a quieter home because he does get spooked easily, but only for a second or two. This dopey eyes boy is the perfect mix or sweetness and comedy and is just waiting for you to come meet him!”
I had brought meat tubes (click HERE) to see if Anthony would like a treat from me and he did come out of his hiding spot for a short period of time to lick the treat and let me scratch his behind. He was definitely one of the shy cats at the shelter who preferred to hide which is the reason for him not having been adopted yet.
Here he is in his hiding spot with his sad face:
The cage door to the left is for cats that get newly introduced to the room to keep them safe and separated from the others for a bit.
After talking to the volunteers I found out that he was most likely dumped in the shelter’s backyard with his sister at about 1 years old. They assumed she was his sister by their looks. His sister was also shy and had been adopted already to a wonderful home where she was doing really well and came out of her shell. They even showed me a photo of her.
I also found out that Anthony has been at this shelter for 4 years which makes him around 5 years old.
There are some feral cats from local colonies who can’t live outside anymore due to blindness and age. These cats will have a great home at this shelter and can live out the remainder of their life safely, secure and being loved and cared for. I think that is amazing, don’t you?
Anyways, after meeting all the other cats, I still couldn’t get Anthony out of my head. And my son said “mom if you like him so much then let’s adopt him”. My husband didn’t appear to care either. We had talked about how it would be to adopt another cat that was scared. After all our Heidi and Monkey were really scared too when we brought them in. Monkey had been a stray for about 4 years in our neighborhood and I wasn’t even able to look at her through our windows which made her run.
I filled out adoption papers for Anthony and they told me that they’d update his shots and would get back to me. I could maybe come again when his favorite volunteers were there, so I could see how he interacted with them.
Last Thursday I headed to the shelter again with my daughter to take Anthony home with the help of his favorite volunteers.
The first couple of days and weeks were very hard on him. He was severely overwhelmed with no signs of improvement.
When I bring cats home, I always keep them separated from the others for a bit ( I wrote a long post about introducing a new shy scared cat HERE) and I do consider myself an experienced cat owner but he definitely threw me for a loop.
I was blogging from the bathtub in his room to keep him company for weeks.
Everything was new to him since he’s never lived with a family.
Things started to get better right before Thanksgiving with the help of some anti anxiety medications (read more HERE). He started to enjoy roaming the house, although he was still scared and my Maya wasn’t friendly towards him.
I started to be really hopeful that he could overcome his fears and live happily ever after with us.
(I love the photos of him that I took where he looks like a happy healthy cat)
I took him to the vet to get bloodwork done, which is something I always do with a newly adopted cat. I just wanted to see how his health was, especially since our vet said he had dental disease which can really impact your pets overall health. It also meant he’d need a dental for which he would need bloodwork.
Well his bloodwork showed that his globulin count was off and after consulting with our vet and another internist we decided that getting his mouth and teeth fixed would be a good start to see if his bloodwork would improve and help him be more comfortable in our home and environment. He needed cavity riddled teeth removed.
I was told however that if his bloodwork wouldn’t go back to normal a month after the surgery that there might be a much worse underlying health issue like cancer or FIP.
When I brought him home after the extensive and expensive oral surgery, things looked ok and he was eating his favorites foods. I slowly started to notice a change in his eating habits and that he was hiding more again under our bed. I thought that it was possibly due to pain from healing.
He did not want to snatch food from my breakfast plate anymore, I couldn’t find wet food that he wanted to eat anymore. The only thing he enjoyed eating was his favorite meat tube treats. He started to get thinner and my worrying got worse and worse.
I started to feel the bones sticking out on his back and he showed signs of dehydration. I knew that look all too well from my old kitties who’ve passed in the past two years.
To top things off Maya started to be increasingly hostile towards him because I think she sensed his weakness.
I knew a vet visit and hospitalization was due right before Christmas and I started to worry about the upcoming long holiday weekend. If you guys ever had to take a pet to an emergency hospital over the weekend or holidays then you know how awful it is for everyone involved.
Anthony didn’t go near his carrier anymore since his surgery and I was so worried about how to get him into it. Since he wasn’t eating and taking gabapentin, this was nearly impossible.
I had been in contact with the shelter ever since I brought him home and I texted the shelter again to ask for advice. If you saw my Instagram stories (HERE to see it all, including me crying and their entire message) then you know what they suggested.
They wondered if I would consider returning him to their care because they have an in-house vet hospital and continuous care and they thought he might bounce back in his old environment with the cats that he liked snuggling with.
After the past three months and all the countless hours I’ve spent with him, I had become so attached to him and this suggestion had to marinate with me for a little.
Ultimately I knew this was the best thing for him. The stress of having to be taken to vets and hospitals and dealing with a hostile cat in our house would not help him get better. The worst would have been a hospitalization at an emergency vet where he would have been stuffed into a metal cage to be monitored.
One of the shelter volunteers even came and picked him up right before the long holiday weekend because I couldn’t do it. I was a mess.
I kept texting the shelter almost daily to see how he was doing and it made me feel better to see him sitting with his besties again. This was the type of cat interaction that my cats never gave him.
The volunteers were still struggling to get him to eat though.
When I texted the shelter the day after Christmas to see if I could visit him the next day, I was devastated to hear that he had to be put to sleep that morning because he was filled with fluids and having trouble breathing.
Now FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) once again came to our minds and I started to read up about this awful viral disease which oddly enough I had never heard off before in my 19 years of being a cat mom. It is not 100% sure that this is what poor Anthony died from but to me it makes sense.
FIP is a viral disease caused by certain strains of a virus called the feline coronavirus. Most strains of feline coronavirus do not cause disease. Cats infected with a coronavirus usually do not show any symptoms during the initial infection and respond by developing antibodies. In a small percent of infected cats the virus mutates and the infection progresses into clinical FIP which is fatal. There is a wet form and a dry form of FIP. The wet form is characterized by a large accumulation of fluid in the abdomen or/and chest in the end stage which makes it difficult for the cat to breathe normally. Early on the cat may show signs of weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. This sounds so much like Anthony’s symptoms.
FIP is still somewhat of a mystery to veterinarian and there are a lot of slightly different opinions out there. It is believed that almost all cats are exposed to a coronavirus at some point in their lives. Especially shelter or breeder cats. It is difficult to say why the virus mutates into FIP in some cats but not in others. Age, immune system and stress are believed to play a roll. Sometimes one out of several siblings of kittens will die from FIP while the rest goes on to live long lives. It is common in kittens and appears to be rare in older cats but more common again in senior cats with a weakened immune system.
Some cats it appeared to have been triggered by stress caused from surgery or adoption. Could Anthony’s immune system have been weakened by his dental disease and then the stress of adoption and surgery caused the virus to mutate? To me it sure makes sense that way because I just don’t have a different explanation.
And although I really want to adopt again, I’m scared now for so many reasons.
This is an ending to this adoption story that I could have never predicted and upsets me greatly. Anthony was a beautiful cat and I loved him. Rest in peace little guy.
But I do know that I gave it my best and tried as hard as I could. Unfortunately it was not enough to have a happy outcome.