Floki and Fern
Floki is a grey and white one year old boy with green eyes. He was rescued from a temple. He is pretty and friendly, so friendly that he came over, and tried to sit on my lap when I noticed him for the first time. The first few days living with us, Floki was a bit nervous. He meowed a lot and was finding ways to escape. He made one mistake of using the planter as litter box. But in about a week, Floki had adjusted to his life inside and he used his litter box without fail. We stared to introduce him to our cat family. On February 14th, (my bad) Floki was spayed.
Fast forward a few weeks, on February 20th, one day after Spring Festival, we met a lovely little black and white kitten by our compound entrance. She was tiny but very lively. The guards of the compound all liked her and were feeding her their leftover meals. But the road right outside our compound is under major reconstruction and there is heavy traffic coming in and out of the entrance every day. That night, Fern also joined our cat family.
We quarantine new rescues and observe them closely in the first week. This is how I found out about Fern’s problem. The first two three days, she was fine. She was eating, drinking water, using litter box and playing like there would be no tomorrow. Her poop was a bit on the small side, but she was also small, so I didn’t give that much thought. She had a kink in her tail but that could be birth defect. What caught my attention was when she was walking her left hind leg seemed to be a bit lame and sometimes, she would lose her balance for no apparent reason.
When I took both new cats to Doctors Beck and Stone for vaccination and check-up, I mentioned my worry about Fern to the vet. She did a few preliminary tests and found that Fern’s tail was once broken, not a birth defect, and she had pain on her spine. Her left hind leg is weaker than the right one. The vet suspected nerve damage. As cats have amazing self-repairing ability, and Fern is still a very young kitten, we decided best to leave things be and let her body rejuvenate itself.
We attended the March 1st Adoption Day of JAR. Floki caught the attention of a potential foster care parent. After an intensive interview, we agreed to let Floki go to foster care mostly because things got really weird home. Three of the resident cats ganged up on Floki and wouldn’t give him one moment of peace. This has never happened before.(The three cats are friendly to Fern, play with her and cuddle with her at nap time.) As a matter of fact, one of the three cats was noted for being friendly to all of the foster cats while the others were still hostile. He was always the first one to welcome new family members and loves playing chase with the kittens. Till today, we still can’t figure out what caused this rift between Floki and the three resident cats as we followed the same proper procedure as we did with all the other foster cats. Floki had to be segregated so he wouldn’t get hurt.
During the two weeks it took the foster parent to get ready, Floki stayed patiently in the den. At some point, Fern joined him. She started to decline almost right after Adoption Day. The problem she had while walking became more obvious. She lost her balance more often. She collapsed once on the rug and couldn’t get up herself. I rushed her to Beck and Stone. The vet did a x-ray. X-ray showed no broken bones on her legs, or her hips. Her spine appeared to be intact. Only her belly was filled with feces (one major symptoms of nerve damage) This pretty much confirmed that Fern had suffered nerve damage, most likely happened when her tail got broken.
The vet prescribed pain-killer and medication for constipation. He also suggested limited activity and play time for Fern. Thus after we came home, we put her in the den with Floki. In that week, Fern’s condition remained stable. All the symptoms of the nerve damage were still there but they didn’t get any worse. That was when their bond started, only that we didn’t realize it immediately.
After Floki went to his foster home, I started to take Fern out of the den for a little while every day, so she wouldn’t be by herself all the time. But I carefully monitored her activity and put her away for rest immediately if I thought she was overdoing herself. Still things got worse in the week when Floki was away. Fern collapsed twice, the second time was especially bad. She was only half conscious that night. The second day, she revived a bit but she didn’t eat or drink water. She lied by her side in the cage motionless with her eyes open but not seeing. We were prepared for the worst.
At the same time, Floki was having trouble adjusting in his foster home. He hid under the bed unless he needed to eat. He never stopping crying. By the end of the week, he simple stopped using the litter box. When the foster parent told me about Floki’s difficulty, we decided the best would be to take Floki back. He was returned two days after Fern had her second seizure. We put him back in the den with Fern again, wondering what would happen next to them both.
But the two cats had the answer. Floki was so relieved to be with us again. It was written all over his body language. He couldn’t stop kissing us and asking for attention, while Fern started to improve almost immediately. She started eating eagerly, first wet food, and then dry food. She came out of the cage and started moving around in the room. Her energy gradually came back and her activities started to increase slowly. She never had another seizure attack. I stopped putting her away in the cage during the night. Once Fern had regained most of her old energy, Floki started playing with her. He understands Fern’s limits, and he is always very gentle with her. They also started sharing a bed in the warm breeze and sunshine. By now, even all the symptoms of Fern’s nerve damage seem to be in recess, except for a somewhat stiff neck when she tries to sit up.
We are very happy about Fern’s recovery and feel deeply grateful of Floki’s magical touch. But to keep Floki and Fern to ourselves wouldn’t be fair to them or our other cats. The three cats still refuse to accept Floki into the family. Floki and Fern can’t spend the rest of their lives in the den. Now even if I open the door of the den to let Fern out, she just pokes her head out for a look, but seldom looks that eager to venture out. So we are looking for a nice family to adopt both Floki and Fern. You will have to have a decent stable income. You will have to be willing to spend money on the cats and provide them with nutritious food, pleasant environment and toys and entertainment. Your whole family should be ready for the cats and welcome them both. You will have to pay close attention to Fern’s condition and take her to a creditable vet for health check-up or treatment if required. Upon leaving Shanghai, China, you will have to make all the necessary arrangements and take both cats with you. Please give them a home so they can keep on loving each other and love you back.
A note to the potential adopter
Nerve damage is untreatable. Fern’s problem might go away completely. It might come back and get worse. She might grow into a healthy cat or she might lose her motor skills and rely on your care for all daily activities. Nobody knows for sure. You will have to be prepared.
We believe Floki had difficulty in the foster home because of Fern, but we can’t completely rule out the possibility that Floki just doesn’t adjust to new environment well. You will have to be very patient with him and don’t give up on him easily. He was friendly to all kinds of people when he lived outside. If you really love him, he would love you back.