Smiley was more than just another happy face, he was a dear little friend! I remember so well the day my disabled friend called me and said she had found a newborn kitten on the sidewalk. A new born he was not. She based this classification on the fact his eyes were “still” closed. In reality, Smiley was 6-weeks-old and stunted out of proportion, his eyes pasted shut with infection. I didn’t know if he would survive the ride to get help. He did survive and grew into a beautiful boy, inside and out. He met me without fail after work, leaping to my shoulders to ride around. Everything I did, he wanted to do too.

It never occurred to me as this beautiful ear-tufted baby turned 8-months that I could lose him after all he had been through. In fact, the April 2009 Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery had arrived and I eagerly began a lengthy article on FIP. I wanted to know more about this mysterious disease. While reading the article, I noticed my baby had a fever and didn’t meet me after work. I finished the article feeling ill myself, familiar with FIP in a way that could only be described as a nightmare! Smiley seemed relatively comfortable and lived about 2-weeks. In his last days, he was transformed from a crazy carefree kitten to a wise old soul who left the bed early in the morning, only to sit in the window and watch the sunrise. It was as if he knew his time was coming to an end.

He ate every day while sick until the eve of my birthday, when he suddenly could not stand. That evening, with support from SOCKFIP, I held him. I would have done anything to save him, but there was nothing that could be done. The veterinarian answered his plea for help in the only way possible. A plea reflected so plainly in his suffering eyes. He slipped away. I went home alone, helpless and defeated. This time I had failed him. A few hours later, I faced the dawn of my 50th and worst birthday alone. He is alive in my heart and will always be with me there. The only thing left for us to do while we are still here is to fight this disease, sparing others the tragedy.


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