It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Billy, who was one our very special Second Chance kitties. Many of you may know him, but for those who don’t, Billy came to Second Chance in late October of 2014, after Wake County Animal Center reached out to us for help with a 6-month-old blind kitten. Billy had bright and sparkling copper eyes, but his vision loss was caused by mature cataracts, which was an odd condition for one so young. We would soon find out that Billy was no ordinary kitten. After an evaluation with an eye specialist, it was determined that once Billy turned a year old, he would be a good candidate for surgery, which would enable him to see.
This was fantastic news and we had a special fundraising campaign to give Billy the gift of sight. He was even the recipient of an ASPCA L’il Bub grant to assist with the costs. The campaign was a smashing success and we eagerly awaited Billy’s first birthday. But then, things started happening. Days before Billy was set to have his eye procedure, he developed a urinary blockage and had to have urinary tract surgery–multiple times. After that, he continued to be prone to urinary infections and often needed antibiotics. When he was a year and a half old, he was finally healthy enough to undergo his eye surgery. The procedure was successful and Billy could see the world! We celebrated!
But the problems kept coming. A year later, at the age of 2, he was found to have significant heart disease and a liver shunt. Separately, these are challenging conditions for any cat, but combined, we knew that Billy’s life would surely be shortened. His foster mom, Lisa, gave him his medication regimens and lovingly nursed him through his low times. There were points when we thought he would not pull through. Yet every time we thought we would lose him, he bounced back, with that sparkle in his eyes. Billy had been dealt a terrible genetic hand, but clearly, he was a fighter. He was not about to give up.
You see, Billy had a lot of work he wanted to do. In his time with us, Billy had become a Second Chance ambassador. He absolutely loved people. Billy attended many of our events, often on a harness and leash. He was often our “go to” kitty when we engaged with the community to help educate folks about what Second Chance did and how they could help homeless animals. He met hundreds of school kids, Girl Scouts, and senior citizens, and he was happy to receive the attention. He could be found at our wine tastings and off-site adoption events, and he was a fixture at our annual Evening of Pawsibilities.
In his foster home, Billy showed a special talent for helping Lisa to raise other foster kittens, ensuring that they learned their manners and how to be sweet and cuddly. Billy was also happy to accompany Lisa to work. There, he provided comfort to many stressed out students, faculty, staff and quite frankly, anyone who was having a tough day. Even the UPS driver would visit with him. Billy was happy to flop in their laps, purring happily, offering up his belly as therapy. He had his own Facebook page and a legion of fans, who offered their support when a medical need arose.
Recently, Billy developed an infection in his leg. Despite all the best efforts, he did not respond to months of treatment and his leg worsened. It became clear he was suffering. On Thursday, Lisa knew that Billy’s time had finally come. The sparkle had left his eyes. He did not want to fight anymore. He made one last trip to work, so his friends could say goodbye and on Friday, we helped him cross the Rainbow Bridge. Billy was 3 years old.
Animals are so much more than simply pets. They are partners in our lives, who give us love and comfort, in an often chaotic world. Billy is a shining example of their ability to touch us deeply. Everything we gave to Billy, he gave back to us tenfold. He reached a lot of people, many of whom he had never met.
Second Chance would like to extend our thanks to Dr. Wages and the staff at Care First Animal Hospital for their love and care for him over the years (they even wrote him his own song!); to Dr. English and the staff at Animal Eye Care, who gave Billy his sight; and to all of his supporters and donors, who enabled us to provide Billy with all the medical care he needed. We thank his foster mom, Lisa, for her steadfast dedication to him, her unconditional love for him, and for her bravery to let him go when she knew he was ready, even though she was not. Most of all, we thank Billy for giving us the very best of himself, despite such difficult physical challenges. His legacy will live on in the more than 60 kittens he helped raised and in the hearts of all whose lives he touched.
His sparkling eyes will be missed every day.