Hardy Levi’s Journey to Health

Lounging Levi, rehabilitated and ready for adoption.
PHOTO: Rachael Daniels/rachaeldphotography.com

ARTICLE BY: Jed Dolwin, Ten Lives

Like his namesake, Levi is made of tough stuff and his story is a lovely one of winning against the odds. At almost two years of age, Levi spent his time as a “friendly stray” living under a bridge in the New Norfolk area, but, as winter took hold, he was looking a bit bedraggled and a Good Samaritan thankfully brought him into the Ten Lives Centre at the beginning of June.

Upon arrival to the Centre, every cat gets an initial health check and Dr Tess Vitesnik, Ten Lives Head Veterinarian, found no shortage of issues for Levi. He had old fight wounds around his head and neck, a small tear on one of his eyelids (no: tear, not tear!), mild gingivitis, some teeth missing, and dry scabs on his chest and backside which had matted over with fur and made him look decidedly scruffy. His coat was stained, there was some evidence of fleas and, to top it all, he tested positive for FIV – the feline version of HIV. Despite the list of maladies, he had a good temperament, and it was decided we would do everything we could to help rehabilitate him.

He was housed in our hospital wing for a week where he was microchipped, desexed, dewormed, deflead, vaccinated, and put on antibiotics to solve the skin issues. A busy week for Levi, but by the end of it his condition was stable, and he was placed in our Boarding area while his Tomcat smell dissipated!

By the end of June his skin was improving but we found he was scratching himself a lot, causing raw patches on his chest and shoulder. What had been assumed to be old fight wounds, which should have healed up without issue, seemed to have an underlying allergy component, so the Vet Team tried an anallergenic diet and it did the trick! It took a couple of weeks but Levi’s skin condition improved a lot, the scabs started to heal and through it all he was very chill and affectionate.

Come mid-July, Levi was placed into a lovely foster home with Caitlin and Chris, to see how he would cope in a home environment and to ensure the special food was going to keep him itch and scab-free.

Fortunately, Caitlin and Chris are wonderfully patient, and they really fell for Levi. Caitlin told us that, despite his hardships, Levi is one of the most chilled out cats, and often relaxed in Chris’s arms, enjoying a belly rub. Despite his stray beginnings, he was unfazed by constant attention and pampering, just happy to have company. He’s still an adventurer at heart though and Levi took to wearing a lead and harness like a duck to water… or a cat to cat nip, offering a soft meow at the door when he fancied a walk.

After an initial skin flare, which settled down with a course of steroids, they challenged Levi with some normal food but within days he regressed to scratching again. So, through October, he stuck with his special food and, slowly, the scratching stopped and his skin finally cleared up beautifully.

With one last vet check-up he was deemed to finally be ready to go up for adoption. Caitlin & Chris said a sad farewell and, after five long months since first arriving at the Centre, he was ready to find his forever home.

On the 10th of November, after patiently waiting in his adoption pen, the day that we all work towards at Ten Lives arrived! Margaret came in to look for a companion and says “he was the first one I saw and I really liked him – he was beautiful”. She was going to think about it and come back the following day but, as she was leaving, Levi ran and smooched up at the door and it was enough – she thought she’d better have him! So now he is a happy, only child, being spoiled every day. When asked how he is settling in, Margaret said “he has settled in like he has lived here all his life! He’s been so relaxed and seems very happy. He sleeps next to me on the bed and sits on my lap to watch TV with me.”

Well deserved, and happy days indeed for a cat who is finally enjoying his Tenth Life!

Photos of Levi in foster care snuggling with Chris, and having fun outside on his harness.

Happy “Gotcha Day” with Margaret and Levi happy in his new forever home!

The hardest thing for a foster carer is to return a lovely cat to the Shelter for adoption, and Levi was no exception. To help him settle into his new home Caitlin generously donated his denim tunnel, a blanket, a bed and some toys that Levi loves to play with, so these went with him when Margaret adopted him. She says of Caitlin: “She has done a wonderful job caring for him, he’s a lovely boy!” Apply here to become a foster carer with Ten Lives.

How can you help cats like Levi?

Levi’s story demonstrates the effort that Ten Lives sometimes has to go through to rescue and rehabilitate an unwanted cat and, unfortunately, it can be at a significant cost.
Ten Lives operates as a self-funded charity with no ongoing support from the government. The fees we charge at adoption only cover roughly half our regular costs of rehoming a cat, or like in Levi’s case, much less than that.
A significant part of the Centre’s budget is spent on veterinary care and the foster program, without which Levi would not have recovered. Any support you can give us is gratefully received: from waiving the change if you buy something in our Retail Shop, to one-off donations, a regular sponsorship, or even leaving a bequest in your Will.

Click here to find out all the ways that you can donate and help a kitty in need.