It is always hard to say goodbye to a companion. When pet owners find themselves at that stage in their companion's life, most accept the responsibility to say their goodbyes, humanely and compassionately.
It's equally difficult to say goodbye for those who work in the animal welfare industry. Whether a rescuer or a foster, each animal that comes into their care, often times becomes a companion to those who care for them. And most of these sweet innocent victims just reach deep inside the heart's of those who saved them, and take a giant piece of it.
Fredo was no different. Despite his unstable past, he continued to show unconditional love to the human race.
Fredo, was a handsome gray tabby male who had a life that went unnoticed by most people. Until now.
Over 10 years ago, Fredo was adopted to a family who couldn't live without him, entering his new home as a young kitten, playful and fun. But once he entered adult hood, just a mere 1 1/2 years into his life, he was no longer cherished by his new family and they opted to give him away.
His new family gave him a second chance at life. They too professed their unended love for him. It wasn't until he started to bite a toddler that came into the family before Fredo was no longer "wanted". Instead of the family taking Fredo to the vet to see if there might be a medical reason for his biting they opted to approach his biting as a behavior issue and began punishing him with "time outs". Frequently locked in a room and isolated from family members, Fredo spent a good portion of his adult life, alone. He would get to snuggle at night with his owners and on occasion, was allowed to roam about the house when kids were not around. But that didn't prevent him from continuing to give unconditional love to his human owners.
Then the day came where Fredo bit "for the last time". And the owners wanted him gone...that day!
Despite Fredo being adopted by an organization that clearly spells out their adoption and return policy, Fredo was taken to a different shelter. The reason for return: "biting!", a death sentence by most animal shelters that operate as Animal Control and use euthanasia as a management tool for their intake of animals.
Lucky for FREDO, a microchip saved his life. He was returned to the original rescue and his life spared.
Fredo entered foster care, where, he settled in very quickly and comfortably. He was carefully assessed and it came to pass that Fredo was deemed a "non-biter", at least for any behavior issues. Fredo was a lover! He loved to sleep and snuggle with his new owner, and in the same Fredo fashion as before, he shared of himself so unconditionally that he became a favorite of his new foster family.
Last night Fredo died...suddenly.
Lying on the pillow beside his foster's head, Fredo purred loudly while being petted to sleep, like he had been so many nights before. And the night ended, like it had so many nights before, with Fredo and Foster snuggled together as they sleep.
But shortly into the night, the foster was awakened by Fredo's labored breathing. By 4:00 am Fredo had passed. And his foster, who he had found a special place in their heart, sat in shock...wondering what happened.
A necropsy was performed the next day and the cause of death was Heart Failure caused by Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
A heart condition that is becoming more talked about by veterinarians and pet owners. Often times there is no warning. Pet owners will leave their pets while they head off to work and when they come home their pet is deceased and pet owners left heartbroken.
In two cases beloved felines were lost to a heart condition that often has a grim outcome. And in most cases, it's done without warning.
But when caught in time, some kitties can live a full life. In one article, a vet suggested to pet owners that they ask that their vet take their kitties blood pressure during their annual exam. Often times this simply procedure can detect a heart "issue" whereas, further tests might be suggested and possibly the heart condition can be caught and managed, prolonging their life.
It's important that we, as pet owners become informed and educated and not to solely rely on vets to know our pet's health. Felines especially, are very good at disguising their pain and symptoms of diseases and health issues are often not discovered until it's too late. Veterinarians are trained experts on the science and body of an animal, but pet owners know their pets behavior patterns better than their vet. Often times diagnosis is done by the process of elimination from a vet as the search for the cause or disease that don't always show up in radiographs or bloodwork. By observing, recording and discussing openly with your vet any and all changes in your pet's diet, stool, activity level, weight and personality, you can help the vet diagnose your cat's health issues and possibly save it's life.
As this "condition" becomes more popular, we recommend that when you notice a behavior change in your pet, that you contact your vet immediately and begin the process of discovery. It could save his or her life!
While there is no cure for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, we felt it important to share Fredo and Malcolm's story. We believe that every companion animal's death can teach us something...and save a life down the road! Our mission is to share what we learn, in the hopes, that our losses can become more time with your pet on this earth!
In memory of "Fredo", "Malcolm" and my beloved "Potiphar".
Linda R. Blakely, Director
Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary & Rescue.