“It’s a boy!”

Four hours.

For four hours I called places all over the Capital Region looking for help for a helpless stray cat who just needed a chance. Leaving voicemails across vet’s offices, nonprofit organizations, and shelters – I was desperately hoping that someone would give me a call back with positive news, or at least an encouraging direction. We were moments away from digging ourselves deeper into debt to help Ollie. There was no way we could adopt him with our alpha-cat Axl, but being animal lovers we started to feel there was only one option.

Finally, I began to hear back.

But not with phone calls – text messages.

On this day, of all days, my phone decided to start screening calls and hanging up on unknown callers. Of course, most people would think I left the wrong return number and give up with a shrug. However, Whiskers and The Animal Support Project did not.

They both texted me, full of concern for Ollie and expressing a strong desire to help!

That night, our newest hero, Melinda showed up from The Animal Support Project to administer first-aid on Ollie. 8:30 pm on a Thursday night, she rolled up to our apartment in downtown Troy, and pulled a bin of medical supplies out of her trunk. Almost immediately she began to assess our boy. Relief flooded over our anxious little group as we watched her check him out. She hooked him up to an IV of fluids, and forced him to eat a protein shake (he had already emptied the bowl of water I put in the tent with him). While Ollie would not let her check out his back legs, she knew it was clear that he needed to get to a vet, and as soon as possible.

Fractured spine?

Broken legs?

Open wounds?

Why was there blood? Or was it dirt?

Hit by a car?

Attacked by an animal (or an awful human)?

Until we got him to a vet and they could take x-rays, we had no clue what was causing Ollie so much pain. We had no clue how much trouble he was in, or if we could even save him.

We tucked him safely into the tent. It was a warm summer night, but we put a thick carpet under him, and a warm blanket over him. With a fresh bowl of water, a little dry food, and a clean litter tray, we closed him safely into our patio and turned on the flood light. We prayed that he had the strength to make it through the night.

The next morning, before anything, I ran outside, and was overwhelmed to see him looking back out at me. He had shifted his position in the night, but seemed perfectly calm. We were going to make it to the vet that afternoon – Ollie was not done yet!

I shifted my whole day to our yard, working from outside as Ollie lay in the sunshine. While he still couldn’t walk, he seemed stronger, and was able to take a few more steps than he had the day before. Melinda had coached me to hand feed him the protein shake a few more times during the day, and to connect him to the IV at least once more before going to the vet.

Melinda texted me through each step of the day.

A constant, confident, and knowing beacon of support.

Turns out, hooking a cat up to an IV isn’t really that hard!

After studying a YouTube video (several times), I grabbed the scruff of his neck, took a deep breath and reminded myself that this was to save his life. He didn’t struggle or protest, and rested calmly in my arms as James counted down until we had properly hydrated Ollie for the day (or, at least the morning).

After an afternoon in the sun, James and I drove Ollie to the vet, 40+ minutes north of Troy. It was a gorgeous day for a drive! I sat in the back like a worried mom, and he cried until I opened his carrier and began to pet him. Instantly, he calmed and began to look out the windows with such wonder. Sniffing the air, and pushing his face into my hand, it was almost as if he was enjoying his little joy ride.

At the vet, we were asked to wait in the car while they brought Ollie in for his appointment (thanks, Covid). An x-ray and blood work were the main objectives, but also, we still were not even sure if Ollie was a boy! They were going to give us more information on him then we could guess.

The minutes ticked by as we waited.

Finally, they gave us an update – it’s a boy!

They asked to keep Ollie over night for observation. No broken bones, but they found large wounds on his back legs that were left behind from a fight for his life. Later we would see the three holes that were ripped into him from another animal, and could deeply understand for the pain he had clearly been in. It was not a fight he would survive a second time. The vet was even worried that he was blind, which made it very clear that what Ollie needed was a safe, warm home, off the streets.

We agreed.

Ollie hanging out with his friend Lily before heading to the vet.

To be continued…

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