I feel kind of embarrassed coming here and post this personal account, starting this fundraising campaign for my pets vet bills but it has been a rough time, economically and emotionally, specially the last two months; and of course it has been one of the saddest Christmases in my life. So here it goes.
It all started in early June 2014, roughly a year and half ago, when I decided to capture the third female of my working facilities nearby cat colony (from which I had also saved a dozen of kittens to responsible adoption) as part of a trap-neuter-return strategy to maintain the population well-being and sustainability, since I feed them every day, including weekends, at my very own expenses.
Catita, this third female, was captured on a Saturday, after being absent from the colony for about a month, already pregnant, and delivered to the veterinary hospital that was expecting her on that same day. She was scheduled to be sterilized the next Monday but she had their kittens the night before and altered the whole plan. The veterinary director and one of my contacts at the hospital suggested me it would be better to euthanize the whole litter of six kittens (two females and 4 males) because their mother was tested positive to FIV but I couldn’t give the order to do it. To be honest I was pretty much uncomfortable just with the idea of terminating Catita’s pregnancy, had she been sterilized according to the initial plan, so for me it was unthinkable to put the newborn kittens permanently asleep – such helpless and innocent creatures! Looking back, and although things haven’t been easy, I think I made the right choice letting these kittens grow up and live their lives.
Unfortunately soon after leaving the hospital one of the two black kittens got sick and died with sudden bronchopneumonia, with just a month and a half of age, probably related to his FIV status. No expenses were spared and vets did everything they could to save Ohm’s little life unfortunately without success. Then Calico, one of the two gray brindled females, got sick with a fever after a couple of months. She developed a life-threatening blood disorder which had to be treated with an emergency blood transfusion among other measures to combat the problem. Fortunately this time vets where well-succeeded and Calico managed to recover and went home back to her mother and brothers. Meanwhile Volt, the remaining of the two black male kittens, also developed a recurrent fever that bothered him almost every month.
Not all things were bad and we succeeded at giving two of the kittens for informed adoption: Ampere, the gray brindled male, and Yaris, the other gray brindled female, which never got sick along with Joule, the remaining male, despite all being FIV positive like their mother Catita. As a matter of fact, even Calico was adopted at the end of 2014, and I’m sure that she too had her happy moments, until the new owner got in touch with me in the early Spring this year and said she noted something was not right with Calico and asked me to stop by at her house and see what was going on.
My heart was broken from the moment I saw Calico at the entrance of the apartment, moving through her house, almost like she had the early signs of Parkinson’s disease. She was clearly having difficulty standing on her rear legs and I asked Ms. B if Calico had suffered any trauma but she said she hadn’t (and I know now she was telling the truth from subsequent exams made to Calico), she simply developed her new gait slowly through the last couple of weeks. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I remember saying she could have told me sooner what was going on with Calico; or even take her to a vet and see what was wrong with her; but she told me she hadn’t hoping this was something temporary that would resolve on its own. Later I found Ms. B lived with her young daughter on a very tight budget and failed to act sooner with the shame to admit she couldn’t afford taking Calico to the vet. To sum up the troubled history of Calico I'll just say that I had to be the one to take over the veterinary expenses of Calico.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much we could do, no efficient treatment available to her condition, almost certainly due once again to FIV complications (if you remember, the first time the virus attacked her bone marrow and its ability to produce red blood cells while this time the veterinary suspected that the virus had attacked her central nervous system and compromised her sense of balance, causing her the ataxia that we all could see) and she never got better, despite the treatments made, consisting of 3 sets of 5 sessions each of Virbagen, hoping that her immune system would react and fight against the virus. Calico went home and spent her last month just on cortisone, only as a supportive measure, until she had a seizure on the night of November 12, Ms. B phoned me and I took her to the hospital, only to watch her being put asleep the next day, apparently in no pain.
Meanwhile, as I said before, all this time Calico’s brother Volt had also been hospitalized about once every month with a recurrent fever, lack of appetite, prostration and a certain degree of pain evidenced whenever we grabbed him. Fortunately each of these episodes was successfully managed with the use of antibiotics and cortisone and allowed his return home (and by home I mean the pet shop of the person of my acquaintance who offered sanctuary since they left the vet hospital for adoption) every time as if nothing had happened, like his brother Joule and his mother Catita could easily testify!
Unfortunately the use of cortisone (one of the drugs to which Volt responded well) has a downside: although it fights inflammation very well it can also lowers the level of immune cells in the body of a cat, which in Volt’s case, being FIV positive, meant a greater chance of contracting an infection each time he was on it, even at small maintenance doses, as it was the case during the two or three weeks after he had left the vet clinic.
In a succession of unfortunate events, and while Volt was still on a withdrawal cortisone regimen since the last time he was admitted to the vet clinic, he started with diarrhea after his brother Joule had suffered the same. At first we suspected from a multivitamin paste we had started both on just a few days earlier, in order to speed up Volt’s recovery. But then he made two vomits in one morning and the pet shop owner called me at my work, saying he was feverish and prostrated again. She took him to the vet clinic once more at her lunch break and he remained there the rest of the day, apparently with no further symptoms, which led the veterinary with the impression he would be fine during the night.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and the staff found him in shock, almost dead in the words of the veterinary that opened the clinic the next morning. He was cold and with bloody diarrhea next to him. Emergency measures were taken to bring him out of hypothermia and dehydration and he was stabilized during the day. The chief of the clinic would took him to her home every night following that unfortunate event and bring him back to the clinic with her the next morning. By this time his brother Joule had got sick too and went to the nearby veterinary hospital. He was diagnosed with panleukopenia which was also the case with Volt.
After a couple of days Volt developed paralytic ileus and his gastrointestinal tract was full of secretions as revealed by the ultrasound made at the clinic. The chief veterinary managed somehow to get him better after he got rid of a significant quantity of these secretions but then she discovered he was anemic due to all of the blood lost in the stools. He needed a blood transfusion and no efforts were spared to make him recover, which indeed he seemed to had achieve in the last day I saw him before he went once more with the chief veterinary during the weekend. I spoke with her on the phone Saturday and Sunday night and she told me he was making progresses – her kids even asked her to keep him because he was so gentle, despite his pranks (so normal for a cat of his age) that still cost me some extra money while he was living with his brother Joule and his mother Catita at the pet shop.
Unfortunately Volt died on that same night (the night before the winter solstice) while being asleep and when little led us to believe it would be so. It seems he had to be roguish until the very end! Poor Volt… I miss him so. At that time I didn’t know how much I would miss him, perhaps because I received the news of his death by phone, while I was working that Monday morning. I received the first clash with the harsh reality of his departure later on that day when I went to the clinic and saw his dead and fragile body on the box, covered with a cloth. Tears got in my eyes and I deeply regretted his misfortune. If only he didn’t got severely sick during that first night at the clinic… when no one was there to help him… If only I knew that this time it was not just another crisis like many others he had during his brief life… If… If… If…
The second clash with the harsh reality of his departure happened when I had to bury him in the same pine forest next to my sister's house, a few meters from where I had also buried the body of his poor sister Calico just the month before. As a matter of fact, all the cats I have lost since I started to help those strays in need are buried there, including their brother Ohm, the first kitten of the litter to die. It is a special place for me which I visit from time to time, in the hope I don’t forget any of them.
During this period his brother Joule left the hospital and his doing fine for now. He remains with her mother Catita at the pet shop, in the hope someone, someday will acknowledge the special cat he is and adopt him for life. Meanwhile I have to continue to provide all his needs as well as his mother’s and this brings me to the reason I started this campaign in the first place.
This endeavor that started back on June 2014 has representing a significant impact on my monthly budget, despite I live an orderly and frugal life. The absence of superfluous expenses in my daily life has allowed me to support these other expenses without the help from anyone but the few conscientious veterinary. And yet the sequence of events of the last two months made a huge blow on my savings to the point I fear I won’t be able to sustain any other similar occurrence if that event does come. I had to ask the chief veterinary of the clinic where Volt staid his last days if the total cost could be split in two so I could minimize/delay its financial impact on my budget. I even had to stop my monthly donations to HSI, IFAW and PETA because of these vet expenses. That’s why I need the help of everyone who can afford to contribute with any amount to this endeavor so I can recover financially and continue to provide all the needs of the remaining cat Joule and his mother Catita, in the event some similar situation requiring medical treatment does occur (don’t forget they are both FIV positive and therefore more prone to diseases).
I take the liberty to attach the invoice/receipts of the last vet expenses which some up a total of 1379 euros (approximately 1500 dollars).