Though I haven’t seen Lux, Portland’s famous 911 cat, for over two years, I’ve been keeping up with his progress as best I can. The news about Lux comes rarely, his location and condition still a guarded secret.
But there was news last week. Jackson Galaxy came to Portland on a tour for his new book, Total Cat Mojo, and he must have known our first question would be: What about Lux? Following is a snip from an interview by Kristi Turnquist of OregonLive:
Galaxy has been to Portland several times before, including trips here working with Lux, the so-called “911 cat.” Lux, a long-haired black-and-white cat, made national news in 2014, when his owners hid in the bedroom of their home and called 911, because they were frightened by the cat’s aggressive behavior.
In a 2014 episode of “My Cat From Hell,” Galaxy took on the case of Lux, recommending the couple give up the cat. Galaxy brought Lux to a veterinary hospital for an exam and tests. Another Portland couple tried to provide a home for Lux, but the cat’s unpredictable bursts of violent behavior ultimately proved too difficult to deal with.
“He’s a mentally ill cat,” says Galaxy of Lux. “He really has problems that are organic, and behavior problems on top of that.” It was tough to watch Lux struggle, Galaxy recalls. “It still sticks with me, and that’s why I’m still involved with his life. Lux, for his own good, shouldn’t be living in a home, so I have him placed in a great sanctuary. He’s got a great life, and he’s a very happy guy. He just needs to be in a place where he can’t damage anybody.”
The saga of Lux caught the attention of all sorts of people, Galaxy says. “The Portland community was so incredibly supportive. The folks at the Oregon Humane Society went out of their way to help. The show is called ‘My Cat From Hell,’ but people cared about the outcome of Lux’s story. People cared about what happened to him.”
And they still care. That’s why you are reading this, and that’s why I wrote it.
A few things stand out in Jackson’s interview, firstly, his statement that he believes Lux has a mental illness. In 2014, a full battery of medical tests revealed nothing that could account for Lux’s violent outbursts. By process of elimination, he was thought to have a form of feline hyperesthesia syndrome known to cause crazy behavior in cats, but when he didn’t react to the medications used for FHS, the doctors needed to look elsewhere. Off medication completely, he worked with veterinarian behaviorists who were trained specifically to diagnose and treat psychological disorders. They discovered some of the triggers that set him off, such as noise, clutter, and even walking away from him, and worked on neutralizing those. Though he went for longer and longer periods between outbursts, one terrible day, out of the blue, it would always happen again.
Jackson’s point that Lux is not a good candidate for home adoption comes as a surprise but not a big one. It’s been optimistically assumed up until now that with the “right” family, he could someday go home, but there are so many contingencies. It would have to be someone who can center their entire life around him and his idiosyncrasies, someone who could be ever vigilant and without fear. Often people think they can face a raging cat, but how many have actually done it? Of those who have, how many could live with that every day? I couldn’t. I knew that back in 2014. I thought it was my own failing, but now I understand it’s a rare person who can live under that pressure without it taking toll.
Lux is great right where he is. He is as loved as he would be in anyone’s home. He is expertly cared for every day of his life. He gets to do pretty much what he wants, safely and without danger to himself or others*.
*Remember that when Lux has an outburst, he not only flays anyone around him but goes into a personal period of shock. I can’t imagine what goes on behind those saucer-like eyes, that piloerected fur, but if I had to use one word, it would be terror. Absolute terror.
My second bit of Lux news comes from one of his current caregivers. I can’t quote our lengthy conversation, but I can tell you how much she loves Lux. He is spoiled and happy. He is cherished every day of his life. This person, unlike Jackson, speculates there maybe an adoption somewhere in Lux’s future. Nothing is impossible when it comes to an anomaly like Lux.
This one cat, who would have been cast aside three years ago if not for the help of Jackson Galaxy, the Multnomah County Animal Shelter, the Oregon Humane Society, the Cat Hospital of Portland, the Chico Veterinary Hospital, as well as his current shelter sanctuary and all the people like you and me who care, will live a long and happy life.
He still has a lot more story to tell.