It is coming up on one year now since Chester got his surgeries, and with the weather starting to get nice he is really enjoying the sun. However, things haven't been so settled on the home front, as we recently moved into a new apartment. For several days, Chester watched in confusion as his territory was slowly depleted of furniture until the only things left were a sofa bed and his pillow. Thankfully, his humans were there to reassure him and even had some guests staying with them, which he really liked. When it finally came time for Chester to say goodbye to the apartment which he loved, he was put in his carrying case and taken to his new home, which luckily for him is right across the street from his old place. The new apartment has hardwood floors, which is great for his humans, but Chester is probably less thrilled since he can't dig his claws into the carpet any more and tear through the apartment like a little orange menace. Also, he is still a bit sensitive on his little foot, so the hardwood floors are probably a little uncomfortable for him at the moment. It will just take a bit of time for the pad on his foot to toughen up, as the carpets provided a bit more of a cushion. It's taken a bit of time to get used to the new apartment and he seems a little unsettled so far. He is less likely to play by himself at the moment (since he doesn't like chasing after balls on the hardwood), so he has become very demanding of his humans for attention and cuddles. He is also one floor closer to ground-level in his new place, and the outside world is tantalizingly close. With his health so good these days, he is beginning to yearn for some adventure again, but at this point it just isn't possible for him to be an outside cat considering where we live and given his previous track record of running away and hiding as soon as he gets scared outside (which is approximately 2 seconds after he gets outside). But fear not, Chester, for the end of your boredom is nigh...

That's basically a cryptic way of saying that we are going to start fostering cats in the next week or so. We are not ready to own another cat, given that we have had so much to deal with already with one cat, but we would love to make sure other cats have a good home to stay in while they are waiting to be adopted. This way, we can help out a local shelter and also provide Chester with a bit of companionship. Since the two of us work long hours, Chester will no longer be alone during the day. Also, if Chester becomes really bonded to a cat that we foster then we can always choose to adopt it ourselves if we don't want to separate them. In our view, this is a win-win. 
 
 
Chester has been taking all his newfound fame in stride for now. His ego was pretty large to begin with, so, there wasn't much for him to change. He's been inseparable with his new bed, and at the same time feistier than ever.

I can always tell how Chester is feeling by two things. The first being the amount he cuddles; if all he wants to do is cuddle, I know he's uncomfortable, scared, or something in general is wrong. The second indicator is the  whining. The more he whines, the more pleased and self-assured he is. He is silent around new people or new situations. He screams if he knows food is on the way.

Why am I telling you this? Well, lately, I can barely get Chester to sit still and let me pet him. And the whining...oh the whining. This is one cat that could hardly be happier about life. His biggest problem is that we don't take him outside into the hall enough to explore new things. Doors should NEVER ever be closed to him. He owns the world, after all.
This cat is a big weirdo, getting weirder by the day. He stole an entire giant slice of pizza from off my plate the other day. Not to eat the cheese like a normal cat. But to eat the bread. To be fair, it was homemade and delicious, but this is one confused carnivore. He stole Gyan's PB&J the next morning. He also loves spicy food.
He never licks us, except for my eyelids occasionally (no clue at all) and sometimes my eyebrow ring. Sometimes he tries to eat it. Which is somewhat of the worst thing ever. But anyway, when I eat spicy food, he always tries to lick my lips afterwards. Big. Weirdo.
One day we came home to find that Chester had ripped into our pita bags and eaten half a pita. Meanwhile, we're struggling to get him to eat high quality raw beef. Oh, and he loves squash. We gave him some to help his indigestion, and I swear that was the only reason he ate his beef that day. So. We have a vegetarian cat. That's cool, I guess. 
He also desperately wants to take a bath. He doesn't want to get wet, but if a bath has been drawn, he will sit on the edge of the tub the entire time and try to figure out a way to get in without getting his paws wet. Sometimes he tries, then realizes it was a terrible idea, then tries again. He's got to be one of the most entertaining pets around. His personality is huge...and weird.
Picture
Mmm. Vegetable chips.
But he's loving being alive, and if he knew what it took, I know he'd be forever thankful for this wonderful gift he gets to enjoy for years and years (Depending on how much we can persuade him to lose the carbs in his life. Not that I'm one to talk)
But in even better news, there's more to celebrate! Chester's fame reached another Vancouverite with an injured kitty. Alfie had also been hit by a car before he was adopted. He had the same condition that Chester came to us with. His mamma was quoted at some absurd amount to fix him up, and she decided that the risks were too great and she would let him live his life out as he was since he was alive and doing pretty well. 
Anyway, he'd been living in his happy home for years, but was starting to deteriorate because of his complications. Well, because of Chester's massive success, his mamma decided to go back to Canada West and try one more time. The surgery went off successfully, and Alfie is now recovering with minor complications. He's doing great and he now has many more years of health and comfort to look forward to. We were so, so excited to hear about his happy story, so glad the success of all these stray cats keep coming.
This was one of the hardest decisions Gyan and I ever made, and I'm convinced there was no right answer. This story could have been very different. Had the surgery not worked out for Chester, I never would have forgiven myself for prematurely ending his life. If it weren't for Chester's strength and the tenacity of him and all his feline (and canine...and human..and...) friends, our happy endings could easily have been further struggles. But because of all of the amazing, wonderful things, people, and circumstances, so many more wonderful things are happening. And really, that's all I could ask for for any life, and I'm so proud of what he's been able to inadvertently do. We started this website to keep Chester alive, but it's stories like these that are the real reason for this existing.
 
 
Just so everyone can see how healthy our Cheeseflash is. We'll put up one from before we found out about his condition later so you can see the massive difference in his abilities.
Edit: I think I fixed the problem. Let me know if the video still isn't working
 
 
I put Chester's story onto Reddit yesterday for Chester's Adoption Day. It immediately blew up and hit the front page. Today, the Huffington Post contacted us to see if they could run a story. Here you go! You are all now famous :)!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/chester-saved-cat-surgery-donations_n_2592084.html?1359682688
 
 
Picture
Gyan learning how to sew (and doing awesome) while we made Chester his present
Picture
The real seamstress finishing Chester's present. Thank you SO much Edyth and your family for donating your entire Saturday and showing us how to sew, then lending your skills when ours were clearly lacking :)
One year ago yesterday, Gyan and I started our search for the perfect cat. He wanted a playful cat with killer instincts who was either a tabby or had a tuxedo and socks. I wanted a boy who would cuddle with me. And if it was a tabby, I wanted an orange tabby. We both wanted a cat that would be low maintenance and would be ok spending time at home alone. (Whoops on that last part)
The first place we stopped, the Vancouver SPCA, contained the first cat we saw that day. And the last cat we would need to see. There was an orange tabby with a white chest and socks. Some other people were holding him, so we walked around the room looking at others. When "Cheetoh" became free, we sauntered over and sat in front of his cage. He hid behind a box for a little while, then I reached in to pet him. INSTANTLY after being pet he was on my lap. We were done. That was it. We filled out paper work, and then continued on our planned course of shelters to visit...just to be fair.
I think we spent a combined 10 minutes in the 5 other shelters. No one else could compare. We were after Cheetoh. The only thing standing in our way was my landlord's written permission to have a cat. I don't know if you've figured this out about me yet, but when I want something, I'm either going to get it, or you're going to wish that you just gave it to me. About three emails, two calls to him, one call to the SPCA, and 12 hours later, Cheetoh was ours.
While we stood at the register waiting for him, someone else called trying to adopt Cheetoh. I'm sure there were many others. I wasn't about to wait around letting someone else take my perfect cat. A year ago today, Cheetoh became Chester, was placed in a carrier, and all three of our lives would never be the same.
You know the basic story that follows. Except for how quickly we were enraptured by him. Maybe a day after we adopted him, Gyan and I had already agreed that we had to stay together for the rest of Chester's life, cause neither of us were giving up custody. (Little did we know that Chester and his struggles would be  a catalyst to making us closer than ever.) Had we found out about his condition only days after adopting him, I don't know that our plan of action would have been any different. He was ours to stay from the moment we saw him. 
Now, January 30, 2013, Chester has a new diaphragm, healthy lungs and heart, two less toes, two extremely devoted parents, 2 extra kilograms of weight, and all the energy and killing instinct that a kitten should posses. There were plenty of times that I didn't know if we would, but we made it!. He fought through 3(?) years of who knows what kind of suffering and one year of well documented suffering, and has officially made it to the easy life.
Happy Adoption Day (Since we will never know your birthday), my baby, I can't think of anyone who deserves this more. Thank you for everything you've been to us this year, and plan on celebrating this for many many years to come.

PS. We could never have come this far without so many people. The surgeons, the students, the vet techs, the donor cat who gave Chester blood transfusions, our families and friends, and of course all of you. We will never forget that and we will never stop being grateful.
Picture
Chester's Adoption Day breakfast, all three of his favourite things - crackers, cheese, and salmon
Picture
it took him maybe .4 seconds to attack it
Picture
I think he likes it.
 
 
Everyone had experienced great loss. Everyone has had to say goodbye too soon to a loved one. In part, that's what makes the success and survival stories so magnificent. The rare knowledge that it can happen, that the seemingly impossible comes true, is what keeps hope alive.
I believe that's why Chester's story so strongly affects everyone who hears it. He beat every obstical, made it past every dark day, shone bright in the midst of doubt and despair. He creates hope in all of us.
He also shows us that in the darkest times, with the greatest of losses, there is still something to fight for, something to keep us going day after day.
It's also probably why it is so hard to not spoil our pets in the grandest manor. They deserve it, don't they? They're little fluffy balls of mischievous miracles, telling us that everything will be fine in the end.
Chester is no exception. There is no limit to his spoils, but there also doesn't seem to be any limit to his love and his inspiration.
He has toys upon toys, two handmade forts,and love from every direction on the globe. If there was a ranking of the top spoiled cats on the planet, he would definitely break into the top tier. But, he deserves it, right? They all do.
He visited the vet for the first time since the foot debocle, and no one could recognize him. Not even me. He spent the whole time roaming around the room, cuddling with me, sleeping lazily in the chair, completely self assured and unthreatened. He has never seen anything in those rooms but the underside of their chairs before. I was dumbfounded. No one could believe who he was when they read his chart. There were so many "ooohhhhhhh!!! He's THAT cat!" (He's still plenty famous.) he's still doing just fine, we're just trying to find out the best possible care for his high maintenance digestive system. Anytime anything slightly weird pops up, I of course freak out and assume the worst. But there is no longer any problems and all he needs is special food to keep his bladder and intestines healthy. We're just trying to get the right mixture. Everything else is in top shape, and the food issue is just me being obsessive an trying to keep him alive for 30 more years.
Picture
stretchy cat
Picture
Too cool to care Cat
 
 
Happiest of happy new year from the three of us! Here's to 2013 being far superior to 2012! So far, the sun has shown the whole year, and Chester is healthy and happy as ever.
Our Christmas tree turned out to be a non issue because Chester despises the thing. He will barely go near it to this day.
The last of his 2012 was filled with a new friend/not really friend. Franklin came to visit for a couple weeks while his momma was back home for the holidays. These two spent the first two days on eggshells with Franklin hissing his face off. (I have still yet to ever hear Chester hiss at anyone or anything) And the rest of the time they acted like step brothers. They tolerated each other, and would play, but there was definitely some hostility behind it. Since they are both Beta males at best, they spent the whole time doing what can best be described as "out beta-ing each other". Chester stopped cuddling with us and sleeping on the bed until the last night that Frank was there to punish us for bringing another into the house and taking away his sole attention.
We also learned that he is a bit of a bully. Fights were 80% of the time started by him pouncing and tackling Frank. Frank was just too old and grumpy to deal with the large tank of a kitten we have. We also had to feed Frank up on the fridge because Chester was stealing all of it off the floor and Franklin was too afraid to eat unless he was completely safe. Chester won't jump on counters so it worked out nicely. Franklin won't not jump on counters. Frank also taught Chester to jump on the dining room table and eat all of our succulent plants. They were basically just bad influences on each other the whole time. With a couple cute moments in between.
Chester got a new Santa outfit for Christmas, which he surprisingly LOVES. It was meant for his dog cousin but was way too small, so it got passed down to our slightly obese Cheese. Fits perfectly. 
They each got their own ornament filled with treats and catnip to rip into. Franklin ripped into his in a couple minutes. Two hours later this was still Chester
And basically, this is how we've all been celebrating the new year
Hope your holidays were filled with merriment and relaxation! And we hope your 2013 year is the best yet!
 
 
It's been a busy week over at Chez Chester. Every day he gets more and more feisty. Every day he sleeps less and plays more, which makes him extra ready for mom and dad to come home. He's basically on top of the door every day waiting for us to come in. He then proceeds to run full sprints around the apartment for a few hours, sleep and cuddle for a few hours, and then run full sprint all night long.

We've incidentally discovered his favourite colour is orange as well. Every orange ball he gets, he pounces on until he loses it under the couch, then he pounces again when it is retrieved for him. I swear he intentionally throws his toys under the couch straight away just to make us get them for him. It's either that he loves orange, or he loves all toys bought for him by someone other than me. Either hypothesis goes unresolved.

He's also taken to sleeping next to his food bowl on raw food day. Just incase we weren't aware that he LOVES food and is just never fed enough.

Picture
Don't mind the bullets, they were from someone's costume
Chester gets his first Christmas with us this year and I get my first ever Christmas tree that I'm very wary of him destroying. As a preemptive strike, I'm going to make him his own ornaments with food inside that he can claw open and destroy and stay away from my tree ornaments. He already got his own stocking as well. Which I find ironic since I don't even have one. Jury is out on whether he's been good enough for Santa to bring him presents or coal this year ;)
Picture
The rare Chester calm moment
We've also discovered that Chester likes to "get back at us" for not being home or cuddling him enough during the day by literally pouncing on our heads in the morning, or screaming all night long, or knocking things off shelves at 4 and then screaming, or some variation of all of those things. But if one of us is home all day or if we make it a point to cuddle and play with him every single moment we are home, then he just sleeps nicely at the foot of the bed until we get up in the morning. Our little manipulator.
In other news, if you live in BC and want to adopt a cat, now is the time to do so! BC has had a record year of strays and rescues and has been overwhelmed.Click Here to read about it. Although I would not personally recommend dealing with the BCSPCA if you can avoid it, they do have plenty of lovable little ones who need your help. And they are offering half off adoption fees until December 9th. Could be a fun little present to yourself or someone else! Hopefully in the next year, we can start fostering some little ones and helping out more.
 
 
So I emailed the resident surgeon and the vet student who mostly took care of Chester at WSU to thank them again on Thanksgiving. I got back a crazy email. Here's an excerpt:
Hey Roya,
Good to hear from you.  Its actually quite funny you emailed...I was going to email you.  You will never guess what happened last week.  We had a 1 year old, yellow domestic long hair cat come in with a chronic diaphragmatic hernia.  I will tell you Chester was the first one I had.  This was my second.  His name?  Are you ready? Che...ezer...not far off from Chester...yes, Cheezer.  His history was also unknown...found in a garbage can...but no known history of trauma.  Similar overall signs.  Surgery - almost the same - not exactly.  However...blood pressure...also sucked.  Post-op - yup, on all the same drugs Chester had to be on...for the same number of days.  Hospitalization time...the same.  Guess what else...the foot.  Yes, the foot had the same problem at the same time - about 5 days out from surgery developed a fever with a swollen foot in the limb the arterial catheter was in and he stopped using it - a couple footpads had changed color and had flaky texture like Chester's.  We discussed this with anesthesia.  I have never seen in before - now Chester and Cheezer...both chronic hernias.  Anesthesia may quit placing them.  I have a guess about the reason, but still no clear obvious cause...and why in just these two cases?  From now on I have a different way to talk to owners about this surgery - they better be committed.  Chester and Cheezer should be thankful on Thanksgiving they have owners who would do anything for them. I will tell you...Cheezer too was a very sweet cat - though I don't think he got as much love as Chester did.
That is so crazy! Especially the name part. Cheezer is probably the only variation of Cheese we haven't called Chester. Apparently everyone just kept calling him Chester2. That made us laugh.
Poor little Cheezer though! I told the doctor to feel free to share with his family how amazing Chester is doing now and how worth it it will be for them in the end. I hope his foot recovers more than Chester's did. Luckily, he is closer to the WSU team for them to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Chester had a great team everywhere he went, including here at home, but it will probably be much easier for the same team for put together pieces of what went on in their own patient. There has to be something about chronic hernia cases that makes you intolerant to anesthesia. Which...is actually to Chester's benefit. Maybe now that he's had time with two inflated lungs if anything else were to happen and he should need surgery (far, far in the future...and even then please please no) maybe he would fare better.
Anyway, I thought you all would get a kick out of that story too. Luckily for Cheezer, he went to exactly the right place with the right experienced surgeons. Ones who I know for certain fought as hard as they could for him. I'm sure he will be doing just as amazingly as Chester in a few short months. So now we officially have two identical success stories.


Edit: for those of you with super cute pups...check this website out! http://shelterpups.com/b4aftr.php
all proceeds go to help shelter dogs
 
 
I know tomorrow is no longer my Thanksgiving, but I've been feeling pretty nostalgic and thankful lately anyway.
It still blows me away how far Chester has come. There were plenty of times I felt stupid for dragging us all into this mess, for making him undergo surgery in the first place when he was already alive and seemed ok. He almost died several times, lost two toes, and had a whole hell of a lot of stress put on him all because of me. And there were many times when things were looking bad that I would think "Ugh, I've done more harm than good and this is so not worth it."

But let me tell you, it was worth it. It was worth every single thing that we, as a family encountered. Seeing just how different this little guy's life is makes everything else look insignificant.
Chester 9 months ago
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Upper Respiratory infections ALL THE TIME
  • Breathing super fast and super laboured
  • Could only lay in one position
  • Could not go on his back, his only functioning lung would be squished
  • Could not eat

  • Had trouble using the potty

  • Didn't move much/slept all day and all night
  • Was afraid of everything

  • Needed constant care and attention and reassurance
  • Never initiated playing. When he would play it would be for no longer than 5 seconds at a time
Chester Today
  • Only breathes through his nose
  • Hasn't had an infection in 4 months
  • Breathes slowly and calmly
  • Lays however and wherever he wants to
  • Rolls on his back as a sign of affection, or play
  • Eats everything I put in front of him in the time it takes me to put the food down and turn around. Then whines all day for more
  • Hasn't had a single instance of bladder troubles since the first surgery
  • Barely sits still
  • Sleeps on top of the bed, completely unbothered by an all day session of carpet cleaning
  • Cuddles when he wants to, but is perfectly fine by himself, too
  • Plays constantly, with every toy in his arsenal, and runs laps around the apartment all day
You've all seen his past photos, so these are both recent ones
By just seeing the cat he is today, I can't imagine the pain he was feeling before. So today I am thankful for him, and his health, and everyone who contributed to him and his health. Everyone who kept him alive and gave him a life that is immeasurably better than he could have had otherwise. 
And one that makes our own lives worthwhile. 
Everything about him is perfectly healed. He's a full-on cat these days. Complete with chewing on my computer cords and pouncing on our heads at 4 am. And knocking everything off my dresser...just for fun. I'll take his rambunctiousness and mischief any day over the poor soul he was before. He is indeed the luckiest (albeit most expensive) cat in the world. And I'm so glad he's ours for years to come. I can only hope that you all have the same wonderful animals to call your own. (If not, he is available for cuddles)
 

    Author

    Chester is a 4ish year old orange tabby with a huge medical bill and an equally huge ability to love. His attitude is no small entity either.
    He goes by the names Chester, Cheetoh, Cheese, Cheeselog, Whiney-pants, and Scarf Cat, among others.

    Archives

    May 2013
    March 2013
    February 2013
    January 2013
    December 2012
    November 2012
    October 2012
    September 2012
    August 2012
    July 2012

    Categories

    All