In August of 2020 in Salem, Oregon, a vet clinic employee was shocked when a unique kitten appeared for an appointment.
The kitten was suffering from a chronic illness that would take her life too soon.
Determined to give the kitten the life she deserved, the woman sprung into action.
Keep reading to discover how one heroic woman committed herself to giving this kitten a fighting chance.
A Shocking Discovery
Desirae Gaustad, an employee of Evergreen Veterinary Hospital, was enjoying a normal day at work when a local rescuer appeared for an appointment with a very special kitten.
Desirae stepped into the examination room to take a better look.
She gently lifted the kitten into her arms and felt its tiny heartbeat.
The kitten was beautiful. She had long, fluffy hair and twinkling eyes.
Desirae asked the vet what the prognosis was.
The vet responded with heartbreaking news.
The kitten was in critical condition – it was unlikely she would survive more than a few weeks.
Desirae was devastated, but she refused to give up.
Having fostered terminally ill cats before, she knew they could live much longer than anticipated in the right conditions.
A Hero Speaks Up
After the appointment, Desirae took the kitten back to her rescuer.
She told the rescuer she was interested in adopting the kitten and had experience fostering hospice cats.
Desirae assured the rescuer the kitten would be in good hands.
She would bring the kitten to work each day where she would be monitored closely and receive daily checkups from the vet staff.
The rescuer was incredibly relieved by Desirae’s offer after hearing news of the kitten’s poor prognosis.
She gladly agreed to let Desirae adopt the kitten.
Soon enough, this special kitten was on her way to be with her new forever family!
Learning to Love
Desirae named the sweet girl Penelope.
Penelope was only 5 weeks old and weighed less than a pound at the time of her rescue.
The rescuer from Meow Village had been TNRing (trap, neuter, return) a feral colony when Penelope was discovered.
Penelope had lived a rough life on the streets.
She had never felt the love of a human before.
Despite her lack of socialization, she was not fearful of humans.
She quickly adjusted to all the love and attention she received from Desirae, her boyfriend, and the veterinary staff.
Desirae’s boyfriend in particular was very smitten with Penelope!
Everyone who met her fell in love.
Her special face and charm made her irresistible!
“She was very kitten-like. She loved to run around and play, but we had to watch her very closely,” Desirae shared with National Kitty.
A Fighting Chance
Penelope had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus and potential cerebellar hypoplasia.
The hydrocephalus was causing fluid buildup in Penelope’s brain which the vet suspected would eventually lead to neurological illnesses.
Penelope could suffer from seizures and loss of motor control if her condition progressed.
A side effect of Penelope’s condition lead her to be mostly blind.
She could still respond to light and shadows which helped her navigate her surroundings.
Luckily, Penelope still thrived.
She was not in pain and enjoyed a great quality of life.
Desirae and her boyfriend were determined to help Penelope live a comfortable life, regardless of how short it would be.
The Sweetest Smile
Penelope’s precious smile was a result of her cleft lip.
“People who saw her always asked about her lip. It was purely cosmetic. She could eat, drink, and take medication just fine,” Desirae shared.
She was not in any pain from her cleft lip. Instead, it gave her character!
Despite her condition, Penelope had strong will to live.
She knew she was in good hands.
She melted into Desirae and her boyfriend’s arms, knowing she was warm and safe with her family.
Penelope went to work with her mom every day where she would be consistently monitored by the kind vet staff.
“Everyone at work just loved her. They did everything they could to keep her healthy,” said Desirae.
Penelope could rest easy knowing she would never be alone or hungry ever again.
Penelope and her family shared a special bond.
Fate brought them together for a reason – they were inseparable.
Be sure to follow Desirae on Instagram to see more of Penelope and Desirae’s foster cats!
UPDATE: Penelope’s Tribute
On September 16, 2020, Penelope gently crossed the rainbow bridge in the company of her loved ones.
She fought hard all the way to the end.
Desirae and her boyfriend are devastated, but they are happy she passed away in their arms and not alone on the streets.
“It won’t be the same without her, but she won’t be in pain where is is now,” said Desirae.
Penelope’s earned her wings in heaven too soon, but she died knowing she was loved.
“Even though she was part of our family for a short time, we loved her dearly,” Desirae shared.
Desirae and her boyfriend were there for her at every moment of her journey.
They are heartbroken, but they cherish the memories they had with her.
“We would do it all over again to give her the love she deserved!” said Desirae.
Desirae hopes that many people will be inspired to foster hospice cats in Penelope’s honor.
Hospice cats deserve to be loved and comforted, regardless of how short their lives may be.
No cat should cross the rainbow bridge without knowing a human’s love.
Please honor Penelope’s legacy and encourage others to do as Desirae and her family did.
Thanks to Meow village, Penelope could thrive with her new family.
Had it not been for Meow Village’s hard work and determination to rescue cats in their community, Penelope would have suffered a terrible fate on the streets.
Meow Village is relentless in their mission to trap, neuter, and vaccinate feral cats to prevent the vicious cycle of suffering from overpopulation that plagues their community cats.
If you would like to donate to Meow Village toward a cat or kitten’s medical care, please click here.
Salem Friends of Felines
Desirae also fosters for Salem Friends of Felines, another wonderful cat rescue in Salem, Oregon.
All volunteers and fosters for Salem Friends of Felines are determined to give each cat a fighting chance.
In fact, Desirae was a foster failure for a terminally ill cat who is still alive and well over two years later!
Desirae owes her experience with hospice cats to Salem Friends of Felines.
If you would like to donate to Salem Friends of Felines, please click here.