We are so lucky at the sanctuary to be able to see so many cats and dogs find their forever home. Those are the best kinds of goodbyes. Though sometimes, we have to say goodbye to animals who never find their forever home. Some animals come to us toward the end of their life. Some develop health problems like cancer while in our care. The cat team at Our Companions recently lost two of their feline guests and would like to share their stories with you all.
Vivian came to us pretty much as a hospice case. She was found as a stray – with severely matted fur, extremely thin, and in the advanced stages of kidney failure. She also happened to be declawed, which is a brutal and unnecessary procedure that removes part of the cat’s knuckle. With such limited defenses, it was a miracle she survived as long as she did outside. After a quick hair cut and vet assessment, she came to the sanctuary for some peace and comfort in her golden years. This sweet girl loved every human that came her way, despite having been neglected for so long. She would trot around the room, meowing politely for attention. She was too weak to jump up on the furniture, so our dedicated volunteers spent a lot of their time sitting, or even laying, on the floor so she could snuggle up in their laps! Eventually, with more food in her belly and visits from the physical therapist, she gained enough strength to jump up on chairs, counters, and even window perches. We knew that her quality of life was improving, even if we weren’t sure just exactly how long she’d be with us. She made up for a lifetime of loneliness in all the snuggles she received while here.
Cheetah had a different path. She was living with three other cats before her owner could no longer keep them due to illness. All three got adopted, but Cheetah was the last woman standing and came to the sanctuary. At the time, her only issue was a thyroid condition that was treated with medication. She had that classic “tortietude” – she was a sassy diva who loved attention, but only on her terms. One of her favorite hobbies was to sit behind your head on the couch and give you headbutts from behind. When people came to the sanctuary, she was the first to trot to the door to welcome people in. Unfortunately people seemed to overlook her for adoption – she was older, had a slightly ornery streak, and with minor health problems. Others came and went while she waited for her forever family. In the past several months, she was having issues with eating and digestion. In collaboration with the vet, we tried many different solutions, but no official diagnosis seemed to stick. It wasn’t until she developed a nasal tumor that we realized she had lymphoma. After being at the sanctuary for a year and a half, she had so many friends who all came to say goodbye. She had found her forever family with all of us.
Our Companions promises to do the right thing for animals, no matter the challenge or cost. This promise extends to the most vulnerable animals, whether they come to us as hospice cases or their health takes a turn for the worse while they are here. The sanctuary truly becomes their refuge in a world that might turn them away.
We had a small gathering for them at Harakley’s Pond on our property. Many volunteers and staff members came together to share their favorite memories of Vivian and Cheetah, to shed some tears together, and to spread their ashes in a tranquil resting place. Thank you to all of those who attended and who dedicated their time to these deserving girls.