Cat Loses Both Ears–And Almost His Life!–After Found Battered Hiding In Car Engine For Warmth

When the temperatures reached a high of just 13 degrees on February 26th, 2019, one cat found a warm place to hide. In Baraboo, Wisconsin, the winter season is more often than not, brutal for ALL living creatures. Feral and stray cats are left to fend for themselves; not an easy thing to do! Many seek refuge in a secret place that provides warmth, protection from the elements and other predators trying to survive. With all these features, an engine compartment is a spot chosen by many. Unbeknownst to vehicle’s owner, when the engine is started, the cats are vulnerably tucked within. This “refuge” then turns into a terrifying chamber of horror and mutilation for the stowaways. 

Poor Henry learned this the hard way, losing both ears and almost being decapitated!

It’s sadly not uncommon for the Sauk County Humane Society to receive calls regarding cats injured in cars. So when they received the report on the 26th that a cat was found in a vehicle, it wasn’t a surprise. When they finally laid eyes on Henry though, they knew it wasn’t going to be like any other rescue. At first, they believed it to be frostbite all over the poor boy, but upon closer inspection, what they found shocked them. 

When we get a call for help we never know what we will find so we always brace ourselves. But in some cases, we are completely unprepared for how bad it is.

Photo: Facebook Sauk County Humane Societ

A chunk of his skull was missing and one of his ears was severed down to the ear canal. They immediately rushed the suffering boy to a local veterinarian. At the Veterinary Emergency Service & Veterinary Specialty Center in Middleton, the staff was just at startled. 

In addition to mild head trauma, one ear is completely detached down to the ear canal and cannot be saved and must be removed. This will require extensive surgery down to his skull and he will need a flap of skin taken from somewhere else on his little body. Additionally, he has deep wounds all over his head that will require great care and vigilance to prevent infections from setting in.

Photo: Facebook Sauk County Humane Society

Showing the amazing will to live that felines express, mangled Henry continued to prove nothing would get him “down”.

It was heartbreaking to see a cat that should have never been put in that position in the first place. They knew they were going to do everything they could for him.

Despite the extent of his injuries and the poking and prodding by the vet staff, through it all, this sweet cat, who we have named Henry, continued to purr and make air biscuits. How can we not try to save him? 

Photo: Facebook Sauk County Humane Society

But it would be costly, not guaranteeing he even survived and his recovery would be long. The vet estimated that his surgeries would cost around $2500, not including after-care!

Currently we have enough donations to cover about $500 of that [estimate]. Henry needs your help! No donation is too small…every dollar will help and will ensure this cat, who only wanted to stay warm, gets the medical care he needs. 

He is resting comfortably and continues to charm the entire staff.

The Humane Society began raising funds to cover the costs. Sticking by their mission statement isn’t cheap, but Henry is lucky to have their support. 

Mission Statement: We are an open admissions shelter and turn no animal away in its time of need, no matter what its age, condition, extent of injuries, or behavior. Adoption is the happy ending for these future pets.

Photo: Facebook Sauk County Humane Society

Henry’s injuries were so severe though, surgery couldn’t wait for the donations to come in. 

Late the next evening, they went ahead with Henry’s surgery regardless of the amount raised. His life was more important than money.

We have received word from the surgeon that he needs surgery very soon to remove his right ear. This will be extensive work and entails removing what remains of viable tissue to create a flap over the opening. As bad as that is, the news is even worse…upon closer examination at the back of his skull, this poor kitty was nearly decapitated!! There is a big chunk of his skull completely gone right down to the brain covering.

Photo: Facebook Sauk County Humane Society

Because of the debris that is embedded in every nook and cranny, he will be at risk for meningitis. The staff is also working diligently to remove a build up of grease and other chemicals embedded in his fur to prevent any further contamination into his skin and wounds. He continues to purr and is eating well on his own.

Surgery took about two and a half hours, but Henry is now on his way to recovering. He ended up getting a total of 34 stitches on his head; 20 exterior and 14 under the skin. The cost ended up around $3000 for his treatment, again before aftercare.

Seeing the extent of the injuries during surgery, another devastating reality came to light. It’s likely that Henry’s wounds were days old when he was found. 

Photo: Facebook Sauk County Humane Society

There was no microchip found on him and no reports of missing cats fitting his description. Henry’s loving disposition leads them to believe that he was once a happy, family cat. No one knows how long he’s been living as a stray. He is underweight though, meaning he’s not likely new to the streets. 

The staff at the vet’s office are happy to report that he’s been sure to thank them with lots of purring–even in his condition!

They are closely monitoring him and now want to use his tragedy to spread an important message. 

“Cats, although they love exploring, there’s so many enrichment things you can do in your home for them and there are even outdoor porch situations where they can still enjoy being outside but be safe. Clearly, the Wisconsin winter is not a time for a cat to be outside,” Dr. Alicia Sibley said. 

Photo: Facebook City of Baraboo ~ Skillet Creek Media – Jan. 23, 2019

It takes less than a minute to bang on your hood and arouse any sleeping kitties. These few moments are worth saving a life right?! This doesn’t just pertain to people that have housecats, it’s for the strays, the ferals, the unloved. It’s up to us to look out for their fragile lives.

If you are interested in helping Henry, please go to our website and select the Donate Now Button and follow the instructions. To donate specifically for Henry please write “Henry” in the Other category. OR you can always send a check to us at 618 Linn St., Baraboo, WI 53913. If we are lucky enough to receive more than enough funds (we can hope, right?) all money will go into Betsy’s Fund, which is earmarked for vet care for our neediest animals at the shelter. THANK YOU!!

Photo: Facebook Sauk County Humane Society ~ Dr. Alicia Sibley and Henry snoozing post-op

At this time, the shelter is NOT taking applications for adopting Henry.

With the amount of unknown recovery time he’s facing, they can’t estimate when he’ll be ready to find a forever home–indoors! The risk of meningitis is still looming but thankfully, there have been no signs of it so far.

Be sure to follow Henry’s story on both organizations social media pages. They ALL need our support–emotionally, verbally and financially! 



Related Story: Kitten Goes For Ride “IN” Car; Rescued From Quite A Dangerous Position!

Photo Courtesy: Jackie Lopez

Related Story: Firefighters Go Beyond The Call Of Duty To Rescue Kitten From Car Engine

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  1. What a horrible thing to have happened to Henry – I so pray and hope he will recover completely

  2. I will gladly give a donation for this poor baby’s surgeries. I am happy he was saved. God bless!

  3. Having lived in Wisconsin and driven past Baraboo several times to visit family near Minneapolis, I am familiar with the area and the cold. Also, I worked and volunteered at a humane society near Milwaukee and believe it or not I fostered a kitty named Baraboo. He refused to be kept in a kennel and injured his face rubbing and trying to get out, so I fostered him until he healed. Then he went back and stayed in the bathroom at the humane society until he was adopted. Baraboo was one of my and my mom’s favorite fosters. In memory of fostering Baraboo I will donate.

  4. Some good mews!! (Especially in light of poor Freya)

    Henry, the cat injured when the engine he was on was started, is getting better. He has been discharged from the vet and is currently with foster parent.

    A Madison WI TV station that has been following the story just posted the update.

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