Mr. Wallace came to us under some pretty challenging circumstances. This story is a delicate one to tell.
I will start by saying that not everyone in this profession is capable of rescuing and managing a lot of cats/animals. I sit here and share all of these animals with you, boasting about how many we cared for at one time and how great their lives were, how clean our home was and still is, how great the medical care that they have all received has been. And it is all true, we practice what we preach here. But the fact of the matter is, not everyone is capable. Many people do not have the time (or won’t make the time), many do not have any help and are just one person and, over time, caring for double digits of pets can become physically and emotionally exhausting, and some people just check out. They might decide to travel, they may rehome their pets, they may just stop upholding the standards of care the pets had been accustomed to, they may just check out altogether, which is what Wally’s human did.
Wally’s story began when I was asked to pet sit for a co-worker. This was 20+ years ago now, so things were a bit “looser”. I was handed a key and a note with a few scribbled down instructions. That’s it! The end (You should see my pet sitting notes-I am like a crazy person). After work one October night, off I went for my first visit to this house. Upon arrival, nothing super crazy, unkempt yard, dingy carport type area, an old bungalow that needed fixing up. Inside was a different and much more alarming situation, no working lights, none, zero. It was dark, mind you. I had never been there before, I had no idea where anything was, I was completely at a loss. This was long before cell phone flashlights. I had to keep the refrigerator door open for light. It was a bit frightening to say the least, it felt like I was in a scary Halloween movie, and I would soon be fighting for my life. Seriously.
There was no food in the fridge, the oven was full of picture frames and prints, there were stacks of unopened gifts on the dining room table, and many other strange details I will not disclose. Most sadly, when I made it out to an area, I’m not quite sure what to call it, kind of like a finished carport recreation room, there was some light from the streetlights coming through the windows. I saw a 20-pound bag Science Diet Light dry cat food; the bottom corner of the bag had been chewed through and there were only a few pieces of kibble scattered around on the floor. There was some food in the few bowls I could locate but clearly, I needed to come back with supplies. I could not find any other food; I could not find a can opener or where the litter boxes where. I called Jake in tears, I was horrified, this was a colleague for Christ’s sake. I filled the water bowls that I was able to locate and left to come back the next day, with some light bulbs!!!!!
Multiple staff accompanied me back to the house the next day. It was really something to see the home in daylight. It did not really look as if anyone lived there, but 15 cats did, and they needed our help. Little did I know when I took this pet sitting gig that this would basically my first hoarding case. We scooped all the boxes and gave food and water and tried to put eyes on everyone, but the cats were so terrified that all of these strangers were in their home, they were tough to locate.
On the third day, we made the decision to confiscate the cats and bring them back to the vet clinic to provide medical care and safe haven while we figured out what the hell we were going to do. Upon arrival at the clinic we set everyone up in boarding cages, cats that we knew were friends we boarded together so they could have that comfort and we went through the list of patients in the medical record to be sure we got everyone. But someone was missing…we had turned that house all kinds of upside down catching these cats, but we had to go back. Wally was the missing cat, we finally found him up inside a box spring in what was possibly a guest bedroom. Needless to say, the whole ordeal was traumatic for all involved and went on far beyond the scope of this story.
So, long story long, Wally, became Mr. Wallace to us! And he lived under furniture in our home for YEARS. He loved the other cats, Charcoal was his absolute best friend, he even liked the dogs. For years we never saw him use a litter box, almost never saw him eat, we rarely touched him except for monthly heartworm prevention and nail trims. This was fine with us, he was safe.
Wally was clearly a very shy, poorly socialized cat. He was a cat’s cat and not interested in humans so much. Eventually these cats were all released from their boarding cages and lived in the clinic until they found homes, Wally lived under the cages. He was never seen and impossible to show to adopters. Jake came to meet him and well, he looked at a white blob of fur under the cages. There were a few reasons I was drawn to Wally. First, it is no secret I adore “the Meezers” (Siamese cats for those unfamiliar with the term), we didn’t have a flame point after all, Wally was like completing our set! Ha! But obviously, it was his story and his trauma that really tugged at me. Having been to the house and helped to rescue him myself really connected us, at least as a human, I do realize that Wally could’ve cared less about me. I felt that even if he got adopted, he would likely be adopted because he was pretty and then returned because he was so timid. See how I could twist and justify how they needed me? Many of you are not at all blind to this, I know it! We had a house full of cats, we did not “need” another cat, but he would be happy there, have feline friends and zero expectation from us to be something he was not.
There is no miraculous “and then one day…” tale to tell. The day he found the fireplace proved stressful as that resulted in a surprise bath, further reinforcing his idea to steer clear of humans! He just very gradually came out of his shell and learned to trust us. He eventually even made his way to the sofa! It was AWESOME. Sadly, we waited many years for this so we didn’t get to cuddle and enjoy each other for as long as we would have liked.
He developed a very rare and weird kidney issue. One day I saw him urinate on the floor and it looked like he peed dried coffee grounds!!! Turns out, it was dried blood coming from his kidneys. These particles were clumping together and obstructing his ability to urinate. It was super weird. We have never seen anything like it before or since, but Wallace could not pee! At the age of 17 he ended up having a perineal urethrostomy, (a P/U surgery), which basically means he had his penis removed and was turned into a lady so he could pee! He surprisingly held steady for quite some time post op, kidney disease and subsequent anemia finally got him.
Mr. Wallace often looked like he should have top hat and cane. To us, he looked like Mr. Peanut from the Planters nuts commercial. He was just precious. He was so very sophisticated looking. He was also a very polite beggar. He even started to allow guests to interact with him in his senior years and would gently pull their arm towards him requesting a bit of cheese! Just like Wallace from Wallace and Grommit, Wally liked cheese! So cute.
I am very grateful that Jake and I are capable and able bodied to do what we have done and to have saved all of those we have saved. Together we have fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams which is not something everyone gets to say.