When Emily went to an adoption event for Foster Paws Rescue, she met Garfield and Nermal, two kittens who had ended up at the organization after they were left at Care Regional Emergency Clinic in Spartanburg, South Carolina, by their owners.
“In July 2017, Garfield and Nermal were brought into Care Animal Regional Emergency,” explains Emily. “The cats were rushed back into an exam room while the couple who brought them in were supposed to fill out some paperwork. They told the receptionist that Garfield and Nermal were their cats and then they left, never to be seen again.”
A thorough examination revealed that Garfield and Nermal were suffering from pyrethroid toxicity, most likely after being treated with a concentrated permethrin-containing product designed for dogs, such as flea medicine. While these types of medication are considered safe to use on canines, they’re poisonous to felines, resulting in seizures, muscle tremors, lack of coordination, and hypertheremia, and death occurs within hours if an affected cat is left untreated. “The vet didn’t think Garfield and Nermal would make it,” says Emily. “They were hospitalized for a couple of weeks.”
Eventually, the kittens were discharged from the hospital, staying with a vet tech at the clinic before they were taken in by Foster Paws Rescue. When Emily, who had fostered cats in the past for the organization, agreed to foster Garfield and Nermal, even though she’d never cared for a special needs cat before. “Garfield was tiny,” remembers Emily. “He weighed just three pounds. The first night I brought them home, I was sure that Garfield was going to stop breathing and die. I didn’t realize that his breathing was going to become his normal.”
Nermal, who suffered no lasting effects from pyrethoid toxicity, was adopted a week after he arrived at Emily’s home, but several months later, Garfield is struggling with breathing problems that have prevented him from being able to find his forever family. “In my care, Garfield has been on eight different antibiotics and antivirals and five steroids,” says Emily. “They have helped with his eye infections but not touched his breathing.” In addition to his loud, labored breathing, Garfield appears to have stunted growth, having only gained a pound in the eight months he’s been with Emily.
This adorable ginger and white cat weighs less than five pounds, even though he’s most likely around a year old, and despite multiple medications, x-rays, and even two examinations under sedation, no one has been able to determine the cause of his respiratory issues. “Garfield needs a rhinoscopy to see what’s happening inside,” explains Emily. “During the rhinoscopy, a small camera will go down through Garfield’s nose looking for a polyp, mass, or scar tissue.”
While this procedure might help get to the bottom of Garfield’s breathing problems, it comes with a hefty price tag. “University of Georgia Research Hospital will do a nasal workup, CT, and rhinoscopy for around $2500,” says Emily, so Foster Paws Rescue is raising money to help this sweet boy get the answers he desperately needs and deserves.
“The biggest misconception is that he can continue to live like this without intervention,” says Emily. “He plays, eats, sleeps, and cuddles, so on the surface he looks like he is thriving.” However, due to Garfield’s respiratory issues, he has frequent and extended periods of feeling extremely unwell, and he’s sometimes so sick and lethargic that he’s unable to even hold his head up.
Emily also struggles with medicating Garfield because — due to his breathing problems — he has a tendency to gag, cough, and vomit when he’s given oral medications. However, when Garfield is feeling well, he’s an absolute joy to be around, making Emily determined to help this adorable orange and white boy get some much-needed answers and relief.
Not only does Garfield love cuddling and playing with Emily’s dog, this young cat has an unusual obsession. “He has a thing for bread,” says Emily. “Garfield has been caught many times running around the house with a loaf of bread or a ziplocked cookie or waffle in his mouth.”
Emily hopes that by sharing Garfield’s story, not only will she be able to help raise funds to cover the cost of the rhinoscopy, she’ll be able to prevent other felines from needless suffering. “Never buy flea medicine from dollar or grocery stores,” says Emily. “These medicines can cause conditions like toxicity.” Instead, Emily urges pet owners to always get flea treatments from their vets and to never use medication formulated for one species on an animal of another species unless specifically told to do so by a medical professional.
While Emily had lots of experience fostering cats when she decided to take Garfield into her home, she’s never had a kitty quite like him before. “He’s the first special cat I’ve had the privilege to foster,” says Emily, and while caring for Garfield has had lots of ups and downs, she definitely doesn’t regret stepping up when he needed someone to give him a home. “I’m proud to be his advocate to help with his quality of life,” says Emily.
Emily is hoping that not only will she able to raise the money for the rhinoscopy, but that the procedure will lead to a solution to Garfield’s breathing difficulties so that this young cat will be able to get adopted and enjoy the rest of his life, free from respiratory problems. “He will be a great addition to his forever family,” says Emily. “He is loving. He is funny. I love Garfield.”
To learn more about this adorable cat, you can follow Garfield on Instagram.
To help Garfield get the medical care he needs, you can donate to his GoFundMe.
Please visit Foster Paws Rescue on Facebook to find out how you can donate via PayPal or check to help Garfield.