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The Accidental Feral. Big Daddy Needs Big Love.

You could describe him as just a big brown tabby cat with a white bib, cheeks and paws. You could assume that because he lost his home or simply got dumped and was found in the back of a Home Depot in northern Georgia, that he’s just another cat who needs a new home.

You’d be wrong.

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©2014 William Mahone. Used with permission. The face that launched 1000 sighs…Big Daddy.

Big Daddy has a magnetic, certain-something that draws people to him. Maybe it’s his big head (from being neutered late in life) or maybe it’s the forlorn expression on his face. Maybe it’s that nothing seems to bother him (okay, other than dogs), but you can take this boy out on a leash and let him go for a walk.

Big Daddy’s been on TV and sat pretty as a picture on the Interviewer’s lap (okay, for most of the interview). Big Daddy has Presence, with a capital P—a BIG personality, too, and all who know him, as well as those who have only seen images of him or read his story have fallen for this big lug, including me.

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In some ways, since my friend Warren Royal first trapped Big D., I’ve felt like a co-parent to this cat. I’ve advised Warren from day one on vet care, tests to run, and when Big Daddy got sick with a seemingly incurable upper respiratory tract infection, I was right there to help in any way I could. From afar I’ve come to love this cat as any of my own and I’ve been honored that I could help Big Daddy eventually find Angels of Assisi, a no-kill shelter in Virginia, to help Big Daddy find his forever home.

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©2014 Megan Greer. Used with permission. Big Daddy, blind, back at the Vet.

It’s been a rough go. I wrote a post called Big Daddy's Next Journey is to the Angels. Even when I wrote it my fear of jinxing things flared up, but I ignored my urge to change the title. Never joke at death or maybe you’ll bring it on yourself. I thought it was a clever title since Big D was simply going to Angels of Assisi, but today those thoughts come back to haunt me as I hang my head and cry.

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©2014 Megan Greer. Used with permission. Megan visits as Big Daddy recovers from his first bad scare at the Vet.

A few weeks ago, Big Daddy almost died. A lung collapsed, he went BLIND, he stopped eating and we all feared the worst. It was a terrible time, but Megan, Big D’s foster mom in Virginia, Warren, Chelsea, from A of A and myself were all doing what we could to save this cat’s life.

After Big D survived his initial challenge, Megan realized he wasn’t getting back to normal. During a test to check the fluid in his lungs for bacteria, the Vets at Virginia Tech discovered a mass. It was unexpected since no other tests had determined there was such a problem. The 4cm fleshly colored nasal mass had been what was causing Big Daddy’s breathing problems and inability to smell (resulting in a lack of appetite and a great deal of weight loss). The mass was removed, under sedation of course, using a strong jet of water that pushed the mass out, clearing Big Daddy’s passages.

Initially, we were all relieved, thinking perhaps Big Daddy’s worst days were behind him, but there was a lingering fear that this mass could also be cancerous. For some reason I didn’t think something like this in a 4-year old cat would be cancer, but if it was a polyp I seemed to recall they did grow back so at least this was going to be an ongoing issue for the cat.

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©2014 Megan Greer. Used with permission. After the mass was removed, Big Daddy felt good enough to go for a walk and roll around on the warm concrete. You can see how much thinner he is here.

The good news was we knew the culprit so we could all take a moment and be happy that Big D didn’t need to be on any more antibiotics for a growth in his head. Now that he could breathe, Big D was right back to having a great appetite again and his vision has returned, too.

It was a cheerful few days for us all and Warren began planning what I’d known about for a long time. Big Daddy was not going to be adopted by anyone. Warren was bringing Big Daddy back to Georgia, back home to be with Warren and his wife Teri and their family. Big Daddy never should have left in the first place, but after his health crisis Warren knew that Big Daddy's home was with him and Chelsea and Megan agreed.

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©2014 Megan Greer. Used with permission. Big Daddy, after being hospitalized in ICU.

I sent a care package of fun things to Big Daddy: some cat food, probiotics and a few toys including his favorite, a catnip banana. I imagined Big Daddy in his new home, which was going to be Warren’s office at Royal Bobbles. It’s a great space and Big Daddy would be the office kitty. Everyone was busy making preparations and getting more and more excited that Big Daddy would be there soon.

A few days ago, I got a call from Warren. When he calls me I know it’s trouble of some kind. My gut squeezed and I felt sick, but I was driving so I waited until I could stop to call him back. When I heard his voice I knew something was terribly wrong. I realized that the test on the mass from Big Daddy was due about now and I knew it was bad news before Warren even spoke.

“We’ve got Lymphoma.” was all Warren could say.

It was windy outside as I stood by my car. I wasn’t sure I was hearing him correctly so I asked again to be certain.

“Big Daddy has cancer.”

I did my best to hold back the tears. I was in a public place. I focused on helping give Warren advice about what to do next, knowing he needed me to be strong. I told him that cats can do very well on chemo and that even with FIV, Big Daddy could still have quality of life. I didn’t know how long, but I did know we shouldn’t give up on him right now.

Of course Warren agreed so we continued to speak for some time going over what we should do next. I offered to contact Dr. Gerald Post, who is one of the top Vet Oncologists in the country and who just happened to have seen our kitten, Fred last year. His 8000 sq ft facility, The Veterinary Cancer Center, was here in Connecticut. I told Warren that maybe I should bring Big D here for care, but there was no way Warren was going to part with him again. We decided to focus on finding out more about Big Daddy’s diagnosis. There are many kinds of lymphoma so we had to hope it was small T-cell and not large, which is typically more aggressive. We had to hope that perhaps with the removal of the mass that it meant with chemo we could buy some time for our boy.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you hear the word “cancer,” but you have to look at how the cat is doing clinically. Clinically speaking, Big Daddy is doing well. He went for a walk outside on a lead and got some sunshine. He’s eating well. He’s playing and purring. This is good.

Warren and I got to work finding resources and information. I spoke with Dr. Post who agreed to consult on Big Daddy’s case with the Vets at Virginia Tech, who first found the mass. We stayed hopeful that we could continue to provide top notch care for Big Daddy, as we do for all cats, but in truth that certain “something” about Big Daddy motivates us to go the distance.

We all wished for Big Daddy to get lots of love and have a great life, however long that may be but then...

Then worse news…Warren got the pathology report. Big Daddy has Large T-cell nasal lymphoma. It may also be in OTHER places in his body. We need to do more tests. It’s a very aggressive type of cancer.

This lymphoma can be treated with radiation and chemo. It can give Big Daddy more days and GOOD days, which we want to focus on, but no matter what we do, Big Daddy’s days are numbered.

Doing cat rescue, I’ve bonded with a small group of people who have all suffered greatly over the constant loss of cats and kittens. Since Kitten Associates opened 4 years ago, I’ve put down a cat and had six kittens die, and one cat die a year after he left our care. My friends have lost even more. We have a special understanding of each other’s pain and because of that we find comfort in each other during the tough times. I’m not happy I have these bonds for such heartbreaking reasons, but it’s something I couldn’t do rescue without and now was a time I needed to do my part to help support Warren as he takes over care of Big Daddy.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Best Friends Forever. Warren & Big Daddy.

What we know is this: Warren is packing his car and driving from his home in northern Georgia to Roanoke, VA TODAY to pick up Big Daddy. On Friday, Big Daddy has an appointment with Dr Terrance Hamilton, DVM, DACVIM-Oncology at Blue Pearl/Georgia Veterinary Services, the top vet hospital in the state. They have all the equipment and supportive services Big Daddy will need.

What we don’t know is how much his care will cost. We DO know Big D will need a consultation, most likely ultrasound, to find out where ELSE he may have cancer. They may need to do blood work or another x-ray or two. My rescue, Kitten Associates, is taking over the costs for Big Daddy's care as we have for so many other cats. That way we can provide for him so Warren, who has already spent thousands of his own money, can focus on providing loving care and not have to worry about being able to afford to pay for all of this. What it means to all of you, who gather to support Big Daddy, is that you can make a donation that is tax deductible.

After hearing of this heartbreaking news, I’ve learned an important lesson. To the people who have come to know and love Big Daddy, take a step forward, raise your hand and join me in pledging to do two things as a result of what we’ve learned:

1. Make sure your cats are spayed or neutered and that your friends and family do the same for their pets. If Big Daddy had been neutered at an appropriate time, he never would have gotten FIV, which put him into an extremely high-risk group for getting lymphoma.

2. Please share your love of this gentle giant with a donation towards his care. We’ve set up a special fundraiser and we hope that you’ll donate in honor of a big kitty you’ve loved or love, or donate the price of a good meal or cup of coffee to Big Daddy. He’s had a very tough life and he deserves the best we can give him.

If you'd like to mail us a check, checks can be made out to: Kitten Associates and mailed to: P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354. Please add a note on your check: “Big Daddy.” Our Tax ID number is: 27-3597652.

Our dreams for Big Daddy will never come to pass. His precious life will never be as long as any of us would want, but we have to focus on being happy. Happy that Big Daddy jumped into the trap, surprising Warren and starting a journey to his salvation. We have to be happy that Big Daddy is safe and loved and will get the care he needs.

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©2014 Warren Royal. Used with permission. Days after being trapped, we come to realize that this is not a feral cat at all, but a cat who just wants to be loved.

Big Daddy’s life won’t be measured in years, but he won’t die suffocating from that mass, alone, afraid, starving in a lot behind a retail store. When Big Daddy’s time comes it will be surrounded by love and with dignity. He deserves nothing less, but I also admit to being very angry that such bad fortune has befallen such an amazing creature and I feel obligated to do something about it-to make up for this injustice. I hope you will join me and be part of the team that surrounds Big Daddy with love when he needs it most.

Big Daddy, you didn’t deserve this. You deserved a happy ending and with our best efforts you will get that. It won’t be the ending we had dreamed of and for that we are all deeply heartbroken.


You can also help Big Daddy right now by sharing this post or Tweeting about him. We think this boy is unforgettable and we hope you’ll help us let everyone know that. Use has tag: #GoTeamBigDaddy to be part of our efforts.


Lymphoma's a bitch.  We lost our beauty Rojita to Mast Cell Lymphoma a few years back, way before her time.  She was indoors with us, but before she joined us, she'd been on the streets.  We got the operation she needed as soon as she was diagnosed, but we weren't graced with her presence for very long after that.

*PRAYERS* for Big Daddy, and sharing for him with love.

I'm already spread so thin w/rescue efforts. Currently my husband and I are fostering a litter of kittens for Angels of Assisi. They came, with eyes still shut, w/a mama cat who had accepted 4 orphans from another litter. When I picked the group up from the pound, they said 1 of the orphans likely wasn't going to make it, and he died on the way home. Another died a couple of days later. We did everything, especially removing the older kittens (mama cat's) for a bit so the younger orphans could nurse. We lost the 3rd a week or so after that. Didn't expect to cry over bitties that just had a few days on this earth. But the 4th has gotten bigger than the 2 smaller ones of mama cat's. I took mama cat back to Angels this past Sun for her spay. I also took the remaining orphan for Chelsea and others to see. He was oohed and aahed over. He was white as a youngling, but has developed a light orange, tabby striped tail, the top half of his ears and the bridge of his nose are also orange, and his eyes are blue. The people at Angels who saw him said he'll be adopted in a heartbeat. He, and the mama cat litter, go to Angels this Tues, for spay/neuter, and then to be placed for adoption. My husband and I have both taken pictures and put them up on Facebook. A few were phone shots, to post immediately, most are high-quality DSLR shots, that have been cropped and tweaked with photo-editing software. You can see mine on my page; my husband's name is Steve Curtiss.

Also, yesterday, I took kitty glamour shots at the pound for some of their newer cat intakes, mostly strays. Have taken pics there before, but I don't think they got posted. Was disappointed at what my pics looked like on their web page--they were out of focus. They were sent super-sharp pics. According to my husband, who is the computer whiz, their software messed up the pics.

We also help w/rescue transports, usually doing the overnight, as our cars really aren't big enough to drive, but have been out of that while we've had the kitties. Mama cat was quite fierce protecting her brood, chasing after our cats and our greyhound if their shadows darkened the door of the office where we housed them. We both spend a lot of time in the office, and were letting kittens out even before turning mama cat back to Angels. Now, they have full run of the house. Only 1 of our 4 cats will come downstairs, but she seems to have made friends, or at least has quit growling. Greyhound is fine, and kittens show no fear of her.

Suppose this is a long way of saying I'm not sure if I can make a contribution, but that's not for lack of caring.

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