March 7th, 2023
By Savannah Verdon, Development and Engagement Coordinator II
As our beautiful pets age, sometimes their needs change in ways we didn’t anticipate when they were young and spunky. What may have been easy to prevent or treat when our pets were healthier becomes more urgent in their vulnerability – and when you can’t afford to help them right away, it can feel like you’re letting your lifelong friend down. But because we can count on the kindness and generosity of our FurEver Friends, RedRover can be there for the families who turn to us for help when they need it most.
This is the story of Summer and Shirley, two senior kitties who were both suffering from the symptoms of dental disease. Though they come from different families, each of them is deeply loved by their people, so there was no question when they fell ill that their family would do everything they could to get them the treatment they needed to thrive in their golden years.
Pretty girl Summer had been born a barn kitty 13 years ago, and Crystal brought her home the same day she saw an ad for Summer in the newspaper. Along with her two younger feline siblings, Lolly and Finnigan, Summer was truly the light of Crystal’s life:
“She is my family, that’s what she means to me. She is a loyal, affectionate girl, my buddy and baby. She’s very attached to me, and the way she shows it is so sweet. I picked animals. I decided no children for me, and to give my love to my pets. I hope we have each other for many more years. She is temperamental and silly. I love her, period.”
Summer had dental surgery when she was 10 years old to take care of her aging teeth, and they seemed to be in good condition for a few years after that. But recently more and more plaque had built up on several of her teeth, and it was beginning to take a toll on her quality of life. This naturally petite cat was losing weight because she was having a hard time chewing her food. She would overgroom herself every day, and her beautiful green eyes were marred by discharge from the infection in her mouth. Crystal thought Summer seemed anxious, and all she wanted was for her senior girl to eat comfortably and feel better – but with her only income being her social security disability benefits, it would take more time than little Summer had for Crystal to be able to afford another dental surgery.
Little miss Shirley was two years older than Crystal and had two feline siblings, Lee Lee and Henry. They were adopted as a trio 12 years ago from the shelter after being listed for euthanasia and had been cherished members of Mandy’s family ever since. Shirley was also a big sister to Mandy’s three children:
“Shirley is the best kitty ever. She loves babies and children, hates other cats but loves kids. She means the world to us. She was there when my daughter and my last son was born.”
Last year, Shirley began eating less and started to lose weight. The veterinarian diagnosed her with stomatitis, a very common dental disease in cats, and surgically removed all but four of her teeth. The pain and discomfort came back after just a few months. It was so bad that not only was Shirley struggling to eat, but she was also not drinking enough water, leading to dehydration. Her gums were constantly bleeding, and Mandy had to keep Shirley medicated just to take away the sting so she could eat even a little bit. She would need to have the four remaining teeth removed.
Even though only a few months had passed, Mandy was in a worse financial position than she had been at the time of Shirley’s first dental surgery. Her husband’s work had slowed significantly, and she was a stay-at-home mom to their children with no additional income. To make matters worse, they were behind on their rent, leaving them very little money to pay for Shirley’s surgery as soon as she needed it.
While they had some money they could put toward their sweet babies’ care, Crystal and Mandy both understood that they would need to reach out for some help to pay for the dental surgeries Summer and Shirley desperately needed. Fortunately, they found the RedRover Relief Urgent Care grant program and applied right away. While they waited for their applications to be reviewed and approved, they scheduled the surgeries and crossed their fingers that they would have enough money by the day of the appointment.
With the help of our FurEver Friends, we were able to approve Crystal and Mandy’s applications so Summer and Shirley could have their dental surgeries on their scheduled days. They no longer would have to forgo food because of their pain, and they could now live out their remaining years in peace and comfort. Crystal and Mandy later shared with us these happy updates on their precious kitties:
“Summer is doing well. She had two molars removed, and the healing is going well. I can’t tell you the relief of having her home, flying around, and sleeping with me at night, pain-free. My thanks to everyone who helped my tiny girl.”
“Shirley had her surgery yesterday and I picked her up this afternoon! She’s doing well! She came home and ate a ton. Thank you so much for the help with her bill. It is very much appreciated! ❤️”
When families like these say “thank you”, they’re not just thanking RedRover but the many compassionate people like our FurEver Friends who understand that pets are family and are committed to protecting the special bonds we share with animals.