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Shreddie’s Story - All about Sheddie - the Cat with Sad Eyes by Barbara Kay UK

All about Sheddie - the cat with sad eyes

In 2019, I was living with my two cats, Mr Fluffy McWhiskerson - a very large ginger male who looks like a Norwegian Forest Cat, and Precious - a very small ginger female who looked like a British Shorthair kitten. They got on pretty well, although Whisk was always wanting to play and she was quite old and intimidated by his size.

Whisk had turned up years before, a stray who lived in our shed, and hung out in the garden. He eventually moved in during a very snowy January. Presh was a rescue from the RSPCA.

So we were all living quite happily together, and then it was summer 2019, when the unneutered toms were marauding the wall-ways. I had noticed a face appearing in the window of the shed earlier in the year, and he had turned into the head tom cat for the area.

He beat up Whiskerson one night - we knew it was him as he was the fierce head tom and Whisk can hold off most cats with one long arm as he is so large.

Another time, Whisk, Presh and I were in the garden and from nowhere, the tom leapt off a wall and onto Precious, trying to mate with her. I managed to get him to go away, and Presh ended up at the vets getting her pelvis checked out... 

I see from photos and videos that I had started to feed Sheddie the Shed Cat earlier in the year. He was always very polite, never said a word but just looked at me with his sad eyes until I had given him 3 bowls of food. When he was full, he would stop the sad eyes, turn away and stretch and then I wouldn't see him for  a day or two.  

By the summer he was letting me stroke him while he ate - I sometimes put out catnip for him to roll in. But he was getting very scabby and skinny and I knew it was time to do something to help him properly. His fur had turned gingery, and he had now got a tail injury and a watery eye.

I had no idea how fierce he would be, even though he knew me, and he might be extra fierce with the gingers. I invited him into the house to have a  look round while I worked out what to do - I sealed up the catflap for a start. 

He had a vet's appointment booked so I picked him up and put him in the cat basket - extremely easy. Less trouble than either ginger. I got him to the vet and they confirmed he wasn't chipped. He was quite smelly, scabby, a strange orange colour at his rear end and with a sore eye. I asked them to neuter him, chip him and to check him over - I was going away the next day so he had to stay at the vet's for a couple of nights.

My daughter went to collect him and the vet said "He's FIV positive, shall I put him to sleep?"

Luckily I had been following many cats extensively on Instagram, particularly Mr Belvedere and Leo, who had been wild and were FIV and I saw how well tthey settled down, and knew that FIV really wasn't very catching - and my daughter had been following these cats as well. So of course she was outraged at this suggestion and brought him home. (Strangely I have never heard another negative comment about FIV at that vet and they've always been really supportive of him).

Anyway, he came home and lived in the dining room for a few days while the others had the run of the house. He turned out to be very polite and amenable,and loved strokes, and it was soon time to introduce everyone. Obviously, even though he was as large as Whisk, he was obliged to be number 3 cat (Presh was number 1 and got fed first). Presh always had reservations about him, especially as he liked to annoy her on purpose.

Within a month he was settled in.

His kidneys weren't functioning very well, even though they reckoned he was a young adult, so I fed him Royal Canin Renal wet food at vast expense. It soon became apparent that he had bad stomatitis, so had to have half his teeth out.

He never fought with the other cats, just bickered like all cat friends do, so I wasn't worried about deep bites, plus now half his teeth had gone. Gradually we got to know him better - he had a great fondness for bread. I expect he used to eat bread put out for the birds when he was wild. He was very scared of men and would hide under the table for hours if they even came to the front door. He wasn't much keener on women to begin with although my daughter won he over with food in the end.

He and Whisk started to build a friendship. Whisk was rather nervous of him for a long time - after all, Sheddie had beaten him up quite badly!

Precious was never completely convinced - she was the one who had had to get her hips checked. And she was considerably smaller than the other two.

And he led Whisk into all sorts of trouble. Whisk is always keen to do the right thing if possible, but Sheddie does what he likes. There has been more than one occasion when the box of cat biscuits has been tipped on the floor, freshly baked bread has been attacked and bags of food destined for the freezer have been attacked. He just looks with sad eyes until you laugh.

Eventually Sheddie had the rest of his teeth removed and his gums have been healthy since. He has now blossomed in to a magnificent chap, his kidney function has improved with the Royal Canin, and he will hopefully live a long and healthy life. Unlike human HIV without meds, FIV does not lead inexorably to AIDS. But it does reduce his immunity (I'm in a similar boat here), so he stays indoors, which suits him nicely, and he can't have vaccinations. 

I am happy for Whisk to stay indoors as well - he has a sort of PTSD from his time on the streets and used to get very stressed with the outside world.

Sadly Precious is no longer with us. She died when she was possibly 22. So it's now just the boys. They have become much closer and often gallumph around the house at night, chasing each other. Sheddie still doesn't speak apart from the odd brip. Whisk does the food shouting and Sheddie looks at me with sad eyes until I give in...

So don't listen to people who say that FIV positive cats can't live with FIV negative cats. Or that they will die at any second. Or any of the other stupid things.

This is Shedward "Sheddie" Sheddington. He would have died on July 25th 2019 if we had listened to that aberrant vet. Instead he has his own Instagram account - @sheddiefanclub2023, very strong opinions about knotty fur, and has brought Whisk (and me!) great joy after Precious died.

With best wishes


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