'Mouser' improves his lot in life after being shot, rescued

Injured cat finds happy home

Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2003

Mouser the cat, now surrounded by a loving family, has a warm house to live in and soft pillows to rest on, but life wasn't always this good for Mouser. He suffered some hard knocks and endured some extensive surgery before his story came to a happy ending.

Mouser's story began in January. While driving past the Kenai Golf Course one cold winter evening, a local couple saw what appeared to be a wounded wild animal lying helpless in a snowbank.

They pulled over to see what, if anything, could be done for the poor creature. They were shocked to see the injured animal was a cat.

The couple thought it must have been hit by a car. They weren't sure how extensive the injuries were, but could determine from the bloody conditions that the animal was in need of veterinary care. They rushed it to a local veterinary clinic.

The doctor began an examination. The cat was in bad shape. It was weak, in shock and had lost a lot of blood. As the doctor cleaned up the cat, he determined the source of the bleeding -- numerous tiny holes in the cat's head and body.

To the trained eye of the veterinarian, this pattern of injury was typically caused by only one thing. He X-rayed the cat to be certain, and the radiograph confirmed his initial hunch -- this cat had survived the blast of a shotgun.

The doctor was able to get out many of the tiny BBs, but some had to be left in for fear of further injury to the cat by trying to remove them. In addition to the gunshot, the cat also suffered a broken leg and frostbite to its ears.

Over the next few days, the staff at the vet clinic stabilized the animal. The cat was neutered and declawed. It was very affectionate during treatment -- even licking the veterinary staff's faces while they treated its injuries.

Suspecting the cat may have been someone's pet, they reported the cat's description and where it had been found to the local animal shelter in the hopes of finding the owner. No one had reported the cat lost or stolen, but someone did come forward.

Heather Johnson, a Kenai resident, went to the shelter looking to find a feline friend for her four children. She already had two dogs and was allergic to cats, so she wasn't sure if a cat was even possible, but she was willing to try and find out.

She held each cat in the shelter and had an allergic reaction to every one. She explained her situation to the staff and they recommended a Siamese.

There has been no scientific evidence that Siamese cats trigger less of a reaction, but many people who are allergic seem to have minimal reactions around them. The shelter staff directed Johnson to the veterinary clinic with the banged up kitty.

"The minute I saw him I knew we had to have him," said Johnson.

She suffered no allergic reaction, so after settling on a fair price for the veterinary care, Johnson took the still injured cat home to continue nursing it back to health.

"He's a really special guy," said Johnson, who considers the cat part of the family now. "It's like it was meant to be."

She said the cat's leg is still healing so he limps around.

"We named him Mouser, but we don't expect him to be doing mousing anytime soon. He'll just be taking it easy for a while," she said.

Mouser also lost one ear from frostbite and the other will probably have to go soon. However, socially and emotionally, the cat has had an almost complete recovery from its traumatic ordeal.

"He acts normal and is always licking the kids. He even fits in good with the dogs," she said. "I've always been a dog lover, but he's starting to convert me."

Johnson doesn't consider rescuing Mouser to be heroic on her part, though, and remained humble about it all.

"There are still a lot of other cats out there that need rescuing," she said.

As to the person or people who tortured Mouser, Johnson said, "It's hard to believe anyone could do that to an animal. They need help."

The Johnsons may never learn who abused Mouser and rather than focusing on his past hardships, they prefer to look forward to his future. They are thankful for the welcome addition to their family and intend to give him the best life possible.

Joseph Robertia is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. He has worked with wildlife and domestic animals for more than 10 years as a veterinary technician, a zoo keeper, and most recently as a zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He welcomes any pet-related questions or story ideas, but please none of a veterinary nature. Ideas and questions can be sent to his attention by e-mail at clarion@alaska.net.

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