Thursday, December 05, 2013

Throw Back Thursday: The Professor

Throw Back Thursday is  social media trend where people post photos and stories of some of their favorite memories.  This is one of my personal favorite memories of an Alley Cat Rescue cat.
- Kylie Riser, Executive Director

In 2008, I had been working at Alley Cat Rescue for two years when an adorable litter of kittens came through our doors.  They were sweet as could be, but about two weeks too young to adopted out.  When they came in, as per our standard procedure, they were checked out by our vet and given a clean bill of health.  Once they weighed 2 pounds, they could be spayed and neutered and adopted out.  But after a few days, we noticed that something was not right with the kittens.  They were weak and lethargic.  At their age, we had a terrible feeling that they could have distemper, and we were proved right.  Despite our early intervention, fate had other plans for these kittens.  Except for one of them.

The exact survival rate for cats and kittens with distemper is hard to find, but most estimates put it at less than 10%.  The Professor defied the odds.  But his illness was not without consequences, and we know that he would need some intense help to get anywhere close to being a "regular" cat.  The Professor and his siblings were names after the characters on Gilligan's Island.

After a discussion with my husband, Scott, and once he took one look at The Professor and fell in love, we decided to do everything we could to give him a normal life.  You see, the disease had caused some brain damage, and at this point The Professor could not walk, stand up, use a litter box, or really any "normal" cat functions.  But he loved getting attention, and we could tell that with some work and determination, that he could like a happy life.  

We started by sitting with him every day after work, and trying to help him build strength.  We would move his limbs, and then help him sit up.  For the first few days, he would just flop over on to his side.  But quickly we saw him sitting up for longer and longer.  And after a few weeks, he could even get himself into a sitting position.

Aspen (left) and The Professor (right)
watch the squirrels
Once he was able to sit up, we had work on walking.  Scott and I would take turns holding him up and moving him around, and he seemed to know what we wanted him to do.  Since he was getting stronger, it really didn't take long before he got the hang of walking again! He even started trying to play with Aspen, our tuxedo cat and Bear, our shepherd-mix dog, who loves kittens and wants to take care of them.

As he got stronger, he would explore more and more of the house.  He eventually figured out where a heating pipe ran through the kitchen floor and that there was a spot that was always warm there, and would go curl up on it.

One of the best days was the first time The Professor had the strength to jump on the couch.  Scott and I
had been sitting there, and we weren't expecting it all.  We were so excited we both starting shouting!

The Professor was an amazing cat who went from the brink of dying to leading an almost normal life.  Did he walk a little stiffly?  Yes.  Could he run and keep up with his buddy Aspen? He sure tried his best! Did he always have a little gunk in his eyes?  Yes, but we kept at bay with warm washcloths. He wasn't perfect, but he loved us, and watching the squirrels, and playing with his friends, and we loved him.

The Professor was our companion until February 2009, when his damaged immune system could not keep up with life, and we had to send him over the rainbow bridge.  We know that wherever he is, he has found the warm spot to sleep on.

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