Beating the odds

Bonnie Kosak, of Brethren, adopted Phoenix in January. The cat was found in Bar Lake with severe frostbite to all four paws, one ear and his chest. He has healed and is doing well. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Bonnie Kosak, of Brethren, adopted Phoenix in January. The cat was found in Bar Lake with severe frostbite to all four paws, one ear and his chest. He has healed and is doing well. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Found in the freezing cold, Phoenix is a true survivor

BRETHREN — When Bonnie Kosak had to put down her 20-year-old cat last year, she told herself, “no more cats.”

“But this one really tugged at my heart strings,” said the Brethren woman of the cat she adopted last month.

The long-haired golden feline, named Phoenix, was featured in a News Advocate article in December about protecting pets and strays during the cold winter months.

When he was found, Phoenix had frostbite on all four paws, one ear and his chest. Veterinarians believe he was frozen to a flat surface for an unknown amount of time. (Courtesy photo)

When he was found, Phoenix had frostbite on all four paws, one ear and his chest. Veterinarians believe he was frozen to a flat surface for an unknown amount of time. (Courtesy photo)

“Somebody in Bar Lake called us and said they found him in one of their shelters. (Phoenix) wouldn’t let any of their cats in so they didn’t want him to stay,” said Carol Pasco, co-founder of the Spay Neuter Action Group (SNAG).

Pasco said she couldn’t immediately tell how sick the feline was. When Pasco first saw Phoenix, he smelled of rotting flesh. Part of his right ear was about to fall off from frostbite. 

“We believe he was frozen to something. His paws were bright red, he could hardly put them down. His chest was all torn off, it was like syrup – all sticky,” said Pasco.

After he was cleaned up a bit, Pasco saw the condition he was in and took him to Manistee Veterinary Hospital, where there was no charge due to a donation that funds medical bills for stray cats.

“He had a massive infection to both ears,” she said. “He let us medicate everything. He never, ever fought or struggled. We sprayed his feet and put stuff in his ears. They didn’t know if his pads would heal. He was a phoenix rising from the ashes.”

Pasco has no idea where he came from before he was found in that shelter in Bar Lake, but Phoenix has made a speedy recovery. Pasco first showed a photo of Phoenix to Kosak while the two were volunteering together at the Vogue Theatre.

“She told me about him before Christmas, but I went away for Christmas so I said maybe after,” said Kosak. “He needed me, and I needed him.”

When Kosak took Phoenix home in January, he was still limping on his front paw.

I put Neosporin on that for about a week,” she said. “He’s totally fine now; he’s making up for lost time. He runs around here like there’s no tomorrow.”

Though veterinarians believe Phoenix to be a few years old, Kosak said she’s had to “kitten proof” her house.

“This is something new for me, I haven’t had a kitten in 20 years,” she said.

Phoenix the cat has joined Colby, a 3-year-old yellow lab and also a rescue, in Bonnie Kosak's home in Brethren. Kosak says she needs them as much as they need her. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Phoenix the cat has joined Colby, a 3-year-old yellow lab and also a rescue, in Bonnie Kosak’s home in Brethren. Kosak says she needs them as much as they need her. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Phoenix joins Colby, a 3-year-old yellow lab, who Kosak rescued from Homeward Bound Animal Shelter in February 2014.

When Phoenix first got here, he wasn’t able to play or run. I had a kennel set up for him,” said Kosak. “The first night I brought him home, all he did was hiss (at Colby). Colby tries to play with him, but I try to keep an eye on him when they do that.

“For all he’s been through, to be as sweet as he is … it’s unbelievable,” she said.

Phoenix’s story is not a rare one, but the fact that he survived and was successfully adopted is.

Pasco and another SNAG board member, Amy Gavigan, are privately fostering cats, and had 27 at one time; 11 have since been adopted. The two are currently housing 16 cats — six males and 10 females — that they are hoping to find homes for.

“This is really not a function of Spay Neuter Action Group, we’re doing it privately and funding it privately,” Pasco said. “But they come to us because we get calls to catch a cat or there’s a bunch of cats. We can’t always, but when we can we’ll take them.”

Pasco also said the number of females is unusual.

“So many times — especially with the older females — they don’t live past two or three years because they’ve already had probably six litters of kittens without proper food, without anything to help them,” she said. “Those poor little female kittens are just worn out after two or three years. The males are still out there happily doing their thing. Usually I catch a lot of males when trapping.”

Make a contribution

The Spay Neuter Action Group (SNAG) provides vouchers to help with spay/neuter costs and also helps with live trapping of cats for spaying and neutering. All donations benefit the animals.

Donations may be sent to:

Spay Neuter Action Group, Inc.

P.O. Box 773

Manistee, MI 49660

Call Kristie at (231) 889-0182 or Carol at (231) 723-0144 for more information.

Donna Gamache, another co-founder of SNAG and the group’s treasurer, said that people will start feeding a stray cat and they don’t get them spayed or neutered.

“The next thing you know, there’s a dozen cats,” she said. “If you are taking care of a feral cat or a stray cat, have it spayed or neutered. Call Carol, she will live trap it; it’s not hurt in any way. It’ll be fixed and taken back to where it was found because that’s its environment, that’s its home. That way they won’t multiply.”

The group would love for more volunteers to help with trap, neuter and return, said Pasco.

“You can really reduce the cat population and improve their lives,” she said. “Some people have this crazy notion that cats can do fine. There’s no food out there for them now. In the summer, yes, they can go down and eat fish, but there’s nothing for them now.”

For more information about SNAG or to adopt a cat, call Pasco at (231) 723-0144.

UP FOR ADOPTION

Carol Pasco and Amy Gavigan are privately fostering 16 cats — six males and 10 females — in need of homes (including those pictured above). All cats are spayed or neutered.

Anyone who’d like more information about a cat or would like to adopt one should call Pasco at (231) 723-0144.

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Posted by Michelle Graves

Michelle is the managing editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3106 or mgraves@pioneergroup.com.

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