It may have been almost ten years ago when Brush escaped out the back door at the Westchester Cat Show, but he still remembers that horrendous experience and even now is still gun shy, never quite recovering 100 percent from his two-week long nightmare that almost killed him.
It was a horrendous tale for him and his mother, Audrey Hobbs of Lewiston. And while showing Brush and his brother Smudge, at the recent Augusta NauTICAts Cat Show, she shared Brush’s story.
He startles more easily. He’s not as confident unless it’s a place where he feels secure. He’ll never go back to White Plains…or the Westchester Cat Show, ever again.
It was November of 2002 when little Brush got loose at the show.
Hobbs took thee two classic brown tabby and white short haired kittens. They were living in a bucket behind the milking barn of a nearby farm. Her vet suggested she show the kitties in the Household Division of the TICA (The International Cat Association. In March, at 10-weeks, she showed the boys and they did quite well.
The Westchester Cat show in White Plains, NY, was to be more than just any show. She had champagnes and a cake with Brush’s picture on it, in honor of his newly earned Supreme Grand Championship Title on it. Once the show was over, they were going to celebrate that honor.
But that celebration didn’t happen. Hobbs was showing Brush and Smudge in the same class. Her friend Vikki was carrying brush up to the ring, when something spooked him. Brush was trying to jump from her arms. She quickly gave her Smudge and tried to hang onto Bush, but he was panicked, pulling away from her. They both fell to the ground, and she lost hold of him. He was running away. While it’s not that unusual for cats to get loose at show hall, this story unraveled.
According to her online account, she ran through the judging ring, under the dividing curtain and towards the rear of the building. A door leading to the rear of the hall was ajar because of a bent hinge. That hallway led to the doors to the rear parking lot. Those doors were also open because some employees were outside smoking and had left that door open. The cat was nowhere to be seen.
She took the victory photo to have lost cat posters made. She and friends from the cat show helped her plaster the area with posters. She talked with everyone she could find. She had papered the area with flyers of her lost cat. She had talked to many people, asking if they’d seen a cat fitting his description. There was no sign of him. People in the area would keep watch, and keep in touch. She had to leave Monday without Brush.
Two weeks later, it was snowing. She made the 400 mile trip from Maine to White Plains hoping the new snow would lead her to her beloved Bush. There had been no sign of him in two weeks.
She got some heat sensor equipment so that if he’d burrowed underneath the leaves, he could be found.
It was Friday around midnight. She was driving around the area, hunting all over the neighborhood for signs of her cat. There was a parking lot behind the community building where the show had been held She saw cat tracks, leading her to hope that Bush was there. She was on the phone talking to a friend who is also a cat show judge. She saw a flash of white. then, she was something running, hiding underneath a dumpster.
Brush has a bit of white that wraps around his hip, she said. It was a dark cat with a flash of white. She threw the phone down on the floor and grabbed for a dish of food.
She got down on all fours, looking underneath the dumpster and saw white fur from under the dumpster. She grabbed him. He was nothing but skin and bones. She immediately called home. Brush was found, but not out of the woods.
There was snow on the ground. It was cold. She put him in a carrier in the car. She tried to find a hotel where she could stay with the cat. She knew he needed more warmth than the car and a blanket could provide. The hotel where she’s stayed for the cat show told her she couldn’t stay there. They’d made an exception for “the event.” She asked, can you point me in the direction of a Motel 6, a pet friendly hotel. They offered her no help, no suggestions and no maps.
She drove two hours, all the way to Hartford, CT., to a Wellesley Inn where she’d stayed for Connecticut cat shows. They were pet friendly. There they could re-group for the long trip home.
He cried all the way to Hartford. He was stinky from dumpster dumping.
She gave him some bottled water in the carrier. Poland Spring was all he’d drink. He wouldn’t touch it. He wanted water out of a bowl, something he’d never consider before.
Once at the hotel, she tried to clean him up a bit and make sure he was warm. He’d curl up on the bed, but he was restless. He’d get up and cry. He’d head towards the bathroom, where he’d try to drink from the bathtub spicket. He slept on the bed next to her, putting his paw on her arm or hand. The touch and feel was comforting to him. He did that for the longest time, she said.
After he got home and to the vet, she found he’d lost 30 percent of his body weight. The vet was afraid of kidney failure due to starvation.
He had two bite marks from rats. His left top and bottom canines were broken, and he had a very nasty cut from presumably metal, but it wasn’t certain where it had come from. The vet told her to let him eat, drink and rest, and see how he’d do.
When Brush got home, his brother, Smudge, followed him, almost knowing that he needed someone to care for him.
Hobbs said Brush was only ten week s old when she got him. He’d gone from momma cat to a pampered inside life. He had no survival skills. “I doubt if he ate anything other than what he scavenged from that dumpster during those two weeks.”
He still goes to the shows, but depending on his mood, she may show him not. He’s still pretty skittish on the table.
Hobbs online story Brush’s experience can be found at at www.showcatsonline.com/brush.shtml