At the sanctuary, we strive for happy endings. We unite animals with their forever homes. We make progress with shy cats, or cats with behavioral issues. We provide a safe haven for vulnerable animals who need a second chance at life. Sometimes, the happy endings we envision don’t get to come true – we take in certain cats knowing that with their advance age and health issues, the sanctuary becomes their forever home. It’s a “happy” ending in its own way – but very bittersweet, when we have to say goodbye to cats who spend their retirement years with us. We recently had to say goodbye to two very special cats who passed away while here at the sanctuary. While it’s obviously very sad, we are lucky to be able to provide a home for these cats who need a safe and loving place to be during their final days, weeks, months, or years.
Licorice was a teeny tuxedo boy who was found as a very friendly stray and brought to Bolton Vet for care. He had a laundry list of medical issues – heart murmur, FIV, intense dental issues, kidney disease, anemia, neurological issues… But that didn’t stop him from being the friendliest cat around. His favorite place to be was right by your side or on your lap. All you’d have to do is sit and he’d jump right up and start rolling around. He made fast friends of the other cats in the living room, trotting up to them to give a good snuggle. He was so happy to finally be safe indoors, surrounded by caring cats and humans to keep him company. Life couldn’t have been easy out on the streets with all those health issues for so long. Recently staff had noticed some odd oral discharge, which we thought could be related to his dental issues, but after a vet visit it was determined to be symptoms of his kidney disease’s further progression.
Carl came to the sanctuary back in January 2018 with three other cats when their owner suddenly passed away. These four senior cats all had varying health problems, like diabetes, obesity, and, in Carl’s case, pancreatitis. He would have flare ups of eating, not eating, eating, not eating, etc. Sometimes he’d vomit or have alarming stool, but with a host of supportive meds, fluids, and vet care he always seemed to bounce back and have a good quality of life. He loved to purr as loud as “humanly” possible, his signature motorboat rumble could be heard far and wide. All the cats in the living room with him just loved Carl – even the shyest kittens would try (and sometimes succeed!) to snuggle up with him. These past few weeks, he had been losing weight (whereas he’d been mostly maintaining give a pound or two since his arrival), sleeping more, eating less, drinking less – all signs that the body was preparing for its final rest. We truly have done so many supportive care measures for him – that had so far been 1) easy to administer and 2) improve his quality of life. There was not much left that we could have done for him in terms of medical intervention, and you could sense his little body was reaching the point of exhaustion.
With both passing away so close to one another, it’s been tough for staff and volunteers alike to deal with. They both even lived in the same room and would snuggle with each other on the couch. We’d like to thank everyone who spent time with these boys for opening your hearts to these cats. It’s amazing how we can do it, again and again, knowing the inevitable ending. But it’s a part of rescue – just like it’s a part of life. These cats teach us to appreciate the time we are given, and to savor each moment no matter how fleeting. We were lucky to have Licorice and Carl in “good” health for so long, but it never feels like enough time. We will miss them so much.
-Written by Lindsey Pellino, Feline Caregiver and Volunteer Manager