One woman’s typical afternoon turned into a race to save the life of an innocent cat who was all too familiar with how cruel humans can be.
Sarah Richardson, special needs cat foster/rescuer of Community Cats of Central Arkansas, will never forget what she witnessed that day.
“I was horrified when I saw a facebook post about a cat covered in gasoline,” said Sarah.
Rushing to The Rescue
Sarah dropped everything and rushed to retrieve the cat, later named Zena.
No pictures could have prepared Sarah for how heart breaking this case would be.
“The look on her face when she came here screamed ‘help me’,” Sarah recalled.
Zena was barely alive– she was so weak that she was incapable of moving.
Had it not been for a faint pulse and her subtle eye movements, one would have thought Zena was already dead.
“No part of her body was moving. We started giving her fluids immediately,” said Sarah.
The fluids helped flush her kidneys of the toxins from the gasoline that could cause permanent kidney damage.
But this was only the beginning…
Undoing The Damage
The next step would be freeing Zena from the gasoline she was trapped under.
Zena had been under the care of someone else prior to Sarah and had failed to follow the gasoline removal protocol.
Sarah warns that if you come across an animal covered in gasoline, it is imperative NOT to use dish soap until after applying baking soda.
The best and safest way to remove gasoline is with baking soda, which is exactly what Sarah and her family did.
They covered Zena’s frail body with baking soda and waited a few hours for it to absorb the chemicals before washing it off.
“There was so much gasoline on her head and cheeks that they had to repeat the baking soda method three times,” Sarah recalled. “By the third time, you could smell gas across the whole house.”
With her fur finally freed of gasoline and Sarah consistently giving her fluids, Zena finally stood a chance at surviving.
However, a trip to the vet left Sarah crushed.
Beating The Odds
Zena’s condition was so severe that the vet didn’t think she’d survive the toxins poisoning her fragile body.
She was suffering greatly, which led the vet to recommend she be euthanized.
“When the vet suggested we euthanize her, I said no. I wasn’t going to give up until I’d done everything in my power to save her,” said Sarah.
To make matters worse, Zena was severely malnourished and dehydrated.
The full-grown adult cat weighed in at less than 6 pounds. She was skin and bones but too weak to eat.
For the next 8 days, Sarah and her family held Zena in their arms and syringe fed her.
Zena couldn’t even drink water alone. When she tried, her face would end up face-down in the water.
She was so weak that she couldn’t hold her head up to drink.
Zena needed constant supervision and round-the-clock care. Her life depended on it.
The Truth Revealed
“She was terrified of people– extremely timid and shy,” Sarah recalled.
It was clear Zena was a victim of abuse.
Sarah’s heart broke when thinking about the events that could have led Zena in such a horrible position.
Sarah suspects that Zena was very likely doused with gasoline to be burned alive.
How Zena managed to escape is still a mystery.
To add to the horror, Zena had gone far too long trapped under gasoline-soaked fur. She was on the path of suffering a slow, painful death.
Had Sarah not rescued Zena when she did, she would have died shortly afterward.
Zena was moments away from a tragic fate. Sarah was just in time.
The Road to Recovery
Little by little, Zena started to gain strength.
Sarah was elated the first time Zena ate the tiniest spoonful of wet food.
Zena had a long road ahead. Even the smallest amount of progress were huge victories.
By the second week, Zena started walking! She could finally eat, drink, and use the litter box by herself.
Zena continued to lose clumps of fur that had once been soaked in gasoline.
Sarah remained optimistic, knowing Zena was shedding parts of her traumatic past.
The new fur Zena grew would mark a new chapter of her life– one where she was safe and loved.
“We heard her purr for the first time and it melted my heart. This was the fist time she felt safe,” said Sarah.
Sarah is known for rescuing cats with severe medical cases most people turn away or choose to euthanize.
She’s no stranger to abused and neglected cats, but Zena’s case left her heartbroken.
“Out of all the cats I’ve ever helped, Zena has been the saddest case,” said Sarah. “I hate thinking about what kind of neglect she experienced in her previous life.”
While there were many questions that will never be answered, one thing is certain.
Zena would never have to worry about anyone hurting her ever again.
Help Zena Find Her Forever Family
Zena has been adoptable for months, but no one has given her a chance.
Instead, she’s been overlooked in favor of other cats and kittens.
Sarah is determined to place Zena in the best possible home.
“We’ve cried so much about this cat,” said Sarah. “We held her in our arms like a newborn baby and nursed her back to good health. We fought hard for her to survive and overcome this.”
After all Zena has been through, Zena deserves a life of luxury in a very special home.
Zena is understandably still a little timid. She’s scared of people but doesn’t mind other cats.
She needs a family that will love her unconditionally and appreciate her journey.
Hopefully someone will give this sweet girl a chance.
Zena is still in foster care with Sarah in Central Arkansas.
If you or someone you know is interested in adopting her, click here to send Community Cats of Central Arkansas a message on Facebook.
Please share this story in hopes Zena will finally live happily ever after.
About Our Hero
Sarah Richardson is one of the few rescuers in Arkansas who volunteers to rescue senior cats and adult cats with severe medical conditions.
Thanks to Sarah and her family, cats like Zena are given a second chance at life.
If you’d like to help by donating food or supplies directly to Sarah directly through her Amazon Wishlist, click here.
If you’d like to donate toward an injured senior cat’s medical costs, click here to learn how you can help.
Be sure to follow Sarah on Instagram and see more of her adorable rescue cats!