This post is slightly long, but please, out of whatever goodness is in your heart, read this post. It may be a little on the longer side, but every word I’ve written here is important.
The most important detail that you should know is that normally (i.e., in pre-pandemic times, when I was still working full-time) I would have easily been able to afford the vet bill for something like this, many times over.
My hours at work were reduced slightly at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was discouraging, but I was thankful, because at that time the reduced hours didn’t amount to a life-altering situation. I was still largely okay then.
But then it happened. My employer laid me off. I was working full-time as an administrative assistant for a local nonprofit that, ironically, exists to help people with rent payments, food insecurity, and utility bills. They were nice about it, and I could tell that they felt bad about the layoff, but as the lowly administrative assistant who had only been on the job for a little over a year and a half, I was one of the first to be let go. I’m in my 20s and this was my first “real” job, the first time I had achieved true financial independence. It had also been the first time I had my very own office and everything. Being laid off really turned things upside down for me—and backwards and sideways, too. Things have been pretty scary financially since then. A whirlwind, really. What work I have been able to find since then has been unstable, unpredictable, and temporary at best—and nonexistent at worst.
I exhausted my modest savings about a month ago, and although I am still able to make a little money here and there by doing odd jobs and by seizing as many of the spotty, irregular opportunities to offer online tutoring sessions as I can, my financial situation definitely keeps me up at night. (Oh, how I wish I were kidding!) I’ve had to fight hard to work out a payment arrangement with my landlord, and I’ve had to enroll in a special temporary assistance program with the energy/electric company i use. Literally every penny that remains each month after those two payments (rent and electricity, that is) goes to the water bill, to whatever portion of the cell phone bill I can cover, and to my bare-bones grocery/food budget. That’s it. I have no credit cards. I’ve had no choice but to stop making payments altogether on my student loans, which of course is not wise, but I absolutely do not have any other choice right now. Also, my parents are good people who love me and always help any way they can, but such help is never monetary, as they themselves are far from wealthy.
Sure, I’m a man, but I make no qualms about publicly admitting that, as of this morning, I was actually in tears for a good hour as I sat in front of my computer screen, looking at my bank balance. You can count on two hands the dollars that remain before my account color changes to red. Just two hands. And you wouldn’t even have to use all ten fingers. (At least it’s not one hand, I guess? Gee, how “comforting,” right?)
I had no idea that websites like this one even existed, so obviously, I thought, “Well, okay, I have to at least try with this.” What else could I do?
But this post is not about me. It’s about Ophelia.
Everyone, I’m telling you, this little kitty, who I named Ophelia, is the sweetest, most lovable, most deserving kitten to have ever existed!
Unfortunately, prior to my taking her in, she had a very rough start in life.
And no, I did not irresponsibly choose to adopt a living, breathing kitten in the middle of these insuperable economic circumstances. She more or less inserted herself into my life. My choices were, in no uncertain terms, to either (1) ignore her and let her die in the grimy, busy, sweltering-hot gas station parking lot where I found her last June desperately screaming and shrieking her little lungs out for someone to save her life as cars and trucks zoomed past her in every direction, or (2) take her home by putting her into my arms as she drew blood from them with her claws because she had no idea what this strange, alien, human creature was going to do to her or where I was taking her. I chose option number two.
When I found her that day, it was about 99 degrees outside, easily 101 or 102 with the heat index here in Texas. She was very near death, and clearly had not eaten or nursed for many days, possibly weeks. She was not even old enough to eat solid food, and should have been nursing from her mother for many more weeks to come. I’ve never felt anything so frail and weak before. Still, she was giving it all she had, shrieking at an extreme volume for some help. You guys, before that day, I’d never before in my life heard any other living thing cry out in such loud, guttural, primal, sheer desperation and utter panic. It was so shockingly loud that I truly, for real, thought at first that it was a human baby crying. I will never forget that sound. It was a biological, instinctual plea to remain alive that transcended the fact that she and I are of two different species. A person just knows what that sound means. You just know.
So I took her in.
Before we even reached home, still in the car, she must have realized that I was not going to harm her, that I was help, not hurt. She stopped yowling, curled up against my crotch (sorry, it’s just what happened!) as I sat in the driver’s seat, and began a thunderous purr that would give even the loudest Boeing-747 a real run for its money. And that’s saying a lot, because cats typically hate car travel, especially their first car ride. She literally never stopped purring that whole night, except for while she was fast asleep.
I gave her food and water the instant we got home. She ignored the food at first and made a beeline for the water. She began drinking and did not stop for at least twenty minutes—i am so not even joking or exaggerating that. It was twenty minutes. She then ate the whole can of tuna I put out for her and went straight to sleep. She slept for nearly two days straight. Think about that for a moment. She was so hungry and had been fighting for her life so hard that, despite it being her first time eating solid food, despite her being barely old enough to even think about solid food, and despite being in a totally unfamiliar environment with a strange human creature, she ate, she relaxed, and she slept without hesitation. (Note: the next day I got her some food that was more kitten-appropriate, which I softened with store-bought milk replacer for the first few days. But she weaned early, for obvious reasons, and didn’t ever care much for the milk.)
When she woke up, she decided that I was her best friend for life.
She still has a habit of sitting in the center of my lap and, unlike any cat I’ve ever had or heard of, she curls up and just stares upward at my face, sometimes for hours, never looking away. It’s almost like she reveres me for saving her life. She will even reach up with a paw to try to pat my face. If ever she’s grooming herself while sitting in my lap, she will make sure to “groom” me, too. One time she licked all the hairs on my arm while I was sleeping until every last hair was evenly spaced and slicked down in the exact same direction. A bit weird and kind of gross, sure, but I don’t know of a better example of true love and adoration that that.
But as of yesterday, we have a problem:
All these months later, Ophelia is obviously bigger, stronger, happier, and healthier. But I’m concerned because yesterday, quite abruptly. she developed an abscess on the right side of her lower jaw. I’m not sure if it’s a dental abscess, a spider/insect bite, or something else, but I am sure that it’s definitely because of an infection in that area. She needs to see a vet urgently.
I’m not a veterinarian, and I don’t profess to be, but I am a reasonably intelligent person. And from what I can tell based on my own research online, abscesses like this are rarely fatal in kittens and cats, but they do require veterinary attention. The most alarming and upsetting aspect of this situation is that, because she’s still a relatively small kitten, the abscess is almost a full third the size of her whole head.
I have written all of this in good faith and with the best intentions a person can have. I think I’ve explained my current financial situation well enough already, so it goes without repeating that I simply don’t have the money right now to spend on a vet bill of any kind. I don’t have any credit accounts to rely on, either.
Please, if there is any kind soul out there reading this, and you’re in a position to be able to stomach the cost of Ophelia’s treatment, please consider helping us out in any amount that you can do. Your selfless gesture will certainly never be forgotten, and I vow to someday pay the favor forward when I can.
The vet clinic where I plan to take her (it’s called City Small Animal Clinic) told me on the phone that, so long as there are no complications it should be between $100–200 for them to do a simple X-ray and to drain/lance the abscess, plus about $35 should they need to prescribe antibiotics for Ophelia. It would be amazing if I were able to get her set up with basic vaccinations during the same visit (between $25–40 for each of two vaccines: a rabies shot and the FVRCP/feline distemper shot), but I will gladly accept whatever I can get as a result of your generosity.
Thank you for your time and consideration, both of which mean the world to me. And to Ophelia, too.