Gertie's Story (as told by her adopter)


In August 2016, an urgent email plea went out to the volunteers who foster for Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic (OAR). A sweet, older stray cat had arrived at OAR in a trap through our life-saving partnership with SPCA Cincinnati. Thought to be approximately 16 years old, she was a pathetic creature – dirty, dehydrated and underweight.

Gertrude, as she was named by a clinic staff member, was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure. It was estimated that she only had a few weeks to live and she needed a quiet place with an experienced foster to live out her final days surrounded by love.

I was immediately drawn to the photo of Gertrude that accompanied the email. I was already dealing with a senior cat in declining health and was comfortable with administering the fluids Gertrude needed. And, as a human Hospice volunteer, I had experience with being present to those in the last stages of their lives. I was aware of the heartache that would come with bringing home a fospice (foster/hospice) kitty, but more important was the opportunity to give a precious creature comfort and love for whatever time she had.

One month passed, then two, then three. Instead of going downhill, Gertie thrived, a happy surprise for everyone at OAR and her fans who had been following her story and pictures on Facebook. She gained weight and kept in on, the sparkle in her eyes returned, and she developed an obsession with the catnip kickers lovingly supplied by OAR volunteers. I officially adopted Gertie on Jan 17 of this year, although it was just a formality at that point.

It’s now been more than a year since Gertie came home and she’s continuing to do amazingly well. She loves being told she’s a “Princess,” and spends her days lounging on my bed (aka “the throne.”). She keeps her kickers close by in case she gets in a playful mood. Her appetite is great most days as long as I cater to her current wet food whim. While she does have early stage kidney disease, as is common with senior cats, our vet feels she is keeping herself well hydrated and doesn’t need regular fluids for now.

As OAR’s adoption coordinator, I enjoy helping facilitate love connections between adopters and our wonderful felines. Sharing Gertie’s story has inspired other adopters to open their hearts and homes to a loving and grateful senior cat. I’ve always had soft spot for older cats, but thanks to Gertie, I’m even more committed to promoting our senior cats for adoption and providing the ones I can a loving home in their golden years. Gertie’s adoption has even proved beneficial in my Hospice ministry, enabling me to be more empathetic with my patients.

An OAR adopter recently told me she feels Gertie represents hope and resilience — the kind of thing people need right now. For me, every day with Gertie is a gift and an incredible reminder of the transformative power of love.