From rags to riches

It’s not often a cat ends up looking like something the cat dragged in. But Gardener the cat managed to pull it off. In fact, she went one up. She had people convinced she was a senior cat in liver failure. Not a bad trick for a cat who’s probably less than one year old.

Gardener was quite the mess when she showed up to the garden center at a grocery store near Best Friends. The poor girl was skin and bones, covered in some type of vegetable oil, and smelled like a basket of french fries. Yikes! Those who saw her thought she was an older cat with serious health problems because of her appearance. Not so. She just needed a break!

One of the garden center employees, Liz West of Kanab, Utah, saw her first. She immediately went into the grocery store and purchased some cat food. No matter what else was the matter with the cat, it was obvious she needed a meal. Best Friends got wind of the situation and contacted Liz about putting Gardener into the Four Directions Community Cats program at Best Friends. The Four Directions Community Cats program helps provide resources and medical care—including spay and neuter—for community cats (feral/stray cats). Where Gardener the cat was concerned, however, the whole spay part of the equation was going to be down the road. They wanted her healthy first.

Sad to say, before anybody could trap her and bring her to Best Friends, Gardener had another stroke of bad luck. The very next day she was hit by a car in the parking lot. Liz didn’t see the accident, but noticed Gardener hobbling into the garden center looking for help. This time she was whisked off to Best Friends.

She had a fractured femur and dislocated hip, both involving the same leg. Sheesh, hadn’t she been through enough? At Best Friends, she received fluids, pain meds, blood work and radiographs, treatment, and cage rest. Around this time vets and caregivers got a closer look and realized that Gardener is still just a kitten, probably only a year old. Talk about a rough first year!

Her health improved rapidly. Not only did she start putting on some weight, the injury was healing nicely. At one month, she was in good enough health for the spay surgery. Gardener was on the mend. After all was said and done, though, Liz West was not about to let the poor girl out of her sight again. "She’s already used up seven of her nine lives," Liz says. She’s not about to let her use up the rest so quickly. She decided to adopt!

Back home, Liz has continued helping Gardener get back on her feet. Gardener, meanwhile, can’t believe how good she has it. Her very own home! And she appears a lot younger these days. Looks like her happy ending came in grand style.

Story by David Dickson

Photo by Molly Wald

For more information about community cats, see the Best Friends feral cat resources online. And be sure to join the Focus on Felines campaign to see how you can help in your region.

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