She was a tiny ball of fur with big, bright eyes, sitting on a windowsill looking out at us. Tasha belonged to a neighbor, so we got to see her during our walks almost every day. Chance and Tasha would sniff each other through the window screen, and Chance really seemed to like her. Later that year Tasha’s parents were evicted from their apartment, but left her behind. I saw her outside with another cat one night when I was walking Chance and wondered why she was outside. I also had a pretty good idea what she was doing with the other cat. Within a couple weeks Tasha was looking bigger, and I knew she was pregnant. After I confirmed her owners were gone, I followed Tasha around the back of the building. Apparently, she was staying close to the only home she knew. They left her litter box and food/water bowls on the back patio, and Tasha to fend for herself. I was shocked that someone could be so selfish and cruel. I was more naïve then than I am now, of course. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do yet, but I took her bowls and litter box to my apartment. I gave Tasha some tuna and water until I could go to the store later that day to buy cat food. I didn’t make the decision to take her in right away as I had no idea how to care for a cat or if Chance would be okay with a housemate. I fed her and sat outside with her curled up in my lap for at least an hour every evening for about a week and she would sleep so soundly. I wondered if that was the only restful sleep she was getting. Chance seemed good with Tasha so I brought her in so she would have a safe place to deliver her kittens. She mostly kept to herself, and I didn’t know if it was a cat thing, a pregnancy thing or a new home thing so I left her alone and let her come to me when she wanted. A few days later, Tasha was behaving strangely. I had no idea if this was normal or if something was wrong. I took her to the vet right away to make sure that she and her kittens were alright. The vet felt 5 little balls in her belly but there were no heartbeats. My heart broke for this little mommy. The vet said that if Tasha had gone into labor alone outside she would have died from fetal distress. We decided that aborting the pregnancy and fixing her would be the best course of action. I brought her home after her recovery and learned quickly that it was impossible to keep a cat from jumping on things. I was told that she couldn’t jump up or she would rip her stitches. I confined her to a bathroom with a baby gate and provided a litter box and a big pillow to lie on. She did really well and healed very quickly. Chance was so good during this ordeal. She would lie on the other side of the baby gate and kept Tasha company. Once Tasha healed from the surgery she was a really neat cat. She purred like a freight train, which quickly became one of my favorite sounds.
Tasha was about 4 years old when she started getting sick. It started with clumps of fur falling out, then the skin where the fur fell out dried up and started peeling off. The vets were stumped, and the pathology reports were inconclusive. In other words, they had no idea what was happening. Luckily, antibiotics and prednisone made a difference, and my sweet little girl was getting better. We went from daily bandage changes to every other day. Tasha wasn’t a very accommodating patient so she had to be sedated for every bandage change. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that this was a very expensive ordeal, and it was nowhere near over. After 3 weeks the vet explained that I could spend another $1,000 in medications and bandage changes, and she will still need surgery to close up the open skin, or we could just do the surgery which would also cost $1,000. Tasha had the surgery and $5,000 later, she was back to normal. There were concerns that whatever occurred could happen again, but I am happy to announce that it did not. She did really well for a long time after that event, and I believed that we would have a clear road ahead of us. Just before her 12th birthday I found small bumps on her chest. Tasha was diagnosed with malignant mammary tumors, but luckily, we caught them early, and they were able to be removed. I was told that this is a very aggressive cancer, and they would definitely return. The vets were amazed that she survived another year before they returned. I thought I caught them early again, but was devastated to find out that I missed a large lump under her left arm. I found them the end of July 2011. By early September, her lungs were filling with fluid, and she was struggling to breath. Yes, chemotherapy was an option, but I couldn’t bring myself to put her through it. My stepmother stopped chemo treatments because she didn’t want to spend her last days sick and suffering. I made the same decision for Tasha. My sweet little girl lost her battle two months before her 13th birthday. Tasha crossed the Rainbow Bridge on September 10, 2011. I still struggle with the guilt of not finding the large lump under her arm.