Help Me Find “A Home for Hines:” the Heart-Wrenching Story of Hines the Rescue Cat
Although I first met Hines only a few months ago, I can tell you that this wonderful creature will always have a place in my heart. Unfortunately, due to situational circumstances he cannot have a place in my home as well (we already have three rescue cats and it’s a delicate balance as you all know). So here I go… I’m going to tell you his story in hopes that it will be shared, talked about, Liked, re-posted, commented on, etc. etc. I will do everything in my power to find this cat a new fur-ever home. (My goal is to have him in a new home by the end of August.)
This all starts with you…
So please, I beg of you, for this sweet senior cat, do take a moment out of your busy day to leave a comment, post this on Facebook or your favorite social media site, re-post it on your own site, Tweet the cat’s photo, or anything else that will help Hines get adopted.
If we work together, we can make miracles happen and find A Home for Hines!
I guess I should start at the very beginning so you have all the details of how exactly Hines came to be known as my “rescue Hines.” And also so you can understand the struggle he’s been through.
About six or so weeks ago, a high school friend, Angela, contacted me (somewhat freaking out) because her “sister’s friends” had a 12-year-old cat they were about to go gas because “they didn’t feel like giving him his insulin anymore or doing the work it takes to care for him anymore.” They were also moving into a new place that didn’t allow pets. (WTH right? I mean, who does that?) She further explained that this kitty, a 12-year-old DMH mix named Hines, was not only a senior (obviously), but was severely diabetic. He required insulin injections every 12 hours. He is overweight (but adorably so), and has a diet regimen that non pet-devotees may find frustrating (he simply can’t eat dry food or treats).
I immediately, especially upon hearing of the cat’s illustrious personality, said that I would take him and had a place for him to go. Really I hadn’t even called the shelter I work with yet – LoveAStray Cat Rescue in Avon, Ohio. The owner, Ellen, is a good friend, but this, bringing a new cat in, was one I had never approached her with.
Essentially I said I’d take Hines without even asking Ellen if she had room for him; I simply wanted Hines out of that hellhole with those assholes who “didn’t want to take care of him anymore,” please pardon my French. I called Ellen that same day and we played phone tag a few times. I was getting nervous. I kept racking my brain trying to think of someone who could take Hines. After exhausting a comprehensive list of friends and relatives, I thought more seriously about taking him myself. Then, a couple days later, after confirming with Ellen, I was able to tell Angela that the shelter could take Hines after all, but not for about 8 days as we needed a cage to open up.
Angela, who doesn’t even own or know Hines, proceeded to lay out a pretty penny to assist me in his rescue at this point. We needed him to be put up in a medical kennel for those 8 days because the stupid heartless owners couldn’t even be bothered to hold on to him for another week. They were ready to just kill him and be done with it… hands clean – end of story. (Don’t get me started on them.)
So after the long 8 days passed, I went to get Hines. I would be not only his official transport to the shelter, but his one-night-wonder-foster-Mommy! I was stoked! It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I was in a great mood. It took FOREVER to get to the kennel but I didn’t mind. I DID mind when I got inside and saw that this “medical kennel” was feeding Hines dry food and not wet. I mean, COME ON. Most people who have ever owned a pet even once in their lives know you don’t give a severely diabetic cat anything but wet food – no treats, nothing. It’s too dangerous. The “vet techs” or whatever they were, were nice enough despite that fault. I also noticed that Hines could use a grooming, or even just a good brushing. His prior parents obviously didn’t care that this senior sweetie had let his grooming habits fall by the wayside. I made a mental note. And then I did something that made me swell with pride…
I am severely trypanophobic – I’m absolutely terrified of needles and everything involved with them (I can barely get an IV put in without fainting). So this was going to be interesting…The techs, who couldn’t even brush him while he was there for 8 days, needed to show me how to give him his insulin. I would be required to administer it that night and the next morning in an exact 12-hour increment. Now I have plenty of experience giving dogs and cats medications and fixing injuries, etc. As a pet parent, you learn all those things. But insulin injections are a different story – at least for me they were.
*It is here that I want to insert how you can overcome anything in order to help someone (or something) else. Hines was important enough to me for me to grab that syringe, take the cap off, and then grab his skin and inject the insulin – flawless on the first try (which was using only saline). I was shocked at myself! I did it!!! I mean, I knew going in this was going to be an issue, but I totally overcame it because I knew this cat needed me to be able to do it for him! And I did! And Hinesy is so good about getting his meds – he barely budges, even when you have to pinch up his skin and even when you inject the needle (ew). It was great! Hines will just lie there, especially if you feed him while you give the insulin. He is just so happy to be touched and petted and loved that he doesn’t care if you’re sticking a needle in him!
Anyhow, it took us over an hour-and-a-half in traffic to get back to our side of town. Hines was a gem in the car – he didn’t meow once; he didn’t make a peep. He simply sat in his carrier like a pro and enjoyed the sunshine coming in through the windows. Of course I was baby-talking to him the whole time to comfort him so I’m sure that helped. (I hope it did…) I had started noticing by now how chilled out this cat was, how friendly without warrant, how amazingly calm and cool he was. It’s rare I tell you…
Upon arrival at home, I immediately took Hines up to my room and rushed him (in carrier) past our three cats. We didn’t want to stress him out even more than he may have already been – so we figured keeping him in my room for the night with me would be the best idea. After all, he already was responding to my voice. Additionally, this way our 4-year-old males wouldn’t get in his eye or bother him and my senior girl wouldn’t feel jealous. I have a large room with a connecting bathroom and huge walk-in closet so it’s not like Hines was confined to a teeny space; trust me, he had plenty of things to do in my room. He had his very own scratching post and toys, tons of nip, his own toys that the asshole-owners left him with, plus a litter box in the bathroom, a huge bed to snoop around under (and to sleep on I found out later), plenty of fresh water, boxes to play in and open windows to sit in. I also laid blankets and towels around in different places for him to lie down on.
I noticed at first that Hinesy was quite reticent – he didn’t want to give up the cuddles and love, he didn’t want to give up the emotions that he had been feeling having been abandoned by his family of 12 years. He was also too interested in sniffing out the other cats and all the good stuff in my room.
Yeah, that lasted about 10 minutes.
After that he was all over me. I sat on the floor with him for hours upon hours – that whole night – reading and writing and watching TV. He would play with my cat’s nip toys for a while, and then he’d come over and throw himself at me (it’s hilarious to see a 16-lb cat throw himself belly-up for love! MOL!).
At dinnertime I gave Hines his insulin like a pro! I was so proud – and he didn’t fidget at all! Hines plowed through an entire can of Friskies and then came and rested by me. He was tentative at first when eating – God only knows what kind of diet he had been on since he was diagnosed as diabetic a year ago… I mean, even the kennel was giving him dry food. Anyways, dinner and dinnertime insulin went very well. The problem was that Hines still hadn’t used the litter box and I was afraid he may try to “mark” my room or me as his new territory since there are two other male cats in the house… I kept picking up his furry and soft big body and putting him in the box. After the fourth attempt, I finally resigned myself to bed.
Hines wanted to stay on the carpet and lay down so I let him. I wasn’t about to force him to sleep with me or cuddle (and honestly it would have been easier on my heart if he didn’t as well…). I woke up about 2 a.m. to use the bathroom and low and behold the litter box had been used! I was so happy and so proud of Hines for not marking in this strange, new place!
I went out and petted him for a while (yes it was 2 a.m. but I wanted to check on his emotional state) and finally decided to lift him up onto the bed with me. That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up the next morning. I had to set my alarm so that his insulin could be given at an exact 12-hour interval so it was super early when I awoke again. It may have been dark out still…. Regardless, when I did wake up, you will never guess where Hines was. He had inserted himself into the crux of my chest and stomach area (I was lying on my side) and had completely leaned his whole huge body into me. It was like having a 16-pound furry heating blanket on my chest and tummy.
Of course, when I awoke and discovered this, that was it for me. I lost it. I started crying after I got out of bed (I didn’t want to cry in front of him). I wanted so badly to keep this cat, I wanted so badly for him to just be happy all the time, I wanted so badly for him to be going to a home instead of a cage. I started to feel like I had failed him. I tried SO hard to find him a home, but it’s just not as easy as it sounds, as most of you involved with rescue may know. Suddenly, it occurred to me that Hines might be seriously affected by being put in a cage for an endless amount of time after he had been a free-roaming cat his whole life. Had I not done enough? Was there something more I could do?
I pondered these things while giving him his morning insulin and his breakfast, another can of Friskies, which he inhaled again, albeit a bit slower. The insulin went in perfectly on the first try again, thank God. Hines is such a lover that he was pretty much thanking me for the delicious foodies – he’d take a few bites then stop and come over for some rubbie-dubbies on me. Then he’d go back to plow through a few more bites and saunter back over to me and give me head-butts. (You have no idea how frickin’ adorable it is when a senior cat gives you head-butts for attention.)
Hines and I watched TV and played and cuddled a little bit more. About 11 a.m. we got him in his carrier (which he is an angel about) and headed for LoveAStray. I was getting nervous… My palms were sweating and a million thoughts were running through my head as we pulled up. “What if Hinesy can’t find a family?” “What if his meds get messed up or something?” And then someone (a volunteer) at the shelter interrupted my worrisome thoughts and said something not so nice to me…
“You do know Jaime that most senior cats who come in here will stop eating on their own accord and eventually die, right?”
Well thanks for that. Thanks a lot. At least I am prepared now.
I quietly walked outside the barn to my car for a second, my heart pounding so hard I felt it was coming up through my esophagus. I could feel the singeing hot tears approaching my eyes from behind…. I honestly wanted to go punch that person in the face. I couldn’t believe the audacity of this person. I couldn’t believe how seemingly careless this comment was. And I couldn’t believe that it was coming from a rescue volunteer. (A bitter one obviously.) Now I have never been one to cry or lose my emotions over sad dog videos, or heart-breaking rescue stories. I’ve never been one who can’t walk into a shelter. I’ve never been one who can’t see an animal suffering. WHY? Because I KNOW that what I do as a volunteer is HELPING them suffer no longer. Yes I may cry later about these things, but never while I’m there or in the moment…
But in this moment, I went completely weak. This was when my six/seven weeks of emotions over this sweet kitty finally came to a head. I lost it; I was hysterical. I was crying and carrying on like a child for a few minutes there, yelling and screaming. I was mad at the former owners for doing this to Hinesy, mad at the shelter worker for saying that to me and dashing my hopes, and mad at society for creating a world where it’s seemingly permissible to treat pets as expendable. Most of all I was mad at me. I was mad at myself for not being able to find a home to take him to. I was mad at myself because a giant cage in a wonderful shelter was the best I could do for him… but it’s still a cage. Had I failed him?
We set everything up with Hines and got him in his cage, toys and water/food bowls laid out with more and more blankies for him. I couldn’t stay to watch them put him in the cage and if I did I honestly don’t remember it – I must have blocked it out. Imagine how Hines feels….
I spoke with the shelter owner several days later and she informed me that Hines was not eating. I was crushed. Beyond crushed. I was ripped in two… I couldn’t help but think of that volunteer’s warning to me earlier. It haunts me still…
My immediate reaction was to gather up some wet food from my house and my kitties’ stockpile to take in. After all, he ate twice for me. So I would simply go in there and feed him every night if I had to. I don’t care – whatever gets him to eat. The first time I went in with wet food, I brought his favorite toy from my house for him to have. I came walking around the corner and called out “Hinesy, what are you doing baby-cat?” He almost immediately jumped down in the cage from the upper perch and starting pawing at the cage lock. I, of course, upon seeing this, immediately opened up the cage and soon enough Hinesy was in my arms again, purring and giving me head-butts to the head! It was awesome! He remembered me – and he loved me still! A few minutes later, I was thrilled to hear that he had actually just started eating his wet food a day or two before (I had been out of town). So I didn’t really need to bring the wet food but left it there anyways.
That visit had Hinesy in my arms for about 40+ minutes; I held him while the volunteers cleaned his cage. (I must tell you – I’m not in thee best shape, but if you ever want to work out your arms and shoulders, simply hold up a 16-pound cat for 40-45 minutes straight. It works wonders – I was sore for two days. My muscles were shaking, MOL!)
This was when I started getting some feedback from the shelter workers and volunteers about Hines…
From a 16-year-old volunteer: “Hines is one of the sweetest and most loving cats that I’ve seen in the barn ever.”
From a 55-year-old, 15-year veteran shelter worker: “Hines is seriously one of the sweetest cats we’ve ever had; everyone just loves him and in fact, argues over who cleans his cage because they all want to hold him.”
From a 34-year-old veteran shelter volunteer: “Everyone wants to hold Hines all the time because he is so nice and pleasant. And he is soooo good about getting his insulin. It’s also really funny to see him so playful since he is so old!”
Hinesy was so happy to see me that day, it made my heart hurt, but it made it happy, too. When I went to put him back in his cage, he clung to me like a small child, with one arm around each side of my neck. L It killed me, but at the same time made me realize that Hinesy was holding his own in that cage; he was doing what he needed to do in that shelter to get by and he still is a very happy cat. I felt a huge wave of relief slowly calm me down.
After another week or so, I went back to see Hinesy again. He was just as sweet, he was still eating, and I got the same awesome feedback from the new shelter vet tech and some different volunteers.
I’m happy to report that Hinesy survived his journey through abandonment and eventual rescue in the best of spirits. He is happy, he is eating, he is (for a diabetic overweight cat) otherwise healthy, and he has a great attitude.
HOWEVER… Hines went through something that no cat (or dog or ferret or home-based animal) should have to go through… Hinesy lost his family of 12 years. That right there is sad enough.
I swear some people think that animals don’t have feelings. Well I’m here to tell you that they DO. Some people think cats and dogs are disposable. They’re NOT. Cats and dogs are some of the most intuitive, emotional beings on this planet. They sense what we feel – they pick up on the emotions we put out. And after all this time in a home where he wasn’t wanted, Hinesy STILL has a great attitude and a loving demeanor. This is all despite the fact that he was totally abandoned by poor excuses for human beings. Hinesy still shows compassion, love, happiness, silliness, and more. He is, hands-down, the sweetest most loving, affectionate and tender cat I’ve ever known. EVER. And he’s not even mine.