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Tramp:The Only Rescue I Couldn’t Save

Tramp:The Only Rescue I Couldn’t Save

by Joyce Sammons
(Hodges, SC, USA)

Tramp with FIP (left) and outside the day after I foung him (right)

The night my 10 year old daughter Laura came thru the door carrying a tiny gray long haired kitten I knew I was in trouble from the beginning. She had found the baby in a ditch near my house and brought him home to me. Somehow sick or injured animals seem to end up in my hands. I believe people "plant" kittens on my doorstep for me to find and care for.

The first thing we did was to give him a good bath. He was covered in fleas. There were hundreds drowning in the bathroom sink. My best system in a case like this is to just keep the body under the water and let the fleas drown. My new baby had a good nap afterward and later got up for food and water. Things went really well until the next day when his owner showed up!

The man owned the property where my daughter had rescued the kitten. I didn’t want to give the kitten back because I knew he’d be right back in the ditch covered in fleas. So I lied. I told him the kitten was so covered in fleas I’d put him back outside. The mama cat had her entire litter there with no food and no water in sight. I don’t feel I did a bad thing.

I took my new kitty to the vet the following day for a checkup. He had a little diarrhea and I didn’t want to take chances. I made the above photo of him on the steps before we left the vet. I was traveling as a baby photographer at the time and didn’t want to leave him sick with my family while I was gone a week.

They always helped out but I was the cat lady. The vet said he was a 6 week old male and very sick. He had feline distemper. The kitten was very fortunate that we caught it in time. The vet sent me home with the medicine to make him better. I was upset and didn’t have the heart to leave him. So I took him with me.

I named him Tramp because he traveled with me for several weeks. The diarrhea medication wasn’t working. Tramp had no control whatsoever of his bowels. I took him to a vet in the town I was going to be working in for the coming week and explained the situation. I kept a towel under him at all times and administered the new medication the vet had prescribed. The diarrhea stopped almost immediately and he was on the road to a full recovery. I kept him in the bathroom at the motels and explained my cat was in there and there was never a problem.

Tramp began to put on some weight and looked healthy. He was an indoor cat but after moving back to my childhood home I decided to give him a little freedom. He stayed on the property and didn’t wander far from the house. He always came in at night and was a very happy kitty.

One morning I found him staggering down the hall. I picked him up and saw his eyes were glazed over. Needless to say I was at the vets office at 8a.m. The vet did a thorough exam and ran some tests and then he gave me the bad news. Tramp had FIP.

Feline infectious peritonitis has 2 forms. The wet effusive form causes the abdomen to swell with fluid. It can cause breathing problems, lack of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, fever and jaundice. Tramp had the dry effusive form which didn’t include the abdominal swelling. It is fatal.

The vet told me not to feel bad because there is a vaccine for FIP but there is a lot of controversy surrounding it. He said he wouldn’t even give it to his cats. He also told me the feline distemper may have played a part in Tramp contracting FIP.

So I took my sick baby home in the hopes that he would be the one case to ever survive this. I fed him with a syringe and he ate like a little piggy. I believe he could have eaten an entire can of chicken soup if I hadn’t stopped him. He couldn’t eat from a plate but the syringe worked great. Two days later he died with me holding him.

I cried for days. Every time I thought of my poor baby Tramp and how far he had come from the day I took him in it broke my heart. He is still my most painful loss of a pet.

If everyone who reads this will look back on my Furby articles I believe they will see the similarities. Both kittens have the long haired tabby look and both were seriously ill at the time I rescued them. Sometimes it’s difficult for me not to call Furby the wrong name. Tramp is one reason Furby is so special to me. They are so much alike. If I could wish to have another chance with any cat I’ve ever owned it was Tramp. Somehow I’m getting my wish.

I guess I feel I’m being given a second chance with a lonely abandoned kitten. Tramp is the only rescue I couldn’t save. Everything I do for my Furby I do in his memory.

I have included the 2 pictures of Tramp. They are heartbreaking and hard to look at. I had to correct his eyes in the picture with FIP.


Hi Joyce.... A wonderful but very sad story. Thanks once again for sharing. You are certainly a cat lady. {If visitors search for "Furby" from the home page they can find some more on this fantastic boy cat}.

Or click on this link that takes you to several Furby links.

I made a slightly more special presentation of your photo of Tramp in his honour.

I am currently writing a short page about the unsung and unrecognised heroines of feral cat rescue and you are the type of person I am thinking of. Of course you are now recognised.

I very much admire your commitment, stamina and the intelligent concern that you have for your rescued cats. It is truly impressive.

Tramp:The Only Rescue I Couldn't Save to Feral Cats

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Tramp:The Only Rescue I Couldn't Save

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Jun 28, 2010 Your story made me cry.
by: Crazy Cat Lady Sandy

I just finished reading the story of tramp and how he died in you arms. You did everything possible for the little one, but I know how you grieved for him. And little Furby came into your life, so like him. I haven't read all of that yet. I'm on Catster and my kids just became furiends with Furby today. I have Boo and Shadow and Callie in loving memory. And one not on Catster, a new rescue from this spring. A stray? Lost? She had on a tight collar and she was very very thin, she weighed only 4 lbs. I took her to our no kill shelter where I volunteer, at the last minute my husband wanted to keep her, so the shelter made me a deal, they took her in, took her to be spayed and tested then I ADOPTED HER back for $25. We are seniors and money is scarce. She had a slight eye infection so I took her to the vet, he thought she was about ten months old so she was really starving at 4 pounds. By the time I took her in another couple weeks had passed and she weighed 6 pounds. The eye infection appears top be chronic. but not serious. This was in March and April,my husband wanted to call her Callie Girl after our Callie who was 13 and disappeared 8/20/08- she adopted us in AZ, brought her three kittens to us and put them under the bed. This was in '97, we kept her and Boo, the tabby boy and found homes for the girls. Callie was maybe 18 months old then. We'd been going to AZ winters, OR summers. She lived with us another 11 years before disappearing on sunny day. Boo was ten then and he is now 13. Shadow is my feral, another story. We are three now. All indoor outdoor, in at night to sleep always.

Jan 08, 2010 Just Wait
by: Joyce Sammons

Kathy I can't wait till I get to my story about Taz. She was a reincarnated cat too. I think I'll do her next. You will be crying with that one. I accidentally killed her in her first life. But I got her back.

Jan 08, 2010 sad again
by: kathy

I guess I came to the Library today to cry. I beleive God gave you Furby to take this kitties place. He gave me my Midnight back and I also got my Lia back. I dont know where the rest of my cats are but Im grateful for what I got. Midnight is not the same Midnight but I have my reasons for believing she is. I too saved 3 rescues. Sammy was used by 2 boys as a football and he was very sick and I too had to syringe feed him. The vet gave him a 10% chance of living. At the time I worked at a pet shop and was able to take him to work with me. Then I saved Starvin Marvin who had been thrown out of a car window and his back legs didnt work. He was full of worms and never did ever stand properly, or get into the litter box very good. Then I rescued Smoky who was abonded at a house. She was starving and covered with fleas. The rest is History. I would do anything to save any animal. People are so cruel. Its too bad you couldnt save the other kitties. You do a great job and I love Furby.

Jan 07, 2010 Thank you
by: Joyce Sammons

I would like to thank you in advance for the $300. It couldn't come at a better time. The main reason I rescue my babies is I have a very bad guilt complex. I cannot and will not walk away from an animal that needs my help. I'd spend the rest of my life wondering if someone else came along to save it.

Jan 07, 2010 Contribution
by: Michael

Hi Joyce, PoC is a website designed to make some money for cat charities. Each month I donate a sum of money to a selected charity.

You are a one women cat rescue charity! Anyway I would like to offer you the opportunity to either receive $300 from this website in honour of your work or for you to nominate a cat rescue charity for the same sum.

The ideal way to pay is by PayPal (
for me).

I am doing the same for Jan (note: I'll be in touch with you Jan, if you read this) another impressive feral cat rescuer.

Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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