The first thing Gracia and Louise noticed about Chocolate was how small she was. Her fur was missing in places, but the tufts of tortoiseshell still left suggested a once luscious coat that would have given her the illusion of being far bigger then she really was.
Her injuries only compounded how fragile she appeared. Sore, irritated skin and surgical scars violently marked her body, giving Gracia and Louise, her foster carers, an insight into what Chocolate had experienced before landing in their care.
“Chocolate is a very special case, and from day one we were doing everything we could for her considering what she had gone through,” said Louise.
In January of 2020, Chocolate experienced life-threatening chemical burns while under the care of her prior owner. Unwilling to pay the vet fees to help her recover, her owner surrendered Chocolate to the care of RSPCA Victoria. As always, we welcomed her with open arms, despite not knowing if she would pull through, or how much it would cost to keep her alive.
Chocolate’s burns were extensive. They trickled down from the top of her head to the base of her spine and were dotted all over her petite frame. Upon assessment, RSPCA Victoria vets noted she struggled to regulate her body temperate and was unable to bear weight on her back-hind leg due to an injury. After ongoing deliberation, it was clear that Chocolate’s leg would never work properly – too much damage had been done. And so, the decision was made. Chocolate would lose her leg.
After surgery we knew Chocolate needed some time to recover. Gracia and Louise were the perfect foster carers; patient, compassionate and willing to give Chocolate the time she needed to help her heal.
“She was scared when she first arrived, and physically, she was very, very vulnerable – such was the extent of her trauma. And she still had more surgical procedures ahead of her,” said Gracia.
“Yet despite all that, she was nothing but affectionate with us and loving. She let us look after her, nurse her, apply creams to the burns and administer other medications, multiple times a day. We let her approach us, on her terms, when she felt ready and able.
“Because of her injuries, we needed to ensure that her movement was minimal in the early days. As her skin fused along her spine, she slept in her safe house – a crate in our bathroom.”
Over time, Chocolate started showing signs of improvement. In between operations and post-surgical check-ups, she became stronger and more comfortable. Day by day, Gracia and Louise saw little bits of her personality come to life.
“We had many trips back and forth to RSPCA Burwood, and it was lovely to see how happy everyone was to see her and to see how she was progressing. Everyone was behind her. We drew strength from this, and perhaps Chocolate did too,” said Louise.
“In her recovery phase, she really just liked to be near you. She loved you sitting near her as she ate. She would eat cat biscuits from the palm of your hand. These quiet and tender moments in her company are what we remember of her journey.
“Over time, we learned more of her wise nature. She made great friends with our other animals, both cats (Arthur and Lenni) and dog (Lottie). She also liked to play with string. It was a privilege seeing her become well and strong. When she became more playful, we knew she was ready for the next stage: finding a perfect forever home.”
After an incredible 35 veterinary check-ups over three months, Chocolate was given the all clear. It was time to find her a family. After posting about Chocolate on our social media, it didn’t take long to find her the perfect new owners.
“Chocolate now lives a wonderful, pain-free life. While living with the family that has adopted her, she has grown a tremendous coat and has become confident and strong. Chocolate was such a beautiful, trusting soul. And so incredibly brave. We learned a lot from her,” said Gracia.
“She really was – is – a remarkable cat.”
To donate to help animals like Chocolate visit https://www.rspcavic.org/donate.
To find out more about RSPCA Victoria’s foster care program visit https://www.rspcavic.org/foster.