On November 22, 2022, I came to the shelter to pick up Talulah, an 8-month-old cat who was surrendered a month prior, hoping to free up space during our renovation project. A family found her outside with wounds that weren't healing well and needed surgical repair. Her surgery went well, but afterwards a small amount of blood was seen in her urine. Talulah was X-rayed and given antibiotics in case of a urinary tract infection (UTI). She seemed to be recovering and her testing appeared normal. She was cleared to go home with me as her new foster mom.
Talulah and her foster sibling.
Immediately, Talulah appeared comfortable in her decompression room at home. She was affectionate, playful, and curious. Sadly, within the week, more blood was in her urine. I immediately brought Talulah back into the shelter for testing: bloodwork, urinalysis, bacterial culture, and an ultrasound. She was scheduled to see an internal medicine specialist, fearing there might be something wrong with her kidneys we couldn't see.
Within two days, Talulah’s situation turned into an emergency. She was suddenly unable to urinate, and she was crying out in pain. Medication was not giving her any relief. Talulah was rushed to an emergency clinic for more testing and, again, it all came back normal. Her urine was bloody enough it was forming clots, causing a life-threatening urinary blockage. Our shelter veterinarians put Talulah on a treatment protocol, hoping she would respond to it.
Talulah's next months were filled with check-ins, flare-ups, and medications. The food and medication seemed to keep her from blocking again, and she was no longer showing signs of distress or pain, but the blood came and went almost every other week. Talulah was diagnosed with FIC—feline idiopathic cystitis.
FIC does not have a known cause, but studies suggest it originates from a problem with the body's stress response. Anything that caused Talulah anxiety could lead to inflammation in her bladder and threaten another blockage. The type of home we needed to find her got more and more specific. Five and a half months later, she received her first adoption application, and it was promising!
The potential adopter, named Pete, lost one of his two cats, Sally, to large cell lymphoma earlier in 2023. He and his remaining cat, Teddy, were feeling her absence. On April 28th, 2023, 242 days after arriving at our shelter, Talulah went home!
Within the day at her new home, she was on the desk in Pete's drawing room, purring away. Three days in, the blood disappeared. After a few weeks of decompression time, she met Teddy, Pete’s other cat.
Talulah and Teddy playing together.
Pete wrote: “At the beginning of January, we lost Sally the cat to large cell lymphoma. She was only nine years old, and she was very much a bright spot in our lives. A few months later, Tracy, the Crepe Lady at Central Market, thought it'd be fun to pick me out a new cat on her phone. She picked Talulah.
A couple of days later, I checked out Talulah's adoption page and commented on the group chat with my friends that she seemed to have the joie de vivre that Sally had. I was prodded into adoption by my friend Erica, who has worked for the SPCA in New Orleans and BARCS in Baltimore. She said that my sadness and grief mattered less than how much Talulah needed me.
Talulah is as intelligent, sweet, and precocious as I thought she'd be.”
Letting her go was hard as a long-term foster, but knowing she is thriving in her new home is worth the pain of our goodbye. Completing a family is what we want for all our animals, isn't it? I'm forever grateful the York County SPCA was able to provide Talulah with the care she needed to find a forever home, however long it took. Giving up on her was not an option. I'm proud to be part of this organization and Talulah’s special journey!