This spring I had the privilege of visiting with an amazing little cat and the people who rescued her after she was thrown away in a ditch and left to die in Maine’s raw and cold early spring months.
Since my conversation with the volunteers of Forgotten Felines of Maine in June, Freida has made a remarkable recovery. She’s almost doubled in weight, and now tips the scales at 4.5 pounds. Her liver is functioning and thanks to a good diet, her gall bladder is now a normal size. When she was first found, her gall bladder was hundreds of times bigger than it should be, which vets attributed to starvation.
Freida had a blood test last week and she’s no longer anemic — again, probably thanks in large part to a good diet, good vet care, and lots of love from Forgotten Felines’ volunteers and her thousands of fans. Unfortunately, her white blood cell count is still ridiculously high.
However, Freida still has a chronic food-storage processing problem, and the veterinarians at Tufts University are mystified by her condition. She has blood tests monthly and the vets are still experimenting with medicines for her. She’s currently on a liver medicine and an antiviral drug.
Some people have expressed concerns about the fact that Freida’s often photographed wearing outfits. Have no fear, Hansberry says; photos and costumes are on Freida’s terms only. "Freida is a typical tortie," says Hansberry. "She is strong-willed and determined. If I want her here and she wants to be there ÔÇª trust me, she ends up there!"
How does she like her feline family? She loves them all, according to Hansberry, but she especially likes the younger cats. Her favorite sleeping buddies are a pair of kittens named Happy and Faith, and she can often be seen curled up with one or both of them.
Because Freida has to have monthly blood tests and frequent vet visits, Forgotten Felines of Maine still incurs a lot of expenses for her care. To offset those costs, FFoM has set up a Fundrazr, a store on her Facebook page where people can purchase "pawtographed" photos, and a Cafepress shop with everything from greeting cards to kitchenware featuring beautiful photos of Freida.
"She loves Jeff, our diabetic cat, who she spends a lot of time with at our fundraisers and educational opportunities," Hansberry says.
Speaking of public appearances, Freida loves to ride in the car and visit with her adoring fans. And why not? I’m pretty sure Freida knows how lucky she’s been to be surrounded by people who love her and are going the extra mile — or hundreds of miles — to keep her healthy and happy.
"I like to say ‘from ditch to diva,’ but the truth is that as cute as she is, she is a product of society’s cruel and reckless lack of consciousness when it comes to just throwing away a pet as if it was a piece of furniture," Hansberry says. "My hope is that while people are oohing and ahhhing over Freida that they do read her story and it gives them reason to pause and speak up on behalf of all animals."
Amen, Pamela. Amen.
(Photos from Freida’s Facebook page, unless otherwise specified)
About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, professional cat sitter, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.