A Tribute to Sierra

Our Companions was contacted by a local municipal shelter about a sweet senior cat named Sierra. Sierra was surrendered by her previous owner after they had to move to an assisted living facility and was unable to bring her. The owner had many other cats in the home along with Sierra. In the shelter, it was apparent that Sierra preferred her time alone from the other cats and was a bit overwhelmed with this new environment. Knowing she needed a more quiet, calm place to decompress and transition from her last home, Our Companions welcomed Sierra to the Sanctuary in March of 2024.

We were aware that Sierra was in need of some dental work and we moved forward with a dental shortly after her arrival. She was also diagnosed with primary cardiac disease, a general term for disease of the heart, and was also diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism and took medication to manage her condition.

As expected, Sierra was a bit nervous when she arrived to her new room. She took advantage of the hiding spots and safe spaces in the room, especially the high shelves with beds. As days went on, staff would notice her slowly getting more comfortable being out in the open. She would be relaxing on top of the cat tree or window perch, then eventually the comfy couch. At times, she would still be up on the shelves, but would start to purr when staff would come in to feed her and say hello.

Sierra lived an indoor/outdoor lifestyle in her previous home and loved the opportunity to enjoy the outside within the safety of her catio. Just seeing her friends, she would start purring and loved all the chin and cheek scratches she received. She enjoyed burrowing herself underneath the blankets and would pop out for attention and love from her visitors. She loved catnip and rubbing her face on feather toys. Giving her the quiet, stable place she needed and the patience to trust her new friends, Sierra began to blossom from all the love and compassion she received from her new OC family.

After several weeks, our team started to notice that Sierra’s purrs started to sound a bit abnormal. They kept close observation of Sierra and found that she started to have labored breathing and seemed very uncomfortable. She was immediately brought to the vet hospital and they started her on oxygen. X-rays revealed that her upper airway was restricted, consistent with a mass pushing on her airway. She was prescribed several medications, including an oral and inhaled steroid. Sierra stayed at the hospital overnight and she was able to be weaned off the oxygen by the next day. Sierra started to breath on her own, was eating like normal, and the vets deemed Sierra stable to come back to the Sanctuary.

For her return, our Cat team closely monitored Sierra’s condition, started her new medication routine, and recorded her respiratory rate daily. Sadly, shortly after her return, Sierra started to struggle breathing again and she was brought back to the hospital. The vets evaluated her again and concluded that surgery to remove the possible tumor pushing on her airway was too risky. The surgery would most likely result in a permanent e-tube in her airway, and they weren’t aware of how sustainable that would be. After much discussion with our vet, we made the difficult decision to help Sierra pass to end her discomfort and pain. Sierra was only with us for a little over a month. Her sweet nature and kind soul was lost far too soon, and yet she left a mark on our hearts that will last forever. We will miss you, Sierra.