Lily’s Miracle

Three tiny hungry kittens were caught this summer in an alley in Colville in a live trap that two CVAS volunteers had set.  One of the volunteers who helped trap the kittens agreed to foster the kittens.  Two were typical little kittens.  The other one was special.  She appeared to be all white, but on further inspection, she was white with a faintly peach-colored tail and ears.  What was REALLY special was her pitiful little face.  While she had one beautiful blue eye, where the other eye should have been was only an empty socket. Pink folds of tissue filled the area where an eye should have been.  It did not appear to have been lost to trauma or infection, it just wasn’t there!  She also appeared to be deaf.  This special kitten came to be known as Lily.

Born without her right eye and nearly completely deaf, this little dynamo goes about her life as if nothing at all was unusual about that!

Born without her right eye and nearly completely deaf, this little dynamo goes about her life as if nothing at all was unusual about that!

After a couple of weeks of good food and love, the foster mom turned Lily over to another foster mom…me.  Because we already have blind cats and deaf dogs, I thought we might be the perfect home for a kitten with special needs.  However, her sparkling personality and ‘go getter’ attitude soon helped us see that she could live a fairly normal life and should be adoptable.  We also discovered that while Lily was very hard of hearing, she was NOT totally deaf.

She was a lover, her purr could be heard in the next room.  She was a wild child, cavorting across the kitchen floor in a sideways stance with arched back and fur standing on end as she attacked catnip mice and other fuzzy toys.  She made the life of our other foster cat miserable as she chased his twitching tail and pounced on him while he tried to eat his dinner.  She bounced across the floor on her hind legs as she tried frantically to catch our dog’s wagging tail as it patiently tried to escape her sharp little teeth and claws.  Lily was quite a kitten.  She had no idea she was supposed to be disabled.

So we told ourselves that she would be available for adoption after she was spayed at the next Stevens County Cat Care clinic in September.  I also asked our lead vet, Dr. Tami, if she would examine the empty eye socket and, if needed, surgically repair the empty eye socket so that debris or other matter would not get into it and cause further problems.

The September 14th Stevens County Cat Care clinic was set up at the American Legion Hall in Kettle Falls with 5 veterinarians, one vet tech and 30 volunteers working hard all day to spay/neuter 156 cats.  Lily had forgotten there was a world outside of our kitchen and the activity at the clinic frightened her.  She hid at the back of her crate and didn’t make a sound.  When it was her turn, she was anesthetized and both her tummy and half her face were shaved and scrubbed for surgery.

Dr. Tami discovered, and removed, a very tiny useless eye behind the folds of pink flesh at the back of the eye socket.  She also spayed Lily, assuring that the cycle has been broken.  When this lucky girl grows up, she will never have kittens born in an alley the way she was, to have to be rescued by Sanctuary volunteers.

The day after surgery, she was pouncing on toy mice and chasing dog's tails as if nothing had happened.

The day after surgery, she was pouncing on toy mice and chasing dog’s tails as if nothing had happened.

Lily is also lucky for a number of other reasons.  Because both her foster moms help regularly at the spay/neuter clinics, she was spayed for free.  Because Dr. Tami is a compassionate woman, she did not charge for the surgery to repair the eye socket.  And because there were so many volunteers helping at the clinic that day, it was purr-fectly natural that one of them fell in love with Lily and asked to adopt her when she recovers from her surgeries!

Lily’s story was written and shared to show that, not only can many animals with disabilities still lead pretty normal lives, but that a lot of compassionate people work together to make miracles happen.  Sometimes it may seem that the Sanctuary needs a lot of money to keep the miracles happening, but sometimes miracles can be coordinated into happening for free.  Thank you Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary and Stevens County Cat Care volunteers and thank you Dr. Tami.

And BTW, the day after her surgery, Lily is already back to chasing dog’s wagging tails and attacking catnip mice.  In a few days when the stitches are removed from the ‘eyeless eye’ Lily will be ready to go to her new home where she has been promised that for her own safety, she will be an indoor kitty and that she will get to sleep on her new mommy’s bed every night. Yep, one lucky kitty.


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Patrick’s Story

What a Foster Home Meant to One Special Kitty

Patrick was a scrawny gray tabby cat who taught me the true meaning of being a foster parent, someone who can give a cat, dog or any animal, the feeling of having a family and being loved, and to prepare them socially for a new forever home. This experience also enabled me to see first hand how intuitive cats are and what love and compassion other cats can have for each other.

Patrick originally was brought to the shelter late one night in the winter of 2012, as a stray who was sick and needed help. He was taken to the veterinarian the next day and was diagnosed as having renal failure most likely due to some sort of poisoning, possibly antifreeze. No one knew just what his outcome for survival was going to be – weeks or maybe months. We were told to give him subcutaneous fluids everyday without fail and to keep him on a specialized renal diet, it was then a waiting game to see how he would do.

Patrick getting ready for his daily subcutaneous fluids, what a good kitty

Patrick getting ready for his daily subcutaneous fluids, what a good kitty

A week later the shelter manager was scheduled to go on a much needed vacation and even though volunteers would constantly be in and out caring for the cats and dogs, we worried about Patrick. Would symptoms indicating that his condition was worsening be recognized?
It was decided that he had to be watched a little more closely so he would have to be fostered by someone. I raised my hand to take on this responsibility, after all it was only for a week! So Patrick was going on vacation also.

Patrick goes on "vacation" to Pat's house

Patrick goes on “vacation” to Pat’s house

A special area was set up in our store room – all heated and cozy – in the garage, right next to the room where all 5 of our orange barn cats live. These are very loving friendly cats when they are not out terrorizing and catching the gophers, ground squirrels, pack rats and moles that live in our pastures. These cats are pure killers of the rodent world. I’m pretty sure that if my husband and I were not as big as we are, we would also be on their dinner plate.

Pat giving Patrick his daily fluids. He always enjoyed this opportunity to cuddle.

Pat giving Patrick his daily fluids. He always enjoyed this opportunity to cuddle.

For the first few days Patrick was fine, took the administration of his fluids with no trouble and seemed happy. Then on day 3 he wanted to be with the other cats. He would waddle over to the door ( his back legs were weak and he walked like he had a full diaper). A little orange paw would sweep under the door as if beckoning to him. This sent shivers down my spine as these cats were known for chasing off our neighbor’s Rottie and at times would try and tear each other apart. The thought of turning Patrick loose in their room was frightening. Since the barn cats are locked up at night I know he could hear their battles.

Meet the 5 assassins: Scooter, Jack, Jill, Jerry and Willie.











These 5 killers turned out to be the reason Patrick lived for 2 years and 5 months longer than was ever thought possible.

From the day he first waddled into their domain his life changed. Instead of threatening and attacking him, they welcomed him. They seemed to intuitively understand that Patrick was different and that he could not do the things that they could do, perhaps they sensed that he needed protecting and nurturing. From that day on Patrick was treated like a prince by the 5 assassins.

patrick10He slept in any bed he wanted and he never slept alone as Willie was always with him at night. If he went outdoors he was always accompanied by one of the 5 – generally Willie. Patrick could not hunt or climb trees and spent most of his time under the Lilac Bushes.

 One of Patrick's favorite places to lay.

One of Patrick’s favorite places to lay.

Patrick being escorted on walks...

Patrick being escorted on walks…

...and up and down the stairs

…and up and down the stairs

During all this time Patrick was once again part of a family, not just a human family but a family of his own kind. It made me realize that not just we humans can foster and make a sad life happier but given the chance, animals can have just as strong an impact on making life better for a Being in need. Patrick gained weight and was active (as active as he could be with his weak back legs). He was truly interested and curious by everything around him and he enjoyed life with the 5 assassins. Even though he could not hunt himself, miraculously a small dead rodent would appear at his feet. He would make a beeline with it to his room in hopes I would not see it.

patrick14Unfortunately, 2 months ago in June, Patrick started to lose ground. Fluids were again started along with a special diet but this time it was just not to be.

His friends would keep him company during the day in the “ Cat Room”, urge him to take walks outside and allowed him to eat out of any bowl he wanted. At night he would be curled up with at least two orange cats.

Patrick passed away peacefully on July 12, 2014. This was the first time we had ever fostered an animal. It was only supposed to be for a week but turned out to be for 2 years and 5 months.

Fostering for us did not turn out to be the happy time socializing a cat or dog in order to help them transition into a new home. We elected instead to foster him for whatever time he had left, we knew if he were to go back to the shelter he would not be a cat that would be adopted. What Patrick and our own barn cats taught us was amazing. We witnessed a kindness that I never knew our cats were capable of.

I know Patrick is missed as the purple bed by the heater remains empty at night.

patrick15This is how we will remember our first foster kitty, happily sitting in the sun.

Fostering a special needs animal can be sad but in the end you realize what you were able to add to the life of one who may have died without feeling the love and care so deserved.

Pat Lowe,
Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary

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Hope’s Story

Hope had been seen several times in backyards in the Chewelah area, she seemed to be a stray and would not allow people to get very close.

One day a woman noticed that Hope was just lying there, not moving much and as she went closer she noticed how very thin she was. This time Hope allowed herself to be picked her up by this total stranger. She had given up and accepted help as she must have sensed that she was dying.

Wanting to help but not knowing what to do, and unable to take on this responsibility herself, the woman brought the sick kitty to the shelter.

Hope receiving fluids on her road to recovery

Hope receiving fluids on her road to recovery

After examination it was discovered that Hope (as we named her ) had a broken jaw and had not been able to eat or drink in several days…she was slowly starving to death and weighed less than 4 lbs.

Fluids were started immediately as was a call to Dr. Rowe at Spokane Humane Society. Subcutaneous fluids were to be given over the days to come, along with feeding her a high calorie/nutrient dense food (baby food) by syringe. We needed to get 2 lbs on her so she would be in more stable condition before surgery could be done to repair her broken jaw.

With a lot of care and attention from volunteers, Hope gained her 2 lbs and her surgery was successful. Her jaw has been repaired and is still healing but she can now eat canned cat food and dry kibble on her own and drinking water is a breeze.

What always amazes us is the self preservation that animals have and how they know when to ask for help, we just need to be there for them. Hope will make a full recovery and someday soon, will be ready for adoption. We know she will be a wonderful loving companion to some very lucky person.

We know that we are only able to provide this care because of supporters who know that life for these cats and dogs needs to be protected and respected as they truly have no voice and no choice in how we humans treat them.

To those that stand behind our mission, you have our deepest gratitude.
Pat Lowe

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Braveheart Update #2

We do not mean to bore you or make you think that only Braveheart deserves to be written about as all our cats and dogs deserve the limelight.  But Braveheart is teaching us so much on so many levels about the spirit, determination, and resilience of this wonderful species.


From the first moment we saw him, the cat that looked like he could and would eat you alive, suffering with the pain of one of the most horrible wounds we have seen in a long time, now to witness transformation.

We are not claiming that he is now the perfect lap cat, but we are seeing a small glimmer of trust.  What you see Braveheart looking at are Becca’s fingers.

braveheart6She put her finger on his paw and he put his other paw on top of her finger.  Of course I am sure Becca’s heart stopped for a second or two but all fingers came back intact.  He allowed a picture to be taken of him looking at her fingers but not the brief second that he allowed Becca to gently touch his chin, maybe next time.

We know Braveheart still looks a little rough around the edges but he has allowed this close-up picture so we can show everyone how his hair is growing back and how well he is healing.

braveheart4Mingo is still Braveheart’s protector and stays with him always.  We hope sweet Mingo will find a family of his own that will repay him all the kindness that he has bestowed on Braveheart.

Pat Lowe

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