Happily Homed: Yuri (and Coconut)
A gorgeous Lynx point Siamese mix named Yuri in rough shape made his way to CCS in April 2023 as a transfer from another shelter, found on the streets. He brought with him skin issues from being covered in fleas and ticks, a severe upper respiratory infection (URI), and feline stomatitis. He was fearful and in pain. One of our first observations was his howling and growling when he moved his mouth, with a foul smell to boot. A full exam was not yet possible due to Yuri’s threshold for pain, so we gave him the night off to rest in a quarantine area until we could determine what he needed to get better.
On day 2 in our care, Yuri tolerated being handled for his pre-op exam, but was clearly uncomfortable and scared. He went under anesthesia so our medical team could get a better look at his mouth. He needed and received dental extractions of most of his teeth, vaccinations and various other tests. A large ulcer was discovered on his tongue — one worse than nearly any other we had ever seen in the shelter — and it was removed for biopsy.
Just two days later, he was already showing signs of relief, leaning into pets, rolling over and cheek bumping our lead veterinarian. He had lingering inflammation on his tongue and was still showing signs of stomatitis, though his URI was already improved.
Once his biopsy results came back, we were relieved that it was non-cancerous. This left the cause as either a viral infection, called calicivirus, or a previous trauma like a burn or electrocution. He was responding well to early immunosuppressive medications and antibiotics, so we kept our hopes up. We started Yuri on long-term pain medication for his stomatitis, which can often take as long to resolve as it did to form in the first place (over months or even years), and sometimes is never fully resolved. But a week after landing at CCS, he was noticeably more comfortable and happier, eating and drinking well, albeit still a little shy.
In another recheck just a few days later, Yuri was affectionate and interactive … until we tried to look inside his mouth and adjust his head. We weren’t sure if there was still pain or if it was simply anticipatory behavior, in which case he’d need some socialization and enrichment to conquer his fears. He was sedated again shortly after for a full recheck, and what we found was mostly positive. His URI was completely resolved, and his fearfulness was much improved. However, he now had anemia, as well as marked edema or inflammation in his mouth that was no better than before his dental surgery. At least his ulcer was beginning to improve, and his extraction sites had healed well!
We also began to suspect that Yuri had Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), a condition caused by inflammation in the urinary bladder based on cues from his litter box habits. We left notes in his file for his future adopter to continue to monitor the condition with their own vet.
While we continued to treat Yuri, we cleared him for our Foster to Adopt (FTA) program, in which someone can “foster” a cat in their home with the intent of adopting them while they receive additional medical treatments from our shelter team and are officially ready for adoption.
Lucky for Yuri, Michelle was interested in this Siamese stunner, and she took him on as an FTA cat. In her home, he did become brighter, snugglier and exhibited less pain. But after a couple weeks, his ulcer was still persisting. We switched up his medication, and Michelle was a trooper about administering it. Finally, we began seeing slow progress, and we found about 20% improvement in his mouth. After another month, regular monitoring and continued tweaks to his treatment, we were still moving in the right direction, and Michelle made the jump to officially adopt Yuri in September.
Yuri is now doing great in Michelle’s home, with no further health issues. “He is such a snuggly cat and loves to sleep with us (or on us!) every night,” she said.
“When we first got Yuri as a foster, we were told that he might be a bit of a tough case. Even before being placed in our care as a foster, they were trying to get the inflammation under control, help him come out of his shell, and make him more comfortable, as he would not let people touch his head and could be a bit tough with the medical staff.
“Yuri was super shy, but super sweet and curious about us when he first came into our care. It took him a bit of time, but he did get comfortable with my husband and I and started to sit on our laps and snuggle with us. For a while, it appeared that his inflammation in his mouth wasn’t improving and quality of life discussions did occur, but he seemed to have the willpower to live, and over time, his body weight increased, he became more playful, and he even started to have daily zoomies.
“During the 3.5 months of fostering him, he really came out of his shell and became very comfortable and snuggly with both us and others who came over. He also wanted to be best friends with our old lady resident cat who we had already had in the house. She was not too interested in being a new play friend, so Yuri devised a little game for himself where he would run almost totally up to her and then run away to pretend that the old lady was playing with him. He also loves plush toys, so we now have a game with him where we kick around the plushie and he chases after it. He certainly made himself at home, particularly when he decided to start sleeping with us every night.
“After fostering Yuri for these months and seeing how much we were able to help his health improve, we decided that we felt he was a part of our home and that he had gotten so comfortable with us that it would have felt wrong to relocate him elsewhere. Since adopting him, he has continued to do even better with gaining more weight and having no further issues in his mouth (fingers crossed it stays this way). One of our favorite things about Yuri is whenever we get home, he will run downstairs and give a super cute little meow to greet us. He also doesn’t understand what boundaries are, and sometimes will sit on my face if I’m laying in bed so that he can get super close to snuggle.
“We have been so happy to have Yuri with us as our companion, and it was an extremely rewarding experience with Yuri and the other cats I had fostered previously to help nurse them back to health, show them how to trust people again, and give them the love and care they deserve. I am very happy we gave Yuri a second lease on life and we hope to help others like him in the future again.”
The good news doesn’t end here, as Michelle came back to the shelter in November to take home another friend for Yuri. He now also lives with his adoptive brother Coconut, who came to us after his previous owner passed away. Coconut is a super sweet orange senior living with kidney disease and FIC, just like Yuri!
Michelle said that Coconut and Yuri are becoming playmates and causing chaos, chasing each other around when they get zoomies and playing with the same toys in the hallway. They haven’t quite gotten to snuggling yet, but Michelle hopes that day comes. They both love to pick out one of the blankets on the bed for themselves and hang out together. Both are often vying for attention and love from their new owners. We are so happy to see two CCS alumni living the dream together!
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.