Here is a picture of *Jackie and Mimi, two more from over 560 sick or injured Alberta pets that Tails of Help has saved during the past 5 years - more than 160 already in 2018.
* (some names and photos have been changed to protect privacy)
“You guys basically helped keep my little family alive.”
Some people are born cat people. While she did have other pets growing up, Sophie has always been one of those cat people. Old pictures of her at two years old show her wrapping her cats in blankets because she worried they were cold.
Sophie is lucky enough to have shared the past decade of her life with her two dear cats, Jackie and Mimi. Sophie adopted Mimi twelve years ago, finding her among a litter of young kittens at the local flea market. In her eyes it was the best gift her Dad could ever have given her. But really, he’s a cat lover too.
Jackie had a harder go of it. Taking after his namesake, Jackie Chan, Jackie has a tough exterior. Ten years ago he was part of a litter born in an abandoned van, the mother cat likely seeking shelter from the elements. Sophie was mourning the recent loss of her white cat, and after her brother found the litter she asked if there happened to be a white one among them. And luckily there was – Jackie – just like it was meant to be.
“He was a little runt,” Sophie recalls. “He was so small and I nursed him back to health. He turned out to be a big boy.”
And, in turn, these cats comforted Sophie through her own health problems; there for her even when she could not work and had to go rely on AISH (Alberta Income for the Severely Handicapped). “They were there for me to fill that emptiness,” Sophie says. “There were times I didn’t know if I wanted to keep going but they give me a reason to get up in the morning.”
Each of her cats has their own unique personality. While Jackie is tough and independent, he does love a good brushing. He won’t even eat his supper until Sophie gives him a few soothing strokes. Mimi, on the other hand, just loves all forms of touch and attention. Sophie calls her a “shoulder kitty” because she climbs all over her whenever she can.
They’ve had a long life together as a family – Sophie never had her own kids – until the markers of cat old age started creeping in. First it was Mimi, demonstrating some severe digestive issues and unexplained weight loss.
“I noticed something was wrong because you don’t just lose weight like that.” Every owner knows that feeling when something is wrong with their pet, but can’t ask them what it is. Naturally, Sophie brought her to the veterinary clinic.
It was at that point that desperation kicked in. The vets were not sure what was wrong, and they needed to do some tests, most of which Sophie couldn’t afford. She asked her friends, but, unfortunately, no one was in a position to help her. One friend did, however, know of an organization that helped people on low-income benefits with unexpected emergency pet treatment. Sophie jumped on the computer and searched, until she landed on the Tails of Help website ( www.tailsofhelp.ca ).
From there it was easy – she inquired at the clinic, and they completed the assessment and application forms provided by Tails of Help. Mimi was able to get the blood work and a course of treatment started until a good diagnosis could be made.
Then, unfortunately, Jackie started having his own issues. After noticing some troubles in the litter box, Sophie took him into the vet. Though it turned out to be a treatable bladder infection, they found something else that was worse. He had severe gum disease and needed to have three teeth removed, a $2000 unexpected cost.
“It was just beyond what I could afford at the moment. I mean, I love my cats to bits but I would have had to let them go.”
Sophie thought it was worth trying to contact Tails of Help again. She went back online to find the application instructions and brought them to the vet. Working directly with veterinary clinics allows for a smooth and quick application process, and eases the emotional burden on owners.
“I thought I was losing my cat so I was not in very good shape emotionally,” Sophie recalls. “[The clinic] basically did all of it. They did the paperwork and they gave me a call to say that it’s being processed and that they would match whatever Tails gave. They took care of the whole load for me… (It) was such a relief, such a good experience for me.”
Sophie is deeply grateful for the important role that the veterinarians and clinics play in these cases. She asked her vet to pursue whatever course of action they thought was best. “I basically told them ‘I trust their lives in your hands.’ That’s how much trust I have with these vets.”
With combined contributions from Tails of Help, the veterinary clinic, and Sophie herself, Jackie was able to have his decaying teeth removed before an infection could spread. He’s now happy and doing well, perhaps just a tad put out by the regular trips to the vet for a teeth cleaning.
“If I wouldn’t have had Tails of Help this time, the way things were moving along, it was not looking good for the both of my pets,” Sophie says. “I could only put so much money towards it. My friends did the best they could, but having both cats sick so close in between, if it wasn’t for you guys, I kid you not, I would have lost my cats. You helped keep my family afloat. You really did.”