She was only with us for about 6 weeks before we had to put her to sleep. The pain felt was surprisingly the same as when we had to put down our Max who was with us for 14 years. Although we have no photographs to prompt funny or poignant memories, Tula’s being is ingrained into my psyche as if I had known her for years. Or rather, she made me wish that I had known her, had loved and cared for her, for far longer. Others surely hadn’t.

No one knew how old she really was. The first guess was 10 years, then 12 years. Finally, given the progression of an eye condition called lenticular sclerosis, she was estimated at about 15 years of age. Maybe older. No one knew how she had been injured. She just limped badly on a strangely deformed right paw. It was obvious how painful that was for her. No one knew her background. The story was that she was abandoned by her family when they moved away, and spent the winter outside, being fed by a kind neighbor. When an opening appeared at FUR, she was brought in. Weighing 5 lbs, with sunken eyes, unkempt fur, spinal hump and bad limp, she looked more like a skinny possum than a cat. She emitted the strangest sounding meow…. Very loud, and definitely not cat like.

A veterinary exam and blood test showed that she had hyperthyroidism, renal disease, deafness, and pain from unknown injury. She was given injection of fluids, pain medications and vitamin supplements. But we all knew that she needed emotional healing, and a calm and comfortable HOME environment in which to rest. So my husband John and I volunteered to foster her and care for her for as long as she needed.

Anyone who has been a caregiver knows how hard it can be. It is more so when the one being cared for is unable to speak. It’s a guessing game so often… are you hungry? What hurts? What would you care to eat today? Would you prefer to sit by the window? Would you like to be held or just left alone?

Tula suffered in silence. But you knew she was grateful for any gesture of love or care. It was in the way she looked at you, the way she rubbed against you with all the strength that her little head could give. We expected her to be with us much longer; it wasn’t to be. It was her time, and there was no argument there. Now with her gone, I find that I am at peace with the decision made for her. But we do miss her.

Tula’s care took its own little village: the kind neighbor who saw her plight and fed her and contacted FUR; the FUR volunteers who took her in, paid for her care, and provided all of her material needs, for as long as she needed; the veterinarian at Animal Hospital of Waynesville who provided her with excellent medical care and who felt so badly when the time came to recommend euthanization; the veterinarian at 4PawsFarewell who made it possible for Tula to pass on at home, in familiar surroundings. And of course the many donors who provided the funds to allow all of the above to be part of Tula’s care.

I am grateful to you all for helping Tula, and others like her, to enjoy the best of human love and support.

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