News Item | PAWS Chicago

PAWS Chicago's Hospice Program

May 01, 2012

PAWS Chicago’s Hospice Foster program provides loving homes for cats and dogs who require longterm or ongoing medical care for the remainder of their lives. Pets who have been diagnosed with manageable, yet incurable diseases such as cancer, diabetes or neurological issues, are often considered unadoptable and are euthanized in traditional “open door” shelters. However, with the proper medical care, these animals can happily live the remainder of their lives in a comfortable and loving home setting. These pets have often never felt the love of a family or home. 

PAWS Chicago is committed to giving every animal a guarantee of life and partners with foster families to care for these special needs pets. Smudge, an adorable cat suffering from renal failure, is living life to the fullest thanks to the Hospice Foster Program. Here’s Smudge and her hospice foster parent Theresa’s story.

Hospice Foster Spotlight: Theresa & Smudge

When Theresa lost her beloved 17- year-old cat Tigger to cancer in 2010, it was suggested that she donate her cat’s unused medications to a local animal shelter. She visited a few shelters, hoping to find the right cat to help. When she visited PAWS Chicago, she quickly met Smudge, a senior cat who was rescued from a hoarding situation. “After a few visits, I met Smudge when she came and sat in my lap. She was so very skinny with oily fur and looked more like a mangy kitten than a 10-year-old,” says Theresa. 

Each time Theresa visited the senior cat room at PAWS Chicago, Smudge would jump in her lap and offer affection. They were forming a bond. Theresa inquired about Smudge and was told that she was suffering from renal failure. Theresa was asked if she would be interested in providing a hospice foster home for Smudge. “I was told that Smudge had anywhere between a few months and a few years to live. So, I went home and thought quite a bit about it as I had just lost a cat with multiple medical issues. I wondered whether I could bear the pain of possibly losing another cat so soon,” she said. “But, I couldn’t get Smudge out of my mind.” 

Theresa returned to PAWS to learn how to properly care for Smudge, including how to give her fluids under the skin and how to apply a probiotic gel to her gums. She received information about Smudge’s special diet. In September 2010, Theresa and her 17- year-old resident cat Soot, welcomed Smudge into their home. 

Since being in Theresa’s home, Smudge has thrived. According to Theresa, “Smudge was four pounds when I got her and is now is five pounds, six ounces. She cuddles up to me at night and shows me how happy she is with her growing affection. Also, knowing that she grew up with 50 plus cats in her previous home helps to explain some of her quirky behaviors, such as how she eats. Smudge takes a mouthful of food off her plate, carries it a foot away to eat it and then returns to the plate for more food. She’s a funny cat that makes me laugh!” 

“I enjoy knowing that fostering even one animal makes a huge difference. I look forward to continuing to work with PAWS. It’s been easy to be a foster with all of the support the organization has provided,” said Theresa. 

While Smudge may not have as many years to live as we might like, the years that she has left will be filled with love and comfort thanks to hospice fosters like Theresa.