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.

12 thoughts on “Aby-a-Day – October 14: The Eye Has It

  1. Wow, Angel had a really rough start in life! My breeder lost her husband a few months before I was born, and I was part of the first litter she had without him to help her. As a result my brother, sisters and I were a little less socialized than normal and not really used to men. This breeder had a few rough years – later on, she became very ill and almost died, and other breeders had to step in and help her out. Fortunately, her cattery is very small, so things never spiraled like what happened to Angel’s breeder. She is doing well now and sometimes when my human goes to cat shows she runs into her and gets to see her latest kitties.

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  2. Well, despite the rough beginnings, I think Angel is pretty lucky to have ended up with you! My skittish aby (I got her at 4.5 years this past Jan) has been slowly discovering her inner aby as well… I catch her playing with toys she was just walking (slinking) past a few months ago, and she can no longer resist the laser! And she now sits behind me on the couch and taps my shoulder if she wants attention, or if I’m eating… as opposed to just spying on me from her “hidey” spaces. Comparing to most other cats I’ve had (no other abys), it seems to me that abys take a lot more time to deal with changes, and need that little bit of extra patience 🙂

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  3. Coco, it turns out that my local Barnes & Noble did not get their copies of Your Cat magazine for October. They have no idea if they will get them at all. I need to go to Nashua later this week, I’ll check the big B&N up there.

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          1. I’ll keep looking and let you know as soon as I find them, but if you order some, get one for me, I’ll send you a check.

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          2. I GOT IT! Well, I got two copies, I was driving past B&N this morning and decided to stop in and check if they might have gotten them late and they had! But they only had two copies, so I bought them both, one for me and one for you. I’ll drop it in the mail to you as soon as I can get to the PO.

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              1. Sure, email me her address (I don’t actually have an email address for you.) and whatever you want me to put on a note or something to enclose. I’ll just print out the email and put it in the envelope. $10 should cover cost of magazine and shipping. I believe you have my snailmail address already.

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  4. Thank you for sharing Angel’s story. Many similarities to my Rosie. Rosie is my red girl that I got through rescue. She shares her home with my ruddy boy and 2 other DSH’s.

    Rosie came to me via the rescue route in similar circumstances to your Angel. Rosie’s rescue organization had a slip of the tongue and through google I was able to identify her breeder. All they told me was the breeder passed away and the husband didn’t want to continue. I knew more than 20 cats (and kittens) had been turned over in horrible shape with URI’s and ringworm.

    We look at this in the exact same way. I choose to believe life circumstances were overwhelming causing the situation to get out of hand. I don’t believe they were breeding Aby’s to make a quick buck. Truthfully, I will never know for sure but in the end it doesn’t really matter. I have her now and she has a good life.

    Rosie also endured several grueling situations in the course of her transition from her original home to mine. She had to endure a a bilateral mastectomy shortly after I took her in. Luckily her pathology was benign for mammary cancer. Unfortunately, she has asthma and early stage kidney disease.

    Like Angel, Rosie has socialization issues. My vet hates to see her coming but in the comfort of her home she’s finally relaxed and blossomed. After being here for almost a year and a half she had some kind of awakening and decided to become a lap cat. Almost overnight she went from inquisitive from a hidey place to front and center. A wonderful and unexpected change for the better. With her health conditions I know she won’t be here for many years. I cherish the time that we do have.

    I’m a member of the Aby Foster group on FB you just joined. It’s clear to see what’s drawn us both to that world. Thanks again for sharing Angel’s story. For those of us who like purebred animals I think it’s important to help the breed through rescue too.

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