Cuddly Kitten Day: The Story of Gravy

Just in time for Cuddly Kitten Day, I have a story to share with you about a cat rescue. Gravy is a long-haired tortoiseshell feral cat of unknown age with a missing paw, who found a home this past November thanks to the united efforts of caring pet owners. The concern was that with Gravy not having all her limbs, and cold weather having settled in, she wouldn’t survive winter.  Gravy is representative of the millions of homeless cats in communities across the United States which is the focus of Cuddly Kitten Day.

Dear friends, meet the newest member to our family, Gravy! She was found by Dina Barta out at Pawnee lake. After several days of no luck, Dina caught her yesterday on Thanksgiving and brought her to us. Thank you so much Tiffany Prai Taege at Vondra Veterinary Clinic for checking out our sweet girl today! She has some ear mites but other than that she is in perfect shape. We can’t wait to introduce Biscuit, Nali, and Blue to their new sister!—Katie Bossung

While scrolling through Facebook about a week before Thanksgiving, Katie noticed a post from a friend about a feral cat who needed a home. In her post, Dina offered to trap the cat IF someone would step forward to adopt her. Katie saw many comments from people offering to help cover Gravy’s vet bills, but no offers to adopt her.

In many ways, Katie and her family were the ideal adopters. For one thing, Gravy is their third rescue. “Giving ‘furever homes’ is an amazing gift that one can’t put into words. Many of these animals haven’t had the ‘ideal’ life, and you get to give that to them—forever. It may be just part of your life but, for these animals, this is potentially the best part of their WHOLE life!” They also have a German Shepherd and another tortoiseshell cat. They wanted to share that feeling with another cat.

Finally, they had the room to spare. “We had the choice to leave her for someone else, but I liked her story. And what if … What if there wasn’t someone else? What if no one else stepped up? What if Ms. Gravy didn’t make it through the winter? Those were ‘what if’s’ that I couldn’t live with, and so we opened our door.”

Dina made two attempts to catch “the Pawnee cat,” and finally did just in time for Thanksgiving. This gave Katie’s family two tortoiseshells. Katie told her oldest son that he could name the new arrival either Turkey to commemorate the holiday or Gravy to be a companion for their other cat Biscuit. “Gravy it was.”

Despite offers by other caring pet owners to help cover financial expenses, the Bossung family choose to pay for vet care themselves. Fortunately, Gravy had ear mites but otherwise was healthy. Three months after her arrival, when she went into heat, the family also got her spayed. Katie did look around for the most affordable procedure, but the cost was similar around town with vets, and so the family simply tightened their belts that month. Katie decided not to accept financial support for Gravy’s vet care so that those funds could go to pets that were in greater need. Although the bills would be a strain on her family, Katie brushed off the extra expenses with the explanation that “money is tight every month already.”

Gravy is not at all domesticated. Currently, we don’t see her often. Time to time she will channel her inner tiger and come out from hiding. We tell her she is a good girl and how pretty she is.”—Katie Bossung

Adopting a feral cat turned out to be more of a challenge than their first two rescues. For example, Gravy had been making great progress in trusting the family until Katie needed to catch her to get her spayed. Then Katie lost Gravy’s trust, a dilemma I know well from my own experiences with a community cat. Each day she talks to Gravy, hoping to eventually regain Gravy’s trust..

For example, when Gravy hides under the treadmill downstairs, Katie will “talk to the treadmill” and talk about how pretty Gravy is and even throw a few treats her way, but she doesn’t try to pull Gravy out from under the treadmill.

Katie shared a funny story about Gravy’s adjustment. When Katie’s oldest son changed Gravy’s litter box for the first time, he came to Katie very distraught. “He explained that she had a poo that was all napkin, and so she must have been so hungry she ate a whole napkin!”

Too many people think that they need to let their kids experience the birth of kittens and puppies. There are too many animals out there that need homes! Help them!—Katie Bossung

Cuddly Kitten Day was founded to inspire people to adopt and to fight for better lives for all our companion animals. When I asked Katie for her thoughts about how we can help other homeless animals, her immediate response was: “spay and neuter”. She also added that if a person is going to make a commitment to an animal, “make it be for their whole life”. In addition, Katie encourage that while there are many kittens who need homes, they will grow up, and not every kitten will be the right fit. For that reason, a person might instead consider an adult cat, because its personality will already have developed. Then one “can give many thoughts into who they are and how they will fit in the family”. Finally, Katie said, if you can afford it, donate to a no-kill shelter, as this allows them to continue to save homeless animals.

While Gravy’s age is unknown, her story is similar is to all abandoned cats with a distrust of people. Such cats need take patience and time, and therefore a special type of adopter; Gravy is a shining example of why these cats are worth the effort.

Efforts to rebuild her trust have begun to pay off. Gravy has been interacting with the family’s other cat. She’s also starting to spend more time with Katie’s family. When she’s eating, Gravy will let them get close and even to pet her. Katie says, “I truly believe she knows what we have done for her and will continue to do for her….”

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