In Memory of Henry

We first saw Henry in 2003 roaming around our subdivision. He appeared to be about 3 years old and looked healthy. He had a cute face and was a white and gray tabby. From our observations as well as some of our neighbors, Henry had been living outside for a while, perhaps a year or two. My husband and I noticed he stayed closed to our next door neighbor’s house because this is where some of his food supply came from. When their garage door was open, apparently, he helped himself to the cat food. Henry’s main shelter was by the street in front of our house in a storm drain. This is where he felt safest.
Henry was very shy and cautious, but; I could tell that he wasn’t completely wild. He kept his distance from us, and; if we came too close he would growl, spit and then run away. We started to feed him because he did not always have access to our neighbor’s garage. So, now Henry was spending more time in our backyard. When the weather became cold, we were concerned about his survival outside. That is when my husband built a wooden “cathouse” to shelter him from the cold, wind and rainy weather. This “cathouse” had a rug and some towels for extra warmth and comfort. We were becoming attached to this stray cat, but; unfortunately his temperment remained the same. However, we felt the Henry had the potential to eventually change and blend in with our household.
For Christmas 2003 my husband and I left town for the holidays. Our friends and very reliable cat sitters watched over our 3 indoor cats as well as Henry.
When we returned from our holiday trip, we noticed that Henry had sustained some serious injuries, one to the head and one to his left foot. Even though we had to do a great deal of coaxing to get him in the kitty carrier, he finally complied and off we went to a 24 hour vet. clinic. He was evaluated there, and we were advised to take him to our regular vet. the next day. His head wound required surgery and his foot wound was treated. After several days of hospitalization we picked him up and kept him in an upstairs guestroom. Naturally, Henry was frightened and so were my husband and I. We had to ensure that Henry received treatment to his left foot several times a day, or else; there was a good chance that he might lose one of his toes. Well, we were determined that would not happen. So, every day we went into the “lions den” to first,catch and secure Henry and then soak his food. This was some challenge for us, but; we did the best that we could and the toe was saved.
As Henry showed signs of improvement, we slowly introduced him to our household and our three other cats. This was another major hurdle for Henry and us as well. We were hoping that Henry could be a part of our household, but; we did not want to endanger our other cats. It was obvious that Henry was a solitary cat and we had a challenge ahead of us. After a great deal of effort and considerable medical costs, we did not want Henry to return to the outdoors and have another confrontation with another animal. So, we slowly introduced him to the other cats and only gave him roam of the house while we were home. We finally gave him free roam when we were sure that they all got along together. Henry thought that he was the King of the house. Occasionally, there were confrontations, but we were able to intervene and discourage him from this behavior. This retraining process took some time, but eventually, he did improve. He did spend some time outdoors, mostly close to the house and never out overnight. He became very attached to my husband and they became buddies. We had Henry for over 7 years. One night, late in the evening, Henry started to have difficulty breathing and was not too responsive. We had to rush him to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic. They did several tests as his condition worsened. He had an enlarged heart and he was suffering. We did not have any options. We had to have him put to sleep. We hated to lose him, but we did not want him to suffer. We loved Henry very much and miss him dearly. We were glad to give him a safe and loving home and we will never forget him.