Special Stories

Shelter Cat Inspires Treasured Pets Program

By February 23, 2016 June 5th, 2017 2 Comments

Special Cat And His Rescuer Battle Cancer Together


Onyx2There was just something about Onyx that made him stand out at the Animal Welfare League in Port Charlotte.  His easy disposition, his large panther-like body and strong face, those “speaking” eyes that seem to know what you’re thinking and offer back his own opinions.

While waiting for his forever home Onyx he began losing weight and no longer enjoyed the company of other cats.  Shelter staff hovered over him, not knowing exactly what the problem was until, one day, they noticed that he was jaundiced.  This was a sign that something was wrong in his liver.  Liver disease in a cat is very serious but he didn’t appear to be uncomfortable and… well… this was Onyx!  Shelter veterinarian, Dr Tulcan, started him on treatments to stabilize him and to address the jaundice. He improved dramatically but the jaundice never quite cleared, making him unadoptable.  A staff member took him home to spend whatever quality time he had left in a home environment.

459Onyx5Onyx improved at home.  He was affectionate, curious, playful and didn’t appear to have any discomfort.  But, even though he was slowly and properly introduced to the two other cats in the home, he took exception to sharing.  After several serious dust-ups it was apparent that he needed to be in a single pet household.  But where to find someone willing to take on a sick cat?

More information was needed on his illness and prognosis.  He was taken to Punta Gorda Animal Hospital for tests that were unavailable at the shelter.  The tests showed “no indication of” several possible problems but didn’t provide a conclusive diagnosis.  He was put on Prednisone to reduce liver swelling and milk thistle to rebuild his liver. Onyx was very tolerant about taking his medication.  He would wait patiently each morning for his pills which he knew would be followed by breakfast.  He was a trooper!  He remained very stable for six months and so, armed with this information, AWL began looking for someone who would be willing to take him in as a hospice pet.

We were thrilled when we got a call from Dr Renee Kirk, a retired medical doctor, who took Onyx home just before Christmas and renamed him Rameses.  But his story doesn’t end there.  Although Onyx was considered a hospice pet, Dr. Kirk is a healer and wanted a definitive diagnosis.  She was referred to a specialist in Fort Myers and recently contacted us with an update.

Dr. Renee Kirk with Rameses

“Unfortunately, Rameses’ biopsy has revealed that he has lymphoma which is a cancer of the lymphatic system. He has a tumor in his liver. He started chemotherapy last week. He is on Leukeran (a chemotherapy drug) twice a week and takes Prednisone and Milk Thistle daily, as well as  Mirtazapine every other day  to stimulate his appetite and Vitamin B12 once a week.

He has really helped fill a void.  I lost my husband on September 8th to cancer and had to have my dog put to sleep last month. I am also dealing with cancer and receive chemo every 3 weeks. He is an affectionate cat and very well behaved.  Rameses will sometimes sleep with me otherwise he sleeps wherever he wants…he has beds all over the house and he likes to sleep on the ottoman in the living room. Yes, he is spoiled.  He is allowed out in the pool cage when I’m here and hasn’t even gotten near the pool but he did bring a tree frog into the house. We got the frog away from him but then the frog also got away from my son and me. It climbed up into my recliner! The following morning we were able to get the frog out of the house and pool cage.

Thank you for allowing me to “rescue” Rameses. I couldn’t ask for a better roommate. Hopefully he will be with me as long as possible.”

No, Dr. Kirk…..thank you.

Onyx/Rameses was the inspiration for AWL’s new Treasured Pets Program.  This program is designed to help geriatric pets or those with chronic medical conditions such as thyroid issues, diabetes and severe allergies find responsible, loving homes. Adoption fees are waived for pets in this special program.  Adopters are screened carefully to ensure their level of commitment, compassion and their total understanding of the animals medical needs.  Any animal in this program with severe allergies that require special food will have the food supplied by the AWL for six months.  After that time, additional arrangements can be made for low-cost food.  The Animal Welfare League will remain in close contact with the adopter and their Veterinarian for periodic updates.

Animals in the Treasured Pets program can be found on our website www.awlshelter.org/Adopt/Special_Needs.  Animal Welfare League is located at 3519 Drance Street, Port Charlotte. (941) 625-6720. Open daily from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.