A No-Kill Cat Shelter’s Beginning
Back in the little town of Oak Hills, my now husband and I found a small kitten that was abandoned on the streets. The little guy was so tiny that he was no larger than a smart phone – we easily guessed that he must have been the runt of his litter.
Without having to think twice, we took the itty bitty kitten into our home and he instantly became a part of the family. A handful of names were tossed in the air, but we settled on naming him “Sox” – simply because his little paws looked as if he had tiny socks on.
After a few days of being in our home, Sox went from being playful and energetic to having a runny nose, sneezing, and wanting to sleep more than usual; the typical signs of upper respiratory infection, but we didn’t know that at the time.
We decided it would be best to take the kitten in for a check up sooner than we had planned. The veterinary visit proved that Sox was a bit under the weather with the probability of an upper respiratory infection – the doctor prescribed him antibiotics and wanted us to come back within a couple of days .
But, before we could make the next appointment, we found Sox laying on his side and not responding to either of us handling him – he was colder than cold just lying in our hands. We tried our best not to panic and quickly rushed the kitten to the nearest emergency hospital. As soon as we entered the doors, one of the staff members seen the look on our faces and immediately took us into a private room.
Sox was instantly written off as a loss by the veterinarian as soon as he walked in. We tried our best to keep it together, but after hearing the doctor tell us about the condition of our kitten, we fell apart and broke down into each others arms – we were just told that the little kitten we had rescued would more than likely not make it through the night.
The Doctor told us that Sox might survive if he were to have surgery done on his tiny lungs. A spark of hope crossed our tear filled eyes, but was instantly gone as soon as he mentioned that the surgery would be costly and that it would be best to simply put Sox down, being that we more than likely didn’t have the cash.
This news honestly didn’t sit well with us – we didn’t like the idea of ending the life of an animal, and we especially didn’t like the idea of being cornered into that decision because of money. We didn’t know what to do at this point, then one of the staff members said that Sox being alive through his current condition is literally a “ miracle,” and that it’s a sign of him wanting to live.
Seeing that the tiny kitten was not only fighting for his life, but wanting to live was enough to spark the drive in our heart’s to fight alongside Sox.
The cost of surgery was originally priced between $6,000 – 8,000 with the possibility of being even more than that. This news just added more weight to our already heavy hearts. With the cost of the surgery in mind, we brainstormed on ways to set up fundraising – we put together our creative minds and began campaigning with posters and fliers over every square inch of social media as well as the Internet. Within 24 hours, we raised close to $1,200.
We launched a campaign for Sox called “Breath of Air” and it was running strong, pulling in donations from Australia to Sweden and others parts of the world. During this time, we found a glimmer hope for the kitten through The City of Angels Pet Hospital in Culver City, Los Angeles, CA.
The medical and surgical staff there assessed Sox and managed to lift some of the weight off our hearts with the news that Sox’s surgery would be done, and that his current condition could allow him to live comfortably for an additional week or so until he gained a little more weight as well as giving us a little more time to get the rest of the funds for the surgery. Sox was admitted over night and was scheduled to go home with us the following day.
We got home knowing that our little Sox was in goods hands and that he was going to be okay. For the first time since this all started, we finally got a full night of sleep. The next morning, we woke up to a call from Dr. Lo, the assigned surgeon at City of Angels. She was excited to tell us how Sox was ready to go home and await his surgery within the next few weeks.
In addition to this news, Dr. Lo delivered more exciting news; she explained how the City of Angels Foundation had heard of our story and all the effort we’d put in trying to save Sox – this was inspiring for them and wanted to donate $1000 towards the surgery. The doctor also added that the price went down to $4,500 and that a few of the hospital’s staff members wanted to donate to Sox too. For a second, we felt as if we had won a marathon – tears of joy started to cover our face. The feeling was gone just as quickly as it came when Dr. Lo had to rush off the line for an emergency – the emergency being for Sox.
Without hesitation, my husband and I quickly packed up and began the journey back toward City of Angels. During the drive we received another call from the hospital. It was Dr. Lo’s medical assistant telling us that Sox was currently in cardiac arrest. He was unresponsive and stopped breathing – Dr. Lo was performing advanced emergency life resuscitation measures on the tiny kitten.
A few minutes had passed, but to us, it felt like an eternity. There was no change or improvement in Sox’s condition – and we were left to make the most heartbreaking decision either of us had ever been given. At 3:04pm, March 22nd 2012 Sox was pronounced deceased after the call to stop resuscitation was made. The dreadful silence from the other end of the phone was broken as we broke down into tears. Our little Sox had lost the battle before it could truly begin – he was gone and we were still miles away from our kitten.
As soon as we reached the hospital, we were greeted with condolences by the medical staff. We were taken to a private room so we could get the chance to say good bye to our little Sox. He was brought in the room wrapped in a towel by a staff member who was fighting back tears.
We held him gently trying our best not to disturb the tiny kitten who looked as if he was merely sleeping and would wake up at any moment. There was a knock at the door and Dr. Lo came in, her face was filled with sadness and and we could tell that she was feeling as if it were a loss for her too.
Everyone that was involved with Sox’s story had fallen in love with him, he was “the kitten that had the whole world smitten.” Dr. Lo sat crossed-legged on a rug in front of us and explained everything that had happened just a few moments ago – she held back her tears while we let ours pour.
Beautiful heart filed words were shared while hugs were given and taken. We each said our goodbyes to the tiny kitten and sealed them with a kiss on Sox’s little head. He was passed off to the staff and gone from us forever. My husband and I held each other and continued to cry into one another’s arms.
So much had happened over the past 72 hours – it was a lot to absorb and take in for the both of us. The whole event was not only a shock to us and medical staff, but to everyone that donated and tried their best in saving Sox’s life. He wasn’t just “our’ kitten, he became everyone’s kitty.
Through the remarkable and generous efforts contributed from everyone that fell in love with Sox, we felt it would be best to donate whatever was left of the funds from trying to save Sox and donate it to another feline or family in need just as we had been. With this thought, an idea filled with passion started to grow and MEOW co. was created with a fund established in the kitten’s name and so much more.
Today, MEOW co. assists in rescuing abandoned cats & kittens from euthanasia. Since opening our shelter in September of 2016, our staff and volunteers have rescued 600 abandoned Cats & Kittens from euthanasia and found homes for more than 500 of them.
We rescue Disabled, Special Needs, Senior, and Neonate Kittens along with campaigning to get them adopted into loving forever homes. This is Sox’s story, a story that broke my heart, but inspired the foundation of an organization dedicated to saving abandoned cats & kittens.
Some of the life saving projects & programs MEOW co. offers are our KCU: Kitten Care Unit, Kitten Academy, McKeel Campground/Cat Refuge, Team MEOW, and other community centered programs like our low-income household support, veterinary transportation, and spay/neuter support, You can find out more about our programs at the bottom of this article.
Thank you so much for taking the time to hear Sox’s story, about our organization, what we’ve done and what we’re going to do to help save as many kitties as possible. If you’re ever in Bakersfield, CA and would love to visit our shelter, play with some kitties in our cat lounge, and see what we’re working on, feel free to send me message and I’d love to see you visit.
Executive Director & Chairwoman, MEOW co.
Executive Director & Chairwoman, MEOW co.
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