Lily Pad Pond: A Story of Survival, Love and Happy Endings
Of all the cats I have rescued and rehabilitated over the years, Lily has inspired me in more ways than I can ever possibly express. Lily found us one August. And never before have I seen such a sick cat. My children and I were going outside on a hot day this past summer to play in the sprinklers when we stumbled upon an all white cat sleeping in the shade on our back steps.
To say she was sick was an understatement. She was skin and bones. There was no fat, and hardly any muscle left on her frail body. She was covered head to toe in fleas and suffering from severe anemia. She also had no teeth, and it became apparent that she was completely deaf.
Despite her awful condition, she had the most vibrant eyes I have ever seen. And she defeated all the odds. Being a completely white cat, she was a beacon for predators. Being deaf, she should have easily been hit by a car before then. Having no teeth, hunting must have been extremely difficult. It looked as though she hadn’t eaten a good meal in months. But her eyes were bright and full of life, in complete defiance of her situation.
After only a few minutes of interacting with her, it was easy to see she was a very loving cat. She would purr louder than any cat I have ever heard, and all you had to do was sit by her. You didn’t even have to touch her. She just wanted to be with people. She wanted that more than food.
Despite how unhealthy she was, I knew we had to get her help. I didn’t care what that odds were that she would survive, she had made it this far. She had fought for what must have been a very long time. She wanted to live, and I knew she deserved the chance to live.
I called Voice For Animals (the no kill animal shelter I foster for) immediately. Even though their resources are limited, they sent someone to evaluate her. She was given IV fluids on the spot as well as wet food and a flea treatment. They paid for her vet visit. The veterinarian at Great Falls Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Wyand, in Somersworth, NH put her age between 8 and 12 years. Many of her teeth had fallen out, and what few she had left were rotting. She had little to no muscle mass left and possible arthritis. However, despite living outside for what must have been months, she had no heart worms, no intestinal parasites and no feline AIDS or leukemia. She had beaten all the odds. She truly had a will to live.
We knew that it would be extremely hard to find a home for an older cat with health issues like she had, so only a few days after she first found us, we adopted her. We named her Lily Pad Pond, and it didn’t take her long to find her place in our home. She would sleep with my youngest son, who was just a baby at the time. She would curl up in any willing lap for a belly rub, snuggling and a nap. She would beg for food like a dog, meowing and pawing at your leg. She would sleep every night with my oldest daughter, Abbie. It did not take long at all for her to melt every single one of our hearts.
Then, in November, we discovered a hard mass on Lily’s jaw. Another trip to the vet revealed that Lily had a cancerous tumor. And it was incurable. Despite its location, the tumor didn’t seem to bother her at all. The vet told us that she could probably live very comfortably for the next few months. When she stopped eating, then it would be time to put her down. So for the next several months, we doted on her, giving her the best last few months of her life..
It was hard knowing there was so little we could do for her. It was even harder knowing that so much of her life was spent in misery. But we found comfort in knowing that she wasn’t going to die alone and in the cold, that for the rest of her life she would be surrounded by warmth, peace and love.
When Lily passed away, it was in my arms. She purred at me as the Doctor gave her the injection. And as she took her last breath, I told her we loved her. And I thanked her with all my heart for coming into our lives.
If I’ve learned anything over the years from dealing with these amazing animals, and especially from Lily, it’s that I know I can’t help them all. But sometimes I can help one, and that makes all the difference in the world.
No kill animal shelters like Voice For Animals help make the difference for cats just like Lily. When she passed, in her honor they set up a donation to help other cats just like Lily was, elderly and ill and in desperate need of someone who cares. Anyone can foster cats for VFA. Anyone can donate time, effort or money to the cause of helping felines in need. But if you can’t do any of those things, you can help spread Lily’s story. Tell people about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets, of vaccinating their cats. You can teach people that the average life expectancy of an outdoor or feral cat is 4-6 years compared to the average lifespan of an indoor cat which is 12-16 years. Some cats can even live to be 20 years or more when given the opportunity. Outside, cats run the risk of starvation, poisoned food, predators, diseases like feline AIDS and leukemia, abuse by cruel individuals and getting hit by cars. That is a life and a death no living thing should endure.
Cats like Lily have changed my life, they’ve changed the way I view the world. I want to give back to these animals all they have given to me. It’s like the Cocheco Valley Humane Society says, life should be good. Everyone deserves a chance at happiness. And the same goes for these very special creatures.
So share Lily’s story, check out VFA’s site, offer some of your time or money or words. Today, you could help save a life. And that makes all the difference in the world.