I first met Fields as a 6 week kitten at the City of Sacramento, Front Street Animal Shelter when I was asked to examine him because he was walking funny. I am Veterinary Neurologist, and volunteer to help whenever possible. I was happy to examine this little guy along with my 14 year old daughter Lindsey to help.
Fields purred through the entire examination, and before I was even finished, Lindsey announced that Fields was coming home with us to foster. I knew that Fields had a condition called "Cerebellar Hypoplasia" where the back part of the brain doesn't form normally because of a viral infection, before the kitten is born, but that he wouldn't get any worse with time. All this meant for him was that he walked with an unsteady gait, and he didn't seem too worried about that at all.
And so, Fields came home with us, and his care was transferred to the wonderful Yolo SPCA. He lived in Lindsey's bedroom with the other foster kittens, but it was clear that he and Lindsey had a special bond. If Lindsey was in the house, Fields was with her. She was fostering 4 other very sweet kittens at the time, and was trying to decide which kitten she wanted to adopt. She'd been saving her own money to pay for the adoption, and was taking her time decided which kitten was "the one". Fields had a lot to say and definitely seemed to think that the decision was obvious--it was him, but she had to make her own decision.
I left for a conference on a Friday when Fields was 9 weeks old, and Saturday, or course, while I was away and could not help, got a frantic call from my husband that Fields wouldn't stop throwing up. They rushed him into the ER at UC Davis and he was diagnosed with a string caught in his intestines, after several hours of testing. He needed to have emergency surgery right away. Lindsey was devastated, and knew that the he might not make it through the surgery. She waited to hear patiently from the surgeon, and when she did --the news was good--they'd successfully removed the dental floss from his intestines, and Fields would make a full recovery. Lindsey was relieved and decided right then and there, that she and Fields would stay together. They would go to college together, and she estimated that she'd be old (30 years old) by the time Fields got old. Once Fields had recovered from surgery and all of the dental floss was removed from the house, she adopted Fields.
We adopted another kitten as a friend for Fields named Marlin, and the two were inseparable, and hung out with Lindsey. Where ever Lindsey was, Fields and Marlin were together nearby.
When Fields was 5 months old, we noticed that he was less active than he usually was, and that his tummy started to get big. He was diagnosed with FIP shortly thereafter at UC Davis, and our family mission was to make him as comfortable as possible. The FIP clinical trial at UC Davis was no longer enrolling patients, even though we begged and pleaded with Dr. Pedersen. Fields loved to be warm, he loved comfortable fleecy beds, and he loved Lindsey. We bought enough heating discs for an army, and brightly coloured fleece to make comfortable cats beds for him. We lay the warm kitty beds in path from the litter box, to the food dish to the top of the stairs, so that Fields could watch the family action on top of his comfy warm bed. Lindsey stayed by his side whenever she was home from school and he was happy--purring all of the time. After 6 weeks our boy stopped eating and purring, and we knew it was time to say goodbye to our beloved Fields.
After surviving a viral infection before birth, and emergency surgery for "string gut", it seemed to be cruel and unusual punishment that beautiful, beloved Fields died from FIP. We miss him everyday. Fields made a contribution to Dr. Pedersen's group's research, so that hopefully, if we all work together, a cure or even better, a way to prevent this horrible disease can be found.
ZenByCat - Your story, like so many similar stories, made me cry. Thank you for sharing.