This is a story about a house that love built and the rescue effort through which it began. More importantly, it is a story of homeless cats and their trials and triumphs in the pursuit of life, love and home. Though they shared the same ultimate fate, their stories couldn't be more different.
Begun in the fall of 2005 with a dream, a drill, and a mighty determination, what would develop in the months ahead was both inspired and inspiring. With never a cat as a pet and no building credits to my name, this is the story of my quest to make a difference in the lives of cats and give back to them as abundantly as they had given.
With the tireless help of my fiance, BIll, the encouragement of my children, and the inspiration of my father who died just before the beginning of this project, my dream was finally realized in the spring of 2006 and at last I had given back the only thing my cats lacked . . . the freedom of being outdoors.
And thank you, Mom and Daddy, for your love, example and inspiration. Daddy, I wish you had lived to see how much those years of watching you build cages for your pigeons would help me to accomplish this goal. I miss you so much . . . Mom, though my love for cats didn't come from you, it was you who first taught me how to love and I couldn't love you more. Sally.
Deep love and thanks to my children Megan and Emily for your patience and encouragement during this "never ending" project! Mom
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TOUR STARTS HERE
It is with a heavy heart that I post this update about Lukey, the dearest to my heart of all the cats in my rescue.
Lukey came to Sally's Cat House in the winter of 2007 when his thoughtless owners moved away and left him behind to die of starvation. As fall turned to winter this very young cat made his way to my yard, cold, hungry, and terrified of people, and I hadn't a clue what to do with this cantankerous boy, my very first feral.
By December 2008 Lukey was completely rehabilitated and I looked forward to each moment I could spend with him and his new friends Linus and Gracie who joined us at Christmas that year. Soon the three of them occupied the entire 2 1/2 car garage together.
In August 2009 a 20-minute storm dumped 7 inches of rain on our city and the overflowing storm sewers flooded our yard and the furnished garage that Lukey, Linus and Gracie called home. Within minutes the three of them were scrambling for higher ground within the garage as the flood waters rose, eventually cresting in their quarters at nearly 3 feet.
IN MEMORY OF OUR PRECIOUS LUKEY
2006 - October 1, 2009
I sat with Lukey until 3:00 a.m. when I had to return to the house to check on the other cats and get a few hours of sleep. Tragically, we would return to the garage at 7:00 a.m. to find our precious Lukey dead - his unused feeding tube still in place; his thin, procedure-scarred body still warm and limp; and the light in his bright eyes gone. Because we didn't realize he was dying and had returned to the house, he had died all alone without the only people in the world he had ever trusted, and we were crushed.
However, despite the odds, this brave, bright-eyed creature would soon come to surprise me, for after six months of love, nutrition, and renditions of You Are My Sunshine, by some miracle Lukey learned to love and trust as if he'd never experienced cruelty at the hand of a human. On Mother's Day 2008, Lukey rolled to his side and granted me the first ever stroke of his soft little head as tears of joy fell from my smiling cheeks to his.
Now, some four weeks to the day after our Lukey's death, I still find it so difficult to write this tribute to the precious life that God entrusted to our care that He did not see fit to save, no matter what we did or how we pleaded. I wake up each day and go about business as usual, caring for the others who are very much alive, though there is a permanent scar, a part of our world that is gone, and we will never be whole again. We have experienced the shock, hurt, anger and acceptance and have cried more tears than we ever thought possible but still, the pain continues. Lukey was my first cat to die and the most precious in the world to me, and no words can describe how I miss him. To add insult to injury, I have now come to believe that Lukey had dry FIP, likely triggered by the stress of the flood. Had we only known we could have tried the intravenous ascorbate treatment recommended by Wendell Belfield, DVM that he used to successfully reverse FIP in a number of cats in his practice and Lukey might very well still be with us.
Yes, our hearts were bonded to this special boy we called Lukey, who with love, time, music and compassion had defied the odds and come full circle from a starving, terrified feral to the most loving and grateful cat one could ever be blessed to know. Truly, Lukey was our Sunshine, and now our days are dark . . .
In the days that followed I built Lukey a bigger enclosure within my heated garage that would allow me to sit inside with him, and gradually I was able to remove the protective leather gloves that had saved me from many a bite and scratch. Soon Lukey's favorite thing in life was to be in my arms and nuzzle me with his beautiful ebony face. He claimed as his special perch a south-facing window that overlooked my children's old swimming pool and he was as content as any cat could be. He gained weight rapidly and his health improved and I looked forward to loving this handsome boy for a very long time.
The relocation and cleanup proved stressful for our Lukey, for in the weeks that followed the light began to fade from his bright yellow eyes and his health began to decline. Though his anemia appeared to improve with a blood transfusion and the new feline leukemia drug LTCI by Imulan, his fever and weight loss continued despite force feeding, and it became necessary to place a feeding tube to buy him more time while the LTCI could help him regenerate red blood cells. Unfortunately, something went terribly wrong and some 12 hours after the procedure he still appeared sedated and wobbly, though I thought that perhaps he was just slow to recover from the effects of the anesthesia.
To my earliest visitors to Sally's Cat House:
Unfortunately I did a stupid thing when working on my Web site and accidentally deleted my original Hit Counter and hundreds of Guest Book entries. I'm sick about it and sad to have lost all of your kind words.
Thank you to the 18,000+ cat lovers who have visited my site and left me the most special messages imaginable. I appreciate each and every one of you.
If you like our site and find it helpful, won't you please consider a $1 dollar donation to help feed our kitties and keep us on the Web?
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2007 - 2009
2009 - 2010
2008 - 8/2010
6-2009 - 11-2009
Resident Cat Tender
UPDATE 7-23-10: Check out SANDY'S NEW OUTDOOR CAT ENCLOSURE - the first completed cat enclosure ever modeled directly after Sally's Cat House that we know of! Warning: This will make you want to build one for your own cats! GREAT JOB, SANDY!!!!!! Sally
UPDATE: Since Lukey's death we have successfully treated and cured FIP in another of our young kittens by using high-dose intravenous sodium ascorbate (vitamin C), just as Dr. Belfield reported had been so successful for the animals in his vet practice. If you would like more information, don't hesitate to contact me.