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Case of the Month

Angel Fund Helps Siberian Cat and Suddenly Widowed Owner

Angel Fund Helps Siberian Cat  and Suddenly Widowed Owner

More than a decade ago, Pam McKeever and her husband John adopted a beautiful Siberian cat.  Anastasia was rescued from a breeder in Los Gatos in Northern California, who had decided to retire her because she had thickening in one wall of her heart.  

The breeder did not want to breed Anastasia – just two years old at the time – because of her heart condition.  But finding a good home for her was important.  Pam and John were happy to provide that home. 

Last fall, Pam realized that Anastasia, now 15 years old, had a problem.  “One day I noticed that her mouth was really wet and she was drooling,” she said. Then she stopped eating.  She was also sleeping a lot.”

Pam dreaded taking Anastasia to her veterinarian but realized that it had to be done.  “It’s not an easy thing to do.  You have to corner her.  Then I can drop a towel over her and get her into her carrier.  Once she’s in the carrier, it’s a protected space and she will settle down.”

Pam did what she calls “the dance of getting her to the vet” and took Anastasia to Aliso Beach Animal Clinic near her home in Laguna Beach and called the practice to let them know she had arrived.  “They sent someone out to get the cat and I waited in the car,” Pam said.  “The veterinarian is Dr. Caroline George, a lovely, lovely person.”

After doing an examination, Dr. George came out to Pam’s car to tell her what she had found.   She said that Anastasia had an infected tooth in the front of her mouth and a broken tooth in the back.  Both the infected tooth and the broken tooth needed to be taken out, she said.

“I think Anastasia had been dealing with it for a bit of time before I realized that she was having trouble eating,” Pam said.   “I believe it finally got to where it was interrupting how she functioned. She has a beautiful white coat and she was bred to be a show cat.  But she had stopped being able to care for [her fur] so I was having to get these mats and tangles out – but I had trouble handling her.  She didn’t like it.”  (Dr. George said that Anastasia’s fur would be shaved while she was still under sedation.)

Pam and John were both retired and did not have much extra money to spend.  “The cost of the surgery was astronomical for us,” Pam said. “We were beside ourselves trying to figure out how we were going to pay for this.  We wanted to make Anastasia comfortable.  That was our commitment. 

We were trying to figure all this out when John suddenly was stricken and died of a heart attack. It was so unexpected.  He had not been ill.  It just shocked everything.  It was awful.  It stopped everything. H

“That was on October 19th.  When my husband died, his retirement income stopped abruptly so it was a very stressful time. What was I going to do? It took me a month after that to get my act together. 

I called a “retirement” facility in Laguna Beach for cats that no longer can be cared for by their owners.  It’s called Bluebell Foundation for Cats and it’s in a beautiful home in the canyon in a donated cottage.  I asked them what was possible for Anastasia because I couldn’t help her.”  The director told her about Angel Fund.

“I looked up Angel Fund, got the form, filled out my part of it and took it down to Dr. George.  I asked the people at the hospital about Angel Fund.  The person at the desk didn’t know and said nobody had ever asked.  No one there knew how it worked because the practice had never used it before.”  But the hospital quickly found out and Pam soon learned that she had been granted $300 by Angel Fund and $300 by the hospital.

“I still had a large balance and Dr. George said: ‘I’ll work with you on that and we can set up a payment plan.’  And, she said, ‘Please don’t let this be a reason not to do the surgery.’  I thought was wonderful. 

“Between that moment and the scheduled surgery, a lovely private donor stepped forward – somebody in the community who was a cat lover forever more.  She called me and said, ‘I understand you could use some help’ – and she paid the balance I owed.  She had heard about me through a mutual acquaintance.

“It was fantastic.  I was so grateful!  My daughter [who lives with her] and I just broke into sobs.  It took a whole village to get Anastasia back on her feet.  I’m so grateful.  I wasn’t sure I could handle it at all with my husband’s sudden death but it turned out well.  Angel Fund was a godsend.  They made it very easy.”

Today, Anastasia is busy resuming the life she led before her illness.

Pam is a retired psychotherapist who lives in Laguna Terrace Park.   She does some part-time work now as a life coach.  Her husband John was a retired educator who retired from the Irvine Unified School District as an assistant principal, then worked 20 years for several universities as a student teacher supervisor.

Her daughter, Kathleen Price, formerly headed the makeup departments at both Knott’s Berry Scary Farm: Halloween Haunt and Cirque du Soleil.  She teaches theatrical makeup at Cal State Fullerton.