Special needs cats make great pets


The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

Have you ever heard someone say, sometimes the animal you are searching for finds you?

It was a summer morning and my family and I were on the way to look at granite counter tops. We pulled up to this business that stood alone and offered many types of granite.

As we parked, 1 thought, "Wow, look at all these cats running around."

I walked up to the door and saw many cats feasting on their morning food that was just placed in bowls all over the property. 1 saw the fear in my husband's eyes as I picked up one of the cats.

The owner of the business opened the door and gestured for me to take a cat home. I placed the cat down gently and went inside. It wasn't long before the women in the office told me the story.

The business had been there for years and started with a few cats. Well, we all know how that goes. They multiply quickly if you do not catch them to be spayed or neutered.

There were about 40 cats on the property. The women informed me that they had been working to get all the cats fixed and they were all pitching in every time they got paid to get a few of them to the vet. We shifted our focus to the granite, which was the real reason we were there.

As my husband was talking costs and figures, I quietly walked outside. My youngest son was holding my hand. He was 6 or 7 years old at the time.

He pointed to this little ball of fur under an old truck.

We walked over and I picked up this near-lifeless kitty, barely breathing.

"We have to save it, Mom," he said.

With a heavy heart, 1 examined this 8-week-old kitten. I knew the chances were slim.

"We can call her Dusty since she is so dirty. Mom, you wouldn't leave me when 1 was sick."

1 wrapped up the kitten in an old towel. The office women were concerned because the most recent litters seemed sick. 1 informed them of all the feline illnesses and why they really need to get this cat colony under control. We took little Dusty home. I set her in a basket on the dryer which rocked her to sleep and called our veterinarian.

As we headed to the vet, I knew the news wasn't going to be good. My fears were confirmed when they diagnosed Dusty with feline leukemia.

I called the business where she came from to inform them that many of their cats there are sick and explained to them what was wrong with Dusty and probably most of the kittens that are turning up sick.

I knew my options and was torn on what to do. We decided to try to get her as well as she could. We knew she couldn't be around any other cats and had to be indoors to not spread her disease. My son learned to help with her medicines.

Dusty lived five great years. She traveled to Tennessee in our

RV and saw much of the East Coast on our family vacations.

My son would pack up her toys and all her food and medicines and we would have a checklist to make sure we didn't forget anything. She rode shotgun, watching out the window at all the sights.

My son read her his books and whispered secrets in her ear as we camped and traveled on vacations. Dusty was always the last to load in our RV just to make sure she wouldn't escape.

I can still here my kids yelling, "Is Dusty in here?"

Many times her cat litter slid around as we drove and her meowing kept us up at night, but she was special. She knew it was all about her and boy, it was.

Dusty took a lot of patience as all pets do. Her medicine became a way of life.

Finally, as we grew close to the end of her adventure, her breathing was labored and we knew it was time for her to leave us. Never a moment went by where I regretted my son pointing her out to me on the hot summer morning.

Yes, indeed she picked us.

Never be afraid to love a special needs pet even if you know their life may be short. We never know how long any of our animals will be with us and there are so many out there that need homes. That's why every minute counts.

Even if you can open your heart to an animal that does need special care, never doubt for a minute that the rewards aren't as great; sometimes, they are greater.

Paws Around Town was written this week by Lisa Diacik, Camp Verde Animal Control and volunteer at Cottonwood's Adopt for Life Center for Animals.

We took little Dusty home. I set her in a basket on the dryer which rocked her to sleep and called our veterinarian.

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