While most would agree that uncertainty is simply a part of life for us all, for those living in the streets, uncertainty is a constant and unavoidable companion.

Pooh and Mickey were born on the streets of southern Chile, kittens to a mother cat that belonged to no one. It is hard to know if they were born sick or if their unfortunate circumstances led to their vulnerable health. Fortunately, their situation took a turn for the better when they were both adopted as very young kittens by two high school-aged girls.

Pooh, on her first visit to the GAAP clinic.

Both tiny and extremely weak, the girls knew they had to take the kittens to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Due to limited funds, they took Pooh to the vet first because, in addition to her small size, she also appeared to be sick. The vets at The GAAP Clinic quickly recognized her symptoms as those of the typical kitten from the street: she was constantly sneezing, she had excessive secretions in her nose and eyes, she had conjunctivitis, a slight limp and she wasn’t eating. While her symptoms could be treated, there was a very real chance that she wouldn´t survive. In short, Pooh´s prognosis was not very positive.

Pooh returned to the GAAP clinic a few days later, together with her brother Mickey, who was suffering from a bad eye infection. Pooh´s condition had improved slightly: she was eating, but she now had an abscess in her jaw. They were both treated for their respective symptoms and sent home to recover.

Pooh’s brother, Mickey, had a severe eye infection

The GAAP didn´t hear anything from the girls for months and hoped that meant the kittens had recovered well. Unfortunately, they recently returned with bad news: although Mickey had seemed healthy and well, with absolutely no warning whatsoever, he suddenly died from one day to the next. While Pooh had fortunately survived the last few months, her condition troubled her owners. Despite having a very good appetite, she wasn’t growing at all. At nearly 8 months old, Pooh was still the size of a small kitten. And she still sneezed frequently. These symptoms, together with Mickey´s sad case, led veterinarians Angelica and Isabel to believe that Pooh was suffering from either Feline AIDS or Feline Leukemia – a diagnosis which could be confirmed by a test.

Both diseases are very common in Chile, especially in large populations of unsterilized cats and those that don´t receive adequate veterinary care. When the female cats go into heat, they fight each other and spread the infection amongst the population through biting.

Pooh at 8 months old.

The results from the first test came back inconclusive and Pooh was told to return a month later. Upon her return, she seemed to have improved slightly: her weight had increased by 200 grams. But the following visit was less positive:  her increase in weight had plateaued; she was sneezing again and the secretions in her eyes and nose were back. This time the test result was definitive: Pooh was suffering from Feline Leukemia. While the condition is manageable, the diagnosis means her future is far from certain: although she is healthy enough now, her condition can cause her health to worsen at any moment and she could die. On top of this, as school-aged children, Pooh´s owners are limited in terms of income and the ability to constantly monitor her health, ensuring she stays indoors and avoids all contact with other cats that could hurt Pooh or possibly get the virus from her. Her compromised health means absolutely any illness could be fatal for little Pooh.

As part of The GAAP´s ongoing commitment to make quality veterinary care available to all people and their animals, regardless of their socio-economic level, the GAAP doctors have kindly assured Pooh´s young owners that her health is the priority and that the cost of treatment can be managed through subsidized services and a payment plan. This humane approach to their beloved Pooh´s condition has meant that these two young girls have been able to responsibly address her illness and keep her as healthy as possible.

Pooh at 9 months old with owner, Anaís.

Despite her rough start in life, Pooh has a real chance now. She has a family who care for her deeply and are clearly committed to doing anything and everything within their means to ensure their adored Pooh keeps growing.

For a kitten that started life on the streets, she has shown that her will to survive is completely disproportionate to her tiny size. Pooh has defied all odds to date and with the close care and support of the GAAP staff, we can only hope her future is as certain as that of any beloved four-legged member of the family.