Spooky, a beautiful black and white, mostly wild cat, came into the Sparacinos’ lives in October, 2008.
“I thought she was an angel who had descended on us,” Donna Sparacino said. “She would drop down from the roof onto our deck and then come through our sliding glass doors into the main area of our two-level apartment and have lunch with our Maine Coon cat.
“But when my husband Terrell and I would come home from work, she wouldn’t let us get close. She would zip out the sliding door, jump up on the roof and she’d be gone. She was very skittish.” (The Sparacinos left their patio door ajar when they were gone so Dougal, the Maine Coon, could go out on the patio.)
Spooky’s route to the roof was up a short flight of steps near the San Clemente unit’s front door, then a leap of about five feet to the eave of the roof and a short walk to a spot on the roof above the patio.
“Dougal adopted Spooky before we did,” Donna said. “I couldn’t tell you how many times we’d come home and she was in the house until one day I saw her being groomed by Dougal. And I thought, ‘Whoa. I guess there’s a connection going on here.’”
In December, 2008, Donna and Terrell found Spooky near their front door with a dime-sized hole in her back from a BB gun pellet. They took her to Dr. Kelly Alcala, who was working at Canyon Animal Hospital in Laguna Beach. She treated the wound but the pellet remains lodged in the cat’s lung.
That brought Spooky into the Sparacino apartment permanently. “We knew we had to keep her off the streets and inside our home,” Donna said.
Dougal died in November but another male cat, Teddy, had been added to the household about a year ago. When Dr. Alcala moved to Monarch Veterinary Hospital in Laguna Niguel, Donna and her cats followed her there.
“My description of her, No. 1, is compassion,” Donna said. “You find a vet that feels what you feel and they just know. And it’s all for the best interest of the animal.”
Donna took Spooky to see Dr. Alcala for her wellness checkup last September at Monarch Hospital. The veterinarian recommended dental treatment for inflamed gums and heavy tartar.
But, Donna said, “things are kind of tight around here. I’m on my fixed social security income. And Terrell had lost his job in March of 2020. We thought maybe we could let the senior [blood] panel go – part of the wellness checkup – but Dr. Alcala said: ‘You really need to have the blood panel before you get any work done on the teeth.’ We wanted to wait a little bit before doing the teeth.
“But she said, ‘You know what? Because you’re seniors on a fixed income, and all the things that are going on [such as Covid], there’s a possibility you can get some help.’”
The doctor suggested applying to the Animal Health Foundation’s Boydston Fund, which helps senior citizens. Donna did and was granted $500, an amount matched by the hospital.
“I was so ecstatic, Donna said. “Are you kidding me? It’s like nothing else mattered with my Christmas. That was just pure joy. I said to Terrell: ‘Look at what we’re being given! Maybe this is an indication of a better year ahead.’”
The dental work was done on December 27. Dr. Glenn Craft, who owns Monarch, extracted Spooky’s left upper canine tooth. After the procedure, Donna said, “Dr. Craft sat with us in the lobby and talked with us. Then we talked with Dr. Alcala. They are amazing.”
Spooky, who got her name because she first showed up at the Sparacino apartment during the Halloween season in 2008, is feeling much better now. “She’s all about belly rubs. I’ll be sitting at my desk and she’ll come and start head bumping my elbow, like ‘I need attention now.’
“I feel like we’re so blessed. We have the Christmas gift of Spooky’s health. It makes us so happy. Our cats are our family.” Teddy, the new kid of the household, was adopted to be a companion to Spooky. “He’s a little rambunctious,” Donna said. “We were hoping for a little more mature male cat but we’re not giving up on him.”