"There's this cat here, Patty that I think needs help," Kathy said with reservation in her voice. "It's friendly, but looks pregnant. It's got a big stomach, but the cat has testicles! It must be a boy, yes?"
"Well, yes, Kathy the cat is a male. And if its pregnant well, that would be one for the Guinness Book of Records! What do you want to do about the cat? You know, I can't take any more cats in, but if you can foster this guy and take him to the vet, I'll help you with the bill."
"I was hoping you'd have a foster," Kathy lamented. "I have too many cats already, too. But, I suppose I can put him in a cage for now and take him to the vet on Monday. He's too friendly to leave on the street. I appreciate if you can help with the bill."
"No problem, Kathy. Unfortunately, it's impossible to find cat fosters these days, but if we can get the cat vetted and neutered, hopefully we can find an adoptive home later."
Monday evening after work, Kathy took the tabby cat she named, "Snooky" to Dr. G, our veterinarian.
But, the news wasn't good.
The swollen ("pregnant") stomach that was fodder for a joke over the weekend turned out to be indicative of FIP ("Feline Infectious Peritonitis"), a deadly cat virus that when turning symptomatic is without treatment or cure.
Yellowish fluid extracted from Snooky's abdomen confirmed the grim diagnosis.
Dr. G is not a vet who casually recommends euthanasia where there is any chance of treating or saving an animal.
But, he recommended it for Snooky.
Kathy called me with the dire news and there was little in the way of comfort I could provide for her.
"We don't have a choice, Kathy," I said somberly. "FIP is probably the worst thing one can run into with cats. Although many cats are exposed to it and can live healthily as carriers for years, once clinical symptoms manifest, it's all downhill from there."
Following the sad euthanasia of Snooky, Kathy met me with her car to help pick up pet supplies. Although not outwardly showing her emotions, I knew how tough this day had to be for Kathy. One doesn't get into animal rescue work with the idea of saving animals only to have to put them down without the cat or dog ever deriving benefit of a home.
"It's very hard when we have to do this," I told Kathy. "And yet, as Dr. G. told you, had you not picked up Snooky, he would have suffered a slow and horrible death on the streets. You did the right thing, Kathy, you really did."
"I know," Kathy replied wistfully. "But, its not what I wanted for him. He was a very sweet cat. He would have made a wonderful pet for somebody."
"Well, it would have been nice if that 'somebody' might have adopted Snooky from the streets before he got FIP. As it is now, Snooky's adopted by God."