Luna Weathers a Costly Assault from Old Sol and Is Looking to Make a New Start in Life but a Dark Cloud Is Looming over Her Future
"People might be put off by the way she looks, but cats that have problems like only three legs or a missing eye quite often get the sympathy vote."
-- Nina Chisholm of Cats Protection
Another homeless cat with white fur has fallen prey to the sometimes destructive rays of Old Sol. The victim this time is an eight-year-old female named Luna who earlier this summer was rescued from the streets of Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire, Scotland.
Taken in by the North Ayrshire branch of Cats Protection, her ears were so badly blistered that they had to be surgically removed. The good news is that she came through the operation with flying colors and that her hearing does not appear to have been compromised in any way.
"Every cat is different and she has had a rough time," Nina Chisholm, a volunteer with the charity, told London's Metro on July 5th. (See "Snow White Cat Luna Loses Both Ears after Getting Sunburnt in Scotland.") "She needs time to get her confidence back."
With the successful completion of the surgery, Cats Protection now has turned its attention toward securing a well-deserved and appreciative home for Luna. "She can be loving when she knows you but she is quite guarded," Chisholm added. "People might be put off by the way she looks, but cats that have problems like only three legs or a missing eye quite often get the sympathy vote."
Disturbingly, there is a dark cloud looming over Luna's future in that skin cancer, like all forms of that deadly disease, can return at almost anytime and without warning. Press reports have been mum on that subject but hopefully the surgeon was able to excise all of the malignant cells so that the disease never again will threaten her fragile life.
In one of the saddest and most heartbreaking stories of recent memory, a similarly afflicted homeless white cat with grayish-brown spots named Victoria was picked up off the streets of Newent, thirteen kilometers northwest of Gloucester, by an unidentified Good Samaritan last October 14th. Although it likely never will be known whether she contracted skin cancer either before or after having been cruelly abandoned by her previous owner, there can be little doubt that the months, and possibly years, that she was forced to go without treatment could not possibly have been anything other than a living hell.
In particular, the pain was so excruciating and unrelenting that she was left with no alternative other than to resort to self-mutilation. "The cat had been in so much discomfort it had resorted to ripping its own ear off to try and relieve itself of its constant agony, leaving it in such a state of self-disfigurement," Sue Cowlishaw of New Start Cat Rescue Center (NSCRC) in Gloucester said last fall. (See Cat Defender post of November 14, 2012 entitled "In Utter Desperation, Victoria Claws Off Her Rotting Ears after She Is Stricken with Cancer and Abandoned to Aimlessly Wander the Forbidding Streets of Newent.")
She underwent emergency surgery at NSCRC and even received offers of a new home from residents in both London and on the Isle of Jersey. Plus, more than £500 in donations for her care were received from as far afield as Canada, New Zealand, and China.
Initially, it looked like her recovery was progressing well and that she was going to beat the skin cancer. "She's not out of the woods yet but she's certainly on the mend," Wendy Hyde of NSCRC, who also served as Victoria's foster mother, said shortly after her surgery. "...she is a lot more perky and she's taken over my living room."
In the end, however, Victoria's miraculous recovery proved to be simply too good to endure. The cancer returned to her ravaged ears with a vengeance and NSCRC had her killed off sometime around Christmas.
"She was so brave. But the vet confirmed my worst fears that the cancer had returned," Hyde later said. "There were no options left for her." (See Cat Defender post of February 9, 2013 entitled "New Start Cat Rescue Center Abruptly Kills Off Victoria after the Cancer Returns to Her Already Ravaged Ears.")
Like ill-fated Victoria before her, Luna is now being forced to play the same terrifying waiting game. The best therefore that can be hoped for her is that the malignancy does not return because if it does it is by no means guaranteed that Cats Protection will be either willing or able to provide the life-sustaining treatment that she will so desperately need and richly deserve.
In Victoria's case, Hyde was being considerably less than truthful when she stated that she had exhausted all of her alternatives. Besides, conventional surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, photodynamics, and cryosurgery could have been tried if only NSCRC had been willing to invest the effort and funds.
Even if it had been either unwilling or unable to have done that, Victoria's life could have been prolonged indefinitely through the application of painkillers, antibiotics, and topical analgesics. The life of any cat is far too precious to be given up on so long as there is even the slimmest chance of prolonging it.
Of course, it goes almost without saying that with sickly cats the need always far outstrips either the available funds or resources. At the same time it also is equally true that countless millions of them are deliberately killed off each year in the name of expediency by rescue groups, veterinarians, conventional shelters, and unconscionable owners.
Exposure to the sun normally is not a problem for most of them but it is an altogether different proposition as far as those with white fur are concerned. "White or pale-colored cats are most vulnerable to sunlight because they have little pigment or hair to protect them from harmful UVB waves," Maggie Roberts of Cats Protection told London's Metro in the article cited supra. "To help reduce the risk of sunburn, try to keep susceptible cats indoors or in the shade between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its hottest."
Sunscreen and protective headgear are two additional preventive measures that are worth trying, but none of these palliatives are available to homeless cats such as Luna and Victoria. TNR practitioners could help to alleviate some of the unnecessary suffering and tragic loss of life by removing cats with white fur from their managed colonies and placing them instead in indoor environments.
While it is terrible to abandon a cat under any circumstances, this is doubly true for those with white fur. In Victoria's case, for example, just the simple act of casting her out in the street ultimately proved to be a capital sentence.
"It looks like the owner has abandoned her. How could anyone do that?" Louise Barrow of NSCRC said of Victoria. "We, more than anyone, know just how expensive vets' bills are at the moment, but it is awful."
Free on demand, no questions asked, veterinary care for cats and other animals is every bit as essential as free medical care for all individuals. To sadistically allow impecunious animals to needlessly suffer and die prematurely solely due to a lack of money is, arguably, one of the most morally repugnant forms of species-based discrimination imaginable.
Moreover, unless men and women of good conscience are willing to stand up and demand that access to topnotch veterinary and health care be recognized as fundamental rights nothing is ever going to be done in order to rectify this totally barbaric and unjust situation. At first thought that would not appear to be all that much to ask but when so many people, especially Americans, are willing to use food, housing, and a denial of fundamental civil liberties as weapons against both their fellow citizens and the animals it seems highly unlikely that they are about to have a change of heart and extend veterinary and health care to all of those in need.
Au contraire, this deplorable situation is only getting worse with each passing day as both veterinary and health care costs continue to go through the roof. That in turn leaves the James Dean model of living hard and fast, dying young, and thus doing the morticians a favor by leaving behind a good-looking corpse as about the best that most cats and many individuals can expect out of life.
Finally, if ever a cat deserved a second chance at life it surely would have to be Luna and hopefully she is now going to get that opportunity. She also desperately needs a compassionate guardian who is capable of appreciating her for not only the inordinate amount of deprivations that she has experienced but her intrinsic worth as a cat as well. Above all, her new guardian will need to take special care so as to safeguard her inner ears against punctures, insect bites, flying debris, the elements, and other assorted dangers.
Photos: London's Metro (Luna) and The Citizen of Gloucester (Victoria).