Daisy Lynn Austin, an adoption coordinator and customer service representative at an animal hospital, was working at Clear the Shelters, an adoption event in Los Angeles, on August 25, 2017, when she met a tabby and white cat who desperately needed a good home. “I went in the feral cat room, which was off limits to the public, and my eyes went straight to her,” remembers Daisy. “I immediately started crying because she looked so horrible.”
The emaciated feline was extremely dirty, she was wearing a tattered red collar, and her fur was matted, indicating she had been neglected for a very long time. She also had multiple tears in her skin, a black crust around her mouth, and she was sneezing constantly.
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Not wanting to frighten the unfamiliar feline, Daisy knelt down to greet her. “She immediately came to the front of the kennel and started rubbing her face all over my fingers while purring,” says Daisy. “She was not feral whatsoever.”
While she was smitten with the friendly feline, Daisy wasn’t planning on adopting another pet that day, largely because her senior calico cat doesn’t usually react well to other kitties. However, when she learned the affectionate cat was at risk of being put to sleep because she was extremely sick and the shelter was very overcrowded, Daisy knew she had to help the sweet tabby and white kitty with the big green eyes. “I had to do something — and fast — because she was going to get euthanized in the next few days, so I made up my mind,” explains Daisy. “I had to give her a second chance.”
Shortly after saving the unkempt kitty’s life, Daisy christened her Marmie, an ode to the nickname given to Mrs. March by her daughters in the book Little Women. “Since I was young, I’ve always loved that name,” says Daisy. After adopting Marmie, Daisy took her to the vet, where she received the first of the three baths she needed until the water finally ran clear, demonstrating just how filthy the little cat was when she was rescued.
“After her first bath, we then tried to shave off several of her mats at the hospital and her skin started to bleed,” remembers Daisy. “Not wanting to hurt her, the techs and I agreed that it would be best to slowly clip her mats at home.” Then, Marmie underwent a thorough examination, which revealed she had feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and severe stomatitis, an inflammation of the mouth and lips.
Even though cats with FIV can live happy and healthy lives, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths about the virus, making it harder for infected kitties to find homes. “FIV is not contracted from sharing food, sharing water bowls, or being in the presence of an FIV+ cat,” explains Daisy. In fact, the virus is usually transmitted through sex and deep bite wounds, making it possible for cats with FIV to live with cats who don’t have it as long as everyone is neutered and gets along well. Still, misinformation about FIV is prevalent, and it’s not uncommon for infected cats to be put to sleep simply for testing positive for the virus.
The exam also revealed Marmie was at least 10 years old, twice the age her mom was told by the shelter, but Daisy was unfazed. Instead, she worked on helping the adorable senior cat settle into her new home, keeping Marmie in a small space until she adjusted to Daisy’s Hollywood apartment. “I confined her to my large closet, and every day after work I would sit down in the closet with her, giving her lots of love,” says Daisy. “She would sit on my lap, stare into my eyes while purring, and I would clip her mats.”
After getting her new kittycleaned up, Daisy arranged for her to have all of her teeth removed, which is often the recommended treatment for cats with severe stomatitis. For Marmie, the inflammation of her mouth and lips made eating so painful, she weighed a little over four pounds when Daisy adopted her, making a full mouth extraction imperative.
“The day that she got her full mouth extraction, she started eating!” says Daisy, and Marmie eventually gained a total of six and a half pounds, more than doubling in size.
However, a few months after finding her forever home, Marmie began having difficulty breathing.
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She was eventually diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia and feline airway disease, but Daisy was able to manage her symptoms with the help of antibiotics and steroids.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Marmie was diagnosed with yet another serious health issue, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), or feline cutaneous asthenia (FCA) as it is known when it impacts cats. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome affects connective tissue, causing Marmie to have unusually loose and fragile skin.
“In Marmie’s case, she has lots of extra neck skin,” says Daisy, and her skin tears very easily and takes longer to heal. “With EDS comes numerous trips to address all the skin tears, as well as time and the distress of the owner constantly having to care for the wounds.”
With the help of clothing and bandanas to protect Marmie’s delicate skin, Daisy managed to get her EDS under control, and this senior girl was doing incredibly well until she and her mom moved into a new home in April 2019. “I moved into my dream apartment after looking at 44 apartments in LA,” explains Daisy. “A month later, the building next door was torn down and all of the dust from the construction affected Marmie’s airway disease so much.”
At one point, Marmie was having up to 15 asthma attacks a day, and she even collapsed from exhaustion. Thankfully, Daisy’s apartment managers were animal lovers themselves, so they allowed her to break her lease, enabling her to move to another home where Marmie was finally able to get some relief. “Having to pack up your entire apartment — and pay movers — to move was a huge hassle, but guess what?” asks Daisy. “Marmie is worth every second and penny of it.”
While she still needs medication, Marmie is thriving in her new home, and she especially enjoys sunbathing, eating, and playing.”She loves playing with her white cat tube and duck!” says Daisy. “She plays with it so much, I have to take it away before bed or else she’ll wake me up by her incessant playing.”
This special girl also enjoys going on adventures with her mom, and one of her favorite places to go for walks on her harness is Hollywood Forever Cemetery where she can roll around in the grass and watch the wildlife.
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However, Marmie, who was most likely abandoned by her former family, loves nothing more than cuddling with Daisy, the person who gave her a second chance at a happy life. “She loves sleeping by my side every night and waking me up by making biscuits on me while purring,” says Daisy. Marmie also follows Daisy around the home they share, watching her mom while she cooks and folds clothes, purring the entire time.
It’s obvious this gorgeous girl absolutely adores her mom, and the feeling is definitely mutual. Not only does Marmie shower Daisy with love and affection, she helps keep her grounded, which isn’t always easy living in a fast-paced and sometimes challenging city like Los Angeles.
“She was out on the streets starving with so many health conditions for so many years that I think she is really in love with me for making her feel better,” says Daisy. “And of course, I’m more than in love with her.”
To learn more about this beautiful cat, you can follow Marmie on Instagram.