Bart had a rough start to his little life. Surrendered to a local Veterinary Clinic caked in boogers and eye discharge he was terrified… he had a leg that had been previously broken (but was healing), a hernia and his left eye had ruptured due to the festering infection and chronic upper respiratory infection he was suffering while a stray kitten.
I agreed to foster him but as time went on I realized that this antisocial, terrified little baby kitten most likely would live his life hiding under the bed in my spare bedroom and that was perfectly OK! At least I knew he was safe and would get unlimited snackies and a safe haven all to himself.
I saw a glimmer of hope for Bart when I had to catch him to take him for one of his many veterinary visits (that usually involved stealth like precision and ninja like reflexes to capture him– I have no shame in admitting that a little blind kitten with a healing broken leg is far faster than I am!) he began to nuzzle my face all purrs and kisses!
The vet clinic he was dropped off at vowed to care for him financially/medically in whatever he would need provided that I fostered him and his sister (Taloola) to which I agreed. Little did I know that Bart would become apart of our little family, our “land of misfit toys” with the rest of the “handipets” here!
The fateful day came for Bart to get neutered so I brought him to the clinic he was dropped off at (that had vowed to provide any medical care he needed) as they ran the pre-surgical bloodwork and found his white blood cell count (which indicates if there is infection present or not) was three times the normal limit! I discussed with the veterinarian that came as no shock to me since his left eye had long ruptured (which the veterinarian knew this) and needed to be removed immediately. The vet skirted around the topic of removing his ruptured eyeball until finally hesitating slightly only to mumble,
“It is just not “financially responsible” for us to remove his eye and eat that cost…”
They said that in addition to NOT removing his ruptured eyeball they would not be neutering Bart (or repairing his hernia) since he had an infection (of course all I could think in my brain was DUH his EYEBALL IS GONE! Of course he has an infection!!) The veterinarian then continued the conversation with those fateful words that I would NEVER EVER forget…
“He is only a stray. It is not like he is anyone’s pet.”
There is was. Out in the atmosphere for everyone to hear. HE.WAS.ONLY.A.STRAY. As if that negated the fact that he was not worthy of quality medical care and patience! It took everything in me to keep silent, bite my tongue and take Bart back to my house and plan my next move but one thing was absolutely certain Bart was no longer going to be a stray, he was no longer going to be alone or have no one to advocate for him — because he was going to be my baby.
After some grumbling on my part and persistence (e.g., a thorn in someone’s side) they agreed to remove his non-functioning left eye, repair his hernia and neuter him to which everything seemed to go off without issue — Bart came home to me and began his road to recovery as well as learning to scoot around the house missing an eye (and clouded vision in the right eye) but I noticed as time went on something was off? He was still just as congested and “crusty boogie” covered as he was when he first initially came to my house! Despite the menagerie of antibiotics, pills, vet visits he was still just as stuffed up as if nothing had changed.
By this time I was working at an amazing veterinary clinic with amazing doctors so I wasted no time bringing the “handicats” in to meet everyone (aka flirt with the girls) and after we accomplished a few diagnostics for Bart (radiographs, bloodwork, culture swabs etc.,) it was decided that the doctor would perform an exploratory procedure and reopen that left eye to see what was causing him so much drainage and discharge.
Once the doctor finished Bart’s exploratory procedure she came to show me what was causing Bart all of his boogey issues for almost a YEAR — a 4×4 piece of pus covered gauze as well as sutures that should have been absorbable and they were not. After she removed the foreign items from Bart’s eye socket he began to recover… again. But this time I noticed that he was much happier, the day after his surgery he joined me in bed and began to rub his face on mine all while purring and nuzzling me. It was almost as if he was grateful for helping him, for not giving up on him and for being his advocate…his voice and more importantly his “mama”.
It disappointed me to think that there were still veterinary professionals, clinics, rescues out in the world that were so quick to “write-off” a stray animal simply because they were a stray, because they required a little bit of empathy and understanding, because they were simply a “black cat”. Bart was just as worthy as any other animal of receiving proper medical care and love!
Each and every day I was thankful I answered the phone that day- the day that I got the call informing me this scared, sick little kitten needed me. Today, Bart is a happy, healthy, ornery, affectionate little boy with a toybox packed to the brim with a plethora of toys, and I am thankful for him each and every day as he teaches me about dedication, strength, resiliency in the face of adversity and of course– affection. If you would have told me that fateful August day when I brought Bart home that years later I would have a sweet, cuddly little boy I would have laughed! I would never have believed the positive transformation he has completed but I could not be more proud of him.
Happy Belated Birthday, Bart. I love you so much little boy, thank you for being part of the driving force behind this campaign. To be a voice for those who do not have a voice and even more so for those animals that are a little “special”. Thank you.