Our perfect Pirate

8th Jul, 2020

Written by Tara McGovern, Communications, Resource and Development – Cape of Good Hope SPCA

Earlier this year, the CoGH SPCA were made aware of cats that were reported to be suffering from severe medical conditions. At the time, SPCA Trainee Inspector Carly Jordaan was sent to investigate the claims. She was told by the people living in the house that there were no sick or injured cats on the property.

Because of the severity of the case, the organisation obtained a court order the next day and returned to the property to conduct another search.

On arriving to view, the true extent of the cats’ living conditions was made clear to us.

The case was worse than we’d anticipated. Our inspectors found a white cat, whom we called “Ivy”, with a severe eye infection. She had serious difficulty breathing and was in the process of dying. We immediately confiscated Ivy and rushed her to a nearby private veterinary clinic for emergency care and treatment, but unfortunately she didn’t pull through.

Upon further investigation, our inspectors found another kitten, whom we later named “Pirate”, inside the house. Pirate had a large laceration on the right side of his face and one eye. The inside of Pirate’s mouth was clearly visible, with no skin covering the area.

Spokesperson for CoGH, Belinda Abraham, said that the owners claimed they’d rescued Pirate a month prior from the streets. However, further evidence showed that Pirate had been in the owners’ care since mid-January and most likely sustained the injuries from a motor vehicle accident.

“Our resident veterinarian, Dr Janelle Maistry, performed surgery on Pirate to safely remove his eye, eyelids and tear glands, as they’d sunk deep into the eye socket. We’re pleased to report that the operation was a success, and Pirate is currently healing well,” Abraham said following his surgery.

Commenting on little Pirate’s recovery after the surgery, Dr Maistry said, “Pirate made a marvellous recovery, and this little fighter showed off his fantastic personality and just loves a cuddle.”

It was almost unimaginable to think that these two cats were on the brink of death before we had to step in. We were heartbroken that we were too late to save Ivy but truly grateful that Pirate made such remarkable recovery, notwithstanding his horrific history.

Once Pirate had made a full recovery we were overjoyed to receive and approve an adoption for him – which meant he was able to start his new life with a family who fell in love at first sight.

Julia Aitchison, Pirate’s new owner, shares…

It was the last day of school in term one. I picked up my daughter Jessica, she being unaware of the bad news I had in store for her. We had to drive straight to our vet, who was waiting for us to have our gorgeous tomcat, Bobby, put to sleep. He had a severe kidney infection, and there was nothing else we could do for him. Jessica was devastated, as she’d been given Bobby as a kitten from a dear friend of mine. Every night without fail for 11 years, he slept on her bed with her.

On Tuesday morning, I mentioned to her that if she felt like being cheered up, we’d take a drive to an animal shelter to play with the cats and kittens; this had always made her happy in the past. She agreed. We visited the SPCA in Grassy Park, where her face lit up immediately upon entering the cat section. We had no plans to adopt at that moment, as we’d just lost our precious Bobby. Suddenly, I heard a loud “Mom!”. I turned around to see this tiny little bundle of fur with a disfigured face. I, like my daughter, was immediately drawn to it. “Pirate” was its name on the door. Up for adoption. As Jessica opened the door to his enclosure, he immediately got up and started purring. As she got a little closer, he stretched up, gently putting his front paws on her stomach. She melted!

We both looked at each other and knew that we’d be adding him to our family. As per most adoption regulations, we had to (impatiently!) wait for our home check to be completed before taking Pirate home. Shortly after the inspector came around to our house, we were given permission to go and fetch Pirate! The timing was perfect, with Lockdown being a few days away.

After bringing him home, our other two cats weren’t that impressed with this newcomer. It took around four weeks for them to get used to Pirate being around. He settled in really quickly.

He’s a very curious little thing. It’s comical watching him, as he only has one eye, and his perception of depth is a little distorted, so he occasionally bumps into things or reaches out to touch something that’s a little further away than he thinks it is. He’s really been a great source of entertainment during Lockdown! He starts purring as soon as he sees you coming.

One morning he trotted through (he doesn’t walk, he trots!) as if he was frantically looking for someone. As soon as he saw Jessica, he picked up his speed, but before he got to her, my son commented that he had something in his mouth. It was a giant moth caterpillar, bigger than my husband’s thumb! He was super proud of himself! Other than the caterpillar (which was safely released back into the wild), his only other prey consists of flies and the odd daddy-long-legs. We can tell he’s really happy in our home, as he continuously purrs, loves company and enjoys playing out in the garden with our other cats. We truly are fortunate to have found such a treasure.