From Battered to Brilliant

Friends For Life

This story has been updated 3/02/17.

"One rainy day in March, I saw what appeared to be a gray bag in the road. When I drove by, I realized it wasn't a bag at all. It was a crouched gray cat. He was panting and in shock, and there was blood on the pavement."

That day, Nina stopped her car and took the badly injured cat to a vet. 

Turns out, Monty was well-fed and had already been neutered, but did not have a collar or microchip. The vet stabilized him, wired his jaw and put in a feeding tube. 

Monty’s face looked like the end of a Rocky movie. He was swollen, the bridge of his nose nearly even with his cheeks. But when we would pet him, he purred. It was a gurgly, rattling struggle of a purr but it was a purr. Even when his face and jaw had to be throbbing with pain, he’d lift his head to look toward us and lean his face into our hands.

In the months to follow, Monty found a foster home with Carolyn and Kay, while neighbors came together to care for the recovering cat. 

Have you ever tube fed an animal? Let us tell you – it is not for sissies. It takes a particular kind of commitment to stay with intensive care like this. Life obligations go on. Things come up. You get tired. But this care must remain a constant. And Monty's team stayed on task. In May, vet removed the wire from Monty's jaw. Everybody cheered when he started eating on his own. 

One thing the medical team couldn't repair: the accident left Monty blind. He would have to learn to rely on his touch and hearing to move around. He would have to memorize the environment to move around confidently. And so he did. His caretakers watched as, over time, he begun moving around — able to find path between his sleeping and feeding areas. "Last night and this morning he walked from sleeping area to the towel on the floor in the adjacent feeding room. This morning he even found the food dish on his own! It's progress."

July 20th: Monty arrives at Friends For Life

Another big change. With medical wounds healed, Monty arrived at our shelter — ready to find his forever home. 

Despite the change of surroundings, his hearty appetite has not diminished one bit. Nina sent the below photo to her neighbors: "At the moment, he is in the area for cats who have special dietary needs and/or those who need a little time to get settled in. As you can see, he has a spacious two-story condo. His next door neighbor, Little Princess, is quite vocal and I think he is glad for the company. Amazingly, he seemed quite at ease with the many changes and ate all of his lunch and had some solid preening afterwards."

This has been a long road.

Not only was Monty saved in the process but the chain of events set in motion by Nina's act of kindness that day and by all the subsequent acts, has enriched all our lives. This rescue connected a group of people who have become treasured friends through the experience. Monty has joined the legion of FFL alums who have shattered that glass ceiling of "adoptable" and helped us all to think more broadly of what we can do together. Thank you to all of you who donated to FFL for Team Monty, shared his story and are moving through this story right along with us.

There is nothing quite so sweet as betting on the long shot and winning, right?

Update: Monty Goes to School

Just when you think this story cannot possibly get does. 

Our stellar behavior team began work with Monty and learned in short order that he is exceptionally smart. The team worked with him to learn "touch." Normally, this is done by giving the cat/dog a food treat every time they touch a nose or a paw to the trainer on command. Touch is the basis for all other training. It creates focus on the trainer in the animal and can be a challenge for some animals--even animals who can see the trainer. Monty quickly caught on and located the trainer's hand every time by listening to a finger snap. What did he love best as his reward? Loving pets!

Update: A Remarkably Happy Development

Monty has been adopted and is becoming a confident member of the family. His mom and dad are also the proud parents of Macaroni (you know him as Pepperoni the blind orange kitty!) So Monty and Mac have wonderful adventures exploring their world. (for mac 's story:

Monty and Mac


    Monty continues to grow by leaps and bounds, literally. Last night we found him sitting on top of the smaller cat tree in his room, which is over by his water fountain. Not at the very top, but ontop of the round barrel on the bottom. Karen was walking by his room and looked over and he was just sitting on it, looking around. Most of the time when we are home we put up the baby gate and leave his door open.

He is taking longer trips through the house and staying in the living room to play and hang out. I sat with him out there yesterday while Karen vacuumed his room and he just laid on his side on the rug, hanging out. The vacuum makes most of the cats hide, but he barely noticed anything. He is able to find his way back to his room mostly by himself as well. We stay with him and monitor what is happening, but he’s really making strides. He even followed me into the den and master bedroom, just listening to me as I went and walking behind me.

This morning I thought he was going to jump up on the bed to visit with me as he reached up on the mattress as far as he could and felt around, but decided to stay on the floor.    


Our latest daily victory


Thought I’d send you a quick update on Monty. His personality continues to unfold and his confidence soars. When he first came to us he was paralyzed with fear if we put him on a human bed. Adam has consistently been bringing him into our bed in the morning where I can give him lots of cuddles and pets. He has now decided that beds are cool and has even learned how to get down from our bed (which is pretty high up) by himself. Amazingly he does this by going to the end of the bed, putting his front feet onto end rail, then turning and putting his back feet onto the rail (it’s only 3 -4 inches wide), and then shimmying backwards until he gets to the end where he steps down (backwards) onto a short tube we have next to the bed, which he then backs down from. He figured this out on his own (we really need to film him doing this). He is so comfortable on the bed that he will often stay there when I get up and nap (see attached pic).

He has also started jumping up onto the sofa in the evenings to ask for pets and cuddles. I have even managed to convince him a few times that he can sleep on my lap (see second image).

Despite all of his disabilities, he is maneuvering around the house really well and bumping off of walls less and less. I am doubtful that he will ever map the house like Mac has, but he certainly has the confidence to explore and search out what he wants/needs. He often visits Mac’s room to lick up his kibble and use his water fountain and box and we’ve even caught him sleeping on Mac’s bed a couple of times. Monty rarely sleeps in his room anymore, preferring to sleep in the den cat beds and will sometimes keep us company in the kitchen when we’re cooking or eating.

So the 5 take homes seem to be:

1. Shelters can save WAAAAY more animals than many of them would have you believe. (or maybe even than they believe)

2. Even the "wonky" animals are worth the effort. They are potentially untapped reservoirs of joy, loyalty, fun, comfort and mischief. 

3. People, despite some very notable exceptions, generally respond very well when you ask them to help you find homes for (or open their home to) wonky animals. So a tip to shelters who say, "Blind cats will not get adopted, " "Three legged cats are going to sit here forever," "Old dogs are never going anywhere," you're dead wrong. We find homes for them all the dang time. All. The.Time.

And finally,

4. Monty can do anything.


We can't resist an update!

I cant help it, he’s such a sweet guy and everyday he does something new, I just had to share a new pic from last night napping away. He went headfirst off the cube by the couch and tall tree by the bed for the first time. He just slid down until his feet hit the floor, even though he wasn’t anchored above. He knew the floor was there, he just had to slide till he hit it. He kept his front feet out and braced for impact like a typical cat does.

He was only in free fall for like 6 inches, but for him that was like jumping out of a plane blindfolded. He hadn’t done that before.