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December 5, 2023

Happily Homed: Ladybug

two photos of a torti cat in a shelter

Amanda Huggett

One of the most common reasons people surrender their cats to a shelter is because of inappropriate elimination, or litter box issues. That’s how Ladybug came to us last winter.

A January 2023 arrival, Ladybug was already 14 years old and had a tendency to leave her number two’s anywhere but the litter box. Her previous owner already had her on special gastrointestinal food, which was a start but wasn’t quite enough to solve the issue.

Ladybug was a definite lovebug and was an expert napper. However, she made her grumbles known when she was handled too much during exams. The bad news for Ladybug is the more we prodded, the more work we found that she needed.

Slightly dehydrated, she also had inflammation present, anemia and periodontal disease with gingivitis. We also suspected kidney issues and IBD. While we waited for her test results, we switched her food to something that offered renal support. She needed a dental procedure, but had to wait until her hydration improved. We knew right away she needed to be in a foster volunteer’s home for much closer monitoring of her bathroom habits while we worked through everything else.

Unfortunately, Ladybug stopped eating and began vomiting after just a few days into her care with us. She didn’t have much weight to lose at only 6.7 pounds! She was very friendly and enjoyed getting pets from the medical team, but wasn’t making the progress we were hoping for. We kept a close eye on her weight, her habits and her hydration. After about a week, she finally began eating again.

Just when we thought we were making progress, Ladybug started having diarrhea. She got a full medical workup again with fluids and new medication. She was down to just 6 pounds and was eating well, but couldn’t get past the potty problems. We kept tweaking her food and medications to keep her as comfortable as we could while continuing to work through her chronic GI issues.

The good news for Ladybug is that around this same time, she received interest from an adopter. “Ladybug was in her own room in the shelter, and the minute I sat down she got up from her bed and laid down right in my lap,” Audrey said. “I knew immediately that she was going to come home with me. It’s a big credit to CCS and the free-roaming adoption model, because I think that I could easily have passed by Ladybug if she had been in a cage (she’s an older gal and was mostly sleeping in the shelter, so not a lot would have motivated her to get up and interact with strangers).”

Ladybug was officially placed in our foster to adopt (FTA) program, which allows someone to “foster” a cat with the intent of adopting them while they continue to receive treatment from our shelter medical team. She went home with Audrey for close monitoring in the meantime, and our vet team helped coach Audrey on how to give her fluids and medications.

Further testing revealed that Ladybug now also had a gallop beat, arthritis, as well as pancreatitis. She began having urine leakage throughout the night, which Audrey addressed with towels and pads. Yet, her appetite had improved and she was gaining weight appropriately.

The next roadblock for miss Ladybug was kidney stones. Subcutaneous fluids and medication did the trick, and soon enough she was making it through the night with no accidents. More tweaks to her medication got her through the worst of it all, and she was finally on the road to recovery.

Now that Ladybug was becoming more stable, it was time to reassess her dental needs. Our shelter veterinary team removed several teeth, and aside from a little extra swelling, Ladybug recovered well. However, her anemia was significantly worsening. More blood tests and more medication adjustments for this senior gal! CCS lead veterinarian Dr. Cecily Palamara’s instincts were right, and after a couple more weeks of tweaked treatment, Ladybug’s anemia was almost completely resolved.

Always keeping us on our toes, however, she brought new issues with her again. Ladybug now was found to have both blood and pus in her urine. We ruled out infection, leaving suspicions of secondary kidney disease issues or another condition called feline idiopathic cystitis. Because she was doing well otherwise, we sent additional medication home with Audrey and cleared her for official adoption, with plenty of notes for her new personal vet to follow up on.

All in all, Ladybug was in CCS’ care for eight months for treatment of her many medical issues. Thanks to the FTA program though, Audrey was able to care for her in her home, get to know her and work closely with our team to understand how to work through all of her setbacks. By September, she was finally Audrey’s.

a photo collage of a torti cat in her adoptive home

It was bittersweet for Dr. Palamara, who had grown quite fond of our grumbly gal through spending so much time on her treatment. She received extensive diagnostics and tip-top medical attention from our team to resolve her issues, and Dr. Palamara says caring for her was so rewarding. In fact, her own daughter called Ladybug her favorite shelter cat.

Today, Ladybug is doing great in Audrey’s home. She’s a cuddle bug who sleeps a lot — mostly on top of people — and is a big fan of her kidney cat food. “When I first brought Ladybug home, she would sleep all day (and wake up for the occasional snuggle),” Audrey wrote. “As she became more comfortable, she started eating and drinking more, and we discovered that she loves to play! She really loves any kind of string, and her stuffed flying squirrel toy. She has shown her sassy side and definitely wants things her way!”

Being a senior sure hasn’t stopped her natural cat instincts, as Ladybug recently was ready to go to war with a foreign intruder. “One evening, I had the patio doors open to let in some fresh air and suddenly noticed that a very confused bat had flown in and was flapping all over the place,” Audrey recalled. “I dropped to the floor and started to army crawl out of the room, but Ladybug heard the commotion and came running out of the bedroom to confront the problem head-on. She cornered Batty in the blinds and was preparing a lethal end for him when I scooped her up and locked her in the bedroom with me until our intruder flew back out the door. Even at 14 years old and with very few teeth, she was still prepared to carry out her huntress instincts!”

Despite Ladybug’s “resting grump face,” she is a pretty happy cat who rules her new roost and recently celebrated her 14.5 half-birthday!

Like so many cats that we meet, their behavioral issues around the litter box are often solved through getting to the root of a medical problem. Ladybug threw us a lot of curveballs, but with loving care and patience, she is now able to live a pretty normal life, and her adopter is confident in managing her conditions. It’s always worth it to offer comfort to a senior cat who is so grateful and loving in return. It’s also a reminder that regardless of a cat’s age or abilities, we all want a warm place to lay our heads and a friend to share some affection.

Have you adopted from CCS in the past? We’d love to hear how it’s going! Send us your adoption success stories (and photos!) to be featured in our #adoptionupdate series on social media or on our website.

Feel compelled by our work and want to help more cats in need find loving homes? Please send us a financial gift to provide life-saving medical care and adoption services to cats like Garfield and Big red. Donations can be made online HERE (and all funds received from Nov. 1 to Dec. 5, 2023, count for our Colorado Gives Day fundraising goal, with extra opportunities for matching incentive funds. We appreciate your support!

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