When I started my first year of technician school, I had one cat, Sylvester. He was a bit cranky with most people, but he was my cuddle buddy and man substitute and I loved him a lot. I still do, except now he has to share my love with a multitude of broken animals.
After I graduated tech school and started working in the field, I figured that since I had a career going I could get another pet. I started cruising online for potential candidates to add to my little family, when I came upon an ad that read ‘Big cat in dire need for weight loss - will cuddle for food’. And then I saw this face and fell in love at first sight:
I sent an email to the owner, and we got to talking. Turns out this cat weighed over 30 lbs, and the family had just had a baby. Since the cat, named Zo at the time, was so cuddly, they were seriously considered about a suffocation risk. She would frequently lie on the owner’s chest in the middle of the night, to the point where the owner woke up as she was unable to breathe. To be fair, if I had a 30 lbs (32.4 when I picked her up, actually), weight on my chest, I wouldn’t be able to breathe either! So, Zo came to me and I promptly renamed her Bertha. She just had such big eyes where you could see the tumbleweeds going by behind, and as she was so big, the first thing I thought of was a black and white cow named ‘Bertha’. So she became Big Bertha and it stuck. She has lost a significant amount of weight in the 3 years that I’ve had her, so that’s an accomplishment! She’s just as clumsy as ever though, I’ve never met a cat that falls of the table because she’s rolling over for tummy scratches as much as this one.
When I was in my first year of working in emergency medicine, and had my own apartment, we had a 5 month kitten come into our clinic that had been dropped down the stairs and then stepped on by accident. The child in the family was trying to play with the kitten unsupervised, and unfortunately accidents happen. The family could unfortunately not afford treatment, so surrendered her to the clinic. Despite neurological issues, Lily was quite the fighter, and would not give up. She did require around the clock care, sub q fluids every few hours, daily metacam and pain control injections, icing to bring down the swelling, hand feeding, making sure she stayed at temperature and expressing her bladder. She was a black and white cat, and apparently I already had a collection opening, so I was the tech with the soft spot for tuxedo cats who took her home. Now I had three matching cats and never slept more than 2 hours at a time for months because she needed the care. She progressed very well, and even started walking and playing. She would alert me when she needed her bladder expressed and was starting to urinate on her own. She still was blind in one eye - but it seemed like she was starting to recover. Unfortunately, after 3 months of caring for her, she deteriorated rapidly. We tried to get her back on track, but a big part of our job is also knowing when it’s time to stop and already learning that it’s okay to stop. She had a great few months with me though and was pampered beyond belief!
A sister clinic of my emergency clinic frequently has animals dropped off at their door. They are a clinic that is near a lot of farms, and we all know that barn cats tend to get a little.. frisky. The clinic posted a picture of the 12 kittens that they just received, and in the picture there was one scrawny, sad looking orange fella. I happened to pass the clinic on my way home, so I dropped in to get some kitten time in. That little orange cat immediately boxed his way out of the cage, in front of all the other cats, and sat in my lap and proceeded to hijack my attention away from all the others. He was a purring machine, and looked a lot like my childhood cat that I lost two years prior. That’s the day I took Fred home. He’s been the biggest cuddle monster I have ever met, and cannot ever get enough attention. He would prefer pets over food and his favorite activity is napping on my chest and throat, cutting off my oxygen supply. He’s a wonderful furry friend!
So now I have three pets, and I have a feeling that won’t be the end any time soon. Being a tech you’re always surrounded by animals, and sometimes one comes along that just tugs at the heart strings. Given that you work in a vet clinic and likely have access to vet care at cost - it’s not very hard to justify taking just one more animal home!
What’s your ‘tugging at heart strings’ stray animal story?
Bonus Fred Picture!