Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our March/April. 2017 issue. Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
One dreary night in rural Missouri, the cries of a cat in distress filled the air. Luckily, his cries were heard. A local landowner followed the sounds all the way to the edge of her property, where she found a most disturbing sight: a cat who looked like he’d been in a terrible fight. With his rear leg dangling, he could hardly walk. Upon closer inspection, his rescuer also saw more pain had been purposefully inflicted — half his tail had been hacked off, exposing the bone.
Whatever had gotten ahold of the orange cat had been violent and brutal, but this cat was a fighter. His desperate meowing set in motion a series of events that saved his life.
On that same night, 100 miles away, a celebration was about to commence. It was Lalita Creighton’s wedding anniversary, and she was just about out the door when the phone rang. The caller was frantic about a cat who had been seemingly tortured and left for dead. Lalita took off her heels and sat down to start the networking to save a cat she had never even met.
But that’s to be expected from Lalita because she’s the co-founder of Midwest Community Cat Alliance, an organization dedicated to saving cats’ lives. While the all-volunteer organization focuses on cats in local animal control and trap-neuter-return, it continually goes the extra mile regarding cats in need.
“My first thought was that he had been in a car engine, and I was very worried he might have even more injuries that weren’t as obvious,” Lalita said. “I had to do all I could to get him to safety.”
Saving Ruger was quickly under way when Lalita called Michelle Carlson, who drove to get him and took him straight to their trusted veterinarian’s office, Hope Animal Hospital.
It was during Ruger’s intake at the clinic when the real culprit of his injuries was revealed — a high-caliber bullet had shattered his leg. He was not the victim of a car engine or an animal attack; he was the victim of abuse.
“When we discovered the leg injury was a gunshot wound and the tail injury was also very likely intentional, we were deeply saddened that anyone could do such a thing,” Lalita said. “However, we were also overwhelmed by people’s generosity and how so many people pulled together to save the life of this very friendly cat.” In just a matter of days via social media, the organization raised the funds to offset his medical costs.
When reconstructive surgery was ruled out, Hope Animal Hospital performed the amputation surgery. Post-op, Ruger was a cherished patient at the facility, becoming a staff favorite. “When he first arrived, even though he was in pain, he was very docile and affectionate,” said Lea Canada, co-owner of Hope Animal Hospital. Staff members loved him so much they kept the TLC going until he was ready for adoption. With a regimen of exercise, antibiotics and frequent cuddles, he grew stronger each day.
“We knew Ruger was getting close to leaving our hospital when he started trying to escape his enclosure,” Lea said.
A month after his surgery, Ruger was ready to find his new family. In order to get him more exposure, Ruger was available for adoption at a local PetSmart. He wasn’t on the adoption floor long when serendipity stepped in again. David Allen works at PetSmart, and every time he saw Ruger he thought his home would be perfect for the lovable cat.
“What we love most about Ruger is how affectionate he is with us,” David said. “It makes me really proud to have saved this cat’s life. Ruger is not just a cat; he has really become a family member. I couldn’t imagine our life without him.”
About the author: Denise LeBeau is an essayist, writer, and editor. For seven years she has been a full-time writer for an animal welfare organization. She shares her home in Hampton Bays, New York, with two rescued Siamese cats, Flipper and Slayer, and two rescued moocher mutts, Parker, and Zephyrella.