About Lucius by Caitlin Farinelli
Lucius was found in the Fall of 2015 lying in a front garden of someone’s villa on a compound. His rescuer was busy trapping cats to be neutered and released back on the compound when some children approached her about a cat that needed help and could not walk. After some intense questioning, the children revealed that they lived across from this villa, and they watched the man who lived there put the cat outside more than two months previous. They explained that he bred cats and released them on the compound from time to time, and this cat was the most recent victim. The rescuer was completely shocked and had many questions for the children: why didn’t they tell anyone, like their parents, that the cat had been lying in the same spot for more than two months? Why didn’t the owner notice he wasn’t walking? Why did the owner leave him outside in the first place? Why can’t he walk? The children had no answers but asked the rescuer to please help him. So she did. He was skin and bones, and very dirty, and very sweet. He was lying on his side and picked his head up a little when he noticed there were people around him. Brokenhearted, his rescuer placed him in a humane trap as that’s all she had with her. She named him Lucius.
She abandoned her TNR mission and instead took the poor cat directly to a vet for xrays. Her initial thought was that he was injured. After a thorough exam, the doctor determined that Lucius had no problems with any of his body parts; instead, he was suffering from extreme malnutrition, to the extent that he had no muscles, and it was a miracle he lived at all. Many cats who do not eat for 24-48 can experience a lethal disease called fatty liver syndrome, during which the liver breaks down fats because of lack of food. Cats who get food, but the wrong kind of nutrition that lacks proper amounts of calcium, vitamin D, taurine, and other vitamins and minerals–human food scraps, for example–experience many negative health effects, including metabolic bone disease, which weakens the bones and makes them break easily. Eventually renal failure and other complications occur. Lucius was beginning to experience these effects and could not walk because of bone and muscle weakness. But, with good food and lots of TLC by an entire community who visited him and donated to his care he began to recover and walk. The recovery, however, could not save his life. His could not survive long term. Sweet Lucius died peacefully with the one simple thing he craved, love. He was an extremely sweet cat who never complained.
5 By Design - Hicham Chajai Lucius’ story teaches us several things. Firstly, cats who were raised indoors cannot survive outside. They have zero survival instincts and often do not know how to obtain food. Lucius could have left his garden and walked anywhere in the compound to find food, as many people feed the compound cats, but he didn’t know how, as he had never been outside before. Someone had been feeding him enough scraps to keep him alive, but because he wasn’t eating proper cat food, his body suffered greatly, and for a long time. Secondly, Lucius’s situation is the result of irresponsible breeding habits. This breeder obviously did not have a lot of experience in feline health and was not able to successfully sell or home all the cats he was breeding. For whatever reason, he decided he could not support Lucius anymore, and left him outside, thinking he would survive on his own, or that someone would pick him up. Someone did eventually pick him up, but not until it was almost too late. Cats like Lucius are why “backyard breeding” needs to be discouraged and not supported. It leads to too many unwanted kittens (and puppies), who suffer awful fates.
If you are someone who really has to have a certain breed of a cat or a dog for whatever reason, please first look for rescue pets. You can start by checking your local humane society or other rescue organization to see if they have any of the breed you are looking for. They might even have a list that they can notify you if one comes in. There are many organizations throughout the world that specialize in rescuing certain breeds.
Many help with provide transportation costs if you are not located close to them. This way, you a providing a home to an unwanted pet, and saving from them a life in a cage or kennel, or even from euthanasia. If you don’t have luck with rescue, or if you absolutely must have a puppy or kitten from a breeder, please make sure you do a lot of research and find a reputable, ethical, breeder that takes very good care of their pets. You can start by asking some local veterinarians if they know of any reputable breeders, as good breeders should have strong relationships with their veterinarians. Also make sure to ask for references from breeders, and ask to see the parents of the puppies or kittens you’re interested in.
According the Humane Society of the United States, a responsible breeder will let you come visit them and see their facilities, which should be spacious, clean, and not overpopulated. The breeder should also provide copious information on potential health or behavioral problems associated with the breed, in addition to documents on testing of the litter, their parents, and their grandparents for genetic diseases.
At the same time, a responsible breeder should require a good deal of information from you: they should ask why you want a kitten or puppy and who will be responsible for their care. They should ask you for references from veterinarians about other pets you’ve had, and proof from your landlord or HOA that you are permitted to have a pet. Finally, the breeder should require you to sign a contract promising that you will spay or neuter the pet (unless you are registered to show them) and that you will return the pet immediately if you are not able to keep him or her. At the end of the day, choosing to rescue or buy a pet is a very personal decision, but we can all be a part of the solution to end overbreeding and euthanasia of unwanted shelter pets by rescuing and adopting whenever we can. This is what Lucius’ story teaches us.