I have a new roommate. She purrs. Actually, she has been here for almost two weeks and it is the first time that she has been in my office. The first week she spent in an oxygen cage while it was touch and go. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

I was volunteering at the ER. We are having trouble finding full time vets, so several of us are rotating through some of the shifts. I don’t know why, but my shifts are usually busy.

Certainly the December Sunday shift had been extremely busy and somewhat frustrating. There were pets that I could have saved, but owners elected euthanasia because of money or time. There are always more euthanasias at the start of winter and the holidays, but this shift it seemed like there was one every time I turned around.

Worse than euthanasia was a case that they wouldn’t let me treat or euthanize. The dog was in bad shape. It had not eaten in a week. It had not been out of the dog house in three days. The blood work did not bode well for the dog. I explained. I showed. I told a story about the dog’s future. It was all to no avail. I gave meds for the best possible disease for the dog to have, but knew it was unlikely to help.

People envision a peaceful death, but natural deaths rarely are just going to sleep. In nature, when they get really sick, hypothermia or predators take over and it is quick. In today’s world, we prevent this quick death and without euthanasia, we substitute one that bothers me. It bothers me a lot to watch or know of an animal suffering with no hope.

After doing my best and failing to convince the owner of a good course of action, Miss Kringle was brought in. The little cat had been in a house fire on the Friday before. The fur was singed short. The ears were peeling skin back, the whiskers and toes were melted back into the skin and the feet were charred. As bad as that is, the smoke inhalation is worse. The heat and smoke damage the lungs and toxins can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause kidney failure later in the week. It was too early to tell about future organ damage, but the radiographs (x-rays) showed moderate lung damage. If the lungs and toxins are okay, there are still weeks of bandages.

That means that Ms Kringle would have to be on oxygen for a week or more. Throughout her tests for feline leukemia and feline aids, radiographs and initial first aid, Ms Kringle was gentle and patient with us.

Meanwhile the staff at Guardian Animal had been clamoring for a clinic cat. They had made various and numerous pleas and arguments for a cat. I had been steadfast with my reply of no and No! Clinic cats leave cat hair, they knock things over and upset animals. They bother people with asthma and tease dogs.

But we have plenty of room and all of these things can be worked around. Rules will keep the clinic cat out of the dog rooms. It can be out only at night. It can stay in my office. The birds and exotics are in their own room. In short, we can solve all the problems.

I knew that the rescue would not have enough money to treat something like this. Treatment could go on for weeks to months. This was something I could do. Without me stepping in, it would not get the care it really needed.

A stranger had recently been kind to me. He didn’t have to be. I can do nothing for him in return. He may not have realized how much I needed that at the time, but I think most kind and great things happen because of some other actions.

So, Ms Kringle came back to Guardian Animal with me. She morphed to become Ember and brought the TV stations to see us. We celebrated when she could come off oxygen after a week. We breathed when the time for severe organ failure passed. We quietly carefully are still changing bandages everyday. She is getting fatter and we worry that she is pregnant, but she is not up to surgery.

She purrs and rubs her head on us while getting her bandages changed. Yesterday I trimmed some of the dead skin off her ears. The charred skin peeled off her nose and above her eyes yesterday. Her nose is tender and white instead of black. And after her bandage changes today she came to help me with book work in my office. The gate went up, but when I stepped out, she crawled in my guest chair in my office. Once there, she curled up my coat into a bed on top of my backpack and took a long nap. Several stopped in to see me and petted Ember. Or maybe they stopped in to pet Ember and talk to me. My new roommate is settling in. She purrs really loud, even when she looks like she is asleep.