This story has been long overdue and we wanted to share it with everyone when it happened, but we were all emotional at the time and we felt like this sweet boy deserved a well-written story of his short time with us.
We met O2 when we were out trapping the “white cat colony” on the evening of December 17. Audra had setup everything by the time I arrived there and all we had to do was put some hard-to-resist food in the traps (we use canned chicken and fish) and then wait. Soon after we put the food in the traps, we were able to trap several cats - it was so quick! We zip-tied the front (to prevent any escapees) and covered the traps with blankets and placed in the car.
After we had seven cats in the car, progress started to slow down so we started to look in possible hiding spots. Turns out we missed a feeding station that was setup near one of the buildings and as I was coming around the car to help search, I saw Audra sneaking up to the feeding station and she quickly snatched up an orange buff male kitty! I did not recall seeing him last time and we later found out that he had recently shown up on the property. The caretakers loved him because he was a sweetheart. <3 Anyway, back to the story! I immediately went to get one of the cat crates so he could go in it. As Audra kneeled to put him in the crate, she noticed something was off about him but she couldn’t really describe it to me. We trapped three more cats that evening then setup everyone inside with a small dinner and called it quits for the night.
The next morning, everyone was taken to the vet and all were spayed/neutered except one – the orange buff male we named O2 (Orange male #2). The vet said he was panting, breathing funny, and his color was off so they were going to keep him for monitoring. Anything that caused him stress resulted in heavy breathing and panting, which really concerned us as that was not anywhere near normal.
Because of this, we knew he needed additional attention and because of the necessary expenses involved with this, he was surrendered to us by his caretaker. We had hoped that it was something treatable, that this loving, sweet, handsome boy would have a chance and we could find him a home. We had several people working in the background on figuring out a plan that would be best for him with his current conditions. During all of this he was talkative at times and oh-so-sweet! We couldn’t let this boy down. But then we got the bad news from his x-rays….
He had a diaphragmatic hernia. Like me, most of you had probably never heard of this so I asked for a better understanding of what it meant. Basically, a diaphragmatic hernia is when the diaphragm has a tear in it that allows the abdominal contents to enter the chest cavity. This causes respiratory distress making it hard to breathe and is the reason why when O2 was stressed, he began panting and gasping for air. Having a diaphragmatic hernia is not an immediate death sentence as sometimes surgery is possible, but one look at the x-ray and it was very obvious that O2 had an extreme case. The vet said it was the worst she had ever seen!
The x-ray showed a very empty abdominal cavity and a very full chest cavity. Every single inch of possible intestine that could fit, was squished into his chest pushing on his lungs and heart. This was why he couldn’t crouch down to eat. This was why his gums were white due to the lack of oxygen flow through his lungs. This was why something seemed “off” about him the night we were trapping. We were devastated!
I then asked the question that always comes to mind afterwards – what caused this? Well, it can be a birth defect, but in cats, it can also be caused by blunt force trauma – being hit by a car, falling from a high place, or taking a heavy blow to the abdominal region. I cringed thinking about O2 having suffered from any of these!
Unfortunately there was no time to save O2 – the damage was already done and he was nearing the end. The vet’s prognosis was very grim with only a few hours more to live and if we let him be, he would've suffer through it. We decided it was time to let this sweet, precious boy go so that he did not have to continue in this kind of pain and suffering.
TNR usually means Trap-Neuter-Return, but in this case the R stood for Rescue. In rescue, we try to save them all. We put our hearts and souls into it to do what needs to be done to provide the best life possible for those we care about. I feel, in this case, that we truly saved O2 and although the outcome was not what we wanted, he didn't have to suffer anymore and he was showered with lots of love until the end. <3 Rest in peace, sweet beautiful boy.