They had a wonderful tabby cat named Elsa and the border collie mix Bingo, but her brothers had a number of reptiles as their own pets and the little girl wanted her own pet too. A kitty. A kitty of her own. Her mother agreed and for her eighth birthday her mother planned a visit to the Humane Society.
Her mother could picture the perfect kitten for the little girl, considering the household of pets, her brothers and the girl’s personality. But she also realized her daughter knew herself and what she liked very well, made good decisions and stayed with them, and that she understood how the shelter worked. Her daughter guided the way around the shelter, looked in all the cages, spent some time with each of the kitties looking for the one who would go home with her. When she found the kitten with the tabby stripes and white paws and bib, she knew this was the kitty she would love forever.
There was a little bit of a problem, though. The kitten actually had a persistent upper respiratory infection that had just begun to show symptoms again, and the little tabby with the white paws had to stay at the shelter for treatment. It was apparently something pretty serious that she and her siblings had arrived with, and one of the siblings had even died of the viral infection. Serious enough that they didn’t want to risk the kitten infecting their other cat, and serious enough that the shelter felt their staff had to keep her rather than sending her home with medications and instructions.
Weeks passed and the kitten wasn’t well enough to go home. The shelter veterinarian explained she might never be free of the infection, and she couldn’t live with other cats if that was so. The veterinarian suggested the little girl start looking for another kitten just in case…
But even though she looked at a few other other kittens she knew she wasn’t going to find another one like the kitty she had chosen. She had fallen in love with this kitten and the kitten loved her, and that wasn’t going to change no matter how sick the kitten was, or how many other kittens she looked at. She would wait until her kitten was well enough to go home with her.
So the shelter gave the best care to this one kitten knowing how much she was loved. And she did recover after a few months of care, and she went home with the little girl.
The little girl is my great-niece Cassidy, and her mother is my niece Jennifer, the ones I’ve visited in Savannah where my fosters Simon and Theo live now. The shelter is the Humane Society of Greater Savannah, a fairly large and busy open-door shelter. Cassidy’s birthday is September 5, right in the middle of kitten season. The kittens may have had pneumonia, or a form of calici virus or any number of viral infections, and knowing the fate of sickly kittens who enter an overcrowded shelter at that time of year nearly anywhere, I have to hand it to the shelter veterinarian who worked very hard to save this one kitten. I can imagine them trying to avoid breaking this little girl’s heart if her kitten didn’t recover, but understanding her resolve even though she was only eight years old.
In the end Cassidy waited a little over two months until the shelter veterinarian said the kitten had recovered and showed no symptoms for long enough that she could go home with Cassidy.
“When this came up with the kitten I wanted to go ahead and look for the kitten ‘I’ wanted for her,” Jennifer said. “And yeah, that was something I had to realize. This wasn’t ‘my’ decision. It was hers. Boys. Get these shorts. They’re $2. Ok mom. Whatever. Cass. Not so much like the boys,” she explained. “And yeah, I stepped back. And she made her choice and we dealt with the problems. And she hung in there even when the vet told me we should start looking for another kitten. I explained the situation. She looked. And said no. I’ll wait.”
I remember when they considered names for the kitten, and seeing the white paws Jennifer asked me if I minded if we called her “Bootsie”, which of course was the name of my first cat, named so because of her white paws. I didn’t mind, and kind of glad another Bootsie would have a much safer and healthier life indoors and getting regular veterinary care than my Bootsie had. But again Cass had her own ideas. She had started calling her Baby because the kitten was little and the baby of the family, and the name stayed with her. Now she’s a big Baby, but she’s still Cassidy’s Baby. Baby has never shown symptoms of the mystery viral infection again.
On Cassidy’s tenth birthday she had a party and asked everyone to bring food and toys for the cats and dogs in the Humane Society for Greater Savannah. Below is the photo of Cassidy and Baby with the donations.
Here’s what the guests brought:
Dog Food: 88 lbs
Cat Food: 29 lbs
5 cans cat food
22 lbs litter
2 cat collars
2 cat toys
cat play cube
and 3 cat toy balls
Not a bad haul for a bunch of fourth-graders.
Cassidy just turned 17, and while she excels at everything she does and spends lots of study time and after-school activity time, Baby and she are still as close as when Cassidy was eight.
And the arrival of two medium-sized fluffies in 2016 hasn’t changed that one bit.
Send love to these two. After dental surgery a couple of weeks ago Baby was found to have a small mass on her face and possibly also another in her lungs. They are malignant. Baby is getting comfort measures and is actually having the time of her life at the moment, feeling better with some treatment. Cassidy decided Baby needed to see the sunrise on Tybee Island over the weekend and so the whole family came together to be there. Baby thought it was pretty nice too, and later that day enjoyed a visit to the backyard. She’s back to eating with the rest of the family and now enjoying regular visits outdoors. It’s a matter of time, and not at all easy for Cassidy, but they are all doing well with keeping Baby happy for now.
Maybe it’s all the love you’ve sent, but Baby is really responding! They had decided not to see the oncologist because Baby seemed in such poor shape and they just didn’t have the money, but now that she’s eating well and is active with little medical assistance the vet thinks she’s a good candidate for some other treatments. When she was a kitten, Baby fought off whatever virus was trying to kill her, and maybe she can have some more time before this cancer can really move on her.
Cassidy worked at a day care all summer to pay for her phone and car insurance during the school year so she doesn’t have to work during her senior year (she wants to go to medical school, this is a critical year), but all that money paid for Baby’s care, and Jennifer just left her day job to start her own business, she’s a single mom, and already paid out as much as she can afford, and the rest of the family has helped as much as they can. Any donation will help to reimburse them and possibly carry Baby into a few more months.
The photo above is gorgeous and I’m envious! My niece took it on the trip to Tybee Island to see the sunrise. Since then Baby has had mostly good days and is quite active, in fact, more than she was before now that the genie is out of the bottle. She loves to visit the back yard—and give everyone heart attacks when she disappears under the fence. Who thought she’d even be interested? But she’s weaned off the appetite stimulants and the pain relievers, and even though they can see the progress of the mass in her face she isn’t reacting with either pain or lethargy. She had had some breathing difficulty initially, but that hasn’t increased at all since she was diagnosed. Some pill forms of chemotherapy can help to slow the progress of a mass, and therapies like acupuncture and even CBD, or cannabis oil, for pets can help with pain.
Jennifer decided to set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help reimburse: https://www.gofundme.com/help-cassidy-amp-baby Thanks for whatever you can donate, or just send love. That’s been working pretty well so far. As always, if you let me know you’ve donated, I’ll be glad to send you a gift certificate!
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!