Fondly known as Bitty Bear
Bitty came into the Ann Arbor Cat Clinic in January of 2004 as a young feral with a broken leg. His leg had been caught in a trap, leaving the poor guy in quite a predicament. With multiple fractures requiring orthopedic surgery, he was in need of a safe place to recover and heal. Being a feral cat though, his options were limited. Feral cats are wild animals and do not readily accept human contact and caretaking. Bitty had most likely not known any type of affection from people during his first 6 months of life and wasn’t too eager to start trusting them now, especially not scared and in pain. Luckily for Bitty, the cat clinic staff was up for a challenge and brought him in to their foster program.
The plan was to surgically repair his broken leg, keep him at the clinic until it was healed, and then release him back outside. The complex nature of his broken leg required surgical pins to be placed and weeks, possibly months, of cage confinement while the bones healed correctly. As the weeks went by, Bitty slowly began to warm up to people and began enjoying life as an indoor pet. By the time his cage confinement was up, Bitty was deemed social enough to be put up for adoption.
Bitty still had some hints of his previous wild life though. He was still quite timid, often hiding from new people, and generally preferred to perch in high places and look down on all the activity going on around him. He also had terrible dental disease that made him uncomfortable and he really despised the medications that were supposed to make him feel better. Ultimately, for his own health and happiness, Bitty ended up having to have all his teeth removed! Once his teeth were out, his mouth was much healthier and he became a much more social and friendly cat. He actually began interacting with the clients and could be seen lounging around the front reception desk. He never missed his teeth, and always continued to love dry food and treats. His favorites continued to be Oral Care diets and CET dental chew treats. It’s almost as if he was mocking his own poor dental health with his treat choices :)
With his new outgoing personality, Bitty eventually had someone apply to adopt him. By this time he had been at the clinic for 2 years and had become a staff favorite, despite some behavior issues. A staff meeting was held and it was determined that due to his behavior issues and possible future medical and behavioral complications, Bitty was not suitable to be adopted out. He would stay at the clinic as a well loved, and sometimes humiliated for our enjoyment, clinic cat.
Bitty’s behavior issues never really did resolve despite many years of trying multitudes of medications and treatments. Bitty never quite lost his wild side in that he felt it necessary to constantly mark his territory. He seemed to get great joy from urine marking on our expensive equipment, especially our scales. There is not a single behavior modifying or anti anxiety medication or supplement that was left untried in our quest to keep Bitty happy and keep our clinic dry. Most of the medications actually made his behavior worse since he hated being medicated. There were many years of just managing his environment, keeping doors shut, keeping things on high shelves, and keeping him entertained with his favorite foods and toys. In his later years he preferred hanging out in the back area of the clinic with the staff and getting love from us rather than venturing up front to visit with the clients.
Bitty had a special place in the hearts of all the staff due to his long history and sometimes exasperating personality. His all time favorite activity was helping the weekend staff clean and feed the boarded and adoptable cats. Bitty never met a type of canned food he didn’t like and would spend hours knocking cans over and sticking his face into any bowl he could find, sampling all the food that wasn’t his. He took quality control very seriously. He was also a very vocal cat and enjoyed screaming at us whenever he felt he wasn’t getting the attention he deserved.
Then in December 2015, a few days before Christmas, we noticed that Bitty had a large swollen area on his lower jaw/side neck area. The vets examined him and after in house diagnostics were inconclusive, it was determined that a biopsy was needed. His biopsy results came back with bad news. His lump was a hemangiosarcoma, a type of cancer. Hemangiosarcomas are quite rare in cats, and especially in the area where his was located. Hemangiosarcomas are extremely invasive and very fast growing which explained why his lump had appeared basically overnight. Unfortunately, this cancer was not treatable and not surgically removable. We knew all we could do was keep him comfortable until the cancer spread enough to make him weak and unhappy.
Sadly, due to the nature of hemangiosarcomas we only were able to manage his condition for a few weeks before he became uncomfortable, and on January 23, 2016 we had to make the heartbreaking decision to say good bye. Bitty Bear left this world quietly and peacefully, surrounded by the only family he had ever known - the doctors and staff who had loved and cared for him the past 12 years. All his quirks just made Bitty more unique and special and helped earn his place in clinic cat history. We will miss his sassy but sweet personality for many years to come and the clinic will always be a bit boring without Bitty around.