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The Premier Online Magazine
devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.

Heimdall’s Story

(Microchips Save Lives)

It was kitten season. New arrivals are always a highlight in our household and our queen had presented us with four beautiful Norwegian Forest Cat kittens – two tabbies and two pure white bundles of joy.  One of the white kittens we named Norgeskaukatt Heimdall.  This is his story; a story of adversity, and courage, and how his microchip saved his life.

Leaving Home

As the kittens grew they developed into boisterous, confident, young animals.  When old enough, they were taken to our vets for their vaccinations.  As was our practice, we had the kittens microchipped at the same time.  The time for placing the kittens in their new homes came all too quickly. We had carefully screened our prospective kitten owners and all were ready to receive their new charges.

Heimdall’s new home was less than 15 miles from us – our closest new kitten home ever!

Time Passes

The next two years passed uneventfully. We like to keep track of the progress of all our kittens with their new families – to offer help and advice where needed. While we have made many wonderful friends through our kittens, some owners do not keep in touch as often as others. Heimdall’s was such an owner. While disappointed that the kitten owner who lived the closest to us was not in frequent communication, we understood.

The Telephone Call

The we received a telephone call from our veterinarian. He had been contacted by the company who supplied and registered the microchips used in their practice. The company had been notified that a seriously injured cat bearing one of their microchips had been admitted to another veterinary practice and they were trying to urgently contact the owner. The new owner had not entered his information with the microchip registry so the microchip was still registered to the veterinary practice. Our vets checked the microchip number and it was one implanted into one of our kittens. It was Heimdall’s!

We immediately contacted the vets treating Heimdall and we were told that he had been brought into their practice as an injured stray cat. His condition was critical. The prognosis was poor. We rushed to the animal hospital where the vet seemed strangely reluctant to let us see Heimdall. His apprehension was explained when he told us that the injuries to the cat were, in his expert opinion, appeared to have been deliberately inflicted. As we were listed as the owners by the microchip company his suspicions fell on us.

We were quickly able to reassure the vet that while we were the breeders of the cat we were not the current owners. We showed him the contract, sales receipt, and new owner details for Heimdall. This paperwork we retain for all of our kittens.

Heimdall’s Condition

When we finally were allowed to see our boy we were shocked. He was in horrific condition. The fur and skin on the underside of his belly and down the inside of one hind leg was totally gone. In addition, he had multiple stab wounds to his rear. As if his massive lacerations were not bad enough, they were infested with maggots.  It was obvious the injuries were at least a week old. 

It almost appeared as if Heimdall had been skinned alive! In the vet’s opinion, his injuries could not be accidental.

What Can be Done?

Although he was very weak and obviously in great pain with a vacant, distant look in his eyes, when he saw us, Heimdall recognized us and managed to greet us with a purr.  Despite his response, it was obvious that his condition was very serious. The vet told us that Heimdall might not make it.

As it was, he was too weak to undergo surgery until he was stabilized. We reassured the vet that we would pay all expenses and authorized him to proceed with all treatment necessary to save his life.  It was touch and go whether Heimdall would survive the next 24 hours. But Heimdall was a fighter.

After several days of intravenous fluids, pain medications, and support therapy, the vet declared Heimdall strong enough to undergo surgery.  With so much skin and tissue missing it was a medical challenge to know where to begin. The vet was not sure his patient would survive an operation. He was certainly not confident the leg could be saved.

Initially the intention was to try to re-attach the remaining skin tissue and hope it could be stretched enough to cover his wounds. Sadly, it was not to be. Despite the best efforts of his surgeons, the skin was too traumatized and the initial injuries too old. The skin failed to heal.

A Skin Graft

The only option was to attempt a skin graft. The surgeon would take healthy tissue from further up Heimdall’s torso and twist it around and stretch it to cover the exposed areas over the damaged leg.  If this operation failed, the only other option to save Heimdall’s life would be to amputate the leg.  The massive skin graft was performed.  Now we waited to see if the skin would “take”.  

Over the next 5 weeks, the entire team at the veterinary surgery, from the surgeons to the nurses and receptionists, did everything humanly possible to save Heimdall. A very brave patient, he accepted their care and attention without complaint. He even tolerated the repeated and painful changes to his dressings without any sedation.

Slowly, very slowly, his condition improved…

Although the vet’s bill was substantial, we gladly paid it. Our Heimdall was worth every penny. Finally, many weeks after arriving at the hospital in such a pitiful and distressing state, Heimdall was ready to be discharged. Overjoyed, we brought him home.

In The Meantime

While Heimdall was recovering at the veterinary hospital, we continued trying to contact his “owner”.

We visited the address the owner had given us when he first bought Heimdall only to discover he had moved. We tracked him to the next address and found he had moved yet again. At the third address we left messages for him about Heimdall’s condition and whereabouts. All to no avail. Nothing was heard from this man.

Then amazingly, several weeks later, we were finally contacted by Heimdall’s “owner”. We explained we were repossessing Heimdall in accordance with our kitten contract. There was a short debate about the situation, but we were determined Heimdall would never be returned to this man. Heimdall would remain safely with us for the rest of his life.

Suffice to say that we did come to an “understanding” and the vet’s expenses were eventually reimbursed by this individual. We were confirmed as Heimdall’s legal owners and this will not change – ever.

We will never know who inflicted the horrific injuries to Heimdall, but we do know that his “owner” failed miserably in his duty to care for Heimdall. He did not report the cat missing. He never tried to find him. He did not respond to numerous messages from the vets or ourselves and he did not offer his details to the microchip register or the GCCF.  He was irresponsible and uncaring, and his behavior forfeited his rights to Heimdall.

The Microchip

The small microchip that we had implanted in Heimdall when he visited the veterinarian for his first vaccination saved his life. Without the microchip he would never have been identified. He would not have been traced back to us. With the lack of an immediate contact and no prospect of tracing an owner, the vets would have had no choice but to euthanize him due to his extensive injuries.

The system of microchipping and registering works. We recommend it be adopted by every breeder and owner to safeguard their animals’ futures.

All’s Well

One year after his incredible ordeal, Heimdall has recovered completely.  Despite all he went through he is a very happy kitty indeed. He is settled, secure, confident and a true character.  He does have a few souvenirs of his experience. He has a slight limp and has put on rather too much weight. He also has some distinctive identification marks as a result of his surgeries. Apart from his scars which are now covered by a luxurious white coat, he has some fur which grows the wrong way on his underside, the result of his skin grafts.  And he has a nipple on his hind leg! He is truly a unique, one of a kind feline.

The Lesson Learned

This experience is the exception rather than the rule.  The vast majority of kitten owners are wonderful, caring, responsible people and should be respected as such, but we encourage everyone to take all reasonable steps to safeguard their pets.  

The lessons we learned include:

  • Microchip all kittens before they go to their new homes. Heimdall is with us today because he was microchipped. Microchips save lives, and much possible heartache.
  • Register the microchip in the breeder’s name and the new owner’s name. Don’t rely on the new owner registering the microchip.
  • Be sure your kitten contract covers all eventualities, including the circumstances under which the kitten’s ownership reverts back to the owner along with all expenses relating to the forfeiture.

Heimdall’s Namesake

Our Heimdall was named after a god of Norse mythology.

The mythological Heimdall dwells at a place called Bifrost (The) where he is a watchman for the gods, guardian of the heavenly realm of Asgard, and ruler of holy places. His greatest enemy is Loki, the Foe of the Gods, better known as the trickster.  Heimdall is the ever-watchful sentinel who waits with his horn to announce the end of the world. His horn is called Gjail or Gjallar. At the coming of Ragnarok, the “doom of the Gods”,  Heimdall sounds the Gjallahorn. He’ll blow the most amazing note, calling heroes from all corners of the world to wage a final battle.  Gods, Giants, Dwarves, Demons and Elves ride towards Vigrid where the last conflict is fought. Here Heimdall kills his age-old enemy, the evil god, Loki, but Heimdall also dies of his wounds.

Our Heimdall also came across an evil trickster — but he evaded death.

Maybe his lucky escape has something to do with Eir, goddess of health and medicine. Perhaps Eir was watching over Heimdall and guided the superb veterinary team who took five weeks to restore our courageous boy to good health.  We are humbled by his bravery and we are forever indebted to the wonderful veterinary team who saved his life and to the microchip register without whose intervention in the first instance none of this would have been possible.

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The origin of the Norwegian Forest Cat is not clear, but it is believed the breed’s ancestors may have originated from cats brought to Norway by the Vikings around 1000 AD. It is theorized that these same Viking cats were also ancestors of the modern Siberian and Turkish Angora cat breeds.