Rowdy wasn’t Rowdy before.
The rambunctious name was bestowed on Rowdy by Carole Chowen after she picked him up.
This is one of those disgustingly cruel stories, except with a feel-good ending.
A young cat getting a new name seemed fitting, since he was on his way to getting a new life.
With any cat story, it’s just too easy to use the typical references.
In this case, one of Rowdy’s nine lives undoubtedly took a hit because this was one bullet he couldn’t dodge.
That’s right, Rowdy’s former owner shot him.
Details of the incident are a little murky, but the owner said the little cat — Rowdy — was aggressive to his old cat.
He called Grand Valley Pets Alive and said somebody better come get the cat before he finishes the job.
That’s when Chowen leapt into action and went and got Rowdy.
The Loma Cat House was the first stop and that’s when Chowen and Marie Ramstetter discovered the nasty wound.
“At first we weren’t sure if the cat had been shot,” Chowen said.
But he had been shot and surgery was needed. Orchard Mesa Veterinary Hospital confirmed that a bullet was lodged in Rowdy’s left shoulder and his femur was shattered.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Chowen wasn’t allowed in the hospital, so she looked at Rowdy’s X-rays on her iPad as she sat in her car.
“They told me that they might have to amputate the leg, and I said do whatever will give him the best chance,” Chowen said.
Dr. Canone Clark and his surgical team saved Rowdy’s leg by inserting two pins, but they weren’t able to remove all the bullet fragments. After the June 11 surgery, Rowdy spent the next six nights at the Orchard Mesa facility.
It’s been quite the mental roller coaster for Chowen.
“I was just so emotionally strung out but I knew this cat is going to need some ongoing care,” she said.
But she sure doesn’t mind. What she immediately saw in Rowdy was a nice, sweet, gentle-minded cat. Nothing like what had been described to her by the former owner.
“The whole time at the Loma Cat House, he didn’t make a peep. He just looked at me with trust in his eyes,” she said. “He’s a very sweet cat, a very sweet boy.”
When Rowdy finally came back to Chowen’s home, he started his recovery in the bathroom.
“As soon as I let him out (of the carrier) he started rubbing up against my leg,” Chowen said.
A couple of days later she opened the door and he started roaming the house. That’s when she knew Rowdy wasn’t an aggressive cat, especially considering Chowen has five cats.
“Milo isn’t always really friendly,” she said about her 12-year-old cat. “After a quick nose-to-nose meeting everything was fine.
“He’s making an amazing recovery. He’s going to make someone a wonderful pet.”
Chowen has taken care of all the vet bills herself, which are now more than $3,000.
She joked that she had to dip into her “mattress fund,” so a new mattress is now on hold.
But again, Chowen didn’t think twice about pulling out her credit card. She did what needed to be done.
Chowen, 78, is always front and center when it comes to helping animals.
Her title with Grand Valley Pets Alive is president and spay and neuter coordinator, and she has lots of stories about helping animals.
Not all of those stories have a happily-ever-after ending.
“I’ve fostered a lot of kittens and rushed kittens to the vet in the middle of the night. I’ve seen a lot of cruelty. I saw a cat thrown out of a moving car before,” she said.
It’s the rewarding times, times like helping nurse Rowdy back to health, that makes her volunteer work so special.
“A lot of kittens don’t make it,” she said. “You can’t focus on the losses. You mourn them and then you focus on the ones you can save.”
For Chowen, one of the heartbreaking roadblocks of COVID-19 was that Grand Valley Pets Alive had to postpone its spay and neuter voucher program until the pandemic settled down. It also halted the trapping of stray cats to get them spayed or neutered, so the stray cat population had a bit of a jump.
From 2014 through 2019, the organization spayed or neutered 2,230 dogs, a few rabbits and mostly cats.
As Rowdy hangs out on her sofa, his left still shoulder filled with surgical staples, Chowen can see the trusting glint in his eyes, and that’s the reward that makes her commitment so worthwhile. The disgusting bout of cruelty that brought Rowdy into her life also reminds her why the work is never finished.
“The hardest thing about helping is dealing with people,” she said. “There are so many wonderful people out there, really fabulous people. But the ones who are off base, oh, it’s hard. That’s what makes it so hard.”
As far as that mattress quest is concerned, Chowen isn’t worried about it. But donations are coming in.
Any funds that go beyond helping pay for Rowdy’s care will immediately go to the Grand Valley Pets Alive nonprofit to help with the spay and neuter program.
Chowen will spend a few more days with Rowdy before the pair set off on a seven-hour road trip to Kanab, Utah, and the Best Friends Animal Shelter.
That’s where Rowdy will finish his rehab and then be put up for adoption.
That’s when Chowen will let all the stress and emotion of this ordeal leave her body.
“I think I’m going to collapse,” she said with a laugh. “This is why we do this, this is what keeps us going.”