When Life Gives You Lemons

By: Jessica Gregory, CVT
Certified Veterinary Technician at Pet Poison Helpline®

SONY DSCWhen I wake up in the morning I am greeted by an old man meow, excessive licking and cat fur in my face as my cat, Ivan, tries to get me to pet him.  This goes on for several minutes until I relent and scratch his head.  My husband typically mutters something about Ivan being lucky he found me because no one else would put up with his behavior.  Ivan had kept us up half the night meowing for no apparent reason and I didn’t have the heart to lock him out of our bedroom because he loves to sleep in our bed.

Ivan found me 13 years ago because a family friend was feeding him as a stray and they didn’t want him to be outside all winter.  I happened to be over there and immediately fell in love.  He was a healthy cat and a wonderful addition to my home.  Over the years this “healthy” cat has become a lemon.  He has had a cancerous skin tumor removed, separation anxiety, several episodes of urinary obstruction and significant food allergies requiring a special diet.  All of these medical issues have made for a very close bond between him and I.  He is certainly my first love (which my husband is well aware of  😉 )!

I have heard so many times, both when I was in a practice and with pet owners on the phone, stories about how this pet found them rather than the other way around.  Finding a stray cat on the side of the road, fostering a dog for a weekend, opening the door to get the paper in the morning, the list could go on.  Often it seems that many of these pets are lemons just like  Ivan.  I have to wonder if these animals have in innate sense that you will love them unconditionally regardless of what may come and purposefully put themselves in that perfect place at the perfect time.  Perhaps as pet lovers we just tend to notice these pets in places where many others would not.  Regardless of the reason, many of these pet owners are hopelessly devoted to these beloved family members and I have been moved to tears to see the love that is poured into these pets that essentially “found themselves a home.”  These pets seem to be the ones that have the rare cancer, unusual diagnosis or extremely hard to treat and extremely expensive complication from something that was supposed to be routine.  I would think to myself while hugging these upset pet owners that it just isn’t fair that they have to go through this, but then would realize that these pet owners were the exact people that could provide exactly what the pet needed to heal.

As I watch Ivan turn into an old man before my eyes, I can only be thankful that he is a lemon because he has taught me about devotion and truly unconditional love.  I wouldn’t want him any other way!