Skrootchie’s another local Bantry stray that came seeking food at mine. Needless to say, he wasn’t stray for long after that!

Skrootchie’s Story


I’m not sure how long Skrootchie’s been hanging round my garden looking for food (I leave food out for strays). Yesterday he walked right up to Xak in the shop, walked out again and sat in the garden looking back at her – ‘Where’s the grub?’. Xak immediately called up to me, I popped out with food and a carry case and, with a bit of patience and persuasion, one Skrootchie, skanky cat, is now esconced in the bathroom.

Now I see the state of him I wish I’d made more of an effort to get him sooner. I’ve only seen him briefly from a distance and Joe Bones has been territorial about his new home (I’m going to have to do something about Joe cos I’m never going to get the local strays visiting if he’s going to run them off!). Skrootchie has hugely inflamed forepaws, one of them with a massive, sore hole in it; he’s missing the bottom half of his tail, which ends in a hairless stump; his eyes aren’t too bad but are a little bit watery; he’s completely flea- and lice-ridden; he’s covered in sores and scratches (I suspect from Joe Bones’ self-imposed guard duties); and his coat is skanky, his body emaciated. So he’s off to the vets in a few hours, defleaed and brushed, for a thorough checkup.

Skrootchie’s still not too sure of me, but it didn’t take long to get a rumbling purr out of him. He’s a classic example of a dumped domestic cat – he doesn’t know how to look after himself in the wild and has suffered quite horrendously as a result (what happened to him that he lost his tail like that???). He knows he needs people to keep him well but he’s scared of us too – probably with good reason.

He’s as safe as he can be now though. We’ll see what the vet says, but I’m hoping he just needs some food, medication and affection to turn into the handsome animal companion he should always have been.

Vet Verdict

We reckon Skrootchie’s only three or four years old and, on the bright side, his teeth and gums are in great nick. Apart from that he’s in pretty bad condition.

It looks like he’s got Pillow Foot, a rare condition that results in swollen paws (note the way he holds his swollen paw for comfort in the photo). I say ‘rare’ but we’ve come across three cases in the last three months. His tail is well healed – he must have lost it at least four months ago, maybe years. He’s been defleaed and dewormed, which should help his overall condition. But none of that is serious. What does worry us is that Skrootchi’s anaemic – it’s quite apparent from the whiteness of his third eyelids, nose and paw pads. The anaemia could just be a reflection of his general poor condition but we’re worried there’s something more serious going on with him.

So Skrootchie is on antibiotics to fight the infection in his paws and for anything else he might have, and he’s on anti-inflammatories for the paw pad swelling. We’re waiting-and-seeing how he progresses on the medications before we look any further.

In the meantime he’s eating like a horse and I’m feeding him little and often as I suspect he’d eat until his tummy burst if I gave him a chance. He’s a pathetic scrap of a thing and I’m feeling so sorry for him. He’s obviously had a hellish life, lack of tail notwithstanding. I yelled ‘No!’ at him when I saw him about to piss on the carpet and the cringe and run that he did left me in no doubt that he’s been abused in the past. I can’t quite describe it. I’ll certainly never shout at him again. But he’s been reminding me of someone or something since he arrived and it suddenly struck me – Dobby from Harry Potter! His ears flattened with fear, he’s a classic example of something that is hoping for kindness but expecting cruelty. I’m trying to show him as much kindness as I can. And he’s responding by coming out his cage to greet me, nuzzling me hesitantly and snuggling beside me when I sit in with him. If he is terminally ill we’ll make his last weeks as loving as possible. If he’s not, we’ll find a home that’ll reinstate his faith in human nature. He deserves it.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

I’ve been really lax at updating Skrootchie’s story but, a year after he first came to us, I’m finally back on the case.

Way back when he turned up, all tattered and torn, we tested him for FeLV/FIV, mostly because he was so run down. And he tested positive for FeLV. We were really worried then, but treated his various wounds and fed him up and waited the three months needed to retest … and he tested negative – Yay!!! Skrootchie had thrown off the FeLV virus!!!

There’s a huge amount of misinformation about Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) – lots of it complete nonsense. And Skrootchie highlights a lot of those issues. For example:

  • Cats testing positive for FeLV should be killed immediately because they are all in agony: NONSENSE!!!!
  • Cats testing positive for FeLV should be killed immediately because they’ll die soon anyway: NONSENSE!!!!
  • Cats testing positive for FeLV have no quality of life: NONSENSE!!!!

I could go on. The truth of it is that, of cats exposed to FeLV:

  • 30% will not pick up the virus at all, ie. they will not catch it at all
  • 30% will pick up the virus but throw it off within three months (eg. lil ol’ Skrootchie)
  • sadly 30% will catch the virus and will succumb to it eventually
  • 10% will catch the virus, appear to throw it off, but carry it with them and infect other cats

What this means is that cats testing positive for FeLV should be retested after three months, especially if they show no outward symptoms of illness or seem to recover from any illnesses they have.

And even cats that do test positive and don’t throw the virus off (only 30% of those exposed, remember) can have a full life for several years before the virus really kicks in. Look at Shapoloh, still going strong over two years after she picked up the infection. In fact she’s healthier than she’s ever been this summer!

Sorry for the rant – check out our Feline Leukemia Virus page for more details of our experience of FeLV.

Forever Home Found!

And the reason I’ve been really lax at updating Skrootchie’s story is because – he got rehomed with me!

Skrootchie had thrown off the FeLV virus and we were delighted. We thought his pillow foot problem might have been brought out by the FeLV (as it’s often an immune response) – it cleared up successfully after the op and has not resurfaced since (touch wood). He put on weight and condition … and kept putting weight on – he’s a tubster these days, looking quite the miniature freisian cow!

He turned out to be the peacemaker of the household, making friends with all the resident felines. Joe Bones (whose story I haven’t even written yet!) and he are best mates, and even grumpy ol’ Shapoloh has allowed Skrootch to sleep beside her from time to time – quite an achievement!

My residents are vaccinated against FeLV, because of Shapoloh and Skrootchie, and we don’t let our foster felines mix with the residents so there’s little danger of it spreading. I wouldn’t use the FeLV vaccination as a general rule because it’s not 100% effective, and there’s a correlation between the vaccination and cancer developping at the injection site.

Despite our relief at Skrootchie’s victory over FeLV he didn’t seem to shake off the anaemia, his nose and paws always a shade whiter than they should be, and he’s always drunk more water than you’d expect of a feline. So back to the vets we went a couple of months ago. We tested him for kidney problems – and sure enough it looks like he’s in the early stages of kidney failure. I find it hard to believe because he’s so rotund and healthy, but it’s not looking good for him. We don’t know the cause but think, perhaps, his kidneys took a beating when he was so ill. Jenni assures me it’s early days yet and he could have a good few years of life in him yet. I’ve a dietary supplement to give to him daily (protesting vociferously I might add!). We’ll try the supplement for a while and take him back for tests to see if it helps, and there’s a fair few things we can try in the future.

At the end of the day we didn’t look for another forever home for the Skrootch because he’s so settled here, and his medical complications would make him very difficult to rehome. And I’m rather attached to him! So here he’ll stay for better or worse – a far happier ending than we could have hoped for a year ago!

Skrootchie 2005 – 13th Nov 2011

My Skrootchie’s kidney failure finally kicked in last week. He’d been shaky for a while and we were trying different diets to see if he would pick up again. But on Friday he went seriously downhill and tonight he was becoming distressed with no hope of improvement, and he was euthanased.

He wandered in to mine in June 2009, trying to and succeeding in attracting Xak’s attention for a bit of food. He was a mess – emaciated, worm-, flea- and lice-ridden, pillow foot, positive for FeLV … the vet wasn’t too hopeful. But he tested negative for FeLV three months later, his pillow foot was treated and effectively cured and he scoffed his face off and put on … well, in time, he put on a fair bit of weight. But the pressures his body had gone through left him with kidney failure. The vet assured me he could survive comfortably for two years or so. And it’s been two and a half years since then. So he’s had a good innings.

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Posted in FeLV, Fosterees 2009, In Loving Memory, In Memoriam, Pillow Paw.

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