In January 2014, a cat rescue friend in the Willamette Valley asked if ARCF could help find homes for three abandoned cats, and we agreed to take them. Bob and Lizzie were quickly adopted, but Bronco Billy had some health issues that needed attention. Most noticeable was his very large nose.
The cause of that symptom turned out to be Cryptococcus, a fungus often found in bird droppings. Treatment required daily medication for at least six months. During that time, Bronco Billy developed several other problems that made him uncomfortable: a respiratory infection (probably triggered by the herpes virus), pododermatitis (sore feet caused by swollen paw pads), intermittent limping, and general discomfort in his back end.
Bronco Billy had been named for the Denver Broncos, who were in the Super Bowl that year. But, like his namesake team, Billy did not seem destined to emerge a winner. Fortunately, ARCF had a wonderful foster home available, where he received the best care possible from his doting foster mom, Bronco Billy’s unfailing and stalwart fan.
Billy responded well to low daily doses of antibiotics and pain medication. In fact, he responded so well that he seemed to become a different cat. He had always been social and good-natured, but wasn’t very active for such a young cat—we estimated his age at about two years. But with his infection and pain under control, Billy suddenly had the energy and attitude of a kitten! His foster home included many litters of kittens during the spring and summer, and Billy loved playing with them. He enjoyed greeting visitors, who never failed to notice and admire his plush, smoky-colored fur coat.
It was wonderful to see him feeling better, and we had high hopes for at last being able to place him in a permanent home. He was also healthy enough for a dental cleaning and extraction of a broken tooth, so that was scheduled for November 2014.
Shortly after going under anesthesia for dental surgery, Bronco Billy stopped breathing and the doctor quickly woke him up. He started breathing normally, but x-rays revealed part of a bullet lodged in his chest, which had caused the lung to collapse. The films also showed pieces of the bullet embedded in his upper jaw.
Bronco Billy just can’t seem to get a break: not only was he born with a less-than-robust immune system, somebody with a gun had been taking shots at him! In spite of all that, his personality remains playful, quirky, and affectionate.
Dr. Hatfield at Cat Hospital of Portland determined that Billy needs an anesthesiologist in order to be put under general anesthesia again, so we hoped dental surgery could be avoided. But his his foster mom noticed him having trouble eating and crying out in pain when trying to eat kibble. A recent exam showed that his teeth and gums are under attack by his own immune system, a condition known as stomatitis. Billy’s immune system sure is making his life tough.
The only treatment to relieve severe stomatitis is full-mouth extraction: remove all the teeth and there is nothing left to attack. Cats can manage very well without teeth; once the pain is gone, cats often enjoy eating so much that they tend to become too plump. But with Billy’s special circumstances, he needs a dental surgeon in addition to an anesthesiologist.
We know this will take a huge chunk of our budget. It’s always difficult to weigh the cost of helping one cat against the cost of helping many. But Bronco Billy has overcome so much in his short life. All of his other conditions are resolved or at least under control, he is finally at a healthy weight, and he is clearly enjoying his newfound energy. He’s also won many hearts, especially those of his foster family.
Right about that time, the Denver Broncos headed to the Super Bowl again, two years after we rescued Bronco Billy. We decided to schedule the surgery. The Broncos won this year, and we think this is finally going to be Billy’s year, too.
If you would like to contribute towards this important procedure for Bronco Billy and help him along the journey to his forever home, please join us for “Art from the Heart“. We have 40 beautiful pieces of art, donated by local artists.
If you’re not able to attend, you can also donate online, call us at 503-402-8692, or send a donation to ARCF, PO Box 14956, Portland OR 97293. All donations are tax-deductible.
Thank you very much.
Bronco Billy and all of us at ARCF