Cats are typically viewed as self-sufficient creatures who can fend for themselves. They typically roam outdoors for extended periods, returning solely to eat and groom, making them low-maintenance pets. However, certain breeds of cats possess fur that demands regular grooming, and neglecting it can result in chaos.
In the instance of Hidey the cat, her owner was incapable of providing the necessary grooming, leading to years of neglect. The poor animal was in such a bad condition, the rescuer initially mistook the anxious Hidey for a feline concealed under a blanket. He likened the experience to a scene from the sci-fi film Alien. Unaware of the presence of a second creature in the residence, the man had visited to inspect the well-being of his elderly relative’s cat. However, he couldn’t identify the mysterious animal lurking in the same abode.
“Out from under a bed it darted,” Paul Russell told PEOPLE. “At first I thought it was a cat that had a blanket on top of it. The next day I went into the creepy old cellar and it was hunkered in a corner. I thought, ‘My god this is a cat?!’ ”
After discovering Hidey, the 14-year-old neglected feline who was named for her tendency to hide, an animal-loving couple from Churchill, Pennsylvania, took both cats into their care. They subsequently arranged for an appointment at the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, where the staff eliminated the matted fur that had accumulated over several years on Hidey’s body.
The Russells, who named the cat and claim that her previous owner has Alzheimer’s disease and is no longer aware of her surroundings, believe that the mats resulted in part from the obese feline’s incapacity to groom herself properly. Since her rescue, Hidey has become a symbol of the importance of monitoring the well-being of elderly individuals and their pets.
“The companionship of a pet can bring many positive benefits to the elderly, however, owning a pet is big responsibility,” said Dan Rossi, CEO of the Animal Rescue League Shelter. “If a family member, friend or neighbor has a pet, please help them to make sure there is a support system in place if the mental faculties begin diminishing.”
Upon discovering Hidey, whose owner was relocated to a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s, the rescuers reached the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center in Pittsburgh for assistance. According to them, the poor cat had likely been abandoned for up to two years, leading to the formation of dreadlocks that measured up to 6 to 8 inches in length.
Dr. Yaelen Levitzki, a veterinarian who aided in the process of liberating Hidey from her matted fur and documented it in a video posted on Facebook, stated, “I’ve never seen such extensive matting in a cat. Her fur had formed into dreadlocks.”
To ensure the cat’s comfort during the procedure, Hidey was sedated.
“She suffered from severe matting the likes of which had been neglected for years,” the shelter wrote. “Our Medical team shaved off the pounds of intertwined fur from her body &, needless to say, this cat is feeling so much better now!”
After he was freed from that burden, the cat was relocated with a relative of his owner.