This will be long because many of you know Rexy who was our first rescue in my home. (Also, Olivia was here, an old Tabby, who was sponsored by Wendy Lee (our third Board Member) who came to visit and pamper her as Olivia had only a short time ahead due to thyroid and kidney disease. When I (Linda Holton) started Helping Homeless Cats with Donna Ratcliff nine years ago she brought Rexy to my home. He was a feral kitten several months old, the age where the window of domestic possibilities may be lost. His main "territory" was the master bedroom and en suite with many windows. He liked other cats and was a champ when new ones would come and go. Sometimes he was too friendly too soon - and would be startled if another cat rejected his advances of friendship which included following them with his nose glued under their tale as they explored the new territory. He bonded with my cat Max (tuxedo in our picture at top of this page). Tina the Tortie is jealous of Max's male friends so she and Rexy have had skirmishes for the last 9 years.
One day, as sometimes happens with indoors ferals in a quiet home, he enjoyed petting and discovered that he could trust humans. He became interactive but would startle easily at the slightest sound or fast movement. He could also strike or swat if taken by surprise. Stephanie and Bjoern, two of our supporters, met Rexy a few years ago and began sponsoring him. They liked his personality and called him "Rex" which he liked. For a long time he remained "unadoptable" and with sponsoring he was able to stay here as a foster. The bedroom was named "The Rexy Room".
Over the years Rexy became gradually calmer with people and then, in spurts, downright affectionate. I have an early video of me petting him. Then he would seem more feral - like two steps forward and one back. Finally he was well-adjusted enough to take over the whole house and have more people interaction in the living room - hanging out with Max and having stand-offs with Tina. When we had old seniors in the room he was fine with them.
Then one day a lovely woman Catherine sent us a memorial donation in honour of a dear cat she had for many years - an orange kitty. I wrote to her that the donation would be used for Rexy's upcoming dental surgery. She asked for photos, fell in love with him, and came to visit. With a new person Rexy is a bit wild but she understood. We then planned a trial adoption.
Rexy had his own home! And with a wonderful woman who loved him. He hid under a dresser immediately. At first she could pet him under the dresser and offer his favorite treats. He would not come out until she left the condo or was asleep. Then he regressed and would strike as she reached in. As much as she would have given him more time to settle in, we all agreed it would be best to bring him back here. There were two factors we should have considered but we were all too happy to stop and think ... 1. Here he had other cats. As a feral, he likes other cats and has always been around other cats. 2. Here in the country it is quiet and there is near silence except for the sounds of chirping birds. His new trial home was a lovely condo in the heart of downtown Vancouver...very noisy. We are still glad he had that chance. This woman was a person any rescue would love to have as an adopter. (PS She did adopt a scrawny little black cat with a flea allergy and missing hair from a cat cafe in Vancouver - Felix - and they are a great match.)
So Rexy, back "home", trotted around to the litter boxes, then hid for 5 minutes, then came out and made one circle of the living room and was back to being his comfortable self - wanting dinner. We had our usual talk: "I love you, but the goal is not to live here. We want you to have your own home, That was such a nice, patient, and loving lady. We will miss you but we want you to go out on your own in the world and have your own person." As always happens in these situations with cats, he looked at me with that expression that says, "What are you talking about? This IS my home."
In the past couple of years Rexy had developed Kidney and thyroid disease. With some, such as Sugarfoot, we send them for the radioactive iodine injection but Rexy's personality didn't easily fit that treatment. He did well and took his medication.
Then I noticed him drooling quite a bit... He had a dental one year ago. I thought maybe he needed another dental or had stomatitis. Last Friday I took him to Dr. Stacey at SVVH and he showed me Rexy had a hole in his lower jaw between two teeth and he suspected a mouth tumour. However, there was a very slim chance it was something else so we tried antibiotics over the holiday (not so fun...) weekend. By Tuesday it was worse. We gave it one more day and then I took him in this morning. It looks like bone cancer. Where the hole is in his jaw, there seems to be a fracture. There is a very risky surgery by a good doctor in Vancouver that would be a grueling experience for the cat (I'm assuming) and there is no guarantee that he would start eating after that. It is the type that is well over $4000 and risky as to the outcome . We suspect he also has other cancer. And then there is also his kidney and thyroid to put into the mix.
This morning before going to the office, Rexy came over to the sofa and we had a big cuddle session. He was his old affectionate self again - tapping my face with his nose, licking my hand, cuddling and enjoying petting. Such a very good friend. I did tell him how much we all love him. Then we had to go to the vet and stop his suffering. He had been on Medicam over the weekend which helped. He really enjoyed eating his Performatin Trout Bisque, Salmon Fancy Feast, and Merrick Chicken pate. At the Saanichton Village Veterinary Hospital both Dr. Stacey and Amy the vet tech know Rexy and are very good with hi. Although very busy today, they didn't rush and were very kind and compassionate.
Running a rescue we need to do this often, but it is always excruciating. We may need to then dash on to the next responsibility with little time to mourn, but it is still as painful as losing any friend - furry or human. Having a vet and tech who know and understand you and your kitty is so important. We are lucky to have vets Phil and Angela and techs Amy and Femka providing our kitties' medical care.