Stephen, a six year old tuxedo, was turned into the Hendersonville County Animal Services when he turned up on the doorstep of a family. He had a large, abscessed wound on his head, and they had no idea what to do. The shelter took him in and got him healed up. As he got better and the swelling went down, it was apparent that Stephen had some brain damage from whatever happened to him. (We learned later that Stephen had been living as a stray in a burned-out home with a colony of ferals. There had been a fight, and Stephen fell out of a second-story window right onto his head. He ran off before he could be caught and helped, and turned up a week later.)
Stephen’s TAAG story begins with a call to us from HCAS—they had a special needs cat that they wouldn’t be able to adopt out, and wanted our help. We agreed, and Terry took him into her home for a long-term assessment to determine his adoptability.
It soon became apparent that, while brain damaged, Stephen wasn’t significantly impaired. He could still eat, drink, and use a litter box. He moved funny—carefully, like he was taking time to make sense of what he was seeing. However, he could hear and see fine.
We set out terms for his adoption: he would need a single-level home as we did not think he could do stairs, with someone who would have a lot of love and patience to give, who would take the time to brush him. Stephen was unable to groom himself, and so his coat was dull, dandruffy, and shedding.
Stephen spent some time out at PetSmart, where he quickly became a favorite of the enclosure volunteers and PetSmart staff. He was super friendly and loved all the attention—and daily brushings—he was getting. Sometime during his stay Stephen came down with a “kitty cold” and had to go back to Terry’s for the duration of his medication. By that time, kitten season was in full swing. And that’s when it happened.
As it turns out, Stephen LOVES kittens. The kittens were skeptical about this at first, until they realized his strange gait was just the way he walked and did not mean they were about to be pounced on. Stephen would snuggle with the little ones, and they would snuggle back and interact a lot with him. And that’s when we noticed something pretty significant: Stephen had started to groom them. Grooming the kittens eventually turned into grooming himself. Stephen was relearning behaviors!
By the time Stephen came back to PetSmart, this gentle cat’s coat was soft, shiny and healthy looking. He could jump up and down into his enclosure (and the couch). All from watching kittens. Stephen was adopted in August 2015, and is absolutely loved and spoiled. He is happy in his home, and we couldn’t be more excited about that.