Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. A shattered piece of overlooked pottery is reawakened with veins of shimmering gold through it. The very “brokenness” of the thing is the source of its beauty.
From Nina, Monty’s rescuer: “On a rainy in March, I saw what appeared to be a gray bag in the road. It was a trash day so I thought something had fallen out during pickup. When I passed the bag, I realized it wasn’t a bag at all and it was actually a crouched gray cat. As I got closer, I saw there was blood on its head and the pavement, and he was panting and in shock.
When he heard my voice, he meowed loudly. I ran to get my car and parked closer to him. I got a large reusable shopping bag out of my trunk, put a plastic bag on each hand, and, as carefully as I could while talking to him, put him in the bag.” So began Monty’s journey with his village.
“I took him to my vet in Houston. He had already been neutered but did not have a collar or microchip. He was well-fed. 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.”
Nina took it upon herself to step in and act. But what she does next we thought was even more amazing: she accessed a “village” of people like her.
“I reached out to our neighborhood association to request assistance from others to put out the word because I thought someone was probably looking for him. I started to immediately hear back. The first were Carolyn and Jane, who both work tirelessly to have our free-roaming cats (both feral and tame) spayed and neutered. Carolyn immediately went to the clinic, took pictures and posted them on NextDoor.com.
Then I heard from Holly, who had been feeding the cat for a few years after neighbors moved away and abandoned him. That’s when I learned his name is Monty.
Carolyn and Jane approached Salise Shuttlesworth, director of the Friends For Life. FFL has graciously offered Monty a place there until he can find his new forever home.
Another neighbor, Bebe, went down to the clinic to visit Monty and made a donation towards his care at the clinic. Since then, his story appeared in the Vermont Commons Civic Association newsletter and other neighbors have added their support!
To have so many reach out to support and offer assistance has been heartwarming, and I am grateful beyond words.”
This is a shining example of how we believe the communities can work together and shelters can work with communities.
How’s Monty now?
Carolyn brought Monty home from the vet and has stepped in to attend to his daily care of medications and feeding. Monty has a feeding tube because with his jaw fractured and still healing, he is not able to eat yet. He has had a second surgery to shore up the jaw and repair some damage to his face, palate and sinuses. He is still on antibiotics for an infection and has ulcers in both eyes which are being treated. It appears he is able to see light, and possibly images, but it is too early to tell if he will ever be able to see much more.
“Even with a feeding tube and wire in his jaw, he still leans his head in for pets and purrs with gusto. He is always happy to see visitors and at the risk of anthropomorphizing, it sure looks like gratitude when he will get u, even with his feeding tube and navigates to wherever we are. Monty shows so much appreciation in every rub of his healing jaw onto my hand, and his loud, congested purr both melts and breaks my heart.”
Monty is starting to eat a few bites on his own and his
foster moms Carolyn and Kay are extraordinarily patient with him. The goal is
to have Monty eating again on his own, healthy, and out of pain. The team moves
at Monty’s pace. He gets the wire pulled from his jaw next week.
“I am truly grateful for the compassion, kindness and generosity of our neighbors.This cat who has been twice abandoned – once by his owners and once by whoever was responsible for his injury has transcended being discarded”. So many of us have been touched by basking in the glow of this street cat.
Through Monty’s broken body shines a gloriously bright spirit. And maybe an opportunity to embrace the brokenness in ourselves and each other as some of our most powerful opportunities for grace.
We will be posting more updates on Monty’s progress. Stay tuned.
Update 5/11/15: from Nina
Monty and I had a little laptime today. He was all about getting comfy. We played the most adorable game of “footsies.” I would press my finger into the pad of his outstretched paw and he would curl it in and pull my hand in with it. Then he would relax but not letting go of my finger. It was adorable! You might have heard, one way or another, about the blog about Monty over at FFL. Have so much warmth and affection for all y’all! Monty just gets to directly receive it:)
Update 5/18/15 from Carolyn:
Monty gets the wire out of his lower jaw on the 28th! This is a very big day! He is eating on his own some and that is a very encouraging sign! His doctor thinks the virus in his eyes left him with dry eye. He gets moisturizing drops in his eyes for that. He keeps his eyes open suggesting he is not in any discomfort. At the visit on the 28th, the doctor will closely examine the healing progress on his soft palette. If it is sufficiently healed, we can start offering him treats! That will lead to a whole new range of opportunities for interaction.
I have noticed that he seems to want to be more in my arms than on my lap.
Side note from FFL: Thank you to Carolyn Levy and her partner for doing the marathon of care for this guy. Tube feeding an animal who is blind and on a host of meds 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. Thank you all for getting up early, staying up late and planning your schedules around taking this guy all the way home.
Update #2—5/18/15 10:25 pm
This just in: Monty loves to eat rather than be fed. Went down to only one tube feeding today.
Stay tuned ye fans of miracles and great love!
Update from Nina: Hey Team Monty!
Had a lovely visit with Monty. Pretty much the same lineup as before:
- Explored the bed
- lovely luxurious full body stretches like only a cat can do
- created a nice trough on the towel draped over my legs as he moved up closer for head scratches
- listened to birds and cats, outside open window, with interest
- played with the cat wand
- had a cat nap
- woke and had a little “hand” holding, and
- played some more.
Now for the update on Monty’s progress. No more feeding tube! He is eating soft food out of a bowl three times a day.
Here is the basic overview:
- the wire was removed and jaw appears stable
- swelling in nose and face continues to improve; improvement in health of eyes noted as well
- e-tube removed and site looked excellent; light bandage placed
- x-rays showed the fracture is healing well and jaw is stable
- sutures were placed at roof of mouth because a small gap remains
- the edges of gap were close enough that doc is hopeful it will be sufficient
- if not, a flap closure will be considered for this small area
- all other tissues appear to be well-healed
- a follow-up visit is recommended in about 10 days
The news just keeps getting better. We are starting to talk about who might be this miracle boy’s forever family…maybe you? Tuesday, June 9th marked 3 months since Monty was found injured.
Truly, it is a miraculous transition to watch from “the outside.” The team that works with him every day, Carolyn, Kay and Nina may see the changes as incremental but update to update there are leaps. This cat who was beaten in the face and left for dead by the side of the road like trash has been redeemed. From Carolyn who took him to his most recent visit to the specialist:
The top of his mouth is healed except for a tiny (1 mm) hole at the juncture of hard and soft palate.
Dr. Kruse gave Monty some food to eat so she could assess whether she thought that tiny hole was causing him problems. The issue was whether any food could seep from mouth to sinus cavity. She saw no evidence of that.
So, he is cleared to eat all types of food. He has seemed reluctant to take bites of food, preferring to lick. We’ll see if that changes with dry kibble, soft moist, etc.
He also is moving around more confidently in 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! Not sure what this signifies, but it’s progress.
From Nina post yesterday’s visit:
Howdy Team Monty! Had a lovely visit with our boy. I know he was really feeling good because he was grooming and preening like he was going to visit the Queen Mum herself. He is making up for lost time me thinks! He even stopped mid cat wand tussle to have another go at it. I actually timed one long stretch – 11 minutes straight! I got one minute of it in on video. It wasn’t any lightweight grooming either. It is was vigorous! In my limited cat translation, I read that as feeling healthy and robust. I hope this finds everyone feeling the same. Much affection, Nina
So back you, Sports Fans, one of you is the lucky person out there who will be Monty’s family. It could be you!
July 20th — Monty arrives at Friends For Life and gets his first visit from his friend Nina!
Hi all! Monty is now at FFL and looking for his forever home. Can you believe this day has come? I was there in time for lunch and was able to help out and return any of his wet food, which went over the side, back into the bowl. His hearty appetite has not diminished one bit with his change of surroundings. As you can see, he has a spacious two-story condo. 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. His next door neighbor, Little Princess, is quite vocal and I think he is glad for the company. He seems to enjoy hearing the sounds of people’s voices and the other cats. Amazingly, he seemed quite at ease with the many changes and ate all of his lunch and had some solid preening afterwards. He even raised his paw for a treat while I was petting him. Adorable!
Our routine was somewhat changed because he didn’t seem quite ready to come out and sit on my lap. So I sat down and gave him his favorite head scratches while he was comfy on his mat. He seemed very content with that. Once he has had a chance to settle in, I think the plan is to move him into a room that has a couple of other cats. One of them being the BFF of a blind cat, who was just adopted, along with a cat that has cerebellar hypoplasia and has some difficulty getting around. It really is the start of a new chapter in Monty’s life, and I have no doubt he will continue to progress in many ways.
Our next Team goal is to find Monty’s forever family!
Monty is adopted!
“Never hope more than you work, ” is our favorite Rita Mae Brown line and Team Monty would make her proud! We are over the moon to report that Monty has found his forever home! We were hopeful when he got a “sleepover ” (a practice unique to FFL in which adopters are allowed to take a potential new family member home for a “sleepover” to learn about how they will live together.)
Not all sleepovers result in adoptions and that is exactly the point. Learning what is not a fit for someone is very valuable information and allows us to create great matches. Even if they do not result in permanent adoptions, sleepovers help us learn about our animals away from a shelter environment and all that becomes information we can pass on to a new family. It’s a pretty cool win/win process.
But it was hard not to get a little excited when Monty got the tap for a sleepover. Then, as it just continued to go well, we got even more excited!
His adopter says he is adjusting very well and has even met her other cat, Reese. “She seems to be quite accepting that he is going to be here now. I think her biggest challenge is that she’s more curious about him and wants to interact with him but he doesn’t react when she hisses or growls a little. I think she’s expecting to have words and then move on and be friends but he is not taking the bait and is just content to have another feline around!”
This has been a long road and 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 hoped right along with us.
Stay tuned. This is just getting good. We will keep you posted on our boy!
There is nothing quite so sweet as betting on the long shot and winning, right?
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.
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.