Meet Echo! A tortoiseshell female cat of unknown age and origin who has been both unlucky and lucky in life as a barn cat. She’s a real character though, so you’ll love her and her sass!
Warning: There is one slightly graphic picture of her injured and scraped up leg in this post. If you’re sensitive to pictures of this sort, please skip this post.
I met Echo, who was unnamed at the time, when I first moved to the new training center after the closure of the previous one.
My two half-barn cats often followed me around the barns but would wait for me in the last barn they had seen me instead of coming home at first. This led to a lot of evening strolls back to the other end of the equestrian center to collect my two rascals.
That’s how I encountered Echo. She had a demanding meow and was super friendly. She immediately let me pet her. I said hi every evening outside the barn she lived. She started to recognize the sound of my keys and would show up outside to say hello in her sassy meow.
I didn’t know her name or anything. She was simply a gorgeous black tortie barn cat with an angry, demanding meow.
One Saturday evening, during my evening gathering of kitty cats, I heard a loud, demanding series of meows from a cat standing in the grass but not running towards me. I couldn’t see the cat as it was fairly dark. I just knew it was a dark cat in the grass.
As the cat didn’t approach me but was obviously trying to get my attention, I figured it was one of the cats that came out to receive a few pets as I passed with my keys jingling. I was right.
As I walked over, I saw it was the black tortie and I pet her head, but she still didn’t move and it didn’t look right. I took a moment to get my cell phone out and my flashlight on, and shined it on her hind end. She was standing weird, not putting weight on it, with one leg scraped up pretty badly, but I wasn’t able to see much in the way of details.
What I knew was at the very least, her leg might be broken. I assumed, at first, she had accidentally gotten stepped on by a horse.
Since I didn’t have a carrier or anything with me right that second and I knew which barn she was in, I went back to my small barn apartment. As it was late, I emailed the local feral cat group, the Wild Cat Foundation, here in Louisiana. I was now in a different parish than I had been before, so I was asking if I could bring her to them or if I had to bring her to a local shelter to get care.
I couldn’t afford it, then. Extensive injuries were not within my financial means then (or now, I rescue too much). There are no emergency vets near here, either. I would have had to travel a few towns over for that.
I immediately got a call back from the director, despite the fact it was late Saturday evening. At the time, I was considering whether or not to bring this hurt cat inside. For one thing, this beautiful tortoiseshell girl wasn’t my cat or from my barn, so I could potentially be stealing someone’s beloved barn cat or pet. Second, I didn’t want to add to her stress.
(It’s often very stressful on barn cats to be confined inside with a couple of strange cats. They’re in a strange room after being put in a carrier, carried away from their home, and as this poor kitty was hurt, so her stress would be much greater.)
In any case, the director of the Wild Cat Foundation asked me to send pictures during that phone call.
I decided to risk theft, and bringing her inside, so I grabbed a carrier. After I made a quick call to my co-conspirator in cat rescue to see if she was available to help me transport the cat into town on Sunday morning. She was all in.
I returned to Echo’s barn, found her inside, nestled in a pile of hay on the ground. Carefully, I got her into the carrier. I didn’t want to cause her any more pain. I took some pictures, both outside, and back at home. Her back leg was swollen and scraped up and she was in pain.
My kitty rescue partner had some leftover pain medication from her cat’s surgery and brought them to me immediately and we carefully dosed her until we could bring her into Wild Cat the next morning.
We brought her in, where they kept her safe and comfortable until Monday when their vet was available.
What Really Happened to the Poor Girl
Monday, I asked at the barn I stole her from, to be sure she isn’t a pet or anything. I found the person who feeds her and turns out I was wrong. She didn’t get stepped on by a horse that Saturday.
He told me she got hit by a car.
A WEEK before and he had been keeping her in a tack room to keep her from getting even more hurt. He said she was better so he had let her out that Saturday, which is when I found her.
I was also told she doesn’t belong to anyone and he’s not paying for it, and if I could get her a home, that would be great.
So much I could say about that, but I won’t. It’s obvious. I simply am not a fan of most humans. This is why I rescue cats. Sigh.
So Echo survived being hit by a car at the training center and had been hurt and in pain for a full week.
He assured me she was fixed, though, despite the lack of an ear-tip.
Prognosis and Recovery
I got a call from the Wild Cat Foundation about the X-Rays they got back. She had a broken pelvis and a dislocated femur. The broken pelvis is something that can’t really be fixed, just cage rest and pain medication. The dislocated femur was the problem.
If I had found Echo immediately, there wouldn’t have been a problem. The vet simply could have put the femur back into place. But since it had already started healing, it kept dislocating and wouldn’t stay in place. They had to do surgery. Otherwise, she would limp the rest of her life and have some significant pain during cold weather.
They kept her on cage rest for a couple of weeks before the surgery. They then performed the surgery. Then a week later, Wild Cat Foundation called me to come pick her up.
I had told them this pretty girl was friendly. But she was acting feral at their facility. She would hiss and growl at anyone who came near her. She was getting worse each passing day. The techs were a bit nervous.
I went in and picked her up, got her pain medication, instructions to follow up with their vet, and then got her in the car. Once she heard my keys, she started meowing instead of growling. She recognized them and me.
She still sounded so ticked and demanding!
I kept her inside, recovering. I let her sleep in a carrier with no door, so she’d feel safe from kitty ambushes.
At her follow up vet visit, the vet determined she was doing great and I need to release her outside. She needed to start exercising her leg and pelvis and she wouldn’t get better until she did.
Since her old caretaker didn’t care to have her back, I became her new caretaker and started letting her outside slowly, with access to her favorite carrier (and bed) in case she was scared.
One shaved hip, cold as crap outside, and once she got out and realized she was free, she refused to come back in.
Now: Summer of 2019
I had named her Echo because of fundraising on Facebook by the Wild Cat Foundation for her surgery. I normally try to avoid naming the barn cats because I get so attached. (They end up with weird nicknames instead, though, so I don’t think I’m succeeding on the naming or attachment issue.)
Echo started recovering and happily follows me around now. She still has a weird walk, but she can run and climb trees. It’s jumping down that she’s cautious about.
I also learned that Echo just sounds angry. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body and all her growling and sounds at cats that upset her is purely bluff. Echo has never swat or bit at me or another cat, injured or not. She passively lets me pick her up even when she’s seriously not happy about it.
She gets bullied by the other cats sometimes and she’s so passive, she just cowers away. So she’s not thrilled coming into the barn anymore, thanks to my weird ex-feral. His name is Tweety (told you, weird nicknames) and he doesn’t act like a normal cat. He is friendly and curious and has no fear of other cats and he will chase her in play. Only she is NOT playing.
Echo now prefers to hang outside the barn in the big drainpipe, or inside the hollow barn walls, or under the walking bridge. So morning and evening I go out and try to feed her separately from the other cats.
This is a hit-and-miss strategy as I’m often followed by cats.
I took her inside during Hurricane Barry as I didn’t want her to get hurt out there. She hated every minute of it and she was VOCAL about telling me so with her angry-sounding meow. She’s a barn cat, through and through. She hates being confined indoors, which is sometimes sad because she’s so sweet. Just sooo sweet. She’d make a great pet, but she’s happy outside instead.
Echo loves my cat, Buddy. She greets him with rubs when she sees him. He actually likes her too and rubs her back, which I find unusual. He tolerates other cats very well, but he never shows much affection for many of them. They don’t hang out together as Buddy is bolder and a mouse-hunter, while Echo prefers hiding and lying in the sun, away from the bully cats.
But she’s alive, seems to be pain-free, and she gets fed wet food often. She follows me when she can, even having returned to her old barn once, but she prefers life in my colony, bully cats or not.
Echo is Definitely One Lucky Cat!
Because of the caring director at the Wild Cat Foundation, she’s fully recovered and not half-bald anymore. It’s been over six months now and she’s free to be a happy barn cat again. I created two videos about her recovery that I’ll post for you all.
She’s one of my favorite cats and I love her. I wish she could be rehomed as a pet, but I saw how bringing her inside went. She tolerated it with a good hiding spot in a carrier, but she definitely wasn’t happy. She loves me, but she wants me outside with her, not inside with me.
This is why participants in TNR return so many cats to the original homes. Often times, they don’t want to be inside, friendly or not. She acted nearly feral in a shelter-like setting. She’s friendly with people but they couldn’t touch her. She growled and hissed.
Echo is one lucky cat!
Support Your Local Feral Cat Rescue
TNR involves a lot more than people understand sometimes. TNR is about spay and neuter, definitely. It’s about returning unadoptable cats back to their outdoor home, sure. But it’s also about finding homes for kittens and friendly cats, vaccinations, AND helping community cats that are injured or sick.
Please! Support your local feral cat group (or if you love Echo’s story, support my local group, the Wild Cat Foundation).
Watch her strut her stuff below! Forgive the poor quality, it’s an older video and didn’t really load well. Stay tuned on my YouTube channel for the second video of Echo’s recovery! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!
Don’t forget to check out Daisy’s page, too!