Zuzu is a very special cat and we’re honored to be able to share his success story. We cared for Zuzu several times so we weren’t surprised when his mom called to reserve our boarding services, but I could tell from the tone in her voice that something was different this time. Mom sounded stressed. Mom explained that she left Zuzu with a family she found on Craigslist who does boarding from their home, and she feared she had made a terrible mistake. Mom said the boarding house stopped returning her messages and she hadn’t heard from them for more than a week. Mom wasn’t sure what condition Zuzu was in. She was worried something happened to him and that the boarding house was avoiding her instead of telling her what was wrong. This was all speculation because mom just didn’t know without details from the boarding house. Through tears mom asked if we would be willing to inject ourselves into the situation, pick up Zuzu, and take over caring for him until mom returned home in about a month. I explained that this situation may be out of our league, but that we would do our best to gain custody of Zuzu, and that we would update her as soon as Zuzu was in our care.
I got off the phone and considered how to proceed. Given the potential urgency we decided action was better than having a perfect plan. We called the boarding house immediately. A man answered the phone. I introduced myself as Shawn Lioyryan, the Custody Control Officer with Cats in the City (a title I spontaneously anointed myself). I said that I understood Zuzu was being boarded there, and that we needed to take custody of him immediately. I confirmed their address and I said we’d be there in one hour. We had no way of knowing if this spur of the moment plan was going to work.
When we arrived at the remote location in Tillamook, the house appeared shuttered. Every window was covered with cardboard from the inside, we could see the back side of duct tape holding the cardboard against the glass, which made it impossible to see in or out of the house. I was nervous. I backed into the driveway so I could quickly pull away if necessary and I left the car running. I opened the backdoor of the car to eliminate that step once Zuzu was in my hands, took a deep breath, straightened my back, and approached the home.
I knocked and knocked. I rang the doorbell several times. I could hear from the porch what sounded like feet shuffling about the floor, like the sounds of many footsteps all at once. After several minutes a man cracked open the door about four inches and he appeared disheveled. My impression was that he was a hard-drug user, and that he was either high or coming down from one. Either way, it was scary. I asked if Zuzu was ready. The man shut the door without responding.
I kept waiting.
I assumed the man was packing up Zuzu.
The door finally opened just wide enough for Zuzu’s carrier to be pushed across the threshold. The door quickly shut and no words were spoken. It was just Zuzu and me on the porch. I picked up Zuzu and we quickly returned to the car.
I seatbelted Zuzu into the backseat, holding my breath the entire time because he smelled terribly. I got into the front seat and Zuzu’s odor had already overtaken the car. I twisted around to look at Zuzu and from my position in the driver’s seat Zuzu didn’t look right. He looked sad. I got out and climbed into the backseat so I could make a closer assessment. While inside the car, I opened Zuzu’s carrier door and Zuzu didn’t move. He didn’t try to get out of his carrier. He didn’t flinch. I assisted Zuzu in exiting the carrier and his left hind leg flopped and dangled unnaturally. I was horrified, I lost my breath in fright, and I quickly put him back into his carrier. I rushed him directly to Dove Lewis. On the way I called my team, we called mom to explain what we discovered, and to report the actions we were taking. After some X Rays, the vet determined that Zuzu’s leg was broken so severely and left for too long without treatment that the leg couldn’t be saved; it would need to be amputated! Fortunately Zuzu’s story has a happy ending.
Zuzu’s mom couldn’t afford the surgery or the aftercare expenses, so mom relinquished custody of Zuzu to Cats in the City, and we paid for Zuzu’s medical care. It was such a relief knowing Zuzu was safe and that he was in good hands. Zuzu had surgery that day and he quickly adjusted to the tripod lifestyle over the coming weeks. The very next day Zuzu was hopping around and learning how to navigate the world.
We promptly identified and hand picked the family we thought were perfect for Zuzu. After a few conversations with the new family, and a trial run in their home, Zuzu found his forever home with a family who’ll treasure him always! Zuzu has been living with his new family for nearly 18 months and he recently visited Cats in the City for a spa day. Zuzu looks so good sporting his refreshed hair style.
It warms our hearts everytime Zuzu visits. Helping cats like Zuzu live their best life is why Cats in the City exists.