Wednesday, September 10, 2008

handsome elliot


Elliot seems so handsome here (in fact, his tag reads "handsome elliot") but he has been a horrible self-mutilator ever since I brought him home all beat up and scrawny from the SPCA 6 years ago now. All these years I have been working with him, determined not to have to put him to sleep or put him on drugs like the many vets I have taken him all want.

The thing about Elliot is that he attacks his tail brutally, leaving blood everywhere (even on the ceiling) and his poor tail constantly mutilated. Nothing can stop him completely from doing this... I've researched in depth, tried everything with him from bitters on his tail to dietary changes, homeopathic drops, sporting him with a neck cone, trimming his nails regularly, on and on.

After all this time I have come to the conclusion that he has some sort of injury/nerve damage from the idiot who abused him and broke his tail, and I believe that he may also have some sort of brain damage as well. When he become irritated about something, anything, he automatically starts twitching his tail, and then soon he will attack. Like feral crazy cat fight attack, screaming, blood and all. It is truly horrible.

So I was really worried about Elliot when I was pregnant - if not having the bed made, or the house a little messy sets Elliot off - what about a new baby?? But I am amazed at the result with Elliot since bringing our little Adelaide home as he has become so much better with his tail since. I am not sure if it's the extra attention he gets, or the fact that I am home more often to give him his pats, or if our loose routine agrees with him, or if he feels that he has an important role in taking care of the new little one, or perhaps it is because I myself am generally happier and calmer as a person and he picks this up? Or maybe a little of all of these things.

Handsome Elliot is still far from perfect, he still has his attacks and I think he always will. I still spend a lot of time cleaning up blood. But this is the best I've ever seen him. I know he's trying, and he's pretty much perfect in every other way... I've been referred to as the lady with "that friendly orange cat" so many times! 

and, nobody is ever perfect... many times I feel like Elliot and I are meant to be together and he is here to teach me to have patience and faith in him, others, and myself.

23 comments:

Holly said...

oh my gosh, reading this broke my heart. i have a huge soft spot for cats, especially cats with problems that nobody else would put up with or love (my cat has the bad habit of peeing on my bed-like you, i have done everything). that is so great to hear the presence of your baby has helped. i hope elliot continues to get better!

dänika. said...

Oh, my heart aches reading this. It is so terrible to see wonderful animals in pain. I'm so glad he's doing better now. He is a very handsome boy, and I hope he continues to do so well!!

Kari said...

Poor Elliot! I really feel for animals that have been abused. Thank goodness he has such a wonderful family now!

He certainly is a very handsome boy!

Citygirl-Em said...

Elliot is definately a sweet heart. It's unfortunate he has this weird problem, but it is such a good thing he has bonded so well with your baby. I enjoy the photos of them sleeping and cuddling together. Your love sustains him.

Melissa said...

this post is beautiful- it really makes me smile that elliot is happier with adelaide around and also that you are such a kind and patient woman to keep your faith in him. he's a lovely cat.

Gül said...

undoubtedly a never-to forget kind of cat he is. And his imperfection makes hime even more adorable now.

Thanks for sharing his story!

Riverlark said...

After my wonderful dog, Agnes, passed away, I brought home Bella from a breeder at 7 weeks. Even though she was never abused, she still has a twist in her brain that makes her terribly fearful of low noises (garbage trucks, air compressors, etc.) and spends much of her day in my basement. I, too, tried everything but finally accepted that this is just how she has to live. But every time she comes upstairs I give her lots of hugs and kisses. After 3 years she often spends a little time with me at night in the living room while I knit or read. Progress!
You're so right to say we just have to accept our pets as they are.

almostbunnies said...

It is just painful to learn about Elliot, but at the same time I'm so happy that you took him in. I donate to ASPCA for the neglected and abused animals but it is always hard for me to read their newsletters they send me periodically. I'm sure Elliot knows your love and care..I'm just happy that he's with you safe at your home. You are such a wonderful person!

kim said...

what a heartfelt post. i've enjoyed your blog ever since i came across your clever address card holder thingy (wow, thats articulate). i, too, have a precious cat that has her share of problems, but wow - does she have the most adorable face and purr. my mom once gently suggested to me, during the height of our issues with her, that she might be reacting to some general unpleasantness in my own life and my household. i took her insight to heart, made some changes, and what do you know, my baby's bad habits vanished. it just goes to show that animals are so intuitive and are not oblivious and they do feel the effects of our thoughts and actions. she's still a bit ornery, but what cat isnt?! much love to elliot!!

Deleilan said...

Thank you so much for this touching post! For the past year, I've been dealing with an otherwise very affectionate and hilarious cat who unfortunately has "fits" of uncontrolable behaviour several times a day (running in all directions, trying to climb walls, etc.). At first I got really frustrated and wanted to take him back to the SPCA, but then I thought that whoever adopted him afterwards might not be able to handle this situation and put him down. No way was I willing to risk that! So I just took deep breaths and used all the patience I could muster.
I came to realise we were both learning from each other, and I believe I'm a better person because my Red Devil came into my life.
Your Elliot is a very lucky (and handsome!) kitty indeed...

chiffonade said...

Does he have hyperesthesia syndrome? I just read an article about it recently and it sounds like acupuncture helps in some cases.

sharilyn said...

Thankyou for your comments everyone!

Chiffonade: he does have similarities to feline hyperthesia syndrome, well it is the closest actually defined condition that i have found - but also there are some things (wrinkling tremoring of the skin on the back, etc) that aren't like him at all. I acutally wrote to some scientist a few years back who specializes in this disorder! I havent tried accupuncture - actually wouldnt know where to start! There is one "natural" pets clinic i know of in vancouver, but they charge soemthing like $140 per 15 minutes or something outrageous... Im hoping he will continue to settle down with lots of love and patience...

peanut said...

He's a beautiful cat :)

kristina said...

Hi,

I followed the scrap paper project link from your blog today and ended
up on 'http://www.lovelydesign.com/scraps/scraps.html'.

The 'charles guan' link goes to 'www.luckybook.ca' which appears to be some lottery site. Maybe this was the intent or maybe someone has been playing with your site. Anyway, in case it was the latter I thought I would mention it.

I see you enjoy living up at Univercity. I work at SFU and we thought about living there at one time as it is certainly attractive in many ways.

Kristina

speckled egg said...

Hello. I've just read this post and I wanted to let you know that my parent's cat had EXACTLY the same issue. Dad accidentally hit Merlin with his car, breaking his tail and leg. The leg healed perfectly, but years later, Merlin was still licking and biting his tail, leaving drops of blood everywhere, just like you described with Elliot. Like you, my parents also tried lots of things to help their cat, dressings, homeopathics, a bucket on his head etc etc. In the end they met an understanding vet who simply amputated the tail. There were concerns that Merlin would attack the stump and the same issue would continue, or that losing his tail would effect his balance, but he has never looked back and is now a happy, healthy (drip-free) cat of 17yrs!
Take care and give Elliot a pat from me.

miae said...

Hey There!
Just want to say I love reading your blog. I'm a friend of Charles', we went to school together. Your daughter is so cute and you are so very talented! You create such lovely things - its very inspiring! I came across your blog through my husband (Dennis who is also a friend of Charles'). So I thought, finally, I should introduce myself! So...Hello! (without sounding too gushy) I'm a big fan :)

Miae from NZ.

Patagonia Mum with Baby said...

Hi
I love your post.
It is great that handsome elliot and your little bub get along so well.
It is great you have so many projects and are enjoying the north american autumn before winter arrives.
Here in the southern hemisphere winter is finishing up and summer is close by. My little boy has just started to walk and we hopefully will be up to many adventures together too.
take care
Yamila

sharilyn said...

speckled egg: THANKYOU so much for your comment, and letting me know about your parent's cat. I've often considered amputation for Elliot's tail - and wondered if it would even help him or if he would simply find another body part to attack. Maybe this would seem extreme to some, but once you have experienced his attacks - you would know how serious and scary this can be. Anyway, thankyou so much for your thoughts.

Miae: such a sweet comments to leave! Charles says hello!!!

Allisa Jacobs said...

Oh, handsome Elliot. My stomach knotted up just reading this, though I'm so glad to hear it's improved some. We have had quite the journey with our cat as well & have also fought against the steroid medication the vets suggest, we found an amazing treatment through a natural veterinarian from Canada. I was also worried about his response to baby Jack but have found that he seems to have a bit more curiosity & lovingness & healthy since Jack has been born.
All the best to your family & Mr. Elliot!

Val said...

I'd never heard of a cat reacting that way (the self-mutilating with the tail, I mean), but I know very little about cats--am now living with my first one. Anyway, I share your belief that we're matched up with our animals for a reason, and I'm glad Elliot's found peace and love in his home with you.

chemgrl said...

Just wanted to let you know that after reading this, I couldn't help noticing the parallels between your experience and mine Our cat, Zowie, who bears a striking resemblance to your own Elliot, went missing and we never found him - 6 years ago. I was heart broken. The one thing that made me jump was the fact that our own cat had the SAME problem with biting and tearing the fur from its tail. Our vet found that Zowie had a HEART MURMUR and was pulling the fur out because he was in pain and that was how he dealt with it. We put him on heart meds and he seemed to get better.
A few months later, however, he went missing :( Has your vet checked for heart problems? Zowie was three when he was diagnosed and no other vet had noticed it before then.

Santhy T. said...

Elliot's story is heart breaking and I'm glad that he's better. I wish you all the best.

Rachel said...

Elliot is so lucky to have you! I believe animals find the right person to care for them as much as we find the right pets. One of my cats, MaGraw was born with small kidneys and just last year I found out he has Chronic Renal Failure. So he is a handful to take care of but he is great, and such a great boy that I wouldn't have it any other way but to be taking care of him now.

Hang in there!