How the love and patience of a new owner transformed the life of a cat formerly used for dog baiting.
Abbie Garland, who lives in Cornwall, recently celebrated her rescue cat Buzz’s happy one year ‘Gotcha Day’. As usual, Buzz took everything in his stride and curled up next to his best friend Loki, the two-year-old Border Collie, contentedly sharing a few treats with him. They have certainly come a long way since meeting each other over a year ago.
When Buzz first arrived, he disliked Loki so much that he would go into full on attack mode at the very sight of him. Abbie eventually discovered the reason for his aggressive behaviour — Buzz had apparently been used as a bait cat. Dogs would actively be encouraged to attack him and Buzz fought back as best he could. Poor Buzz still bears the scars from this appalling period of his life, and only has half an ear on the left side of his head. In many ways though, Buzz’s story is one of triumph over adversity, as he has proved himself to be an incredibly resilient and affectionate cat, loving Loki’s company and even accompanying him on walks with Abbie if he feels like it!
“I first found Buzz when I was visiting my partner’s parents who live on the Lizard Nature Reserve in Cornwall,” explains Abbie. “It’s a very remote area and they have nine cats. When I first spotted Buzz, he was sitting on their driveway and looked incredibly skinny and ill. I mentioned this strange cat to everyone and I don’t think anyone believed me as they knew all the cats in the area and his description didn’t match any of them. However, about 30 minutes later, Buzz climbed through the kitchen window and started helping himself to cat food! I put more food down, and he started purring and let me pick him up. We had an instant connection.
“Unfortunately, at that point, someone opened the door, which spooked Buzz and he ran off. I followed him outside and spent the next three hours in 60mph winds, crouching next to the bushes that he was hiding in, trying to coax him out, but he was too scared to move.
“The next day, I borrowed a trap from a local cat rescue and eventually, after four long days, we managed to trap him. It was late at night, so we took Buzz upstairs into the bathroom, because it was a secure room, and let him out. He came to me purring and he was absolutely filthy and in a very poor state. He was so thin and I could see that his ears were badly infected. I telephoned the emergency vet’s and took him there to be cared for. Throughout the journey, Buzz rested his head in the palm of my hand and when the vet took him off me, he actually screamed. I will never forget that noise; I was in tears and just wanted to get him back. The vet estimated that he’s somewhere between six and ten years old, and they thought it looked as if his ear had been bitten off by a dog.
“I caught Buzz on June 30, 2019 and he stayed at the vet’s for about three weeks and then went to our local Cats Protection for the adoption process to start. I was able to visit and he became really excited each time he saw me. The lady looking after Buzz said she never heard him make a noise, but whenever I visited, he purred and meowed all the time! I finally took Buzz home on August 2, 2019.
“The vet and Cats Protection had put his details online to try to trace his previous owner, and a lady contacted me to say she had lived next door to his original owner and confirmed that he had been used as dog bait. He’d never been allowed into the house and the RSPCA had been called out several times. However, because Buzz was also unneutered and he kept attacking her cat, she had to feed him outside. When his ‘owner’ found out that he was being fed, he was basically dumped — it was such a heart-breaking story.
“When I first brought Buzz home, my dog, Loki, was still a baby and slept in a crate in my room at night. The problem was that this was where Buzz wanted to be as well, and for weeks I had to put Buzz outside the room until Loki was safely in his crate, otherwise he would try and attack him, as he hated all dogs.
“Thankfully, he gets on with my other two cats, and Loki and Buzz are now the very best of friends. They sleep in the same bed at night and Loki leaves some of his biscuits to share with Buzz when he’s eating. Buzz often comes out with us on local dog walks, but if I see another dog in the distance, I have to pick him up, or Buzz will go and attack it.
“Recently, I had to pick him up and hold him close as he was just about to attack a Husky! In every other respect though, Buzz is without doubt the most affectionate cat I’ve ever had, he rarely moves off the sofa or my bed. He goes out for an hour, but just sits near my car and then comes back in and goes back onto my bed.
“Buzz also used to be very fearful of other people, and would try and bite them whenever anyone tried to stroke him — particularly my partner. Now however, Buzz will let total strangers stroke him — he’s so trusting and happy. Looking at him, you wouldn’t believe his story. I love Buzz to bits and we were so lucky to find each other.”