Blackie’s Story – A Special Guest Post by Liz Wyman of Cats Love Naps in Honor of National Black Cat Appreciation Day
For whatever unfathomable reason, shelter workers will tell you that statistically black cats are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. The reasons vary, but the ill-conceived superstition that they bring bad luck is at the top of the list. Other reasons are more superficial, such as that their black fur is harder to see in shelter cages and they are difficult to photograph. People have a tendency to fall in love at first sight with pets, so the more colorful pets have a far better shot at getting adopted. To help create awareness about this plight, today is National Black Cat Appreciation Day and in honor of that, I would like to share a special post from a friend of mine I introduced you to a few weeks ago, Liz Wyman of Cats Love Naps who has made it her personal quest to help get me on the Ellen DeGeneres Show! Liz knows firsthand the unjustified prejudices black cats face in shelters and makes it her mission to help dispel the myths so that more black cats are adopted into loving homes.
Blackie’s Story by Liz Wyman -
A few months ago I met a black cat that would change my life forever. I was volunteering at our local animal shelter, matchmaking, helping cats and humans find each other and I was always surprised when people would decline meeting a black cat, perpetuating the myth that they were bad luck, which could not be further from the truth.
On this particular Saturday I was getting ready to leave for the day when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a black cat lying on his side in the back of his cage with his tongue hanging out. I opened the cage and began to pet him gently. As he purred ever so softly, I could feel how weak his little body was. He was estimated to be 8 years old and had been in the shelter for a month which causes many cats to deteriorate from boredom, depression, and loneliness. Many also get upper respiratory infections and he was on his third round of antibiotics for the URI without any success.
I have fostered many cats over the years and as many times as I promised my husband that, “this would be the last one,” somehow it never was, and I found myself on my way home with him. The shelter had named this cat “Lucky,” which I quickly changed to “Blackie.” It turned out that he had many medical issues, which I discovered the first night I had him. Over the first 3 days I had been fostering him, I had accumulated $500 in debt for his emergency care and had gotten into my first car accident on the way to an ER appointment with him, ending up totaling my car. At that point, after all I had gone through emotionally and financially those first few days, I knew that I couldn’t let him go. I adopted him three days after I took him in – quite possibly the shortest foster “fail” ever.
I fell in love with him and his little quirks. Despite his pain, he was a happy cat. He loved to go to the vet and his visits were frequent, as no one could figure out what was wrong with him. Without getting into all of the details of his medical journey, he ended up having Caliciviris (the “C” in the FVRCP vaccination). He was antibiotic resistant and needed a full mouth extraction of his teeth – he had severe periodontal disease and the roots from his teeth were affecting his nasal passage and ability to breathe. As fate would have it, I heard from a friend about an organization in Richmond, VA called “Helping Hands – Affordable Veterinary Surgical and Dental Care,” a self-proclaimed “bare bones” clinic offering affordable care to prevent euthanasia due to high cost surgeries and off Blackie and I went to get his surgery done.
He was always curious, even when we first got him, and he couldn’t stand being isolated from the other animals and immediately bonded with our 2 cats and 2 dogs. As for the surgery, it appeared to be a success – he was toothless, but happy, and had no problem eating and was finally beginning to act like a “normal” cat. Then, three weeks later he took a turn for the worse—apparently a side effect of a full mouth extraction can cause esophageal damage. Blackie could no longer eat. He would choke on anything and hurl his little body around the room to try to recover. I knew in my heart his life was close to its end and there was nothing else I could do. Our typically playful and happy boy began to look lifeless and the next evening my husband and I took him to our vet who put him down.
A few weeks prior to Blackie coming into my life, I had watched a Woody Allen film and in one scene Alan Alda’s character said, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.” Well, this set the stage for my journey with Blackie. During the first 2 weeks we had him, in addition to the car accident, our heater broke and then a water pipe. Then I fractured my tooth and needed an emergency root canal on one tooth and an extraction on the tooth next to it. The first few weeks were rough, one of the roughest financial periods of my life. During that time I spent about $2,000 on his care alone, not to mention the additional unexpected expenses.
As a way to raise money for his procedures I began making cat beds with all profits going toward his medical bills. I had never made a cat bed before, but being an amateur artist, I quickly taught myself. To my surprise, people were buying them, sometimes in multiples!
While some might think this perpetuated the myth that black cats bring bad luck, that was not the case. Blackie did not bring bad luck at all. We were in each other’s lives for about three months and during that time, two lives were transformed. I look back now and see how much joy and inspiration Blackie brought into my life. I continue to make the beds and with each bed I make, I am reminded of his beautiful spirit and in his honor I donate 10% of all profits to different animal rescues monthly.
It really is true that we are always given what we need, even if we don’t know it at the time. He taught me many lessons, but most poignantly he forced me to strengthen my ability to handle multiple “mini disasters” at once, with ease (most of the time). And in the end, he taught me how to grieve, to be vulnerable, and to cry; something I rarely allow myself to do.
Thank you so much for sharing your story Liz. I know it was difficult for you to write, but I am just so glad that Blackie had your love and companionship during his last months. You gave him such joy and happiness and I am sure he is smiling in his cat like way as you continue to educate the public on why these beautiful and caring creatures deserve a chance at a wonderful forever home. I had my own black cat that I rescued many years ago. She was abandoned on a remote country road and was in my life for a wonderful 12 years. RIP dear Tosha…
To read more about Liz, her incredible wedding, Blackie’s story, and to order a Cat’s Love Naps bed of your own, please visit her site at www.catslovenaps.com
For those of you pondering a cat adoption, please consider a black cat. And for those of you in shelters, I know it is not always easy, but if you can find ways to be creative with lighting and background colors so that black cats stand out better in a crowd and can be picked for adoptions, please keep those simple tips in mind. Above all, we all must stop allowing the black cats bring bad luck myth to perpetuate. Share your positive black cat stories today and together we can make a difference.
Last but not least, a special congratulations to Carma Poodale!!! You are the lucky winner of our RCTees giveaway and we are so excited for you!