Late last week Bruce and I drove to Cupertino so I could drop him off at work before Fynn and I headed to the San Francisco Zoo. As we came off the exit I saw something. “There’s a kitten!” I screamed. I didn’t know if it was alive or not, but as Bruce slowed for the stoplight, I opened the passenger door, jumped out and yelled back, “I’m going to get it.”
I hurriedly walked down the exit, but then slowed, worried the tiny black kitten, huddled on the side of the road, would get scared and run into traffic. But it didn’t move. I thought it may be dead, but as I softly touched his little head it stirred and gave a small meow. I wrapped my cardigan around its little body, gently scooped it up and walked back to the stoplight. Bruce pulled up a few seconds later and we headed to the nearest vet hospital.
As we drove, the kitten settled into my arms, but didn’t really move. There were a few times during our short ride when I thought he had passed away, but when I lifted his head he would stir ever so slightly or exhale loudly. We reached VCA Lawrence Animal Hospital in Santa Clara, where Wolfe (we named him after the exit we found him on) was taken in by the staff. Wolfe was showing signs of brain trauma and a possible bleed in the brain, along with a broken jaw. He was also weak from not eating or drinking for several days.
The vet wanted to put Wolfe, who was now teetering between semi- and unconsciousness, on an IV to administer fluids and monitor him for 24 hours to see if things improved. As he started to break down costs though, Bruce and I realized what this cat needed in terms of medical attention was too much for us to afford. His bill was already close to $400 (x-rays, FIV/Leukemia tests) and it was going to cost $120/day for him to stay at the hospital as they monitored his progress. If the trauma to his brain receded and he regained his strength, the jaw wiring procedure would cost another $700-800. Already on a tight budget and with five pets at home we had to consider it just wasn’t possible for us to invest in this adorable black kitty.
As I went back and forth on what to do, I started to think about Coco (whom I should tell you has had her feeding tube removed and is eating on her own with supplemental syringe feedings!) Was I a horrible person for considering euthanizing this kitten rather than spending thousands of dollars saving it? I’ve dealt with feline head traumas in the past and it didn’t go well. Four years ago I tried to save a six week old kitten with head trauma. After $1500 and over a week stay in the ER she started to get better but then, she was gone – a blood clot in her brain caused a stroke. I didn’t want to relive such a tragedy.
I started to tell Wolfe’s vet that not only could we not afford the medical attention this kitten needed, but I didn’t think I could afford the emotional investment either. That’s when he said the most generous and wonderful thing a rescuer can hear. “You can relinquish Wolfe to the clinic and we will do what we can.” If Wolfe didn’t improve or got worse they would euthanize him. If he continued to improve, they would eventually wire his jaw, let him heal and adopt him out. Hallelujah!
As of yesterday, Wolfe is doing… amazing! He’s gone from semi-conscious to running around his cage and meowing. He’s scheduled to get his jaw wired today (wish him luck!) There’s some concern about his eye sight, but only more time healing will tell what’s going on there. (Updates here and here)
Wolfe was extremely lucky to have found such a generous clinic. That said, if we had been forced to opt for plan B I know in my heart that he would have been better off humanely put to sleep than simply ignoring what I saw as we drove down the off ramp. I would have been heartbroken that I wasn’t able to help him more, but I would have still felt relief knowing he wasn’t suffering for, possibly, days on the side of the road.
I know there are a lot of safety concerns to consider when trying to help a stray animal in need, so I’m not advocating that everyone jump out of their car and handle an injured creature, but please, if you see a suffering animal call the nearest shelter to report it.
I am oh so grateful to VCA Lawrence Animal Hospital for taking Wolfe in and giving him a chance. Bruce and I will be donating some money to the clinic to help with Wolfe’s treatment. Also, all Check Meowt t-shirt sales, both adult and baby, and “I Brake for Ferals” bumper stickers
for August and September will benefit the Wolfe fund until we pay his bill in full. Please pass it on!
If you’re not in the market for a shirt you can donate directly to VCA Lawrence (address below) or click the donate button below. This will send money to Pawesome’s paypal account, so please make a note that this donation is for Wolfe and we will cut a check for the hospital. You can also send a check directly to VCA, noting in the memo that this is for Wolfe.
VCA Lawrence Animal Hospital
771 Lawrence Expressway
Santa Clara, CA 95051
And if you live in Northern California and are looking to adopt a survivor please consider taking Wolfe in. You can call the hospital directly to find out when he’ll be ready to meet with potential adopters.