One day a few weeks ago, Ashley Bettencourt came home from her job as a pre-school teacher and found her tabby cat Cheeto in distress.

“He wasn’t himself,” she said. “He wasn’t eating.  He was lethargic and was lying on the tile in the hallway.  He wasn’t moving.  Nothing worked that I knew would make him excited. 

“I thought maybe he was constipated but I pressed on his belly and it was really hard.  It made me nervous.  So I called the Cat Care Clinic where my in-laws take their cats.  After taking him in for an examination, I was told that he had a blocked bladder – he wasn’t able to urinate.”

That was on a Friday.  Dr. Maggie Mills treated Cheeto.  “They didn’t have to do surgery but they kept him in the hospital the whole weekend so they could keep an eye on him,” Ashley said.  “They put in a catheter.  But they said he took it out himself.  So they put the tubes back in and he didn’t fight them again. 

“When I took him in to the clinic, I wasn’t expecting what was coming,” she said. “I thought he was constipated and they would fix it and I would take him home.   So when it came time to pay I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’

But the staff at Cat Care was understanding and helpful.   April, the assistant practice manager, “was so sweet and nice,” Ashley said.   “She printed me out a list of foundations that could help and she pointed out who to call and told me what to do.   Angel Fund was the first to say, ‘We’ll help you.’  I had never done something like that before.  It was overwhelming in a good way.

“I went home and I cried that night.  I thought what happened was amazing.  I couldn’t believe it.”  She said that she found another charitable group that helped pay her bill.  And the Cat Care Clinic found some money from another fund and they used that to help as well, she said.

“They said (at Cat Care) that, if we couldn’t do this, they would have had to euthanize Cheeto.  He always had been such a healthy cat that is horrible to even think about.  I love that Angel Fund and the veterinary association are letting people know about this.   I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for Dr. Mills and April.”

Cheeto recovered quickly.  “Now, he is good, he’s happy,” Ashley said.  “He’s lost a lot of weight.  But he’s eating well. He’s drinking a lot of water.   And he’s fine, he’s active and he’s playing with our other cats.”

Cheeto is the father of the other cats, Roxy, Khola Man and Sprinkles – all named by Ashley’s daughters.  There is also a dog in the family, Benny a miniature Doberman, with whom Cheeto is a best buddy.  “We are a house that loves our fur babies,” Ashley said.

Cheeto became a member of the family after Ashley’s husband found him hiding among tires at the warehouse where he worked.  He was a three-week-old kitten at the time and had to be bottle fed.

Ashley is a single parent to three daughters: Bella, 13; Skylar, 11 and Audrina, 7.  She loves her job as a pre-school teacher.  “It’s challenging but I love it.  my students are four and five.  They talk fast but they’re willing to learn and they love it.”

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