About six years ago, my better half, Holly Phillippe, got an animal hoarder busted that she had become aware of, close to where she lived in Indiana. In addition to 92 dogs kept in a trailer, 25 cats had been packed into a bathroom on the same trailer.
Holly followed up with the animal shelter coordinated with the raid, and two of the cats made it very clear that they wanted to go home with her that day.
One of them was a nearly two year old Russian Blue cat, named Dubious.
Dubious came home with Holly severely overweight, at 30 pounds. Holly took care of him, gave him a loving home, and worked on his diet, until he reached the healthy 15 pound weight that he has maintained during the nearly three years that I have had the tremendous blessing of having him in my life.
To say that he is a loving cat is an understatement. He greets us at the door when we return home. Whenever I am sick and in bed, he stays right there with me. During many of our meals, he even sits quietly in one of the open chairs and keeps us company, though I always make sure to give him his dinner before we sit down to eat.
When I am working in the office, he lounges in his window hammock or other favorite spots in the room and keeps us company. He only starts interrupting me if I work an exceptionally long day, as if to say “Stephen, you really need to get some rest and take a break.”
Speaking of talking, he talks all the time, a very vocal cat who can always put a smile on your face.
He has a keen sense of when I am feeling upset, sad, or frustrated, and it is in those instances that he keeps particularly close to me, wherever I go in the house. When it is the hardest of times, he won’t let me out of his sight.
Dubious is truly my right hand little fellow.
A great many people can vouch for how Dubious has never met a stranger. He goes up and greets all who come to the house, and he adopts special interactions for individuals, from curling up on my sister’s shoes (while she is sitting or standing!) to the vocalizations he uses with specific people.
Dubious went with us when we were in production on the Rayden Valkyrie TV Pilot, where he won over many members of the cast and crew such as photographer and drone operator Jason Young, pictured below.
He even inspired one of the characters in my latest novel Dream of a Navigator, as a recent sharp-eyed reader caught.
Dubious is, in every way, family to me, and he has become a big part of me. I love this cat dearly and so many worries went through my mind when I saw him take a sharp downturn in health about a week and a half ago.
He stopped drinking, eating, and became lethargic. He also started going to the litter box non-stop. I could tell that he was sick and in pain.
After immediately getting him to the veterinarian, we learned that he had an infection and that he also had a major blockage of his urinary tract.
We ran a course of antibiotics, got him relieved with a catheter, and the plan was to push the crystals/stones that were detected out of his tract and then dissolve them. What followed became a harrowing pattern of bringing him home, having him block up, taking him back to the veterinarian, including overnight stays, with more anesthesia, catheters, and treatments.
We did everything we could to care for him on our end, from making sure he got all his meds to making certain that either myself or Holly was with him to keep a watch on his behavior.
He blocked up again bad on Friday night, and this time when we went to the veterinarian it was revealed that he had brought up everything in his bladder into his urinary tract. It also was revealed that these were of the kind of crystals/stones that do not dissolve.
At this point, the bills had run up to almost $2,000. At that juncture, it was already an emergency situation for us, on a personal level, financially. Holly had created the support campaign just on this situation alone..
We were left with only one option after the discovery of the severely blocked urethra and non-dissolvable stones.. He had to get surgery.
We were sent over to MedVet in Lexington, which is a top line facility with advanced surgery capabilities. The surgery needed for Dubious requires a rerouting of the urethra, and the surgeon on hand Saturday did not feel comfortable with the procedure.
The surgeon needed would be available on Monday. The hospital stay between Saturday to Monday alone has added almost $1500 more to the bill. The surgery Monday is going to be another $4,000. They have no payment plans.
Dubious can be returned to full health and a full quality of life, but if he does not get this surgery, he cannot survive.
This has blindsided us and it is an overwhelming amount. We have had a very trying couple of years after suffering a big hit holding one of our projects in place when one of the principle financiers failed to come through after everything had been set in place. Because of that situation, I had to give up being a homeowner, among other sacrifices. We stood by our commitments and the project, and honored what we set out to do, but it put us in a very tight, precarious position, one that we have been working very hard to come out of, in a long, slow process.
We live in a very frugal manner to get by, even before that happened. We’ve been disciplined in keeping our cost of living as low as we possibly can. Among a few examples I can cite: I have no health insurance, I drive old vehicles that are paid for, which keeps insurance and taxes lower. I haven’t had a real vacation in well over seven years.
I’m not complaining about any of this, it is part of the price you have to pay to pursue a creative career and I chose that more austere path. But I say this to make it clear that we are in no position to get hit with such bills, suddenly and unexpectedly, that are upwards of $7,500.
We will work hard to weather the storm, but we really need some help. If you understand the love of family, you will understand why we have no choice but to pursue this surgery for Dubious.
We really have nowhere to turn to but our community, from my friends, to my readers, to strangers who I have never met. I know it is a holiday week, but if you can find it in your heart to spare a little, even five or ten dollars, to help us try to survive this avalanche of bills, it would be appreciated more than I can express right now.
To contribute to the campaign for Dubious, visit the link below:
Update: November 26, 2018: Dubious has been making strides in recovery. The first couple of days he rested a lot, was on regular pain medication (morphine) and did not show much of an appetite. Thankfully, around Thursday of last week he started to regain his appetite and over the course of the next day was eating and drinking more normal amounts. As of Sunday he is off the pain medication, and has been showing no signs of discomfort. He has about another week to go with wearing the cone and until he gets the stitches removed from along his underside. We have been watching him very close and he appears to be on course for a full recovery. We still are facing a very difficult bill situation even with what has come in so far in support of his medical costs. I know everyone is busy during the holiday season, but please give some thought to helping, as every bit makes a true difference given that we were already in a really tight spot before this happened.
Update: December 3, 2018: Dubious had his follow-up examination and removal of stitches today. I am very happy to say that he looks to be healing very well. He does not have to wear the cone-collar anymore, can use his normal litter again, and resume his usual routine once more. He will have to make dietary adjustments, and they do want to have a urinalysis every three months with a radiograph every 6 months to keep a watch out for any new calcium cyst formations. The surgeon believes that Dubious should pass these through his new urinary tract site before they get big enough to cause blockage, if they form up again, but we will be keeping a close lookout. Dubious came home and purred like a motorboat after that cone-collar was removed. I could tell he felt really good and we are looking forward to having him back to himself for Christmas. We are facing a very severe uphill climb with the bills that mounted during the course of this entire trial. Any help you can spare toward Dubious’ medical costs is deeply appreciated and needed.