A Cat’s Inner Beauty

By Elisa Black-Taylor

A cat’s inner beauty is what people who wish to adopt a cat should be looking for when they visit a rescue or shelter. Sadly, this isn’t the case for most people. As a society, we’re conditioned to like beautiful things. Beautiful homes, beautiful cars, beautiful people to form relationships with. It’s no wonder so many cats who don’t measure up to the standard of what society considers beautiful are euthanized on a daily basis. (note: beautiful cats are just as likely to be euthanized when a shelter runs short on space)

A cat's inner beauty

Cat Shelters

Not only do individuals who are looking for a cat to add to their family lean toward the best looking cats, I also wonder whether rescues and shelters do this as well. Do rescues pick any cat in need, or do they choose the ones most likely to get adopted? Does a cats appearance have anything to do with who’s euthanized, or is it based on the arrival date or whether the cat becomes ill once in the shelter as to whether it’s allowed a few more days to find a home? Any shelter or rescue readers out there that can shed some light on this?

My Way of Choosing

During the year and a half we did rescue, I always based my decision on which cats to adopt or rescue by looking into the eyes of each cat I was sent a photo of. Greenville County Pet Rescue has an email list with cats needing a home. I often chose those cats who looked the most defeated. Who had given up on life. I guess in a way I was seeing the inner beauty, and what that cat could become if given a chance.

Old Ugly

I’ve had several cats who didn’t measure up to what you’d call outer beauty. Old Ugly was one cat I fed back in the early 1980’s. Given the name by my mother, Old Ugly was extremely feral calico, emaciated and her eyes held a lot of pain. Still, over time, she learned to trust me. I never knew how old she was or who she belonged to. She simply stopped coming to eat about two years after I began feeding her. I searched the road, but saw no signs of her having been killed by a car. I’d tried on one occasion to take her inside our home. She wanted no part of it.

Spot

Spot was another favorite of mine. He was a huge black and white with gold eyes. We had Spot for 12 years and never really knew how old he was. He showed up one day back in 1981 and never left. He, too, had a gentle soul that belied his strange face. As with Old Ugly, Spot chose us instead of the other way around. I remember he first showed up with what was obviously a littermate. We called the other cat Groucho because of a black moustache below his nose. Groucho didn’t stick around very long.

Photo For A Cat's Inner Beauty

Photo For A Cat’s Inner Beauty. By Elisa.

Sealy

Of all the cats I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, I’d have to say Sealy has the most inner beauty I’ve ever known in a cat. When I first saw his photo, with him laying with his head on his paws as though he’d given up on life, I knew I had to have him. I wanted to wipe that sad, defeated look from his face and free the beautiful spirit I somehow knew was inside him.

I never dreamed we’d be rescuing a cat who would have such a hard time healing. Sealy had suffered a car fan blade injury that eventually killed his best friend Tank. Tank had been with Sealy under the hood of the car and was fatally injured. Sealys left ear was missing, he had a deep blade imprint in his head, and there was a huge raw looking wound behind where his ear should have been. It amazed me the shelter didn’t euthanize him.

The shelter rescue coordinator showed us where he’d been injured before we left the shelter. She pulled him out of the square box he was in. I didn’t pay much attention to it at that time, but Sealy didn’t do a lot of moving around. We looked at his head, then the coordinator put him back into his box. It had a clear lid where he could watch us from the back seat of the car as I drove him home.

My daughter and I were only going to foster Sealy until a rescue could be found. Instead, we fell in love with him that first weekend and decided to adopt him instead. We had prepared a cage for him with soft blankets, as well as food and water bowls. Sealy didn’t move at all as Laura took him out of his carrier and placed him in the cage. Then he immediately went to the back on the cage and lay down. Laura put some food in his bowl. He cowered there in back at least 10-15 minutes before he came over to investigate.

Sealy’s been with us for nine months now. We discovered within the first few days that Sealy had no teeth. That didn’t stop him from eating. His time between food being placed in his healing cage and the time he came over to eat grew shorter and shorter. Sealy ate like a starving cat from day one. He LOVES food.

Over time, his personality has also shown through. For one thing, Sealy has a sense of humor. He loves to “tease” Laura and me. This first began when we wanted to get him out of his cage, and has now turned into when we want to bring him into the living room from my bedroom. He’ll make you think he wants out, then he’ll turn and get as far away from us as he possibly can. It’s like he can’t make up his mind. Stay on his comfy blanky or in my room on or under the bed, or wander around the house.

And wander he does now. Especially when he hears food being prepared. Anytime the microwave is on, he’ll venture over to the bar and sit by Laura as she cooks. I take that to mean he hopes she’s cooking for him. Sealy will stick his nose over into whatever we’re eating to determine whether he wants a bite. His favorite people food is boiled yellow squash.

Nine months have really changed Sealy. He’s gone from a cat that was cautious about inspecting his next meal to a cat who goes over and sits in his feeding cage whenever he wants a pack of his wet food. This usually happens at least ten times a day. He’s only fed 4-5 packs of food daily now, but he has the dry food to hold him over between meals. Even toothless, he loves the dry that stays on the feeding bar and in the cat bowl on the floor.

It took Sealy a long time to enjoy being out of the cage. We’d leave the door open and he’d refuse to come out on his own. A few months after his arrival, he “conned” Laura into rocking him to sleep several times a day. It was like having a newborn baby in the house.

After he’d been with us around four months, he would come over and jump in our lap wanting to be rubbed behind his good ear or under his chin. When he was tired of being fussed over, he’d go back and get in his cage and go to sleep.

He’s been out of his cages for several months now and we only use them for feeding him.

What a lot of people don’t realize about Sealy is he has a certain amount of brain damage from his car fan blade accident. The vet didn’t run any expensive tests to determine this. Being around Sealy at the vet, and then at home as we treated his injury, we noticed he was “different” than other cats.

Sealy’s vet doesn’t necessarily remember him for his injury. They remember him by how he acted on each of his weekly vet visits. Sealy had a series of seizures a week after he came to us. Thankfully, this only happened once and is quite normal with massive head injuries. On Sealy’s first vet visit, he was checked for worms, temp taken, blood drawn, catheter inserted for a clean urine sample, given two injections and given a sub-Q treatment. He lay there and allowed the staff to do anything that needed done. No hissing, fighting, growling-NOTHING! The entire staff was in shock. Sealy has been his sweet self through two operations and a couple of dozen vet visits.

Sealy also has a routine when he goes for a vet visit. Once in the waiting room, Sealy comes out of his carrier to be held. He never tries to escape and just lays there content in my arms. Even the barking of dogs in the waiting room doesn’t phase him. People who meet him at the vet are shocked he survived such a horrible accident.

That sweet personality is what endears him to everyone who’s heard his story. We don’t have a clue as to what Sealy was like before. We know he was seriously underweight at just over 5 pounds. He was listed at the shelter as being 2 years old. His vet said he’s at least 6-7. We think he may be much older because he has little dark specks on those beautiful gold eyes that only come with age. He may be 15, for all we know.

Sealy has told us in every way possible that he wants to live. He lost a lot of blood at the time of his injury. So much so that his wbc count was off the charts from new red blood cells “tricking” the test. The shelter vet had to put him under anesthetic to repair his torn ear. He was also neutered at this time.

During the couple of months where he was having surgery to close his wound after nothing else was working and everyone was questioning us about his treatment, it did occur to me that he might be better off euthanized. He had three vets at his regular vet hospital treating him, plus two vets where I got a second opinion. All were telling me the same thing on how not to allow a scab to form as infection could get under the scab and make things worse. After two operations within a months time, he still wasn’t healing as he should. We were eventually turned in by P.E.T.A. to animal control for Sealy’s head injury. Thank goodness I had vet letters outlining his care.

As far as the euthanasia thoughts, Sealy made it plain and clear that as long as he had plenty of good food, warm blankys and someone to rock him to sleep, he wanted to make the best out of the life he’d come into. That cat has so much courage. He never complained, never hissed or growled as we changed his bandages. His thoughts have always been very transparent to me, and he was telling me to let him live. That he’d made it this far and he’d make it the rest of the way to a full recovery.

All it took was plenty of time. Six months of time for his head injury to finally heal. Now Sealy’s living like a normal cat. He sleeps on the couch between me and Laura until I’m ready to go to bed. Then he either goes with me or sleeps with Laura. He also takes naps with his new friends Mandy and our cat-dog Cujo. I call them his new friends because he didn’t want anything to do with them for months. Now he goes over and curls up with them every night. Some nights we even catch him washing Mandy behind her ears.

This is NOT the same frightened, rejected cat we rescued on February 24. He has developed confidence and made friends. Plus he has his human servants wrapped around his little paw. He’s all over the house now. I even caught him laying in the rocking chair in Laura’s bedroom while she was out of town visiting family.

A lot of people see Sealy and probably see a cat with one ear, a very small bald spot where the fur didn’t grow back, and his lack of teeth. He’s not solid black. He has a small spot of white on his neck, and several white hairs throughout his body.

We live with the sweetest cat anyone could hope to call a companion. Somehow, I have a feeling he’ll have more adventures as he settles into his new life with us. I hope he’ll eventually play with some of the others. Mandy wants him to play now, but he’s not ready. His favorite game with us is slapping our fingers with his paws. He’ll try to bite when the game gets a little rough. Laura says he has tough gums.

I say he’s tough all over. He has to be to have survived all that he has. First the fan blade injury, then seizures and two operations. Those are just the ordeals we know he’s been through. His being 5 pounds and toothless makes me wonder what kind of hell he lived through before his accident.

He’s very spoiled these days.

I believe those who try to educate potential cat adopters about the kitten or cat they should choose may also be doing less beautiful cats a disservice. I’ve always heard it encouraged to “get the friendly pretty looking one.” I would imagine many of the cats who turn out with the most inner beauty may have started out shy and afraid.

I also wonder how many children have fallen in love with a less than beautiful shelter cat, and their parents told them “don’t get that one, it’s UGLY!” Children often see the beauty inside when adults cannot. What kind of example are we setting to teach them that physical beauty is preferable to inner beauty?

I hope anyone looking to add a cat to their family will remember the story of Sealy, as well as Old Ugly and Spot. Beauty on the outside doesn’t determine who the cat is inside. It’s a shame people pick a shelter cat for beauty alone, when the best companion they may ever have is left laying scared two cages down.

I really wish Michael (PoC) would show off some our less than perfect cats with the comments this article is sure to get. I love looking at photos of other people’s cats.

Elisa

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Comments

A Cat’s Inner Beauty — 13 Comments

  1. Why do you think people are so obsessed with the look of things, outward appearance? It does not reflect well on humankind does it?

    I have always pretty much ignored outward appearance. Although I am attracted to nice looking things I tend to put a brake on that and look beyond to personality (for people and cats) and functionality (for machines).

    What happens is that after about 6 months you don’t see the outward appearance so much. You see the inner beauty much more.

    Pictures of Cats

    By the way I love to see other people’s cats purebred or not but people don’t want to show me. If anyone wants to share a picture of their cat please contact me or Elisa and we’ll publish it here. My email is mjbmeister[at]gmail.com (change the [at] for @. Thanks.

  2. Hi Elisa,

    For the record – I think “Spot” and “Old Ugly” are both very beautiful physically. Not sure how they got into the physically ugly category.

    That’s beside the point but I felt compelled to mention it.

    You’re right – it’s not about the outer beauty at all. This is true for people too. What matters and what’s appealing is the inner beauty.

    It bothers me that way people judge cats and other people by their outward beauty. It’s sad, shallow, and too often inaccurate.

    An ugly cat can be precious on the inside and can have an adorable personality. The same cat can be considerate and can have admirable traits. Once their personality shines through, they can be just as regal as the physically beautiful cats.

    We’ve heard the old adage “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” over and over again yet most do the opposite. It’s a mistake.

    True beauty is what you are inside. It’s what you believe, what you say, and how you act. It’s your ethics.

    Same is true for cats.

    It was nice to hear that when you worked in the rescue you picked the defeated ones – the ones who really needed the help and another chance. That’s good-hearted of you.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

  3. Oh Michael, I LOVE the cat picture you added. I just wanna hug that kitty and just stare at it awhile. Its beautiful!

    Old Ugly had the same shape to her face. I made the photos on the collage about 6 months after she showed up. She was bone skinny in the beginning and ran if I so much as opened the door to go outside.

  4. Love this post and believe less than perfect cats are more beautiful! There is power in a name and wonder if Old Ugly could renamed?

    • Now that is a good point. Are less than perfect cats more beautiful than perfect cats? I presume you are writing about less than perfect external beauty (appearance). If you are, I agree. I find “defects” interesting and attractive. Pure beauty for me is a bit intimidating. For me the same applies to character. Thanks for the idea.

      I also agree that there is power in a name. I think a name can change a person’s behavior and wonder if a name of a cat changes people’s behavior towards the cat. I think that is the point you are making.

    • Mama started calling her that when she showed up because she was quite unattractive. After she put on weight the name just stuck. Its hard to believe that was 30 years ago. She had the most amazing eyes. The only cat I have now who even comes close is Gizzy.

  5. I think its great that Sealy likes squash. How bizarre. I’m more than horrified you got reported to an organisation known for killing perfectly healthy animals whenever they get their hands on one. How stupid is the irony in that. I can’t believe famous people actually do PETA favours for their campaigns and that people donate money to them so that they can have a multi million dollar public relations department. They kill something like 98% of all the cats and dogs that they get their hands on each year – maybe less now – and that is a matter of public record. They also send sheters flowers when the shelters give up on trying to not kill animals. If they had their way they would just kill all the animals because clearly they believe thats how to solve the problem. I don’t necessarily think they are worth the small percentage of good things they do when you consider that the money donated to them might go somewhere better if they did not exist. I bet they wanted to take all your cats and dog and kill them all. Clearly they don’t think animals, like humans, want to live and are scared of dying – and yet they make themselves look like they think that If you are asking me, the millions they get in donations should go to all the small rescues who are doing things right. Not the big multi million dollar HSUS ASPCA type organisations that spend so much money on expensive salaries and PR. Its been proven time and time again that when any organisation becomes big, too big, it cannot anymore be honest and effective as it should.

    I’m so glad you have Sealy. I think he sounds very happy and I think all the complainers and whoever reported you should just sod off and leave you alone. The world is backwards sometimes and its always the people who try to do something good and manage difficult circumstances that end up in the line of fire unfairly.

    • Tom is dead because of that mess. PETA called animal control daily while the man in charge was on vacation. They couldn’t wait for him to get back as he knew the situation. Instead, an untrained officer came out and said we had to paint the ceiling within 3 days from smoke damage or face jail time and/or eviction. We surrendered 9 cats. Tom got sick and was euthanized. I WILL NOT EVER GET OVER THIS!!! There is NO forgiveness ever because someone either hated me enough to do this or they wanted Sealy dead.

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