Cat Who Was Sick At Shelter Finds The Perfect Person To Cure Her
"She's very cuddly. She has to be on top of me or right next to me."
Somewhere between midnight and 5 a.m., Becca Gordon would be awakened by a dark, raspy breathing close to her ear.
"It was like being woken by Darth Vader," Gordon tells The Dodo. "There would be this incredibly hard, breathy struggle going on."
"HRRRRRHHHHHH ... HRRRRRRRRHHHH ..."
No one suffered a cold quite like Mildred the cat.
It was an upper respiratory infection, a common ailment among shelter cats.
"She got a cold, essentially," Gordon says.
But for Mildred, whom Gordon was fostering, the only thing that made her feel better was a steamy bathroom.
Gordon would get up, start the shower and sit leaning up against the bathroom door, watching Mildred savor the steam.
All the steam made it a bad idea to bring her laptop or phone inside, which meant Mildred had her undivided attention.
"We would sit in there and it would get really steamy," Gordon says. "I would just sit there and pet her and hold her.
"She came alive in the steam. I suppose being able to breathe helped."
It took anywhere from five to 10 minutes for Mildred to get better. She always made it very clear when she was ready to come back to bed - by blowing snot everywhere.
"Usually, what would happen is she'd left off a really big sneeze," Gordon recalls. "A really big, gross sneeze. And I'd be like, 'OK, clearly things are moving around.' "I would bring her back into my room and she would proceed to sneeze all over my room."
Gordon had never meant to become a foster parent.
As the social media manager for the Etobicoke Humane Society in Toronto, Canada, Gordon spends a few hours every day getting to know the animals there.
A couple weeks ago, she met Mildred, a 7-year-old cat not much bigger than a kitten.
Mildred had been surrendered to the shelter after her owner moved into a nursing home.
"She seemed to decline quite quickly - to the point where her tiny little body was shivering," Gordon says.
She was told Mildred needed to go into foster immediately. And she happened to be sitting in Gordon's lap. And, well, resistance to a tiny trembling cat on your lap is futile.
"I never intended to foster because I have a very, very small apartment, and I have two cats of my own," Gordon recalls.
"I guess maybe the urgency and I felt so bad for her ... so ..."
Gordon ended that conversation with three fateful words: "I'll do it."
And soon little Mildred landed in her apartment.
"HRRRRRHHHHHH ... HRRRRRRRRHHHH ..."
Mildred needed more than someone to keep her warm and her nasal passages clear. For the first few days, she needed someone to feed her, as the cat refused to eat or drink.
So Gordon watered down food and splashed it into Mildred's mouth with a syringe.
The bathroom sessions, along with antibiotics, cleared up her infection in about a week.
But along the way, Gordon noticed something even more infectious about the cat.
A previously pent-up personality.
"She has this cute little squawky meow that was like a mix between a tiny baby squalling and an old lady complaining," Gordon says.
But outside of the shelter, Mildred was a cat reborn.
"Definitely, in my apartment, she has personality," Gordon says. "She's very cuddly. She has to be on top of me or right next to me.
"If I weren't in the room with her, all I could hear on the other side of the door was SQUWAAAAAK."
"We never saw any of that at the shelter," Gordon adds.
Maybe it's because Mildred felt she could finally hang on to a human again - someone who would be there for her. Even if only to help her blow her nose.
It didn't take long for her to find the confidence she would need to be a cat again.
In fact, someone has already applied to adopt Mildred. To take her home and love her and maybe, once in a while, get sneezed all over.
Gesundheit, Mildred. Or, more appropriately, bless you. And the people who were there for you.
You can help the Etobicoke Humane Society in its mission to get countless animals like Mildred back on their feet by making a donation here.
You can also follow Mildred's progress on the group's Facebook page.