It was February, and Sealy, a stray black cat, was looking for a place to nap. Like so many cats, he sought shelter from the cold under the hood of a parked car, thinking this dark, cozy, and wonderfully warm cave would be the perfect place to rest.
And it was — until someone started the engine. Sealy had been napping near the fan, which startled him awake by shearing his left ear off as it whirred to life.
Luckily Sealy managed to wriggle out from beneath the hood before he was injured more severely or killed. But he was still in bad shape. He had a half-dollar-sized wound on the left side of his head where his ear had been, and he had lost a lot of blood. He was also hungry and emaciated due to living on the street. He weighed a mere five pounds, though he was a mature adult cat. He needed help, and he needed it fast.
Sealy found the help he needed when he was taken to Greenville County Animal Care Services, where he met Elisa Black-Taylor. In 2010, Black-Taylor started rescuing hard-luck kitties from death row at the Greenville, South Carolina, shelter.
"Each week I’d look at the urgent cats euthanasia list," Black-Taylor says. "I’d pick out the cats I’d like to have and would then go back to the site a week later only to find the cat had been euthanized because no one spoke up to save it. This eventually was too much to watch and not try to help."
From 2010 through 2012, Black-Taylor and her daughter, Laura, rehabbed, fostered, or found homes for more than 30 cats out of their at-home rescue, which they dubbed Furby’s House. The two women no longer rescue cats, but they still love and care for 14 permanent kitty residents, almost all of whom had run out of time at the Greenville shelter and would have been euthanized.
Black-Taylor was Sealy’s saving grace. She brought the ailing cat home and began tending to his physical and emotional wounds. But it was no easy task. Sealy required two surgeries, as well as multiple antibiotics, pain medications, and prescription creams. The vet bills alone were more than $1,500. Despite multiple efforts, Sealy’s wound would not heal, primarily due to its location. The stitches pulled loose within days, and different types of head wraps and herbal remedies also failed to promote healing.
But Black-Taylor did not give up; she’d fallen in love with her new feline friend. She encouraged his newfound appetite to help him gain strength, and she eventually found a cream that worked: Buck Mountain Wound Balm. Sealy gained weight, and the balm caused his wound to shrink daily until it had healed. Sealy’s fortune was finally on the rise, and he even gained a forever family in the deal. (He is also the star of his own Facebook page — follow him here.)
"Sealy’s appetite is what saved him as much as anything," Black-Taylor says. "He has a bottomless pit when it comes to food. And he’s with us permanently. We fell in love with him that first weekend he was with us."
To prevent cats like Sealy from being injured by cars, Black-Taylor recommends beating on the hood or honking the horn before starting a car — or even lifting the hood to double check, if time permits. One of the main culprits that leads to injury, she says, is remote car starters.
"A person can start their car from inside the house on a cold morning and have a warm car to go out to," Black-Taylor explains. "This is very dangerous to a cat sleeping under the hood."
Black-Taylor’s experiences rescuing cats and dogs have inspired her to become an animal rescue journalist. She has written and published more than 500 articles, and she is a member of the Cat Writers’ Association. She started regularly publishing articles online after sharing the story of Furby, a gray Maine Coon, who was one of her first rescue cats and her shelter’s namesake.
Black-Taylor still believes that meeting Furby was fate. She was on her way home from an especially difficult funeral in 2009 when she spotted Furby in the middle of the road and turned around to help. Now safe and sassy, Furby runs his own Facebook page and considers himself the world’s foremost kitty writer.
"I looked at him and he looked at me, and I scooped him up and took him home," she says. "Furby’s always been special, because what are the odds of me finding my favorite color and my favorite breed as I took an alternate route after running out of a funeral? Finding Furby was meant to be."
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