Written by Shuveny Bower, founder of Aiding Simba/Paws from Heaven
Professional photography by Strike a Pose Photography
On the 18th of October, Aiding Simba/Paws from Heaven NPO 202677, a special needs feline sanctuary, received a plea for help for this poor cat. Within one second of seeing him, my heart dropped through my shoes, taking in the extent of the injuries and the almost “giving-up” body language. We sent out an urgent call for a sponsor to have Prometheus brought into the sanctuary. Our sanctuary works specifically with special needs patients and caters for anything, including physical, psychological, mental, and personality issues. With us, each feline taken in is allowed to integrate at their own pace, and they aren’t placed up for adoption. Instead, we appeal to the public to sponsor a feline of choice for as long as they’re able.
As the founder of our sanctuary, I’m currently completing my studies in behavioural issues and feline psychology.
Prometheus had a very long road ahead of him. We met up at our sanctuary vet, Dr P. Smith, just to have a checkup, and the extent of his injuries was horrific. Firstly, he was too weak to be moved, and he was allowed a resting environment at a veterinary clinic. This lasted approximately three weeks, allowing him to gain strength, undergo sterilisation, and be tested for FIV and FELV.
When Prometheus (his name means “foresight”) came home, the daunting task of washing his wounds daily and the slow introduction of me as his “human-caregiver” began. For about three weeks the wounds were cleaned twice daily, creams and ointment applied, along with touching while feeding, talking and having him get used to the structure of the sanctuary.
With the information we received from his rescuer, both our medical practitioner and I gathered that he must have been dumped, as he didn’t show any feral behaviour. In addition, he must have been trapped in some kind of snare, as well as being burned either with hot water or another liquid. Our hearts broke, as we could only speculate on the journey he’d travelled before being rescued.
We were doubtful about his fur regrowing and knew that he’d need a daily application of sunscreen should that not happen. After one month, tiny little fluffs appeared and all the physical wounds had healed, but the hard work of gaining complete trust and love was still ongoing. Prometheus has now been in the sanctuary for three months, and he no longer hides away but comes out to greet us when we enter the integration rooms.
We’ve discovered that he’s blind in the left eye. Together with the medical findings, and in agreement from our sanctuary vet, we decided that extensive tests weren’t required, as they would have only added to his stress. We were trying to keep him in a calm and loving environment.
Today, Prometheus has friends: Sapphire, a little deaf girl, a tiny black kitten, and a geriatric. He’s bonded with Sapphire the most. We’ve opened the doors of the integration rooms, and they have the freedom to explore, once again, at their own pace. It was a HUGE moment for me when I saw him sitting outside the rooms, but he’s still very “other-human-shy”.
Three hours of our day are allocated towards sitting and interacting with the felines being integrated – in the morning, midday and late afternoon. The integration rooms are attached to our sleeping quarters, and our cats are constantly surrounded with the familiar smells of their humans, with windows to explore the outside and a private garden to enjoy.
Prometheus still has a long road ahead, but having said that, I know that one trust bond has been formed. In their small environment, they know where to hide, and the magnitude of the open spaces must be, from their perspective, overwhelming.
Whilst Prometheus hasn’t begun to trust our sanctuary helper, Nomsa, he has become more tolerant of my husband, and he’s learnt to tolerate our daughter, the “small human”, for short periods of time.
The physical wounds have healed, but we’ll never quite know the extent of the psychological trauma this beautiful boy had to endure.
In order for us to continue, we rely hugely on public “virtual” adoption programmes and monthly sponsorship towards food, medical expenses, and any other items the 49 felines in our care require. Many ask why we don’t allow adoptions; if you look at Prometheus and others here, they need a calm, controlled environment. There’s a need for a huge emphasis on security, and an understanding of the psychological aspects that accompany severe trauma in felines. Their natural response is to flee or hide, and that usually gets them into loads of trouble. Felines have the negative branding of being aloof, and what Prometheus and others have endured makes them doubly so. It takes months to have them trusting enough to become a cuddle buddy, and some never do. Getting down to his level, or their level, understanding their body language, and knowing the sounds or facial expression is imperative.
I tested his level of trust in picking him up, and I have the scars to show that we haven’t yet reached that level (*giggles*). I do hope that our little story has touched you – I think the photos speak volumes.
To follow Prometheus and the other precious felines in our care, follow us on Facebook.