I think this sad but happy ending cat story took place near a dam at Kirkland Lake, Northeastern Ontario, Canada. I like to know where things happen because it informs us about the attitudes and the culture of places.
On March 8th a hydro worker told a local resident, Julie Lebel, that they’d seen a young cat who had approached them. That is as much as the hydro worker did. I suppose he thought the cat needed help and passed the buck to someone else. It is hard to be critical because the person may have been busy at work. Clearly the cat needed assistance and he could have contacted a local rescue organisation such as Advocates for Northern Animals. That’s what Julie Lebel thinks.
Five days later in freezing -30 degrees conditions on 13th March the cat was still there but now frozen hard into the ice. Her paws and tail were four inches deep into ice and the cat was solidly locked in waiting to die to a predator or starvation.
It seems that Julie had a further conversation with the hydro worker who indicated that he thought the cat had died in the hostile conditions.
Julie went looking for the cat and soon found her in the ice. She was meowing and therefore alive but in a poor way. She found her in a ditch along a road called Archer Drive near Kirkland Lake. She said:
“The kitten was in awful conditions and in horrendous weather for nearly five days..”
Now take a look at the picture on this page. You can see Julie with the cat who she named Huggs. You see Julie carrying a bucket which contained warm water with which she melted the ice to enable her to release Huggs.
As soon as Huggs was released she “held my head, hugged my face and kissed my nose with hers to say ‘thank you’ and would not let me go”. It broke Julie’s heart.
Hence the name Huggs – short for Hugsy. It is unusual to see a picture taken at such a tender and moving moment.
Huggs was obviously starving hungry. She ate well: a large bowl of food and “two pates of salmon and chicken and she was exhausted”.
Julie thinks it is a miracle that she survived. Then the rehabilitation commenced. Huggs was injured. The injury was self-inflicted. She tried to free herself by twisting herself which injured her leg. Also half or her tail may have to be removed due to frostbite and a part of her paw for the same reason.
Huggs is being cared for at Advocates for North Animals. Well done Julie and the rescue centre. Julie is disappointed that the hydro worker did not take more positive action earlier on. She said:
“Are you kidding? I don’t see how anyone could ‘not’ help this poor kitten….I didn’t have a choice. She was going to die whether it was to be eaten by a wild animal, freeze or starve to death. I take pride in what I did but I also felt like it was the normal thing to do.”
She is telling her story in the hope that others will reach out to Advocates for Northern Animals under similar circumstances.
Huggs’ survival is testament to the supremely hardy constitution of the domestic and feral cat. They really are able to withstand extreme conditions but it is sad that she was forced to do so in this instance. Note: Huggs is female and a calico.