In 2016, a relative of a man suffering from Alzheimer’s decided that it was time to move his elderly relative into an assisted living home. While moving him out, he was reminded that his relative owned a cat that needed to be moved out of the house too. However, when he came back to get the cat, he made a discovery that not only shocked him, but people everywhere.
See what he discovered inside of the house and what made it so shocking to everyone involved.
Stepping In To Help A Family Member
In 2016, when an 82-year-old man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania could no longer take care of himself, his distant relative, Paul Russel stepped in to help. Russel took it upon himself to help his struggling relative move into an assisted living facility near his previous home.
Of course, the decision by Russel was not an easy one. Taking a relative away from their home and sense of independence is hard for anyone to do. However, at that point, the man needed to be cared for around the clock and Russel figured this would be the best for everyone. He especially didn’t want to let him live alone anymore as his memory worsened and his relative didn’t recognize anyone.
Was There A Second Cat?
Russel began looking for the second cat. Siam looked okay and comfortable being by himself for a little while. While looking for the supposed second cat, a large object darted from under a bed, across the house, and down into the cellar.
Assuming that it was the second cat, he noticed that it looked like it had a blanket draped over it. Russel looked down into the cellar, calling for the cat, but didn’t have any luck. He decided to come back the next day with a flashlight and more food to investigate.
Investigating The Cellar
The next day when Russel returned, he came prepared with more food and a flashlight. He described the experience like something out of a horror scene. He was going down into a basement with nothing but a flashlight, looking for something he wasn’t sure what it really was.
Russel told People Magazine “I went down into the creepy old cellar and it was hunkered in a corner.” He couldn’t believe his eyes that what he was staring at was indeed a cat. He said that the poor thing looked scared and in terrible pain.
When you see it, you won’t believe that it’s a cat.
The Cat Was In Unbelievable Condition
What Russel had found was indeed his elderly relative’s second cat. Unfortunately, it couldn’t move properly, but Russel could see that it was indeed a female Calico cat. However, what he thought was a blanket draped over the cat was actually years worth of the cat’s own hair.
The cat was also overweight which didn’t help with its mobility. To make things worse, the cat’s hair had become matted and tangled into dreadlocks that were over eight inches long. Even worse, the matted and tangled fur was covered with the cat’s own waste.
What To Do Now?
Russel named the newfound cat Hidey because she was constantly hiding under bed and other places around the house. She was clearly traumatized, uncomfortable, and in a lot of pain. Since Russel and his wife Jill are both animal lovers, they spent a lot of time trying to coax Siam and Hidey out of the house in order to take Hidey to a vet.
Once Hidey realized that she wasn’t in any immediate danger, she began to trust Russel and Jill until they finally were able to pick her up ad take her to the Animal Rescue League & Wildlife Shelter in Pittsburgh. Aside from Hidey’s condition, both cats were old. Siam being 17 and Hidey being 17, they were both in need of a checkup. However, Hidey’s situation proved to be life-threatening.
Hidey Had An Unusual Condition
Unsurprisingly, the veterinarian team was in shock when they first saw Hidey. They were so baffled by her dreadlocks that they even had to go online in order to look up what kind of condition she might be suffering from. Unfortunately, after extensive research, they still couldn’t find an answer.
Although they couldn’t find what exactly was wrong with her, they knew they needed to do something to help her immediately. They needed to remove the hair to relieve her from their pain, but they also didn’t want to hurt her in the process.
Continue on to see what they did next!
They Shaved It Off
Finally, they came up with what they believed to be the best solution to their problem. They decided to shave it off. So, in order to calm Hidey and alleviate her pain, they put her under general anesthesia so that the vet team could go to work. In the end, it took hours to shave off all of the cat’s excess hair.
In total, Hidey had been carrying around an extra two pounds of hair this whole time which was stretching and pulling on her skin underneath. She was also overweight and looked to be in bad condition compared to Siam.
But why was Hidey so much worse off than Siam?
Hidey Couldn’t Groom Herself
At first, the vets believed that Hidey had some sort of condition that caused her fur to grow the way it did. However, they later concluded that it was Hidey’s weight that was the source of the problem. Cats groom themselves frequently throughout the day, however, if a cat is overweight, this becomes harder for them to do.
The hair that had become stuck in Hidey’s fur had nowhere else to go since she couldn’t groom it off of herself. So, it began to grow and clump together so bad that there was nothing that Hidey could ever do to stop it.
She Was Neglected For Years
When it comes to long-haired cats like Calicos, not only are they supposed to clean themselves, but their owners are also supposed to help out and brush them regularly because of their extra hair. Since Hidey’s owner could hardly take care of himself, it is likely that he wasn’t up for the task of taking care of Hidey either.
In the years that Hidey’s elderly owner suffered with Alzheimer’s, Hidey’s hair growth became out of control and she became trapped beneath her own fur with no chance of escape. What was once a healthy cat had become skittish and miserable because of neglect.
See how she got a second chance at happiness.
Adopted By The Russels
After both cats had been treated and vaccinated, the Russels decided to give both cats a new chance at life. The couple adopted the two cats into their home in Churchill, Pennsylvania where they would become members of the family along with their other three cats and two dogs.
Of course, the transition wasn’t all that smooth for Hidey. Not only did she have to learn to live with two human owners and all of the other animals, she also had to learn to live without all of her old excess fur. Over time, she slowly became more comfortable, however, she was still traumatized from her past.
See how much she’s transformed!
A Full Transformation
Initially, Hidey was incredibly afraid and skittish. So much, that she would shutter and shake whenever anyone even came near her. Thankfully, over time, Hidey began to come around after becoming familiar with her new surroundings and fellow pets. After the Russels earned her trust, it was smooth sailing from there.
Although the process was slow and arduous, Jill had faith that eventually Hidey would become comfortable enough to play with the other animals. She knew that not only would this help with her social issues but would also help her get back into shape.
Jill was right!
A New Hidey
Although at first, Hidey was timid and liked to hide under the bed at the Russels, they knew she needed to learn affection. So, they began taking her out in the open and holding her on their lap. Eventually, she began coming out from under the bed herself for attention. She even started purring showing that she was enjoying her new home.
She even got her own special cat bed and has now come into her own. Today, she loves playing with her other friends in the house and even enjoys the company of people who come to visit her on her cat bed.
Although Hidey made a full recovery, when her story went public, it outraged people all over the world.
Blaming The Owner
Almost immediately after the shelter posted Hidey’s story online, the story was told in magazines, newspapers and television stations everywhere. It was shocking to everybody and people were outraged for a variety of different reasons and weren’t afraid to express their opinions.
Initially, people were in disbelief that anyone could let an animal become in such a state. Several people immediately put the blame on the owner without realizing that the man had been suffering from Alzheimer’s. others, however, were outraged for entirely different reasons.
People Claimed Elderly Neglect
Other people that took the time to read deeper into the story came to understand that it wasn’t necessarily the owner’s fault for the condition that Hidey was in. It then became an issue of elderly neglect and not animal neglect. People began to point out that the elderly man should have been checked up on more for his own safety if not for the animals.
People began to wonder if this is what the animals looked like, then what did the man look like? Someone was bound to notice Hidey at least once if people had come to visit more frequently than they apparently did.
Some people claimed that the story was fake altogether.
Claiming The Photos Were Fake
Some people didn’t blame the owner or cry elderly neglect. They were so astonished by the photos and stories that they claimed the entire thing was a hoax altogether. Not only could they not wrap their heads around that kind of neglect, they also refused to believed that a cat would just stop grooming itself.
While one comment demonstrated a woman’s firm beliefs that the photo was fake, she was quickly corrected. Animal rescue organizations from all over explained that was happened to Hidey is entirely possible and that she was lucky to be found when she was.
People Didn’t Believe A Cat Would Stop Grooming Itself
While most of us that have cats rarely have to groom them ourselves, some people couldn’t believe that Hidey would just stop grooming herself. What they failed to understand is that in certain situations, especially when their health is affected, cats will stop doing so.
While Hidey’s case may be rare, it is possible for it to happen to other cats and most likely has. Thankfully, most cat owners are likely to catch something like this before it ever happens to their cat. The main reason that it happened to Hidey was because her situation was the perfect storm for something like that to happen.
See what the animal shelter that saved Hidey had to say.
The Animal Shelter Makes An Announcement
On December 16, 2016, just one day after Hidey had been brought into the animal shelter, the team made a public announcement. Staff members of the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center posted on Facebook in order to create awareness about forgotten elderly citizens and their pets.
The post read “Please remember to not only check on the elderly in your community, but also check on their animals to prevent instances like this from happening in the future.” The vets knew that Hidey was going to be okay but felt it was important to remind people so that this doesn’t happen again.
Although Hidey’s condition was a direct result of her owner’s illness, there are still benefits to the elderly having pets as long as they are kept under a watchful eye.
Pets Actually Help The Elderly
A multitude of research has proven that pets help to relieve the stress that some elderly experience, especially when they are plagued with an illness. They help to reduce blood pressure, keep the owner active, and help with social interaction. Animals are an easy way for the elderly to take their mind off of things which is greatly beneficial to mental and physical health.
Pets can also help with long-term memory which is very helpful for people with Alzheimer’s. It’s different than remembering a person and they don’t ask for anything except love and attention. However, it’s essential that the only time an elderly person has a pet is if they’re being looked after or if they’re aware enough to safely own one.
A Lesson Was Learned
Although it was unfortunate that it happened to Hidey, the Calico cat has become the symbol for the importance of checking up on the elderly and their animals. Since her rescue, Pennsylvania’s Animal Rescue League & Shelter Wildlife Center started a fund to support animals that can no longer be cared for by their senior citizen owners.
Through the program, the goal is to find loving and caring home for all animals whose elderly owners can no longer care for them or have passed away. This way, people know that senior citizens and their pets are both being looked out for.