Mr. Deeds & Ms. Squeaks
by Shannon Audino, Florida
"For the past year, Joanna has been providing tremendous amounts of love and healing to my kiddos, Mr. Deeds and Ms. Squeaks. When I first reached out to Joanna, Mr. Deeds (who was my only cat at the time) was suffering from pancreatitis and refused to eat. As we underwent several tests with the vet, we also uncovered a myriad of health issues - a heart murmur, cardiomyopathy, a minor stroke in his kidney in addition to early signs of kidney disease. Joanna gave me so much invaluable guidance through these visits and tests, essentially educated me much better than the vet did, in terms of what to ask, what to look out for in symptoms, treatment options, etc.
There were days when I wasn’t sure how much time Mr. Deeds had left, but Joanna
was reassuring and gave me lots of hope. Each week we started to see progress, and
Mr. Deeds began to eat again, which was a huge turning point for him. I would notice how much calmer and soothed he seemed after his sessions, and in general, I started to see that although he had a number of issues, we could do our best to manage them and that he was returning to his old self gradually.
In early spring, after Mr. Deeds had made a good bounce back, we had a significant change - moving from New York City to Florida. I was really stressed about making him go through this, given he was just starting to feel healthy and good again. While it was a tough move for both of us, I found that Mr. Deeds managed much better than I anticipated with Joanna staying near him before, during, and after the move and guiding me in creating safe spaces for him.
As we settled into life in Florida, we had to navigate new vets, new cardiologists, etc. Some of Mr. Deeds’ kidney issues resurfaced but we quickly got things in check, and Joanna astutely suspected a thyroid issue, which took a while to uncover because it checked okay before the move, and my vet here didn’t think to check until I asked.
In the midst of all this, I was in a local PetSmart one day and noticed that there
were some cats that needed immediate foster homes. My heart melted when I saw
Ms. Squeaks, who I had learned was 2 years old and had been living there for a year.
Against my better judgment, I volunteered to foster Ms. Squeaks, knowing it might
be stressful for Mr. Deeds to have a new cat in his home.
I felt so terrible when I could see how scared she was, not really having lived outside
a cage. I decided to try and test things, very slowly introducing the two through the doorway, cat tents, etc. - all with Joanna’s sage guidance, tips, and tricks. Given how traumatized Ms. Squeaks was, I asked Joanna to start working with her as well as I really didn’t want to send her back to a locked up life in a cage.
When I first decided to foster her, they told me that she never played and never wanted to interact with anyone, or any of the other cats. She has since turned into a sweet, curious, and playful little girl. When I see her playing with her toy mice now, or sitting in the window sill watching the world outside, I am really glad that I did not make her go back. She loves getting pet. She is still super shy and she is getting braver each day. I can tell that she is trying her best not to let fear rule her. She no longer runs back under the bed whenever there is a loud sound. And now, instead of staying under the bed, I often find her lounging on the bed or a chair :).
As for her and Mr. Deeds, Mr. Deeds was curious and accepting of her. As she relaxed and wanted to “join the family,” he became a little unsettled and disturbed that she was in his space. This is when I asked Joanna to start working with both of them together. Occasionally they would have a little spat, but for the most part, he would just meowl at her. Their relationship is a work in progress and evolves weekly with Joanna’s attention and guidance.
Needless to say, it has not been an easy road - but we are finally in a place where they are good with each other most of the time. This past week, Ms. Squeaks woke up from a nap and walked up to Mr. Deeds, then actually nuzzled his nose. I love it when I am working in the kitchen or folding laundry and I turn around and see both of them sitting near each other, just quietly watching me."