Within two weeks of Zoey passing away, I was yet again drawn in by a Facebook post about an 18 year old cat surrendered to New York City Animal Care and Control in Manhattan (along with his 16 year old "sisfur") after his human had passed away. The cat's name was Memo, and his time had apparently run out at the shelter and he was on "death row" (i.e., on a daily list of cats that would be euthanized the next day by noon...unless a rescue stepped up to save them). A rescue based in Connecticut had expressed interest in saving Memo from death row, but needed a foster. I had never fostered before, but my heart told me to take another leap of faith and trust in love. So, I quickly completed the Foster Application and neurotically checked my emails hourly, hoping that I would be approved. The next day, I heard from the rescue and they approved me to foster Memo. I was scared and had no idea how this would all work out, but Memo needed love and care and I wanted to give it to him.
Memo arrived at my home in New Jersey the next day - the shelter has an amazing program where they will transport an animal to their new home free of charge, and up to 3 hours away, when pulled by one of their partner rescue organizations. As excited as I was, I wasn't prepared for the horrendous state this sweet cat was in. He smelled awful, with diarrhea stuck to his tail and his nails so overgrown that they were embedded into his paw pads. His short coat was completely matted leaving him with terrible dandruff and he walked on his hocks. Memo was scared and spent the better part of the first 5 weeks hiding under my bed. Admittedly, I questioned if I could do this...if I was strong enough to give Memo everything that he needed.
Within the first month, Memo's vets determined that he had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBD) and he was put on Prednisolone (the constant diarrhea was a telltale sign). We also determined that he had Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), so I started to give him fluids at home, which of course he hated. Memo started to come out of his shell and he proved to be a silly, loving and handsome boy. He was never able to jump, however, and we had assumed it was due to arthritis, but this was never confirmed. Around Thanksgiving, Memo collapsed and urinated on himself, scaring me half to death. A visit to the vet the next day revealed that he was now anemic, so he was immediately started on Epogen, and eventually Darbopoetin, which helped him tremendously. And it was then that I asked to formally adopt Memo. I could no longer imagine a life without him, knowing how much care and love he really needed. Memo eventually suffered with Laryngeal Paralysis (a paralyzed larynx) and he declined quickly, despite many specialist visits and hospital stays. But the time we had together was filled with love and happiness - his last chapter mattered and he knew it.
Memo had a large number of medical issues and I would be lying if I said it wasn't challenging for both of us. But Memo opened my eyes to the all too frequent condition of senior cats that are surrendered to shelters in this country. It is heartbreaking, but we can do better. These senior cats deserve a final chapter filled with love, compassion and care. I have no regrets in adopting Memo and I was blessed to have 11 months with him...and I would do it again because his life mattered.
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