Cats have had a long history with human beings, and an extraordinary capacity for love, gentleness, and an ability to engage emotionally with their human companions. Nowhere has these animals’ remarkable ability to touch the human soul been more evident than in an ongoing project we have undertaken. Once a week, we take one of our friendlier cats to visit the elderly residents of a memory care complex.
The pictures above show Vilnius as the center of attention during one of his visits. He is sensitive to the people he meets, and remarkably open to them. This is evident in the patience Vilnius and the other cats, who have visited, have for being handled by so many strangers. The human-animal bond is evident in the effect Vilnius has on those who interact with him. One family member told us that he had not seen his mother more alert and responsive than when she was holding Vilnius in her lap.
Vilnius has formed a bond with many of the residents, who eagerly look forward to holding and petting him. He enjoys sitting on laps or next to people, and strutting around to show how well he walks on his leash. Perhaps some may call him a service or working cat, but he is more like a friend, as he has given many hours of joy and warmth to his elderly friends.
Vilnius had humble beginnings. He was an abandoned kitty who came to hang out with the free-roaming cats we care for. Now he lives in a foster home awaiting adoption, but sharing his love with anyone who longs for his healing touch.
Update on Vilnius
Since the above article was published, we learned that Vilnius had a serious heart condition. We discovered the condition when we took him to the veterinarian’s for a routine dental cleaning. The cardiac team at VCA Montgomery has completed a more detailed diagnosis, and our loving little boy has been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a serious and progressive heart disease. Although there is no known cure for this disease, which is believed to be genetic in origin, it is possible for animals to live with it for years if given proper care.
After talking to the doctors, we are planning to go forward with Vilnius’ dental work, using a special anesthetic that is gentle on the heart. We feel that cleaning his teeth and protecting his gums is important to his comfort and quality of life. After this, we will be taking him in for checkups, including another electrocardiogram in six months, and begin treatment to prolong his life when the doctors feel it is time.
We wish to thank all of you who have contributed to his care, and encourage everyone to continue supporting us in our work with Vilnius and other lost and abandoned cats.