As Paul Russel glanced through his ailing relative’s Pittsburgh basement, he didn’t expect to find much more than a timid cat and the varied collections of a man with Alzheimer’s disease.
What he found was seemingly far from feline, and more the stuff of nightmares.
“When they put him in the nursing home, I thought, ‘Hey, he has a cat,’” Russel told The Dodo. “The house was still open, so I went down and left some food for the cat until we figured out what we’re going to do. Then somebody mentioned that he had a second cat. So I started searching around, and suddenly this huge creature darts out from under the bed and runs down to the cellar, and I thought, ‘What was that?’”
“That” was Hidey. Once a slightly oversized house cat, the neglected calico was now covered in over 2 pounds of matted fur.
“At first I thought it was a cat who had a blanket draped over her that she dragged down,” Russel said. “But no — it turned out to be Hidey. She hid down in the corner of the cellar. I’m down there with a flashlight looking — it was almost like a horror movie.
Russel took the cat to the Animal Rescue League and Wildlife Shelter, where staff were equally amazed at the state of Hidey’s coat. After images of the matted cat were posted to Facebook, one ARLWS staff member even found herself explaining how the image was not altered in Photoshop.
Two pounds of fur were removed by electric clippers over the course of a few hours after Hidey was anesthetized. Shelter workers estimate that it must have taken years for the cat’s fur to form such large mats, but the fact they stayed intertwined in individual masses helped the removal process along.