She was left at a city shelter two days before Christmas, a pretty young Bengal mix whose sweet disposition stood in stark contrast to the gravity of her medical condition. Mary was suffering from mastitis and her infection was life-threatening.
Heaven on Earth typically pulls a needy cat from the shelter on Christmas Eve, a tradition that began in 2011 to honor the memory of Carrie Ann Inaba’s beloved Shadow, who helped inspire the dancer-choreographer’s own passion for rescue. And Mary clearly was needy.
She was also critically ill and would require emergency and comprehensive care. With special holiday support from The Animal Project Foundation, this became possible. So as night began to fall over the San Fernando Valley, Mary arrived at Perry’s Place.
Christmas morning dawned and with it, a treatment plan. Antibiotics and pain medication were prescribed and, to our great relief, kept further complications at bay. The infection was severe – the worst mastitis our vet had ever seen – and a daily regimen of massages, warm compresses and cabbage wraps was included to help reduce inflammation.
Then one morning, Mary’s breathing became labored. She was rushed to the vet, where x-rays showed considerable fluid surrounding her heart and lungs, along with the startling fact that she was pregnant and full term.
Referral to a cardiologist and subsequent echocardiogram revealed an atrial septal defect, which was causing her heart to fail. A low-dose diuretic was prescribed as the balance between saving her life and minimizing harm to the kittens, but the compromise meant fluid again needed to be drained days later. Shortly afterward, Mary went into labor.
Sadly, the odds were stacked against the four kittens, whose time in utero had been severely compromised by their mother’s illness and malnourishment, and over the next few days, they passed away. Mary, however, rallied; indeed, she finally turned the much-hoped-for corner. Her mastitis began to heal as her heart also responded to medication. The kittens’ poignant legacy was their mother’s life.
By early April, Mary was cleared for spay surgery, and by late April, she was deemed ready for adoption. So it was a truly happy day when she moved from our medical wing to a cheery enclosure in our reception area. Her playful side emerged, her happy chatter had a new audience and her sweetness bubbled over.
Three days later, a tearful couple walked through our doors. Their cat, Sticky, had just lost her battle with kidney disease and their friend, Carrie Ann Inaba, had referred them to us as they wanted to donate remaining food and supplies to a cat rescue. We offered condolences and went through Sticky’s things together, talking about her life, her illness, the dog they’d also recently lost…and then Mary caught their eye.
An hour later, she had also captured their heart. Twenty-four hours later, she was part of their family.
Mary quickly made herself right at home, adapting seamlessly to a new life that must have been lightyears away from the old one, whatever and wherever it was. New everything was embraced with gusto, including her new name – Banshee.
“She is such a talker and I swear she sees spirits…or maybe she’s still getting used to our surround sound!” says her mom with a smile.
“It has been so fulfilling to watch her grow into her personality. At first, running seemed a bit awkward as I doubt she’s ever had this kind of space to freely roam, but soon enough she got the hang of it. She adores hiding behind the curtains, looking through the glass doors, trying to stalk birds. And to my astonishment, she picked Sticky’s favorite spot on the window sill as her own sunbathing perch…
“Once she was comfortable, we brought in her little brother, Dragon. He was a feral kitten my mother found and nursed back to health with full vet treatments. Banshee LOVES Dragon. They immediately started playing and she has found her mothering instinct by licking him and making sure he’s as clean and pretty as she is..
“It’s impossible to imagine life without her now. She and Dragon are our everything.”
Happy Christmas to All and to All a Good Night.