12 Saves of Christmas #9: Rebel
On January 2, Rebel was rescued from an outdoor colony of cats. He was not well. He had major wounds on his back end; he was underweight, dirty, and battling a severe respiratory infection; his eyes were glazed over, and he was cold. It was ugly, and based on appearance alone, no one thought he would make it.
Sarah, his rescuer and one of our volunteers took him to an emergency clinic. He fought for nearly ten days without a full diagnosis, essentially living in an oxygen chamber. He came to FieldHaven once he was considered stable, and even then, it was touch and go.
One thing kept us going—his indomitable spirit and desire to live. He showed that to everyone, so, therefore, everyone kept fighting with him.
Some of you may wonder why we worked so hard to save this one cat who was clearly such a train wreck. You’re not alone. We ask ourselves that often, as we see cats like Rebel frequently because FieldHaven has become known for its lifesaving efforts. So how do we, as a team, make the decision to try or not try? For some cats, euthanasia is the kindest thing. Rebel was one we considered. But we look at the entire picture. We examine medical prognosis, treatment, and outcomes. We look at current and future quality of life. We look at their spirit. Is this cat showing a will to live? Is there something in their eyes and their general demeanor that asks us to keep trying for them? These are often the things that push forward to try. Never do we allow a cat to suffer for our own egos or notoriety. The cat is always put first. Sometimes we jump headfirst and find out the water is a lot deeper than we thought, but we all persevere in the best interest of the cat.
Rebel fits into the category of very, very deep water. The first time Joy, our founder and executive director, met him was late at night, after everyone else left the shelter. He had been stuck with IV upon IV, received multiple blood transfusions, had to remain calm in the oxygen chamber, and was examined by so many. He looked at her with fear in his eyes, hesitated a second, then opened his mouth wide, and, revealing deathly pale gums, let out a loud HISS!
Things were not off to a good start. It took time for Joy to reassure him that she wasn’t going to hurt him. She was patient, and he eventually crawled towards her and started to purr as she rubbed his head and ears. Finally, he was comfortable.
Joy went back to check on him a few hours later. Surprisingly, yet thankfully, he was looking out the door at her as if he was waiting. She sat with him again, he ate purred and snuggled against her.
Rebel had an incredible will to live. His spirit was—and is—larger than all of us put together. His medical journey continued to have a series of ups and downs, including being treated for and beating FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) which was a six-month adventure in itself—but he thrived. He went through a few foster homes, dozens of vet visits, and had thousands of people rooting for him. We shared his journey with all of you, and sure enough, you stepped up. You appreciated our honesty through it all. Now, today, nearly one year later, he is better than ever. He has an amazing home with a family who leans on him as much as he leans on them. He looks incredible, with a fluffy, shiny coat and big vibrant eyes. He’s at a healthy weight, and his many blood tests keep coming back with excellent results. Rebel had one heck of a year, yet he is everything we believe in, fight for, and hope for.
So many of you helped us save him, so his lifesaving win is not just ours—it’s yours too. And we cannot thank you enough. Rebel would too if he could. We know it.
We’re so grateful and full of love this holiday season, so thank you.
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P.S. Rebel’s story is longer than many, but not uncommon. Every time you donate, these are the lives you are saving. Your support will forever mean more than you know.