Over the course of the past two years, our Street Kitty Medical Fund has seen so much action that it now requires four people to run it. Three of those people are not only experienced, but fluent in pretty much any disease, condition or illness that can afflict a cat and then there’s…. me. My only qualifications for duty are that I work from home therefore available 24/7, I’m Mom to a former street cat who likes to dress up and I’m afflicted with the inability to say no. So, of course, it stands to reason that when it’s my week on duty, the requests will be the most complicated ones.
Murphy’s Law struck on Saturday, October 23 – a day when all Soft Side hands were on deck to distribute items from our 10th Anniversary Auction. As people drove up, we all acted as runners to find their items and deliver them to their cars. I was pushing a cart full of goodies when my phone buzzed alerting me that a Street Kitty Fund request had just come in.
A cat named Marble had gone missing from the colony for two days and then showed up dragging her leg. The request came via a caretaker who we know well, but she explained she was applying on behalf of a woman in the neighborhood who feeds the cats. To that end, the caretaker offered to help trap and transport the kitty to the hospital, but it wasn’t one of her regular charges.
I responded, “Yes, we’ll cover” and fully expected the next step would be a simple, tidy call for payment. Never have I been so wrong. Calls were flying for the next six hours.
The first series were with the ER vet on duty at the hospital. She explained Marble’s leg was severely broken and, in a perfect world, would go to an orthopedic practice for surgery that would run anywhere from $4,000-$6,000 dollars. Fortunately, I had two of my SYSS kitty fund experts close at hand so after numerous conversations with the vet, the agreed-upon plan was to manage and stabilize Marble’s pain, release her that evening and then we’d arrange for amputation. All good until I learned the caretaker wasn’t available and the lady who had been feeding Marble had her hands full with four of her own and two, because of illnesses, were restricted to their own, private rooms.
This was not a situation we had ever run into before and I’ll admit, I was close to breathing out of a paper bag. Not only have I never dealt with a kitty this severely injured, but our kitty, Bugs, has a very compromised immune system and I couldn’t risk bringing Marble into the mix. So I did the only thing I could think of and asked if the hospital would keep Marble overnight. It would give the vet a chance to monitor her pain and give us (okay, me) a chance to come up with a Plan B. The feeding lady truly wanted to help and agreed she’d pick up Marble the next day and transport to any foster we could find.
Now I’ve got to find a foster in the midst of a foster-drought when every caretaker and rescue in Baltimore is slammed. As the back and forth behind-the-scenes intensified (you did what?) salvation landed squarely in my lap.
“Don’t worry, I can take her. I’ve cared for a number of cats with broken legs, it’s no big deal.”
Never have I been so relieved (and guilt ridden) in my life. Marble arrived at Tanya’s house the next afternoon and went right into a recovery crate. (That gives you an indication of how perfect my foster “choice” was – she has her own recovery crate.)
Crisis One averted, the next step was arranging for amputation. As part of the Street Kitty Fund, we keep a list of partner vets so I scoured it for who had done that kind of surgery in the past and then did some private checking with our kitty rescue friends. We whittled the list down to three possibilities and first thing Monday morning, I sent them each Marble’s x-rays and labs.
Two came back with prices that had me clutching my heart, but the third from Dr. Kip Imperato at You’ll Never Walk Alone caught my attention immediately.
“I think I can save her leg, but I’d need to see her right away.”
Five days later on October 28, Dr. Imperato performed the surgery and although Marble is still on crate rest, she’s now allowed a few short periods of exercise each day. She spends them primarily making biscuits on any blanket available assuming it’s butt up against a human. And once a week, she goes back to You’ll Never Walk Alone for laser therapy where everyone at the practice is amazed at how well she’s done.
Or, perhaps, I should correct myself here.
After one surgery, three laser therapies and five weeks later, we’ve learned Ms. Marble is actually MISTER Marcel, a ten-year old lovebug who was neutered in a former life. Our chill boy is still recovering and, I might add, milking it for all it’s worth with cuddles from everyone and anyone in Tanya’s household.
Although the Street Kitty Fund will continue to cover his recovery bills, our good friends at AARF have agreed to take Marcel under their wing and find him the home of his dreams once he’s ready for adoption.
For once, I’m grateful for not being able to say no and, even more importantly, for having board members and friends like Tanya.
Note: Like so many cats that come through our Street Kitty Fund, Marcel was once somebody’s pet. We won’t speculate on what led him to life on the streets, but we’re determined to find him the kind of home he deserves. When he’s fully recovered, Marcel will be up for adoption through AARF and he’ll be on the lookout for a home with cuddly people and a calm cat or dog. This boy’s not picky, he just wants to be loved.