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Norwich Bulletin - 8/15/2004

The Story Of Baker

My husband and I started our rescue organization almost nine years ago. During the first year we were part of a larger rescue stemming from a very sad and troubling situation.

An elderly vet, suffering from some type of memory loss, was found to have over 40 cats in small crates in his basement. Some of the cats had been kept in the crates for over four years.

It was our first neglect/abuse case and both Clint and I were horrified. We took six of the cats into Helping Paws. One of those cats was Baker.

All of the cats were some type of Siamese or Siamese cross. The oldest of the cats, and the cat who had been crated the longest was a traditional looking, red point Siamese. When we brought him home, we started him in a large 6 foot by 6 foot by 6 foot cage so he could slowly get used to having more freedom than he had previously experienced for more than half of his seven years.

He was starved for affection and while he would come to us when we came up to the cage, he spent the rest of the time making himself curl up into the smallest area possible and not moving - which is what he was used to. His eyes also had a hard time adjusting to any type of sunlight since he was kept in the dark for years. His age and his social issues were going to make it almost impossible to find him a home.

At the time my household had twelve cats - and we had decided that a dozen cats was enough for our family. But this new rescue of ours definitely needed something more than just a temporary home - he needed to learn how to be someone's pet.

In order to do that, he needed a long term commitment. We started that commitment by giving him his name - Baker. He was our thirteenth cat and we figured this way we still only had a dozen cats - it was just a baker's dozen!

Baker's first hurdle was to accept being free. We brought him into an area of our basement that had an old couch maintained for the comfort of our cats. Baker promptly made his home under the couch. Although he was not afraid of people, he was agoraphobic, afraid of open spaces.

For six months, Baker ate under the couch, had his litter box behind the couch and received his pets by sticking his head out for us to give him attention. Little by little, he slowly (very slowly) inched his way out a little bit at a time and one day he hopped on the couch instead of under it. We knew he was on his way to recovery.

But Baker had other problems to overcome, the biggest hurdle for us being that he had been unneutered for over seven years and constantly sprayed. He was not going to be able to live in the house. We did have three of our semi-feral boys living in the garage and yard, and it looked like Baker was going to have to go from being caged in a small crate to accepting the great out of doors.

It wasn't easy for Baker, those first few weeks - he spent a lot of time in the garage, and it made us really sad. But the reality was that no one was going to give an indoor home to a cat who marked constantly, every piece of furniture, walls and appliances. While it is true that Baker was a product of his past environment, there was nothing to do to change his pattern of behavior. I wanted to give him a home and take care of him, but I was not willing to let my home be ruined.

Today Baker is over 15 years old. He is a healthy, solid, friendly boy who will come to greet strangers when they arrive to adopt a cat or kitten from Helping Paws. The only hint you have that he is in the winter of his life, is the white around his muzzle.

Baker rolls and purrs and loves attention. He helps my husband do yard work and sits on laps when we have friends over to barbeque. He spends his days sleeping with the buddies he made almost 8 years ago. He still has his past memories, as we cannot put him into a carrier for his yearly visits to the vet (he travels on a halter leash).

He gets very upset when anyone tries to contain him and given his previous life, no-one can blame him! Baker is a favorite in our household and we hope he will be around for many years to come. He is also living proof that patience, time and love are what it takes to heal the abused and neglected.

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