Often when we adopt a pet we’re looking for a one that we can envision fitting in perfectly to our home, with no fuss and no difficulty. We picture sharing photos of our new friend cuddling on the sofa and lounging blissfully around our home. And although many of us would reach out to help an injured or ill pet, most of us would think twice about taking a hissing, spitting, seemingly wild creature into our homes, because quite logically we simply can’t picture coping with an animal so damaged.
As his fosterer drove to pick up Mr Bob the wildie cat, she was thinking those exact things and milling it over in her mind to decide if she had made a crazy choice.
Despite years of working as an animal activist and volunteer, she wondered if he was just too wild to live in a home – maybe he’d be more suited to living on a farm. After all, being wild and feral isn’t an unnatural or bad thing, in fact it’s probably the most natural thing in the world for a cat. However, Mr Bob’s FIV* status meant that to remain healthy and not suffer, he would need regular meals and a warm place to stay. In addition, it wouldn’t be fair for him to live with other farm cats that weren’t also FIV. So she drove on to meet him.
Her fears certainly weren’t assuaged when the vet nurses needed Mr Bob to be sedated by the vet just to put him in to his carrier. , After a deep breath, her second shock came when she felt the sheer weight of the carrier and peered inside to see a giant tom cat. Mr Bob was a proper bruiser!
After hearing how he’d behaved in the vets, his fosterer bought some handling gloves, a mechanical grabber arm and created him a little sanctuary facing the back of her very peaceful garden. Mr Bob was given a schedule so he knew that he would always be fed and kept warm and never, never pushed to interact.
He hissed. He spit. He growled. And he hid in a corner, for two months. Then something happened. Mr Bob began to brush up on his fosterer’s legs when they went out to feed him. He still hissed, but it was a real start to something.
Fast forward a few months and Mr Bob will even jump up on his fosterer’s lap for cuddles. He has a lovely, deep, soppy purr and loves to be fussed on his chin. He drools on her. He winks at her. And he always comes for a cuddle!
Yes, he still hisses at strangers but to this day, he has never bitten his fosterer or caused any harm. He was a little star at the vet when he had his blood taken and didn’t even need sedation. Whether it is down the peace and calm of the countryside or the patience and love, or maybe Mr Bob just knows what side his bread is buttered on now and wants to retire from being a bruiser!
His fosterer says: “I think he was just afraid after years of being kicked and abused by people on the streets. The vet says that he is only a few years old. However, the effects of hard living can still be seen on his little soppy face as he looks up at me with one side of his cheeky smile tucked up over his tooth like Billy Idol due to his broken little teeth (from eating from rubbish bins).
“I’m really glad that I decided to give the wildie cat a chance, because underneath a really frightened little cat was waiting to be loved.
” A special thanks to Mr Bob’s saviour Sam, who contacted the Charity and had him picked up. She told us all that she was sure he could be lovely (despite us all thinking she’d imagined it!) because he is lovely.”
Because the Animal Accident Rescue Unit has a lifelong commitment to the animals it rescues, Mr Bob became one of their permanent foster cats. This means cats that aren’t able to be rehomed due to medical conditions, are cared for by the Charity’s network of fosterers for the rest of their lives, with the Charity providing financial support.
*FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) should NOT be confused with FeLV (Feline Leukaemia) – they are two very different viruses. They are often mentioned together due to the ‘snap’ tests carried out by vets, but they differ greatly in how they affect a cat, and its expected lifespan. FeLV is a serious risk to a cat’s health and longevity, whereas FIV is not.
The virus depletes the number of white blood cells, which eventually makes the cat less able to fight off infection. However, because it is such a slow acting virus many FIV positive cats can enjoy a normal lifespan with no apparent health problems resulting from the virus.
FIV is species specific. It can only be transmitted from cat to cat, not to humans or other animals.