Itta is a very small, 62 year old woman living near me who feeds about 50 feral cats as well as her own.
She was laid off from her full-time job as a librarian from the LA city libraries two years ago because of massive budget cuts to all departments. She now works on an on-call and sometimes on a temporary, part time basis.
She barely makes the rent and utilities and has very little money for her own food and for her cats and the ferals.
I give her about 80 lbs of dried food and about 50 cans of wet food a month to help her out. Marie gets three times that because she cares for 150 cats, and Rosa for about 100.
Recently Itta broke her left elbow and had surgery, making it more difficult to function.
Yesterday she called me asking whether I could help her own, older cat, Sophia, who had lost a massive amount of weight and was not eating or drinking. The vet said the cat had either kidney failure or hyperthyroidism, but Itta could not afford the $180 for blood tests.
Itta asked me whether I knew of anyone who could give Sophia subcutaneous fluids as each time she got fluids she improved. The vet recommended fluids twice a week, but Itta could not afford the $39 each time. I told her I could, as the IV sets and Ringers were set up for one of my own cats with early kidney failure: Bodhi.
Itta showed up with Sophia in a carrier. Sophia is a beautiful Calico cat, obviously once much larger, with very young looking, light blue eyes and the clipped ear that indicated she had once been a feral cat.
We placed Sophia in Itta’s lap and I gave her 120 cc’s of Rinerger’s Solution with a 20 gauge needle. Sophia was completely relaxed and seemed to enjoy the slow fluids and the attention.
Itta was incredibly thankful, repeating over and over to “Sophia, I love you and Ed is your savior.”
I also trained Itta how to give fluids herself in the future, but in the meantime, Sophia will be getting her fluids at my house until I receive more IV sets in the mail.
I also gove Itta 2 cans of Science Diet KD, which is a low protein, low Magnesium and low phosphorous diet food for kidney failure that I had at home. I’ll buy her some more in a few days. I also gave her several pills used to stimulate eating for cats who are not eating.
Itta thanked me profusely and left with Sophia.
Fifteen minutes later she called. She said Sophia was eating like she hadn’t eaten in a month, just breathing the food into herself. Sophia had not been eating at all, and had even stopped drinking water. Giving fluids often has that effect on cats, an immediate hunger and thirst.
We both rejoiced, and I felt satisfied that I had helped her and Sophia.
Sometimes, because I have been doing it so long, feeding ferals feels more like a job than something I do that brings me joy, but Sophia’s dramatic short-term improvement, and giving Itta some hope that Sophia may be around longer than she thought was very satisfying.
PHOTOS COMING NEXT WEDNESDAY.