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Olivia goes home—after a year-and-a-half

By Eyal Lichtmann

Published 1:12 PDT, Wed June 24, 2020

There are bittersweet moments in the lives of folks who work in animal rescue. Recently, we were overjoyed that Olivia, a beautiful cat who has been at the RAPS Animal Shelter for a full year-and-a- half, finally found a forever home. As happy as we all are for her, we are also sad for ourselves, because Olivia has become a fixture and a favourite among staff and volunteers.

Olivia was surrendered to RAPS in January 2019 and was just adopted in early June 2020, after 18 months at the shelter.

When she was surrendered, Olivia had a large, unexplained wound on her right cheek. We later discovered that when Olivia gets stressed she self-mutilates by scratching at her face until it is an open wound, or by over-grooming herself until she has bald spots.

Olivia has spent a great deal of time wearing a cone to let her wounds heal. She also has to wear a cone anytime her environment changes to prevent her from inflicting additional harm on herself due to stress.

When she first came to us, Olivia was overweight, which was a concern because it could cause further health problems, so we have been working to bring her weight down. She also became quite sick and was diagnosed with both pancreatitis and the early stages of kidney failure. Both conditions were treated by the vets at the not-for-profit RAPS Animal Hospital for a number of months and she was also put on a health regime. She has seen huge improvements.

We also discovered that Olivia does not appreciate the company of other cats. To ease her stress, we moved her into a separate building called the trailer (that serves as the animal shelter offices) away from other animals so she could have her own space. Olivia’s personality really started to shine as she was able to be the Queen of the Trailer. She is a big girl with a bold and sassy personality, but she is also very lovable. Staff got used to Olivia stealing chairs as soon as anyone stood up. She also amused herself by tipping my water glass over onto my paperwork. She provided us with lots of joy and entertainment while living in the trailer.

Olivia had been posted for adoption many times but never received any interest, which everyone at the shelter found shocking. We posted her for adoption again during COVID-19 and she finally received interest. A gentleman named John reached out wanting to meet Olivia, and we set up a meet-and-greet for John and his wife to come see Olivia. John instantly loved Olivia and wanted to take her home.

After a pre-adoption checkup to review her pancreatitis and kidney problems, nothing abnormal was found, so all the care and treatments advised by RAPS’ veterinarians worked. She is still overweight and needs to lose a few pounds on a special diet. John was very understanding of all Olivia’s needs and very excited to bring her home.

“Olivia had a fantastic first night, no stress,” John said the day after taking her home. “She explored her surroundings and has already picked out her favourite chair.”

Like John, all of us fell in love with Olivia and her funny quirks but we were all also absolutely over the moon with happiness that she was finally going to her new home. In some jurisdictions, a cat with her history and challenges might have faced euthanasia because of the long-term health recovery requirements and extensive veterinary costs. But RAPS is well positioned to provide support and long-term care for animals because of the assets we have built with the RAPS Animal Hospital and the RAPS Cat Sanctuary. If Olivia had not been adopted after 24 months, she would have been transferred to live out a wonderful life at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary.

Because of the support of animal-loving people in our community, we are proud to be a no-kill organization. Olivia is a testament to that promise. 

Eyal Lichtmann is CEO and executive director of the Regional Animal Protection Society.

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