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He Certainly Didn’t Expect To Find This in His Elderly Relative’s House


It’s never easy coming to grips with the reality of aging, especially for those that become rapidly frail. Not only does it become more difficult for people to care for themselves, but also it’s harder to care for their beloved furry companions. Such was the case with an 82-year-old man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who was sent to a nursing home. Following the move, a distant family member was put in charge of sorting out the details of the man’s former home. He went to check on the empty house to retrieve his relative’s cat, but ended up getting a shocking surprise as well as an important lesson about family.

1. Facing A New Reality

When an 82-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease could no longer take care of himself, his relative, a man named Paul Russel, helped him make the move to an assisted living facility near the man’s home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Elderly Relative

iStock.com/Dean Mitchell

The decision to move him was not an easy one. The elderly man needed medical assistance around the clock, so his relatives thought it’d be better for everyone not to leave him alone in his house. As Russel recalled, his relative “doesn’t know anybody anymore.”

2. Packing Away a Lifetime

After the move to the nursing home, Paul Russel suddenly remembered that his relative had owned a Siamese cat named Siam. Russel decided to go leave food for the poor fur baby until they figured out what to do with him.


Elderly Relative

iStock.com/Neniya

Before Russel made got to the house, somebody mentioned that his elderly relative might have owned a second cat as well. Russel decided to have a look around the house to see if in fact there was another cat milling about. He was far from prepared for what he was about to see.

3. Eureka!

Russel started looking around the house to check if everything was still in order. He found Siam and made sure that the cat had a safe environment for the time being. During this visit, a large object suddenly darted across the house. “Out from under a bed it darted,” he recalled.


Elderly Relative

thepurringtonpost.com

He figured that this was probably the second cat. The frightened animal looked like it had some kind of object draped over it, like a large blanket. He decided to return to the house the next day to bring more food and investigate what exactly scurried down into the cellar.

4. Closer Investigation

The next day Russel returned to the house with a flashlight. He felt like it was something out a horror scene when he went down to the creepy cellar. He wasn’t really sure what he was looking for, but he had a feeling it wasn’t going to be good.


Elderly Relative

thebuzztube.com

“I went into the creepy old cellar and it was hunkered in a corner, he told People Magazine. “I thought, ‘My god this is a cat.’ ”He couldn’t believe his eyes when he realized exactly what it was that he was staring at. The poor thing looked very scared and in a lot of pain.

5. “My God, Is This a Cat?!”

The creature that Russel had discovered turned out to be his elderly relative’s second cat who could barely move properly. He could make out that this cat was in fact a female Calico cat, but what he thought was a blanket draped over her was actually years worth of the cat’s own hair.


Elderly Relative

standard.co.uk

The cat looked overweight, and what made matters worse was that her hair was matted with what looked like dreadlocks measuring about 8 inches long (20 centimeters). The severely matted and tangled fur also had feces in it.

6. What Now?

Russel decided to name the cat Hidey because of her propensity to hide away under beds and in corners all the time. She seemed traumatized and looked like she was in a lot of pain. He and his wife Jill are animal lovers, so they tried to coax both Siam and Hidey to come closer in order to take them to a vet.


Elderly Relative

dailymail.co.uk

Once they managed to earn Hidey’s trust, they took the cats to the Animal Rescue League & Wildlife Shelter in Pittsburgh. Both cats were quite old, with Siam being 17 and Hidey being 14. They needed a checkup. However, Hidey’s case proved quite worrying.

7. An Unusual Condition

The vet team was totally shocked at Hidey’s dreadlocks and her decrepit appearance. The staff members had to search online because they had never really seen an animal in this condition. Even after extensive research, nothing similar was showing up.


Elderly Relative

dailymail.co.uk

The vet team knew that had to get rid of all the hair in order to relieve Hidey of her pain, but it wasn’t going to be so simple to do without hurting the poor feline. However, the team came up with a creative solution.

8. Shave It Off

Hidey was placed under general anesthesia in order for the team of veterinarians to shave off the matted hair and dreadlocks. It took quite a few hours to get rid of all the hair, and to everyone’s disbelief, Hidey had been lugging around about an extra two pounds (1 kilogram) of weight because of the hair.


Elderly Relative

dailymail.co.uk

Not only was the poor cat overweight, she also had to carry the weight of all those dreadlocks. It explained why she could barely move and looked very unwell. But how did her hair manage to grow this long and why was she so unkempt while Siam was in better health?

9. Shedding Into a Carpet of Matted Fur

No one could really pinpoint what exactly led to Hidey’s matted fur, but the vets believed the cat’s weight had a lot to do with it. Cats are known to groom themselves every day, but if they are overweight, it becomes harder to do so.


Elderly Relative

purrtacular.com

The hair Hidey would shed got stuck in the matted fur because it had nowhere to go, which explains how it got to that length and formed dreadlocks, but there was another reason why Hidey was in such a bad way before Russel came to the rescue.

10. Years of Neglect

Not only do long-haired cats such as Calicos clean themselves, their owners are also supposed to brush and groom them regularly. After some time, Hidey’s owner couldn’t tend to her, so even the simple habit of brushing a cat likely became impossible for him.


Elderly Relative

shared.com

For an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease who couldn’t even remember his own name, it’s very possible that he may have forgotten Hidey existed. This led to years of neglect for the poor fur ball, and it even affected her personality.

11. A Second Chance at Happiness

Russel and his wife Jill gave Siam and Hidey a second chance at life. After both the felines were treated and vaccinated, the Russels adopted them into their loving home in Churchill, Pennsylvania, which was already occupied by three cats and two dogs.


Elderly Relative

dailymail.co.uk

It took a while for Hidey to get used to life without all that overgrown fur. She needed to gain her trust in people again instead of living up to her reputation of hiding away all the time.

12. A Total Transformation

Hidey was initially quite standoffish and shivered when someone so much as touched her. That slowly changed the more she became comfortable in her new surroundings. Once an animal gains trust, it’s a piece of cake from there on out.


Elderly Relative

purrtacular.com

Jill was thrilled with Hidey’s progress in such a short time, and she firmly believed that it was only a matter of time until Hidey would be darting around the house playing with the other animals. That would also earn Hidey a trimmer figure.

13. Hidey’s Antics

At first Hidey hid under the bed, forcing Russel to drag her out to hold her in his lap. After a while, however, she started coming out from under the bed for attention. She even started purring, indicating her level of satisfaction and comfort in her new home.


Elderly Relative

thedodo.com

Hidey got her own special cat bed, and ever since she came out of her shell, she has enjoyed interacting with the other pets and people while sitting in her bed. Once Hidey’s story was made public, it quickly drew outrage from people all over the world.

14. Blaming the Owner for the Cat with Dreadlocks

As soon as the animal shelter posted the story and the shocking images, newspapers and TV stations around the world quickly caught wind of it and to put it simply, people were outraged for a variety of different reasons.

At first people were sickened that the pet was allowed to get into such a state. Several commenters criticized the owner before even reading the story, not realizing that the elderly man had been suffering from Alzheimer’s. Others were outraged for a completely different reason.

15. Elderly Neglect

Other people who read the story soon realized that this sad case was the result of elderly neglect, not just of animal neglect. Many people pointed out that the man should have been checked on more often and had regular visitors.

One person named Seanda Burns Bartlett commented on a post shared by the Manchester Animal Shelter in Manchester, NH. Bartlett wrote that “the root of the problem is that the elderly person was also neglected.” Many others were so shocked by the photos that they accused the shelter of something else…

16. Fake Photos

Some people could not wrap their head around the idea that an innocent cat could be so severely neglected and started accusing the photos of being fake. Others expressed disbelief that a cat would just stop grooming itself.

One commenter named Heather MacDonald Hopper responded to a story shared by WREG News Channel 3 in Memphis, Tenn. She wrote “That is a FAKE photo!…If it’s not fake, then somehow this was done deliberately!” However, animal rescue organizations were quick to confirm that what happened to Hidey is possible in real life.

17. Sick Cat

Sadly, it turns out that a cat’s fur really can become so matted that they grow tentacle-like dreadlocks, as happened with Hidey. Yes, cats are known for grooming themselves, but health issues can disturb that habit.

In the Facebook post by the aforementioned Manchester Animal Shelter, some people, such as Wanda Bailey-Bezio expressed confusion over how a cat simply stop grooming itself. The shelter responded that “Some cats may not do well at grooming themselves due to age, weight or medical conditions like arthritis.” Keep reading to meet other neglected pets that made remarkable recoveries!

18. A Fairy Tale Rescue

Shrek the dog was found by a couple on a family farm in Ontario, Canada. The dog, very frail and dirty with matted fur, was petrified of humans. Luckily for Shrek, Brenda Gough worked at Park Road Veterinary Clinic, so she took the pooch straight away to get checked out.


Elderly Relative

huffingtonpost.com

The vets named the pooch Shrek because of how sweet he was despite his decrepit condition, and because he was found near a pond. It took hours, but the vets managed to shave off all the matted fur after sedating Shrek. After a few days, Shrek started opening up to other dogs and humans and made a full recovery.

19. A Lucky Chance at Life

It was late at night when a couple from Oviedo, Florida found a stray dog covered in matted fur with a very bad smell and infested with fleas. The couple noticed how the poor dog could barely walk or go to the bathroom because of all the matted fur that covered his eyes, mouth, and paws. The couple took to Facebook for help and a dog groomer, Kari Falla, immediately came to the rescue.


Elderly Relative

dailymail.co.uk

Falla opened up her dog salon in the middle of the night to treat the stray who they named Lucky. Lucky’s matted fur caused bruising on his body because it stopped the blood flow, but Falla treated him for three hours and removed it all. He also received two hypoallergenic baths to remove the fleas, but sadly, Falla discovered that Lucky was blind and deaf. However, Lucky had the sweetest temperament and was taken in by a foster home until the right owners came along. It turns out, that with the right owners and conditions, owning a rescue pet has tons of benefits. Read on to discover the therapeutic benefits of owning a pet.

20. As Tiny as a Chap Stick

This little man was found in thick foliage along with a mommy cat and six other kittens, and rescuers couldn’t help but noticing how malnourished and tiny he was compared to the rest of the litter. What’s more, the poor little cat was unresponsive when the rescuers picked him up. After they rushed the mommy and her litter to Fabulous Felines NWA in Bentonville, Arkansas for treatment, they named the malnourished kitten Stuart Little because he measured about the same size as a chap stick.


Elderly Relative

heroviral.com

It only took a week for Stuart to grow a healthy amount of facial hair, slowly catching up to his siblings. The mother was spayed after she stopped suckling her babies, but Bessie, a surrogate mother, tended to Stuart and his siblings. She showered her new babies with lots of licks, cuddles, and love. Eventually, Stuart found a loving home and grew to become a beautiful cat.

21. Straight Out of the Woodwork

This little pooch was left to fend for himself after his owner died and the family sold the house. The neighbors would feed him, but the poor dog hid under a shed for a year. When Hope For Paws came to rescue him, the dog was hanging on for dear life with a bad eye and in terrible condition.


Elderly Relative

dailymail.co.uk

Dubbed Woody, the dog was taken in by the organization for treatment, which included a shave and clean. At first Woody wouldn’t eat and had to be fed through an IV, but after a few months he made a full recovery and boasted a full coat of curly fur. It didn’t take too long for Woody to find a forever loving home.

22. The Miracle Story of Mr. Biscuits

This eight-month-old stray feline had no idea what was in for him when he climbed into a car engine to ward off the bitter cold in East Falls, Philadelphia. A few hours later, the unsuspecting owner of the car jumped in his car and set off for work. The motorist noticed the vehicle wasn’t steering properly so checked under the hood, and to his horror discovered a trapped cat who was burned from the hot engine.


Elderly Relative

earthporm.com

The poor cat was trapped in the engine for about two hours until a Chester County animal shelter called The Grannie Project managed to set him free. He was rushed to Metropolitan Veterinary Associates and treated for severe burns. After the cat stabilized, the rescuers called him Mr. Biscuits because of how he started kneading with his paws after he felt a bit better. The Grannie Project raised money to treat Mr. Biscuits so he could find a forever home and warned motorists to knock on the hood and honk in case animals are hiding inside vehicles.

23. Outreach

On December 16, 2016, the day after the veterinary team tended to Hidey, one of the staff members at the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center posted an emotional Facebook post to create awareness about this condition and the plight of forgotten elderly citizens and their pets.


Elderly Relative

catster.com

“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 post read. Luckily for Hidey, she was given a second chance at life, and what a happy one she was about to have.

24. The Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating for a person to face. In addition to memory loss and the ability to take care of themselves, some even lose the ability to communicate. Still there are so many benefits to having a pet, provided that they can be cared for properly.


elderly relative

iStock.com/Willowpix

It is very common for people with diminishing mental and physical faculties to no longer be able to care for their beloved four-legged companions, but that doesn’t mean the pets have to be abandoned.

25. A Lesson Learned

The case of Hidey the Calico cat has become a symbol for how essential it is to check up on the elderly and their pets. Pennsylvania’s Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center even started a fund to support animals that can no longer be cared for by their senior citizen owners.


Elderly Relative

dailymail.co.uk

There are hopes that through this program, many pets will find new, loving homes even when their original loving owners are gone. Next, check out more heartwarming pet rescue stories that prove just how big of a responsibility pets really are and the power of some TLC.

26. The Healing Power of Pets for Elderly People

Extensive research shows that pets help relieve the effects of stress and depression, especially for the elderly. Pets helps reduce blood pressure, keep the owner active, and encourage social interaction. Animals also live in the now, so it helps the elderly focus on the present moment instead of being gloomy.


Elderly Relative

popjango.com

Pets can also help spark an elderly person’s long-term memory, which is why it’s helpful for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to enjoy the companionship of a loving pet. Read on to learn what to consider before getting an elderly relative a furry companion.

27. What Elderly Pet Owners Need to Consider

Elderly people not only get the benefits of owning a loving pet to whom they can devote their time; they also save the lives of unwanted animals and provide them with a loving home. However, there are a few things to take into consideration.


Elderly Relative

alnseniorcare.com

It’s best to get a middle-aged pet in good health for elderly people. That way, the pet is not as energetic as a puppy but doesn’t need the attention an ailing, older animal requires. Cats are better for senior citizens who are physically challenged because they need less care than dogs, but the person still needs to be able to groom and brush the cat. Other factors to consider are the elderly person’s financial situation, the pet’s temperament, and if the owner has previous experience with animals.

28. How to Care for Long-Haired Cats

Cats have a well-earned reputation for being self-groomers, but they certainly need their owners to keep them clean and healthy, as was demonstrated with poor Hidey. Long-haired cats who are overweight, old, or sick are more susceptible to clumped and matted fur that become knotted dreadlocks.


Elderly Relative

pinterest.com

Dreadlocks cause lots of discomfort for the cat because they become a breeding ground for mites and pests and skin disorders. Regular brushing and grooming are recommended. To remove tangled fur, it’s better to consult a veterinarian or professional groomer to avoid hurting the cat.

29. What Would You Do?

30. Who Is At fault?

31. Should Elderly People Have Pets?

32. What is the best kind of pet for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease?

33. Do you have a pet?

If you found this story inspiring, please SHARE with your friends!

Sources: TheDodo, People, DailyMail, Agingcare

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