There are so many stories about people surrendering their cats to shelters, abandoning them when they move house and generally treating them like disposable creatures that it’s refreshing to read about people who wouldn’t part with their cats unless someone pried them from their cold, dead hands.
The story of a Utah couple who didn’t balk at a massive vet bill to save their cat’s life isn’t just uplifting because of the cat’s amazing recovery, but also because of their commitment to the little guy.
Golden Gibson and Lianna Warden adopted Lilou two years ago. His kittenhood sounds a lot like Bud’s: He was the runtiest of his litter and the last to be adopted out, yet he’s got a huge personality and he’s well-loved by his humans.
Warden describes him as “the cutest, happiest soul.”
Unfortunately, three weeks ago Lilou was hit by a car. Gibson and Warden didn’t know what happened to their cat until they got a call from a veterinarian telling them a Good Samaritan brought the badly-injured Lilou in.
Things looked grim: Lilou suffered multiple fractures of the skull and jaw, his hip was shattered, and he had dozens of lesser injuries. The veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Alterman, told Gibson and Warden she wasn’t sure if Lilou would live, or if he’d be able to walk again.
The couple told Alterman to do all she could anyway, and paid the initial $5,000 for the cat’s care, despite Gibson losing his job due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Since then the bill has climbed to $15,000, and Lilou’s not done: He will need “multiple surgeries and intensive home care” to continue his recovery, the veterinarian said.
When Lilou came to at the veterinary hospital and saw Gibson beside him, Gibson put his hand nearby — careful not to touch Lilou’s broken body — and the badly injured cat reached out, touching Gibson’s hand with his paw.
After several surgeries at the veterinary hospital, Lilou went home with his people, but he’s still got many more vet visits to go, local CBS affiliate KUTV reported. Gibson and Warden have to feed him through a tube, which takes about 45 minutes per meal, and they have to administer timed dosages of antibiotics, painkillers and anti-nausea medication.
“We sleep in shifts,” Warden said. “It’s kind of like having a newborn.”
Asked why she believes Lilou has been able to pull through such serious injuries, Warden said it’s because he loves his family, and knows they love him.
“I believe in my heart of hearts that it’s the love we’ve been giving him,” she said.
Their veterinarian agrees.
“This is a pretty rare case,” Alterman said, “in terms of that kind of commitment from an owner.”
Lilou’s recovery has also surprised Alterman.
“It’s pretty incredible to see,” she said, “considering I thought this cat was never going to be able to walk again.”
Three weeks later he was back for an appointment “walking around like he owned the place,” Alterman said. “He was like a totally different cat and I’m totally falling in love with him.”
As for Warden and Gibson, they say they’re overcome with gratitude for kind-hearted cat lovers who donated more than $6,000 to help cover Lilou’s veterinary bills, and the still-anonymous Good Samaritan who brought the ailing cat to the veterinary hospital.
“We would love to be able to find that person and show them how well [Lilou’s] doing,” Warden said, “and have them be part of this story, because they are a huge part of it.”
Note: Because we know the images might be upsetting to some of our readers, we did not include photos of Lilou after the accident and during recovery. You can help contribute to Lilou’s medical bills by visiting Lilou’s Lifesavers on Facebook, or the GoFundMe page.