On New Year’s Eve, I had a call from Dr. West (I knew she was not calling to ring in 2011). A man had phoned Noah’s Ark wanting to euthanize his cat. Well, that was not going to happen on Dr. West’s watch without a very just cause (as we all know, she will not euthanize severely injured animals as long as they show the will to live and will try to eat–that’s why we love her!).

Anyway, the man said that his “male” cat was 25 pounds and was peeing all over the place. Dr. West suggested that if the cat was that large, he might be diabetic and the peeing was a symptom of the disease. The man said that perhaps his wife had mentioned that the cat had diabetes (he couldn’t quite remember). But, again, he just wanted the cat euthanized because they were tired of all the peeing everywhere except the litter pan.

“Had the cat been to see a vet?” Dr. West queried further. No straight answer on that either. “Was he neutered?” The owner thought so.

And that is where I came in.

In her frustration with the man who was bent on killing his cat, Dr. West asked me if Black and Orange would take the cat to save its life if the man would bring him to her. Of course, I went along with Dr. West’s plan, agreeing to a cat I had not seen and which might have been very ill.

As fate would have it, there were many, many fallacies to the man’s story. First off, the cat was a female named Rhatima. She was very gentle and a bit shy, but loved to be held and purred loudly once she felt secure.

Secondly, there was more to the man’s story than he had previously let on. Rhatima was the little girl in the family’s cat and she stayed in the little girl’s room, who loved her. The rest of the family was not very kind to Rhatima and so she hid out with the little girl–in a room with NO LITTER PAN. Because she was afraid to make a run for the litter box in a different part of the house, she peed in the little girl’s room (all of this came out when the little girl and the rest of the family arrived at Noah’s Ark to turn Rhatima in). The adults refused to put a litter pan in a bedroom.

The little girl was heartbroken to give up her cat and Rhatima was also very, very sad.

Besides not being male, Rhatima also did not weigh 25 pounds. While she is not a petite gal, she is by no means as large as some of mine. She only weighs 14 pounds and could use to lose a bit of weight, but is nowhere near 25 pounds!

After a barrage of tests and the removal of a bad tooth, Dr. West found no signs of any type of diseases. No diabetes. Rhatima was a healthy, older lady (she is 9), who had been with this family since she was a kitten and had not received any type of vet care in many, many years. Her hair looked greasy and she had a ton of dander (had anyone been petting this cat, I wondered).

In fact, Rhatima seemed a bit surprised when I put her into my spare bathroom and began touching her. Bobbie said it didn’t seem like she had been petted very much.

The poor cat was depressed and would not eat for the first two days. She didn’t venture forth from her carrier the first night. When she finally did leave the safety of the carrier, she hid in my bathroom cupboard and scuttled about, always keeping low to the floor, and never coming out when I was in the room.

And that is where she has been for the past week. She loves the cupboard and she is slowly coming out of her shell. She loves to be petted and brushed and her purr gets so loud sometimes that it rattles her whole body. She will sit in your lap forever, but when you put her down, she hunkers close to the ground and runs to her safe spot.

What in the world was going on in that house to make this poor cat so fearful?

But guess what? She is a champ about using the litter pan. She waits until I am not there and then she leaps in and does her business. So much for the final bit of untruth to Rhatima’s life story.

Not male. Not 25 pounds. Not sick. Not a “won’t use the litter pan” cat.

So Rhatima and I are now getting acquainted and she can have as much time as she needs to feel comfortable. She will need to be adopted into a household that is quiet and where she will be allowed to progress at her own pace. But I know we’ll find the perfect family. We always do.

Rhatima also is okay with other cats. Of course, Bean Bag and Apple Seed had to run right in to see her the first moment she was there. They hopped on top of her in her carrier. I told Dr. West that they would run to greet a rattlesnake and have no fear for their safety (after all, everyone loves them, right? And “mom” would never allow them to get hurt in any way!). Rhatima made a few feeble hisses at them as they licked her and climbed on her belly, then she finally gave up and touched noses. Who can resist the power of Apple Seed and Bean Bag? No one!

Rhatima is one of the lucky ones. If she had ended up at another vet’s office or with a large shelter, her ending might have been very different. No one would have taken the time to unravel the knots in her life story. No one would have taken a chance on a cat whose owners just wanted her killed.

No one but Dr. West and us!

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