Leo arrived at Lort Smith in April of 2020. The 13-year-old ginger boy had suffered a fractured hind tibia (one of two bones that makes up the lower rear leg), and his humans could no longer afford his treatment. Putting Leo to sleep, they thought, was their only option.
Fortunately they brought Leo to Lort Smith – a place of compassionate, rehabilitation and strong philosophy on euthanasia. The vets assessed Leo and decided he could be saved, rehabilitated and go on to live a meaningful life with a new human companion.
Leo underwent countless scans, surgery, treatments, fostering and physio. During this time, he was checked for hypothyroidism, a heart murmur, dementia, and a myriad other tests. Leo endured countless anaesthetics, pain meds, arthritis meds as well as recoveries. Lort Smith and his foster carers never gave up on him.
A very vocal boy, it was discovered that Leo was mostly deaf, hearing only at the extreme ends of the sound spectrum. This did not impinge on his personality, constantly chatty and talking through his wisdom and experiences became his hallmark, in the ward, in the cattery and with his foster carers.
A ‘rock star’ for work-from-home foster parents, he was the subject of an online Zoom quiz in a large multi-national organisation and the star of many a Facebook post, email conversation and Teams call. Initially cage-confined, he made up for the lack of space with his very loud meows and was well known for ‘big chats’ with the vet nursing and volunteer team at the hospital, and midnight chats with his foster carers; Paula, Craig and adopted cat Chow.
About seven months after his arrival at Lort Smith, Leo was ready to face his brave new world. But, how to rehome this very special boy with his idiosyncrasies? He was not for everyone.
The universe conspired, as it so often does, with the sad loss of Janine’s ginger boy of 19 years, Kitty. His loss left an unimaginable broken heart, and a profound grief making every single day a challenge for Janine.
“Understanding the grief and feeling sad too, Paula checked in with me almost every day, and we continued our months of updates on Leo’s progress,” remembered Janine. “Something inside me wanted to help Leo, yet I didn’t want to disrespect the memory of Kitty either.”
So, with deference for the loss of Kitty, after a few weeks of getting ready, Janine and Leo had a date, and the human-animal bond could not have been stronger. Janine and Leo hit the jackpot!
Janine recalls a poem that resonated at the time:
“Sending you a whisper from heaven… I’m at peace with my purrs… please open your home and heart to another cat who needs your love and home.”
On arrival at Janine’s home, Leo could sense the presence of the departed King Kitty, but he soon established his own territory, and assumed the Princely title he now carries. Experimentation with routines and settling in to first breakfast, second breakfast, light lunch, early supper and dinner complete with in-between naps, supervised walks outside, brushes and drinking magic shower water – it was inevitable, Leo couldn’t be happier.
“He has brought sunshine into my life and it feels wonderful watching him in the courtyard, negotiate the stairs and enjoy life especially after his injuries and rehabilitation. No more setting the morning alarm, Leo meows when its time to get up. I am so blessed to have Leo in my life to shower him with care and love,” shares Janine. “Lort Smith and Leo’s foster family – Paula, Craig and Chow, are miracle workers and so kind hearted for saving Leo – they’ve given him a new life.”
“It takes a village,” Leo’s foster family added. “And we are so grateful to have the opportunity to rehabilitate animals that deserve a second chance and bring their humans such joy.”
If not for the care and compassion of Lort Smith and the donors who enable us to provide essential care and treatment, Leo may never have received a second chance, and be living as a retired and treasured Prince today!
Contributing writers: Paula and Janine.