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Rescuing Sadie

From "Garden Kitty" to housecat

By Jen SullivanPublished 2 years ago 7 min read
Sadie closeup, taken by Jen Sullivan

In April 2019, a sweet, grey female cat started hanging out on our patio and in my garden. My two cats were mixed about the stranger, with Loki, my oldest, interested in this new cat and DiNozzo, my rescued black cat, unhappy that there was an invader. Our dog, Misha, a 45-pound Border Collie/Labrador mix, did not seem to care, aside from the excitement it created in the cats.

I went outside to meet this kitty and she eagerly came to me, wanting attention. She was small and fluffy, and she had the sweetest personality. She had no collar and was clearly hungry, so we gave her some food. I was upset and angry that someone had abandoned such a sweet cat, or that they did not care enough to look for her if she was lost. We guessed someone had moved out and left her, and she found us because of the smell of our pets.

The stray cat on the patio

The cat stayed near our apartment, basically living in my garden and chilling on our patio. I put extra bowls outside with water and food for her, but hoped she had a home and would return to it. We started calling her the “patio cat,” or sometimes the “garden cat.” I would come home from work and she was there waiting for me, excited to see me again. She did not like to be picked up, so I would just pet her and make sure she had food and water.

The garden kitty left once and I hoped she went home, but she returned, hungry again. I suspect she had gone off hunting in the park behind our townhome complex, or maybe she found another household who fed her. When the cat came back, my mom and I put an old towel in a box for her, placing it inside my mini greenhouse so the cat could have shelter from the rain. It was almost May, so the temperatures were mild, though we did have a few cold nights.

After we set up a little home for her in my greenhouse, she never left again. She waited on the patio for affection and kept guard over the garden. It was obvious this cat had already decided that this was her home and we were her people. After a few more days, I scooped her up and put her in our basement with her box and bowls and made an appointment with our vet. "Patio cat" had become "basement cat."

In the basement

The poor cat had ear mites and fleas, which was not a surprise. She was otherwise healthy, so we planned to add her to our family since none of the rescues in our area ever got back to me. I did not want a sweet cat to be euthanized due to overcrowded shelters, and I had already invested over two hundred dollars in this cat at the vet. She was ours now, whether my husband liked it or not.

We waited a couple of extra days for the ear mite medication to kill off her infestation and then started introducing her to the rest of the pets. I started with brief introductions before letting her return to the basement. Loki did not mind, always willing to accept another cat into the clowder. He only ever minded Misha because she was a strange animal very unlike a cat, and even that friendship did not take long…with help from treats.

On May 4, 2019—Star Wars day—“basement cat” officially became a housecat and permanently joined the household.

DiNozzo was not happy with this change at all. He hated the young female and voiced his disagreement. However, he kept his distance, preferring to avoid the situation rather than attack the new cat. He never handled change well and has always been skittish, making me curious about his life before he was rescued by PAWS of Pennsylvania. But his story is for another time.

The former “garden kitty” now had a home, and after a lot of debate, she had a name. My husband wanted to name her “Freya,” but I was not a fan. Loki was enough for Norse mythology in our home. He lived up to his name in his younger days, knocking over lamps, Christmas trees, and chewing cords. This new girl just did not seem like a Freya to me, so I pushed back against the name.

I have been a fan of the game Red Dead Redemption since 2010 and eagerly awaited the sequel in 2018. There was a character in the game name Sadie Adler, and that seemed to be the personality of this young cat. She was sweet, yet feisty and could hold her own against even those who were bigger than her, which, in the case of our new cat, was everyone else in the household.

The garden kitty became Sadie, and the name suits her well.

Over the first year, we took Sadie to get her spayed, continued to fight ear mites, and watched as our adorable fluffy little girl became a massive housecat. She bulked up after her spay surgery, which actually coincided with my total hysterectomy after a diagnosis of pre-cancerous growth. My medical leave from work and my recovery allowed us to bond while we both healed, though her recovery was faster.

I also did not have to wear a suit to prevent me from picking at my incisions. Just two days after my surgery, I had to take Sadie to the vet because her stitches were infected. She was given a cone to wear, which made her immobile and she just looked so sad. A couple of days later, her pink "cat recovery suit" arrived from Amazon. She was very happy to lose the cone and did not fight wearing her suit.

Seeking attention in her "cat recovery suit"

Our vet had guessed that Sadie was about a year old when we took her in. I think she was a little younger, guessing she was maybe around eight or nine months, especially considering how much she grew. We suspect she is part Maine Coon, because although the extra around her waist is easily contributed to her obsession with food, her frame is massive, along with her paws. Overall, she is just a very big cat.

She started to eat more than her share of the food, likely from her days of living outside and never knowing when she would eat again. I eventually had to invest in feeders that opened with a tag or microchip, allowing DiNozzo and Loki to graze as they wanted without Sadie (or Misha) stealing their food. By that point, she had already gained extra weight on her waistline.

Sadie watching "A Bug's Life" on the new TV

I often wonder where she came from and how she got here. Was she truly abandoned? Or was she someone’s pet who decided to find a better caretaker? She has never seemed feral, unlike Loki who was a feral kitten and seems to have genetics unlike most housecats, mainly in hunting skills.

It saddens me that such a sweet cat had to go through so much in her life. Even today she still has ear problems caused by her mite infestation three years ago. She will probably always have sensitive ears as a result of the mites. I have no doubt that her food obsession is caused by her days as a starving stray cat, leading to her struggles with obesity and resulting in hygiene issues around her rear area. She has cost us over a thousand dollars in vet bills since taking her in, more than any other cat so early in the relationship.

My husband took to Sadie immediately, which initially upset DiNozzo as that was his human. DiNozzo has since accepted it and realized that we will always pet him when he asks, and he does this ever so politely by tapping your arm. Sadie is extremely social and playful, though she gets aggressive when overstimulated or if she has catnip—I always say she’s a mean drunk. She will probably never get along with the other pets. Her desire to ambush them does not help her case. In his younger days, Loki would have enjoyed this kind of play. Now, he wants to sleep and relax in his retirement, with DiNozzo occasionally cuddling next to him.

Misha tolerates her, ignoring the times Sadie thinks Misha’s tail is a plaything. During the first few days, Misha gave this look, as if asking why would we want another fluff ball with claws. She still gives that look now and then. She gives Sadie space when the cat demands it, but they will share the couch if they both want to sit with me. Sadie gets jealous that Misha gets to go outside without a harness—Sadie cannot be trusted off leash, both in hunting and in running away. I care too much to let her wander among the dangers of the outdoors, especially in my neighborhood.

I started a blog for her called “Sadie the Cat,” though my job and busy life prevent me from updating it as often as I should. She might drive us crazy some days, but we do truly love her and I am so glad that I made the decision to rescue my sweet and feisty Sadie.

Our full-figured floof


About the Creator

Jen Sullivan

I am a gamer, a geek, a writer, an entrepreneur, and a gardener, among many things. I have a lot of knowledge and opinions to share with the world, along with creations from my chaotic mind.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (4)

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  • Mariann Carroll2 years ago

    What a sweet cakes, she looks so cute in her pink medical suit. Lovely story , it’s amazing how easier it is to introduced new pets than it is human .

  • Cathy holmes2 years ago

    She's adorable. Well done.

  • Lovely hopeful story and some great pictures. You hooked me and got a new subscriber.

  • Awwww Sadie's so cute in her recovery suit. This was such a wonderful story!

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