July 8, 2021
We have suffered a heartbreaking loss this week. A few short weeks ago Anthony Leopard had an infected tooth that needed to be removed. Knowing his age and the fact that his kidney values had already indicated some kidney disease, we were reluctant to put him through an anesthesia event. Unfortunately tooth abscesses have to be addressed. The procedure went well. We were able to remove a premolar that was infected and a few incisors that were damaged. We recovered him in Quarantine but he didn’t bounce back the way we hoped he would. Most often, when you remove an infected tooth, animals are eager to eat because their mouth is no longer as painful as it had been before. Anthony didn’t recuperate as quickly as we wanted and was reluctant to eat. We were fortunate to have wonderful family members who brought in yummy things to try to get him eating and taking meds, but he was never his old self.
We gave him as much time as we could to recover (anesthesia is rough on older animals with kidney disease) but had to sedate him again to get him hydrated and to give him multiple medications to hopefully get him feeling better. There was some success for a bit, but then he stopped eating and taking meds again.
We got him down for a third time to see what we could do to help him recover and to recheck his kidney values. Sadly, we decided that his kidneys were too damaged and we felt that it wasn’t fair to ask any more from him. We made the decision to euthanize him.
Anthony was quite the character. When he first arrived, we wanted to give him some fun enrichment. We tried all of our normal tricks – Axe body spray, Obsession, all the smelly perfumes – but nothing really worked. That was until we tried lemon extract. He was so excited! He rolled and kicked and played. I have never seen a cat so excited by the smell of lemon. We found that right up there with lemon scent was pine trees. He loved to roll in them and sleep on them. All of the cats enjoy pine trees, but Anthony was obsessed. He had other quirks that made him a unique cat. Most cats are incredibly food motivated, particularly the cats that we care for, except for Anthony. We wanted to do some training with him but had to find the one food item that he would really want to work for. We tried EVERYTHING, including things that we don’t normally offer our cats. What did Anthony want? Attention! He didn’t want your fancy meats. He wanted you to spend time with him. Needless to say, it made training with him a bit more tricky.
All of these quirks made for a fantastic cat. He made us think and kept us on our toes. He needed extra attention but would grow bored with our enrichment ideas. We had to really work to keep him happy and healthy, and yet, it was our pleasure. The keepers, volunteers, and adoptive parents were all so thrilled when Anthony was excited about a particular scent or enrichment item. We would share ideas and what worked (or didn’t work!). Anthony was loved and cared for by an entire village.
I want to take a moment to talk about Anthony’s village. Anthony’s life was certainly brightened by the people that cared for him, but I feel that it’s important to note that his death also reflects that same dedication. I couldn’t be more proud of our staff who did everything they could to help Anthony. There were many late nights, coming in on days off, trying every trick in the book to get him to eat, and the list goes on. It was difficult to feel helpless, but that didn’t stop them from trying their hardest. During much of this time, I was out of town. While I was kept in the loop of what was going on, our animal care team, alongside our amazing relief vet, was able to handle the anesthesia event and edit our management plan as needed. For many sanctuaries, it’s hard for staff members, particularly upper animal care, to be able to take vacations. It takes a staff with tremendous experience, ability, and drive to have enough cross training to allow others to take on those roles. Our staff knows what is expected of them and never misses a beat when things get complicated. I’m truly grateful that Anthony’s village was full of such amazing people.
I have always said that at Carolina Tiger Rescue the animals are amazing but the people truly make the difference. The animals will always bring you in and make you care, but the people create the environment that allows us to do our best work and to enjoy spending time at the sanctuary. Our village provides both a place for animals to thrive and a place our Carolina Tiger family can call home.
I’m honored to have known and helped care for Anthony, and I will continue to be honored to care for every animal we rescue in the future.
Thank you for being a part of our village.
Kathryn Bertok, Assistant Director