Mewsings Blog - rescue

April 16, 2015

GREAT NEWS! Rufus has playmates!

Last we posted, we were in the dark about FIV transmission between mom cat and kittens.  Having talked to many veterinarians and read much literature on the subject, we have learned that Rufus can be with other kittens and cats safely.  They won't contract FIV.  The virus doesn't pass through mucous membranes, which means that there has to be a penetrating bite to infect another cat.  The danger is nil. 

So, with that happy knowledge--and we still hope Rufus tests negative in a few months--we have found him a family with whom to play.  Meryl and her family--Magus, Gypsy, Tara, Freckles, and Tinkydink--will teach Rufus that it's fun to play with other kitties.

Of course, all those new friends will tire him out, so here he is napping on his foster dad's arm. It was taken in the dark, so the image is a little grainy:

cats, rescue

April 8, 2015

We're looking for a cat-free household to foster sweet little Rufus!

Rufus has just tested positive for FIV, an immunodeficiency virus in cats. The test only measures antibodies in the cat's blood, which means only that he has been exposed to FIV, not necessarily that he is ill with FIV.  The exposure would have had to have been through his mother's milk, his being so tiny.  She may or may not have FIV. She may only have been exposed, too.  Since we don't know her, and have no way of finding her, we can't know.  We will re-test him in three months and, if he is still positive, again in six months.

However, since we have already agreed to take a family for Rufus, and, because of his FIV status, he cannot join that family, we need another place for him.  Our ideal foster would have no cats at this time, but a cat-friendly dog or puppy, someone for him to play with but who could not contract the virus.

If Rufus were an adult cat, we would have no problem.  Adult cats with FIV can safely mix with adult cats without FIV.  FIV is passed not through saliva, feces, or urine, like feline leukemia, but only in an anaerobic atmosphere--airless--like through sex (from which all animals here are retired), a deep bite (except in rare cases only associated with sex), or dirty needles (none of the kitties here have an IV drug problem, only catnip. :-) )  However, kittens cannot safely mix with adult cats regardless of their FIV status, because of other issues.  We were willing to take that risk with one mom and her kittens, but not with multiple cats.

If anyone has a wonderful canine who would LOVE a feline playmate, has no other cats, and is willing to foster Rufus, please contact the sanctuary.

I warn you, however, that Rufus is CUTE!  It's spring and love is in the air, and a foster person could easily fall prey to Rufus's charms.  Just ask his current foster mom, who is devastated at the thought of giving him up.

Thank you so much.

cats, rescue

April 4, 2015

Little Rufus finally opened his eyes this week!

Kittens' eyes usually open around ten days of age.  However, Rufus, who was born 3/8/2015 (as estimated by his weight), didn't open his eyes until he was TWENTY-THREE DAYS OLD!  This is a record for Thundering Paws. 

Rufus opens his eyes!

Now fully open, his eyes will probably stay blue as it looks like he is a Siamese mix kitten.

And for more cuteness, check out this video of Rufus (note that this was filmed before he opened his eyes):

cats, rescue

March 30, 2015

Rufus!On Thursday, March 19th, a couple found a kitten in the parking lot of Evangeline's, a restaurant in the Brodie/Slaughter area. Because they were in a work truck, the man put a cone behind it when parking. When removing the cone, he found the kitten behind the tire!.

The couple looked all around but could find no mom nor other kittens. They called their veterinarian's office, Sunset Canyon Vet, and were referred to us. A kitten foster mom agreed to take him. Who could have refused him!







At six inches without his tail, Rufus was thought to be about six days old.

Rufus is 6 inches!


He knew how to eat...

Rufus eats!



Rufus sleeps!


and try to clean himself...

Clean Rufus!


While kittens' eyes usually open at about 10 days, Rufus may be a little behind the norm.

Rufus - eyes closed


Rufus is doing great...except those eyes are a mystery! We will give him until Monday, however, before we worry. You can see in the video that his foster mom is having fun playing with him, and he likes it, too.

Rufus is Siamese (and we please!) He is already growing points.

Keep posted for more Rufus pictures and stories.

cats, rescue

November 5, 2014

Randi, one of our recent rescues, is featured on the Life With Cats website. Check out her story here:

Many thanks to Sharona at Life With Cats for sharing our work with her readers!


October 15, 2011

LilaSaturday night, October 8th, the manager of Flores Restaurant on Highway 290 in Dripping Springs called Thundering Paws to report a cat lying in their parking lot, probably having been hit by a car. We got there around 6 p.m. to find a tortoiseshell cat who could not walk, but who was decidedly not going into the box that a kind family was trying to use to save her. I asked that family to name her, and they suggested "Hopper," because she could only hop, and could do that only poorly. Scott coaxed her into a carrier, and we rushed her to Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin's (EAHNA) southwest branch, which is behind Central Market South. These wonderful people give us a discount, and they came through for us again.

Even I, a lay person, upon seeing the x-rays, said, "AAAKK!" They showed a crushed pelvis and a broken left femur. I rapidly called or texted a number of our donors, who promised enough in donations to cover her emergency hospital stay. We gave permission for EAHNA to treat her until Monday morning.

The vet at EAHNA said that pinning the leg would be much more costly than amputating it. Sadly, I tried to accept that we probably could not save her leg. However, I always say, "Serendipity rules Thundering Paws." We held our regular volunteer afternoon on Sunday. A young woman, Mahria B, who comes on Sundays with either her mother or father, had just had her Bat Mitzvah and wanted to share some of her monetary gifts with Thundering Paws. Her dad offered to match her donation. I opened the envelope they gave me and was amazed to find enough money to get Hopper's leg pinned instead of amputated. Of course, I burst into tears.

While I was thus engaged--in sobbing--Scott made up some flyers and posted them around Flores Restaurant. Within a few hours, a woman called and asked for a picture of the cat, which we sent her. She confirmed that this was "her" cat, Lila, whom she had not seen in a few days. "Her" is in quotation marks because the kind woman cannot take cats into her home because of allergies, but she does spay/neuter, and feed the cats who accumulate--whether by being dumped or being feral--around the restaurant. She has Lila's vet records and is happy to help. Since she cannot take the cat inside, I asked if she could stay here. I would not put a handicapped cat back outside. Her rescuer readily assented.

Monday morning we arrived at the emergency hospital before 7, and took her to Animal Trustees of Austin's (ATA) surgery clinic. A Thundering Paws donor who also works with ATA had arranged this amazing gift.. I was told the price of the pinning and, thanks to everyone, we could afford. However, try as he might to pin the bone, Dr. Lewis could not get the bone to hold the metal, and the leg had to be amputated after all. I was grateful--although Lila will hardly care--that the amputation was not due to lack of funds.

After surgery, she was released to our care. Again, I said, "AAAAKKK!" because I did not feel confident caring for a barely post surgical patient. We returned her to EAHNA for the night, picked her up on Tuesday, and took her to Oak Hill Veterinary Clinic, where Dr. Lynanne Mockler diagnosed the poor cat with hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.

When a cat stops eating for a few days, she or he can develop this condition. The liver makes fat cells, which, released, nauseate the cat, making her unwilling to eat. (Not being a vet, I am either oversimplifying or not understanding or both.) The cure for this condition is eating. Therefore, the cat must be force fed. Fortunately, Lila does not object to this and she willingly swallows all we syringe into her mouth. She is disinterested in eating on her own.

On returning to Oak Hill Veterinary Clinic on Wednesday for a dressing change (her right hind leg has a raw spot, presumably from "road burn"), we also found her to be running a fever of 104 degrees, and we were not sure if she had urinated. Dr. Mockler gave her fluids. We took her home again.

She is on antibiotics; being fed every two hours; under observation for urination (she did--yea!), and for defecation (not yet); being given subcutaneous fluids daily; on pain medications; and has had a major surgical procedure--no wonder this cat is a bit out of it! This morning, Thursday, when I approached her cage, she said, "Mrow!" the first word I have heard her utter except to hiss when outside Flores Restaurant. She was quite a bit more bright eyed. She resisted being given water orally. I see these as good signs.

She returns to Oak Hill Veterinary Clinic tomorrow, Friday, for observation and a dressing change. I will keep you updated on her progress.

Any donations for Lila's care will be appreciated. PayPal donations made be made on our website at

You can mail donations to: Thundering Paws, P.O. Box 1555, Dripping Springs, TX 78620. If you would like to make Visa, MasterCard, or Discover donations, please e-mail me your phone number at, and I will gladly call you.

Thank you for caring about Lila.

Anne Zabolio
Thundering Paws Animal Sanctuary

cats, rescue

November 1, 2006

My life just seemed to decide itself to be devoted to animal rescue. I had seen stories of "crazy cat ladies" being forcibly separated from their kitties because they had gotten so out of control and I really couldn't think of what separated me from them except good health and, therefore, an ability to hold down a job and, therefore, the means to spay and neuter everyone I took in. Not being sure at that time that that was going to continue for the rest of my life, and being quite aware that I couldn't stop taking in kitties who asked me for help, I figured that my only chance was making this a legit thing with donations and volunteers and a standing of sorts in a community.

The only reason I started Thundering Paws was to look less crazy on paper. I think--miraculously--that it worked! On paper, that is, until someone meets me, I look less crazy than I could. And I guess I don't look totally out there in person, either, because seemingly sane people keep coming back here and volunteering!

Photo: Alex

My first rescue family was many years ago. In 1993, a friend of mine called me and asked me if I would come over to her house and look at her neighbor's cat, who was losing her hair. The reason was that she was being fed cereal with cow's milk on it and, on that lousy diet, she was trying to nurse five four-week olds! I looked at the cat, at the flea-ridden kittens, and at the neighbor's pathetic house and I said to my friend, "Heather, I don't think I can deal with this." Just then, the kitty, who came to be named Camilope (I opted for Camile, my partner wanted Penelope), looked up at me, looked me right in the eye, and said, "Meow." I said, "Oh, hell, well, if 'meow,' then I guess you'd better come along. Get into the carriers, all of you," and they all came home with me. One of the kittens is Turtle and one was Leo. I found homes for everyone else, including Camilope. Everyone was spayed or neutered first.

A few weeks before that, a neighbor had come to me to report that their family had taken in a tiny kitten but they didn't know what to do with it because it wasn't eating. Turns out she was too young. I went to look at the kitten and saw her trying to dodge the 18 month old child. She was petrified and emaciated. I said, probably louder and more emphatically than necessary, "UH, CAN I TAKE THIS KITTEN HOME AND RAISE HER FOR A FEW WEEKS, PLEASE?" They were happy to let me. I took her home, started nursing her on KMR, and determined that she was about three weeks old. I fell immediately in love and started thinking of how I was going to convince them that I had to keep her.

My theory is that a cat will sometimes tell you her name, so I asked her what her name was. She said, "Harmony." I said, "I don't even like that name." She said, "Get used to it." That's the kind of girl Harmony was. I was still letting my cats outside at that time and when Harmony was about three months old, I let her out to go visit her non-feral mother, Goldie, and her three more or less feral sisters, Tiny, Alberta, and Half-Tail.

Whenever I got home, I would go outside and call, "Harmony!" and she would appear in the kitchen within 5 minutes. She always came when I called her. Also, their dad would show up occasionally, I guess when he was in town. Seems like he was a traveling salesman. There was a vacant lot across the street from my house and you would almost always see the Hifer family (that's the last name I gave them--I can't remember why, maybe she told me that was her last name) sitting companionably together across the street. I got Goldie spayed pretty quickly but I had to trap Tiny, Alberta and Half-Tail. I succeeded before anyone got pregnant, thank goodness.

When Harmony, Tiny, Half-Tail and Alberta were 14 months old, on July 16, 1994, I stayed out late at a performance held by the singing group of which I was a member. When I got home, I called Harmony, as usual, but she didn't appear. I KNEW something was awfully wrong immediately. I never saw her again.

I went to Town Lake Animal Center looking for her every third day. I walked the neighborhood and called her every day. I made posters and took them around to all my neighbors. But in my heart, I knew I would never see her again.

About that time, Half-Tail disappeared, too. I noticed that other neighborhood kitties whom I had seen and gotten spayed or neutered, were no longer around. I will never know what happened to those kitties but that's when Nell and I built the big cage on wheels and I trapped Tiny, Christopher, Alex, Rosa, Jeremy, and Vangie, and drug them inside. Alex, Rosa, Jeremy and Vangie were all siblings and Christopher was their uncle. Tiny was their cousin. I tamed them all in that cage. Alex was always the vanguard--the first to make eye contact, the first to let me touch him, the first to do everything. Once he had proven that the awful two-legged things weren't out to eat them, the other kitties followed suit quickly.

While I was visiting Town Lake Animal Center every third day, I became acquainted with Melinda Carter of Animal Trustees of Austin. One day I saw a beautiful calico family at TLAC and I told Melinda I would foster them. Unfortunately, before we could get them out, I took in Harmony's whole family, and couldn't take those calicos. Melinda did find another foster for them.

However, meeting and getting to know Melinda, then Beverly Williams and Sherry and Fernando DeLeon, all of Animal Trustees, gave me my first taste of rescue people. I did foster cats for them for a few years and went to their adoption events at Petsmart. They're a great group of folks and I am very glad that they shared their experience with me. I could not have founded Thundering Paws without their help and knowledge.

Tiny decided to be a tame kitty and she moved here with me. She died about three years ago of stomatitis, which Godiva, Madelyn, Fox, and China have, before I learned what it was or how to treat it. Jeremy was the second kitty to die of the well water here. He was Percy's best friend. Rosa died of cancer of the sinuses. Christopher died probably from FIP. Vangie and Alex are still quite alive and well.

Alberta lived in my ex-neighbor, Shelley Ward's, yard and Shelley fed her for many years after I moved here. Feral cats would come to Shelley's yard from time to time and we would trap them. Alberta was not a rocket scientist and she was trapped three times in her life. Each time I found Alberta in the trap I had set, I would take her to be anesthetized and get her shot updates. The last time I did this, when I released her back into Shelley's yard, she stomped around that yard for 15 minutes and cussed me royally! It was so funny. I said to her, "Well, ding-dong, you keep getting into the trap."

Although I didn't like Harmony's name, I have come to realize that it really fit, not necessarily her but what she did for me. By finding her, raising her, getting her family trapped and fixed, bringing many of them inside and taming them, I found my personal harmony, if you will; that is, I discovered rescue work, which I have come to feel is my life's work. I certainly feel more in harmony with myself than I ever did before. And she was the first. I would never have learned to nurse a kitten, trap, tame, foster, adopt, not to mention that all that caused me to meet a wonderful bunch of people doing the same thing, the thing I grew to know was what I wanted to do with my life. Without her disappearance, I would not have found Animal Trustees, and all the subsequent rescue organizations with which Thundering Paws now has such important professional relationships. I have always thought there was something quite mystical about Harmony, and her name.


September 26, 2006

Williamson County Rescues.

A friend told me about a sweet, 12 year old kitty who ended up at a kill shelter in Williamson County. Her owner had a grandchild. I have no idea how a grandchild and this dear kitty could be incompatible, but I went to get her. She is long haired, front declawed, white with very delicate calico spots, and the most demure and mellow kitty in the world. Her former name was Baby, but I renamed her Mary Helen, no doubt because I am a graduate of 12 years of Catholic school. (At least I didn't name her Sister Mary Helen.)

Mary Helen

When I got to the shelter, the director asked me if I would be interested in taking a brother and sister who had come in only that day. Two medium haired blue Manx cats with white feet and underbellies, Neal and Vivian were surrendered by their caretaker, who gave no reason. Once I got them home, however, I realized the reason, and the correct diagnosis. I am sure he gave them up because one of the cats was urinating on the floor.

It was Neal. He was also drinking water at an alarming rate. His fur was not as sleek nor clean as Vivian's. And he didn't walk as easily as she did. I took one look at him and thought: Diabetic. Our vet confirmed this diagnosis and Neal is now on insulin, and no longer drinking and peeing to beat the band.

I have given Neal and Vivian a last name: Soprano. They both seem quite Italian to me. Vivian rules the room where they live, keeping the other kitties in there in line. No one challenges Vivian. For a long time, until Neal was regulated on his insulin, he lived in a cage in another room but once he came out of the cage and was put into Vivian's room, she didn't bat an eye at him. Though she smacks other cats who get in her way, Vivian is always civil to her brother. He is grateful for that, I am sure.

Jolene and Bradley.

A nursing mother cat without kittens was surrendered to Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC). A few days later, a tiny male kitten came in with no mom. He was offered to her and they hit it off immediately. An adoption was born.

However, the kitten was too young to make it at TLAC. Many diseases run rampant in a changing population such as theirs, even with all the many precautions they take. The TLAC workers put out a plea for a group to take this pair. We agreed.

Bradley has the cutest kitten face you've ever seen. He is an imp. He is also a brat, jumping on anyone he meets, galloping around, tearing things up, he's all boy kitten! The only cat who will put up with him is his adoptive mom. Jolene allows him to pounce on her head, play-bite her, thrash her with his hind feet, you name it. She has infinite patience with him. Recently, he was taken to the vet to be neutered, where he had to stay an extra night because they had emergencies come in and couldn't do his surgery until the next day. Jolene worried about him and talked more than usual, probably asking where Bradley was. When he returned home, she was happy again.

He has been adopted and will soon be leaving. Jolene will go into another room where she will have other cats to entertain her. Hopefully, she will survive the loss of her baby. I will see that she gets lots of attention. A nice, quite kitty, she is certainly adoptable.


September 26, 2006

This is the second most frequently asked question when people find out my occupation. We have taken them out of Town Lake Animal Center and other "kill" shelters. We have taken them from people who can no longer keep their cats. Some have walked up the driveway. Once I was driving down Mopac and saw a cat sitting atop the concrete barrier by the side of the freeway, speeding cars on one side and a fifty foot drop on the other. It was a harrowing rescue, but he let me pick him up. However, the main way we get cats now is through our volunteers.

Volunteer Annie Stuhr, who shows up every weekday morning at 8 a.m. to scoop all the litter boxes, feed and water everyone, and do myriad other things for Thundering Paws, arrived one day with a black and white ragamuffin kitten whom she had found wandering down Ranch Road 12, which has a 60 mile an hour speed limit. We put her in a cage and took her to the vet later that day. The vet tech said to me, "You'd better be careful of these lesions. They look like ringworm to me." But I have a fully operating denial system and, stupidly, I ignored her. I didn't let Stella inside, but I did put her with Amber and her kittens, and Benjamin, and Jake, and Daniel. They ALL came down with ringworm.

We have amazing volunteers without whom we could not survive. Jeanne Van Antwerp offered her wonderful gazebo to house the ringworm kitties until they got well. Jeanne also bathed them and applied medication to their lesions. They are all now ready for adoption.

Except Stella. Annie Stuhr could not bring herself to let Stella stay with the others. She took her home and kept her in an upstairs bathroom, bathed her, medicated her, took her to the vet, loved her and by that time, Annie was hooked. Her wonderful husband, Billy, loves Stella, and all the kitties Annie has acquired, as much as his wife does.

Volunteer Scott Haywood was visiting a city park in Kerrville, Texas, when he came upon a petrified orange and white kitten in a trap. He put a towel over the trap to calm the baby, gave him some food and water, and left a note on the trap saying where he was camped and that he wanted the cat. He called me for advice.

All night the kitten waited in the trap. Early the next morning. Scott visited him again, with more food and water. Not wanting to take someone's trap, he went back several more times. It became evident that no one was checking this trap. I advised him to "liberate" cat and trap. In my opinion, a person who does not check his traps two or three times a day, especially in a Texas summer, should not own a trap. Scott brought Angel to Thundering Paws.

Angel is not tame but he is free inside here. He is the most playful kitten I have ever met. He plays with balls, crocheted mice, other cats, even string on a stick that a human is brandishing at him. If you sneak up on him at the right angle, you can get in 2 or so pets before he bolts. I think he has potential. We know feral cats who one day just give it up and invite petting. I believe Angel will be one of these kitties some day.

Volunteer Pattie Overstreet called me with a problem. Her nephew, Rich, was at his girlfriend's apartment and saw a mom cat and four kittens darting into a drainage ditch. Pattie, who had had no previous experience in trapping, went over there armed with a trap and got three of the babies. She brought the three to us. Five week old fluffballs, these two boys and one girl do not seem feral as much as simply frightened. Demetri is a dark gray tabby with white feet. Dylan is an orange tabby with white feet. And Kimberley is a brown/gray tabby. Demetri already runs toward humans and Dylan is starting to realize that's a good idea. Kimberley has an inkling that humans won't kill her. Pattie continues to try to trap the mom and the fourth kitten.

Volunteer Trish Mihal was visiting friends close by Thundering Paws. As she left their home and walked down the sidewalk, she came upon a kitten, umbilical cord attached, who appeared to be one day old! She picked him up and went back to the house. A thorough search of the yard produced no mom, and no other kittens. Trish brought him to Thundering Paws.

She knew, of course, that I would only hand her KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement formula) and a tiny bottle. She is one of our best kitten raisers. She took the baby and, having just quit her job so she could get ready to go to college in Washington State, had plenty of time to bottle feed, express bladder and bowel, bathe, snuggle, cuddle, love and pamper the kitten, named Roy.

The next day, her friends called. They had found another one. A miniature of her brother, Dale is a pistol packed in a very small package. Both are screamers when they want food, they want it NOW! And they ate and grew at an alarming rate. Of course, Trish couldn't see how much they were growing because she fed them every four house, often in her sleep.

Roy and Dale

If you are a mom cat, two kittens are not much more trouble than one. If you are a human mom, the trouble multiplies exponentially with each additional kitten. Not only do both have to be fed separately (moms feed them all together, and often in their sleep), but each must have his or her bowels and bladder expressed after each meal; must be bathed, at least partially, after each expressing; and often have to be bathed again when, not having pooped or peed while being physically encouraged by the human, they eliminate in their bed, and often on their siblings. Tiny kittens are a mess!

On the day they turned four weeks, I took Trish some canned kitten food. Neither kitten appeared interested, until I opened Dale's mouth and shoved some food inside. That got her attention and she began gobbling the soft food and visibly expanding. Roy had to be offered the food more than once, but he finally figured it out, too. Trish was ecstatic. When Trish goes to Washington on September 15th, Roy and Dale are going to need another foster parent.

Anyone interested? They eat, drink, poop and pee on their own now.

fostering, rescue

September 20, 2006

Jennifer Pospisil, a Thundering Paws donor, called us to ask me to trap a cat in downtown Austin. "Anne, this cat is skin and bones," she said. I know that Jennifer prefers her cats "full-bodied," so I wasn't too worried about the kitty. However, I grabbed a trap and headed for 5th and San Antonio Streets.

There I was met by another woman who works in the area and feeds the two kitties she had seen scurrying around a neighboring office building. "One of them looks fine but the other cat is skin and bones," she said. Yeah, yeah, I thought, these people are "catdependent." Nevertheless, I set up the trap and asked her to check it in an hour or so.

She called me to say she had trapped the cat, so I headed back to pick her up for a vet visit. I had never seen anything like this cat! The poor cat was emaciated! She was whisked to the vet who spayed her. We all assumed she couldn't get enough food and now that she was under our protection, she would soon be in top shape.

July before

Since two cats had been spotted, I reset the trap and got a gorgeous, fat male who was neutered, vaccinated and released to a managed feral colony out of town.

When I got July back, as she was named at the vet clinic, she was petrified, frail looking and newly spayed, which always gives a kitty a sort of "caved-in" look. The thought of releasing this animal to a feral colony was more than I could entertain, so I told Jennifer that we would keep her until she was in better shape. Jennifer said she would sponsor this kitty, which means she pays all of July's expenses. Like all donations to Thundering Paws, sponsorship is tax deductible.

Enter the Cat Whisperers. Dave Harper could barely keep his hands off July and soon was petting her. Brittany LaMantia's heart also went out to the poor kitty and she talked to her every day when she came over, and ever so slowly began touching her. Annie Stuhr talked to July, began petting her, and fed her canned food every day. The next sentence here should read: "Within a month, she was a butterball." That, however, did not happen. By September, she looked as bad as ever, if not worse.

By this time, Dave could pick July up and hold her on his lap. He eased her into a carrier and took her to the vet. July trusts Dave a lot and she allowed him to hold her while the vet examined her. The vet found an infestation of worms and she was started on a systematic worming, which went on for a few months.

By December, when her medication was finished, she was still no heavier. We all agreed that another vet trip was necessary. Of course, the holidays postponed it until Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which Dave used part of his day off to take July back to the vet.

Dr. Buell and Dr. Kelly at Northwest Hills Pet Clinic examined July and Dr. Kelly found a mass under her rib cage. "We're pretty sure it's cancer," he regretfully told Dave, but he performed a needle biopsy to be positive. He said that the mass felt "woody" and "crackled" when he inserted the needle: both characteristics he felt were odd. That was a sad day at Thundering Paws.

On Tuesday, the results of the needle biopsy came back with no cancerous cells. "This is not to say that there are no cancerous cells," Dr. Kelly cautioned us, "but it just could be a foreign body." We all agreed that surgery was a must and she was scheduled for Thursday.

Dave told me not to get my hopes up, but we hadn't had any good news about this kitty at all and so I decided, what the heck! I'd just go ahead and get my hopes up. I've had hopes dashed before and lived. I popped out of bed at 5 a.m. on Thursday to get my chores done and get her to the vet at the right time. I was so happy that finally something definitive was going to be done for July! She let me pick her up and put her in a carrier and I got to the clinic just after they opened. I dropped her off, telling the patient receptionist the entire tale. She told me that I could call around 2:30 p.m.

I went to Starbucks. I ran some errands. I went to another coffee shop (okay, I'm an addict) and worked on this newsletter on the laptop. I went and ate lunch. By 2 o'clock, I simply couldn't stand it another second, and I called. I was told that July had tolerated the surgery very well and was waking up but the vet was unavailable to talk to me just then.

That was because he was talking to Dave, who called me moments later. Dave said, "You're not going to believe this. There was an encapsulated mass of plastic and grass in July's stomach that was interfering with her absorption of food." She also had one non-functioning kidney but the other one is just fine. Of course, the mass and the unhealthy kidney were removed.

I called Jennifer, who was delighted. I called Annie and Brittany and Calene and Kay and Scott and anyone else I could think to call. I was soooooooooooo excited!

Dave and I reasoned it out. Before the kind woman began feeding July and her friend, the cats had no doubt survived by dumpster diving and at one time July had eaten something encased in plastic wrap. Or, as volunteer Toli Lerios pointed out when I called and told him (I called everybody!), she might have a "jones" for plastic, just like my precious kitty, Fleur Marie, who is absolutely powerless over plastic bags. (You don't want to know how I discovered Fleur Marie's passion.)

At any rate, there it was, and it had been there for months before we trapped her. It must have hurt so much! Poor kitty!

The main thing that I love about Thundering Paws is that all these people can get involved in the life of one tiny, emaciated, petrified, unadoptable, feral kitty. She had never gotten any care before, except of course, the wonderful woman who fed her and called Jennifer about July's plight. But just because Thundering Paws exists, July, who never looked like she was ready to give up, gets a chance. And, because of our Cat Whisperers, she will probably be tame.

She is a beautiful, long-haired, light gray tabby.

The dreadful first photo is a "before" picture. July gained three quarters of a pound in the first 11 days after her surgery. Believe it or not, that "after" picture is the same animal. Look at the white on her face; it matches. When I saw her after she had been released on the "cat run" for a few weeks, the only way I knew it was July was that it wasn't anyone else. Now, a year after she came here and six months after surgery, she is positively... well... zaftig! (That was Webster's word of the day a few weeks ago. It fits her.) We'll keep you updated on her progress, of course.

July after

Thank all of you wonderful people - Jennifer, Dave, Brittany, Annie, and all the other volunteers who stopped by July's cage and talked to her, touched her gently, gave her hope. Thanks to the veterinarians who didn't give up on her. Thank all of you people who support Thundering Paws! Without all of you, July would surely have died a painful death in downtown Austin. Because of you, she gets to recover.

happy tails, rescue