Aby-a-Day – October 14: The Eye Has It

It occurred to me that I have a lot of new readers, and a lot of you don’t know the story behind Angel’s eye.

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It’s always been missing, as long as I have known her. She lost it when she was about 4 months old, I think.

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This is her story, as I was told it by Purebreds Plus, her rescue:

The story behind Angel’s eye and foster situation is sad; The breeder had a couple of tough years with her mother who was sick and dying and in the midst of this her pregnant females in December of 2006 – January 2007 were getting sick. Almost 75% of the kittens born were dead or died shortly after birth. She had never had this problem before and only when the pet food information came did she begin to put things together as she was feeding some of the recalled foods. When she bred her females (and a couple of the kittens born to them), health problems showed up in the lines – Herpes infections like none seen before with ulcerated eyes and very sick cats. Not being as careful as usual, her numbers increased and unhealthy cats increased.

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I met the breeder at a cat show in October 2007 and we talked about me taking some of her cats. I knew nothing about the situation. A week before Christmas she called me and we set January 1 as the day I would take 5 of her cats. The very next day she took 4 other cats to the Humane Society and asked that 3 be put down and the other (Angel) be put up for adoption. Two days later the Humane Society paid a visit and found a house with over 60 cats, spotlessly clean. She gave up the sickest cats and others, totaling 18 cats. The Humane Society called us, and on Friday December 20th, we spent 3 hours there bathing cats’/kittens’ eyes that were horribly stuck together and gave meds. They could only allow us to take the original 4 as there is a 72 hour rule in California. Sunday the 23rd we went back and took the other 16 (2 had died). Then at the breeder’s house we took 5 more cats – a total of 14 kittens and 11 others between 5 months and 14 months. We separated the kittens by illness levels and 9 of the healthiest kittens went to Southern California Aby Rescue. Unfortunately 5 of those died. Of the 5 that we kept, 2 died over the next 3 months, both of FIP. The other 3 were adopted. Of the other Abys 2 of the younger ones died and the others were adopted except Angel, who had many problems over the months finally with an eye ulcerating in April. She has been healthy since.

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(Angel also had another medical problem: when they removed her ulcerated eye, the veterinarian – for a reason I can’t fathom – put a prosthetic eye into Angel’s eye socket. Her body rejected it. So she had to undergo another surgery to remove her fake eye!)

The problems:

· Upper Respiratory Infections that finally healed, then eyes ulcerated. Some eyes were saved and a couple had the eye removed. This was different than the normal herpes infections that we had seen in rescue where the conjunctiva was swollen and goopy. The eyes ulcerated seemingly overnight and it was a relentless treatment regime that could save then (if it did).

· Bordatella – took 6 weeks of Doxy to go away

· Some of the cats were vaccinated (for FIP). Of the cats that died, they all had vaccines and 3-6 weeks after got sick and then died of FIP. The breeder begged us not to vaccinate because she had the same problem.

· Ringworm – Over the 7 months we have taken 35 cats and have about 10 more coming. The ones we have seen since April have not been as ill and that is what we expect of the remaining 10.

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Really horrific! I don’t know who the breeder was, or if she was CFA or TICA, but it’s easy for things to snowball out of control like this. Not an excuse, by any means, but sometimes things coalesce into a perfect storm, and I think this was one of those times. For all my dreams of being an Aby breeder someday, I know it’s not easy, and I know breeders have these sorts of meltdowns sometimes.

I think Angel’s breeder had one of those times.

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We think Angel was born mid-June, 2007, which would make her a year and three months old when I adopted her. We decided to use June 11 as her birthday, as it is halfway between my birthday and my husband’s.

As I posted on Friday, for her first five months with us, Angel was afraid of our floor. She only felt comfortable on our sofa or our bed. Even now, she prefers these two places, although she’s added others, like the TV stand, the cat trees, the windowsills, and the bank of cat beds alongside the windows. But even today, four years later, it isn’t common to see her walking around in the middle of the floor.

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Angel is an amazing cat. Her experiences have stolen some of her Abyness…but not all of it. There are some things she does that are very, very Abyssinian. Sherry, Jacoby and Gun-Hee’s breeder, once said that Angel needed to rediscover her “inner Abyssinian,” and I think that’s a great assessment.

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Every day, Angel comes out of her shell just a little bit more. It’s fascinating to watch…and I love sharing it with all of you.