by Julie Myers
Feral Paws Rescue Group in Fresno will be sharing some of their animal rescue adventures with us now every month. Check out KRL’s article about Feral Paws to learn more about them. Julie Myers is a foster fur-parent for FPRG.I would be hard-pressed to meet a feline sweeter or more mellow than my gentle Marble. This is impressive, considering how many cats with whom I have interacted, and even more impressive when one considers Marble’s tragic background story. Marble’s history is one of abuse and neglect. He was filthy, rail-thin, and missing most of his tail when animal control brought him to CCSPCA. Instead of examining Marble for injuries or treating him humanely, CCSPCA left him in a cage to suffer in pain, refusing to clean him or help him in any way. Finally, one kind person working at CCSPCA notified Paula Hunsaker, CEO of Feral Paws Rescue Group, regarding Marble, inquiring as to whether Paula’s rescue would be able to take Marble under its wing. He was marked to be euthanized, due to the fact that he wasn’t properly cleaning his rump. Paula responded quickly, arriving at CCSPCA just in time to save Marble’s life. Even though Marble was clearly suffering, Paula could see a kindness in his eyes that indicated to her that he was very special and ready to be loved.
Upon examination with Dr. LeBeouf, veterinarian for Feral Paws Rescue, it was determined that Marble’s tail had been amputated by his last caretaker, in an effort to make him appear to be a Manx. Due to this cruelty, as well as the neglect suffered at CCSPCA, Marble’s injury had become infected and was infested with maggots. No wonder he wasn’t cleaning himself! What creature, feline or other, wants a mouth full of maggots? In addition, Marble was malnourished, and had both respiratory and urinary tract infections. Dr. LeBeouf amputated the rest of Marble’s rotting tail stump, removing necrotic tissue and cleaning out the maggot infestation. He then treated Marble for his infections. Dr. LeBeouf gave Marble a clean bill of health, authorizing Feral Paws to allow adoption to take place. Unfortunately, latent digestive complications due to enteric nerve damage incurred because of malnourishment reared its ugly head within a week of Marble’s adoption into my household.
I had noticed Marble wasn’t defecating, and his belly was quite hard and distended, despite his voracious appetite. The few times he would pass stool, it was accidental and uncontrolled. He became lethargic and it was evident he was in a lot of pain. I contacted Paula to let her know what was going on, and she immediately set up an appointment with Dr. LeBeouf for a follow-up examination and abdominal X-rays. The X-rays confirmed my own suspicions; Marble had megacolon. Contrary to how it sounds, megacolon is, in fact, NOT a gastrointestinal superhero; it is a chronic condition which brings about periods of both impaction and diarrhea in addition to varying degrees of loss of bowel control, due to nerve damage within the colon and rectum. I was informed that Marble would most likely have this issue for the rest of his life.
I knew life with Marble wouldn’t be easy; it would be messy and complicated. But hey, I’m pretty messy and complicated myself, so who better to take care of him than me? As far as I’m concerned, Marble is family, and I never give up on family. So being a student of both dietetics and biochemistry, I decided to experiment with Marble’s diet, in order to find a fiber-to-protein ratio that would encourage gastrointestinal motility without causing him diarrhea or debilitating and painful gas. Now that he has a good diet, Marble has gained increased control over his bowels and has far fewer accidents. I still give him belly massages though, to help alleviate abdominal pressure. Boy, Marble sure loves those!
Health issues aside, Marble is unique in so many ways. He is a polydactyl, which means he has extra toes on his front paws. These extra toes give Marble the appearance of having thumbs, which is absolutely adorable, especially so when he gives me “high fives” or “handshakes.” Yes, extra toes also means extra claws, but one would never know it, except for the clopping sound he makes when walking on hardwood floors. Being remarkably gentle, Marble has never used his claws on anything except the old, scratchable ottoman in the living room, which has been designated the sacrificial furniture offering, in lieu of the sofa. Marble is wonderful with all people, young and old, as well as with all other animals. His current best friend is one of my other cats, Freeway. The two of them bring much joy, as they chase each other around the house, stopping only to groom one another before resuming their shenanigans. Both Marble and I couldn’t be happier to be family to one another!
Learn more about Feral Paws on their website.