This is Houdini.
Our vet estimates Houdini as being about 14 years old. Houdini was found as a stray cat about five years ago by our late volunteer Sandi when she lived in Gales Creek. He was very fearful and acted feral, so it took Sandi a long time to lure him close enough to get him into her home. Once he was in her home, he hid under her bed for months.
Eventually, Sandi told her friends that Houdini was sleeping up on the bed with her other cats. She was so pleased. She felt that he finally trusted her, but not enough to allow her to capture him to take him to the vet. Houdini had a deformity on his mouth, and Sandi believed it was from being hit by a car.
Sadly, Sandi passed away without ever knowing the truth about what had happened to Houdini. I took Houdini, and had him examined by our vet (along with Sandi’s other cats). I held him during his exam and my heart warmed because he purred the entire time, showing that he was actually not feral, but had been someone’s pet at some time in his life. Dr Mark noticed right away that where the deformity on his mouth was, he had a luxating (disconnected) jaw, that moved from side to side.
Since we knew he needed a dental, we had x-rays done. What they revealed was shocking, and traumatic to see. Houdini had been shot in the face. The bullet fragments were still embedded in his skull, and had disintegrated much of his lower jaw and blown out many of his teeth. A piece of the metal had abscessed in one of Houdini’s canine teeth.
We did the dental surgery on Houdini and had the abscessed tooth and others removed. Luckily, he came through the surgery fine. We also discovered that he was FIV positive, probably from living on his own for so long before Sandi helped him. In spending time with him, I had also discovered that he was deaf and we realized that was also an affect from having been shot.
So now, we knew this poor guy had been dumped in rural Gales Creek and lived on his own, during which time he had contracted FIV and been shot in the face, leaving him deaf, with a partial jaw and in a lot of pain. Somehow, he figured out how to eat again, and how to survive on his own without being able to hear. Already, he was like a miracle survivor.
On the day that he had his surgery, I brought Houdini home and was sitting in my car petting him through his top loading crate. He was relaxed and I noticed he started kneading his front paws. While he was kneading, a thought came to me. His toes looked unusually short. NO!!!
I was beyond traumatized by the realization of what that meant. I reached down and squeezed his paw and confirmed it. HE HAS NO CLAWS! This miracle survivor had been declawed, then dumped in the woods in rural Gales Creek. Without claws, he couldn’t have defended himself against any predators. Then he was shot in the face, probably while trying to find food on some farmer’s property. He was left deaf, without part of his jaw, with metal embedded in his head and in his teeth. This brave, amazing cat, still managed to figure out how to survive until Sandi found him. No wonder he didn’t trust people!
My promise to Houdini is this. You will never, for as long as you may live, have a bad day again. Houdini sleeps on a soft blanket on a human bed in a room with a window facing the trees so he can watch what’s going on in the world without being unsafe. He eats yummy wet food because I’m no longer trying to save his teeth (most are already gone). He has catnip toys, and a scratching post. I think he’s happy and I know he’s safe. I take comfort in being able to offer him that. He definitely deserves it.