Thursday, August 18, 2011


This is the most personal story that I could write and share. It took me three weeks to be able to send it out into the world. Whenever an owner tells me how much they are grieving over their pet I think if how much I miss my cat D.C. I still can’t think of her or talk about her without crying. There isn’t a day in my life where I don’t think about her, grieve for her, and miss her like crazy. I understand how loss can profoundly affect your life.
To my kitty D.C; I say I love you, and I am so grateful for always helping me through the really rough spots of my life.
Here is D.C.’s story
I was looking for a kitty when I finally got my first apartment. I know most people get dishes and a sofa. I wanted a cat. Actually I wanted two but I told my roommates that I was only going to get one.  So I headed to where any responsible new pet owner would go for a cat, the pound. I, at that point, still considered myself a very knowledgeable, wordly, solidly standing in the “nothing shocks me anymore” veterinary arena. Suffice to say, I was so wrong. And I wasn’t just a little wrong. I was you aren’t even in the same galaxy wrong. I walked into the Baltimore City Animal Shelter with a plan and an air of confidence. As I crossed the threshold into the facility I was met by a foul smelling, disorderly, waiting room. There were a lot of people, I thought this was a good thing, I thought there were a lot of people there to adopt. Unfortunately I learned they were there for drop off and not pick up. Oh I was wrong on so many levels. I waited quietly and patiently to go in through the adoption rooms to find my kitty.
After some time I was escorted to the cat rooms. There were 2 at that time. They were the size of a closet. Lined on one side with cages, with just enough room to walk single file down the row piled three high of cages. There were maybe 30 cats in those 2 rooms. “Great,  I thought, there aren’t a lot of cats here they must have a high turnover.” Wrong again, they have a 5 day hold for these cats then they were euthanized. So all of those cats had been there less than 5 days, if they weren’t adopted or claimed by their owner, (which I swear never ever happened) they were euthanized on day 6.  I found out later that they routinely euthanized 70 plus animals a day. I spent a long time looking in those cages. This was a big decision and I wanted to make the right one. I had my boyfriend there with me. He picked out the small long haired cute grey kitten. She was almost irresistible. She was the obvious choice. I kept looking. In one cage in the second room in the middle of the racks of cages, there was a small, skinny  calico cat screaming. She had green snot pouring out of her nose and her eyes were all crusted shut. She was the cat no one would pick. I wanted her. I wanted her because she would meow and meow and meow. She wanted attention and she wanted a home. And I like anything that is assertive and demanding (no Freudian jokes! please?).  I asked the attendant if I could adopt her. she said she was too sick to be adopted, but I could put her on “hold”. If she was better she could be adopted. I was told that she had an upper respiratory disease that had turned into a lower respiratory disease and pneumonia. I filled out all of the forms and we left with one small grey kitten.
I called the shelter the next day. She wasn’t any better. I called everyday for the next 5 days. She was worse and not better. Finally on the 7th day I went back to the shelter. I asked to see the manager. I explained that she wasn’t going to get better if she stayed there and I wanted to try to help get her better. I told her I would pay her adoption fee and take responsibility for her medical care. The shelter manager looked at me and I knew she was weighing whether or not she should break the rules for me and a sick cat. I took her skinny sick bony body home.
I spent the next months trying a lot of different antibiotics and running a lot of tests. She did eventually get healthier. She was always a petite cat, but she gained muscle and her coat got shiny and full. (I always tell my clients that cats get a poor coat within 1 day of being sick, so monitor coat quality closely). Her ocular (eye) and nasal (nose) green discharge also subsided with time.  But the one thing that never changed was her demanding meows. She would call for me every time I came home. It didn’t matter where she was. If she heard my voice she would scream for me. I always said hello to her cries, and she always came running for me. If I ever was upset, especially if I was crying, should would stand in front of me and meow until I stopped. More truthfully, until I focused my attention on her, but either way it always worked. Whenever there was an argument in the house she would stand between us and scream until we stopped. She really was my guardian and my most faithful companion.
I was so profoundly moved and concerned about the conditions at the Baltimore City Animal Shelter that I became their first official volunteer. I went to the shelter four times a week for 3 to 4 hours at a time to just walk the dogs and pet the cats. I was concerned because it didn’t appear that the animals were getting any attention from the over taxed overworked staff. After about 8 months I realized that I was really struggling with what I was seeing everyday. It was routine for them to euthanize 70 animals a day. I cried everyday I got home. I couldn’t carry this sadness and I couldn’t stop the death. I couldn’t help but get attached to these cats and dogs. I couldn’t bear not to see them the next day I came in. it burned a scar inside of me so deep that I changed careers at age 30. I spent 12 years in college so I could become a veterinarian. I bought my own clinic so no one else would ever have to tell me which pet gets a second chance and which one doesn’t.
D.C. died at the age of 19 in my arms, in my bed. She had struggled with chronic renal failure (kidney disease) for many years, and in the end she was too weak to stand. But she lay with me for two days and meowed every time I looked at her. It was so hard to say goodbye to her. Her fragile little body had lasted far longer than I ever would have guessed when I adopted her so long ago.
I went back to the Baltimore City Shelter a few years ago. I went into the room where I had found her.  I told all of the kitties there that I hoped that they found a loving home and that someone loved them as much as I loved my cat D.C.
For more information on chronic kidney disease in the cat please see the link below;

If you would like more information on upper respiratory disease please see the link below;

If you would like more information on pneumonia please see the link below;

1 comment:

  1. D.C. had a great life and made yours great too!