The loss of a beloved family pet is usually -- and should be a hard thing. We'll leave talking about those who use and abuse animals they call pets for another time. I'm talking about people who have pets becaue they love animals and their companionship, and see them as sentient beings to interact with. Those of us who love the mystery of living with aliens right on our own planet, and the day-to-day fun and challenge of understanding their language and hoping they understand yours. And of course, the falling in love with each other along the way.
These past few weeks have been hard on us though. A close rescue friend of mine lost two cats in a short period of time to illness, and has been having a difficult go of it. I do what I can to support her, but it's a challenge given that we live a couple of hundred miles away from each other. It's hard to hug someone in an email or over the phone, but I think she knows that I care, and that I'm here for her. In our own rescue, we've had luck and heartbreak both in this first month of 2015.
Karma, a beautiful long-haired tortoiseshell cat was found laying in the middle of a dark, rural road on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year by a lovely woman, April, who I now count as a friend and foster. A mutual friend connected us and I agreed to place Karma under our rescue's care if April would agree to foster her, and she did. We took Karma to our vet who gave us several bits of bad news -- Karma was first severely underweight, she was in renal failure and she was FIV positive. This was a triple whammy by any imagination, but our motto here is Where There Is Life, There Is Hope, so we decided to try to do what we could to make the end of Karma's life as comfortable as possible.
We put her on a special diet of renal cat food and Weruva canned food, and April took her and had her fur shaved because of the severe matting. Karma started getting better, gained some weight, and her blood work in late December showed marked improvement. Unfortunately this improvement did not last and Karma's health took a severe dive the second week of January. I went to April's house one evening and gave Karma subcutaneous fluids which perked her up some, but the next day when we took her back to the vet it was obvious that Karma's little system was giving up, and we made the hard decision, April and I together, to let Karma go. As I told April at the time though, if it hadn't been for her, Karma would have died cold, alone, lonely and terrifed laying in the middle of that dark road late at night. Instead her last few weeks were warm, comfortable, full of love and kisses and cuddles and good food, and when it was time for her to go she was held and comforted in love. We could all be so lucky to go that way.
Then late last week I received an email from a woman who was interested in Tyria. She, her husband, and three small children had been looking for just the right cat, and they believed that Tyria was it. We exchanged several emails and she then downloaded the necessary forms, filled them out, scanned and emailed them back to me. After a background check we agreed to bring Tyria out for a home visit and to meet her new family, and I think it was love at first sight. As John and I left we both agreed that it was a good fit, and we look forward to getting pictures and updates as time passes. John told Tyria right before we left that she had hit the kitty lottery, and I would tend to agree.
Then we come to today. One of our sanctuary cats, Apple, has been with us since he was a small kitten. His mother was part of a hoarding raid here in Oconee County long before we ever came here to live, and a rescue friend of mine was involved in helping with all of the animals seized and asked me if I could take a couple of mamma cats and kittens. I agreed and she brought me a total of two mothers and 13 kittens. One of the kittens was separate, a deputy had brought it in as she was packing up, it had been hit by a car and had lost part of his tail. That was my Muffin Man and one day I will tell his story.
The two mama cats were Silver and Domino, and over the next week Silver would lose three of her kittens to fading kitten syndrome. Domino's seven kittens seemed sickly and weak at the time, but all of them made it to adulthood. Some are still with us today.
But Silver and the two remaining kittens were some of the prettiest and most unique looking cats we had ever seen. Silver was a gorgeous grey and white tuxedo. Unfortunately we do not have any pictues of her. Her surviving babies, a boy and a girl, were originally named Bubba Bear and Brandy Bear. However, a roommate of ours at the time quickly fell in love with the little boy and named him Applehead Fauntleroy Painter. Despite my protests the name stuck, and Apple he has been since then. The roommate
eventually moved out but due to lifestyle issues could not keep Apple, so we kept him for our friend and tried to find him another home, but somehow he was just never adopted. After a decade, as I said on Facebook, I would have adopted him out but it would have had to have been to someone very special.
Back in mid-December Apple attended an adoption event at our local Tractor Supply here in Seneca. At that time he seemed quite healthy and as usual was a hit among the people he met there. Since then though, he had started losing weight. My assumption was that age was catching up with him so we changed his food to a different kind, added some supplemental wet food, and he seemed to be getting better.
Then John got up this morning to find Apple laying in a pool of urine in our kitchen, so he picked him up, cleaned him off and came and got me. I took him to the vet, and the news was not good -- Apple had somehow contracted Feline Leukemia. We have no idea how -- we are very careful at screening all of the cats that come into our rescue, and have been for years. Now we are wondering if he had gotten it from his mother and we just never tested him. I wonder if when I was testing new intakes myself here at home I did a test wrong and got a false postive on one of our other cats. We may never know.
Later this afternoon Dr. Honeycutt called me to give me hard news -- Apple had gone into respiratory arrest and had died despite their best efforts to save him. John and I are just heartbroken -- Apple liked to hang out in the kitchen and climb up on a shelf to give us kisses and purrs as we passed. Apple was like one of our own children and we will miss him terribly. We are both having a hard time with this.
And this is rescue. You get the good, and the next day you get the bad, and many times you have no warning of either. All you can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and do what you can to hedge your bets. Over the next couple of weeks I will be bringing cats that were in contact with Apple into the vet to be tested for Feline Leukemia, and if we have any other positives then we will have to establish a quarantine area for them. This will mean added work to an already full schedule, but we will do the best we can, and we will do everything in our power to make sure they are warm, and comfortable and loved for as long as they are here with us. Like I said, we could all be so lucky.
Hug your kids, whether they have fur or not. You never know when they'll go away.