Like every other animal rescue on the planet, we receive several calls a day from the public asking us to take in dogs and cats. On a crisp April day in 2013, the call came from one of the receptionists at our veterinary office. She had spoken to a sweet woman asking if they could help with a super friendly orange cat. They couldn't, but she was wondering if we could.
Anyone that knows me is aware that I am NUTS about orange cats. I mean they are my kryptonite and the receptionist knew it. We had recently placed some cats, so I had the room and said I would call the woman. We had a quick phone call and set up a time for me to stop by and meet my future feline crush.
“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” - Jonathan Lockwood Huie
The next day, I pulled up to a well-manicured lawn in an older neighborhood. The sweet woman escorted me immediately to see the cat. Standing in front of me was a sweet and affectionate cat, but there was one problem. I mean, yes, she had orange on her. And black. And white. This cat was a female calico. I immediately understood the confusion and still agreed to take in the little girl. I set my disappointment aside as I placed the petite, yet very round, new addition to the Ruff Patches family into her crate for the car ride.
On the way home, I stopped by the veterinarian's office to have them run some basic tests. The vet tech gave her a brief physical exam before drawing blood for the test. Then he informed me that she was pregnant. He declared "She is ready to pop. 3 days at the most!" Wait, WHAT? I had agreed to take in a single orange cat. Now I was going to have an unknown number of kittens in my home for at least 8 weeks. Definitely not what I had been planning for! As I prepared to pay my bill, they asked for a name for my new addition. It immediately came to me and I said laughing "Her name is now Charity since this is all the human Charity's fault. I'll name the kittens after the staff."
And then there were four
I am a late-night person, so it took me a moment to realize what was going on when I bolted awake at 8 am the next morning. I heard piercing mews coming from the front room where Charity was staying. I leaped out of bed and ran down the hallway. When I reached the three-tiered cat cage she was staying in, I saw two tiny kittens curled up nursing on her. Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a tiny orange and white kitten laying quiet and still in the litter box.
Often when young cats give birth, it feels like they have to go to the bathroom. This is probably what happened to Charity and she didn't know what she was supposed to do. She left him in the box and had kittens number 2 and 3. I swept him up and he was cold to the touch. I started warming him up in my hands as I ran to get the heating pad. Kittens can die if they eat when they are cold, so warming him up slowly was important if he was going to survive.
I grabbed a shoebox and placed a heating pad on low underneath it. I set him on a towel in the box and started the process of getting him back to his mom. After about an hour, he was warm to the touch and I placed him back with his siblings. Within another hour, he was nursing while Charity groomed him. I then took the time to check the sex of the kittens - 3 little boys. I named them after our veterinarian, Dr. Larry Bosma, his son Andrew, the Practice Manager and Omar, the vet tech who told me Charity was pregnant. Larry, Andy, and Omar had arrived. Larry is the orange and white, Omar is the mini Maine Coon and Andy is the brown tabby and white.
Three years later, Omar is the only one of the 4 cats who found a home. As the kittens grew up, we discovered they all had severe cases of stomatitis. Stomatitis is a painful inflammation of the gums and mouth. In some cases, which we suspect in Charity and her kid's case, it can be an issue with the immune system. After years of managing their symptoms with steroids, their condition stopped responding. We made the decision to move on to the next step, removing as few teeth as possible.
Larry had most of his teeth removed, leaving Omar had four teeth removed. Andrew's mouth has been the best but is going downhill as well. Charity has had all her teeth removed and seems to have another underlying medical issue. She coughs daily and has regular nosebleeds, yet her sinuses and lungs are clear. She's had blood work and x-rays done to no avail. The next step for Charity is an MRI, which costs around $800-1500. Despite feeling miserable, she is still cuddly, friendly and wants to be wherever you are.
We can't give up on Charity, but we need your help to continue down this path. Since we took this adorable family in, we have spent almost $5000 on their veterinary bills. We don't have the money to find out if she can, in fact, live a long, normal life or if we need to end her suffering. With your help, we can find out what is going on.
Donations can be made on by pressing the button below (Credit Card and Paypal) or via check mailed to Ruff Patches, 2010 West Ave K #424, Lancaster, CA 93535. Thank you for helping us give Charity the care she needs!