Edgar, the kitten with a heart of gold, passes away

(Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA) --- A few weeks ago, a kitten named Edgar was introduced to the community. He has since stolen the hearts of thousands of animal lovers. Edgar originally entered the shelter as a newborn kitten along with his mom and siblings. He spent weeks in foster care before the litter was big and strong enough to return the animal shelter for adoption. One by one, Edgar’s brothers and sisters found new families, but little Edgar’s plight was more challenging.

Not growing the way he should and with a noticeable heart murmur, Edgar was diagnosed with Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). PDA is a congenital heart defect that not only affects animals, but humans too. Babies with PDA have an open blood vessel that connects the aorta and pulmonary artery. As they grow, the open blood vessel closes off and normal blood circulation kicks in. When the blood vessel does not close off properly, the heart and lungs are put under increased strain and pressure. PDAs can prove fatal if not fixed. In Edgar’s case, it was unlikely he would have lived beyond the first six months of his life.

The Pasadena Humane Society wanted to give Edgar a chance at life. They posted his story on Facebook to see if anyone could help with the costs of surgery to fix the PDA. The media showed up, including the Pasadena Star News who wrote a touching story and produced a heartfelt video. Edgar’s story inspired people, motivating them to get involved and to pay attention to his plight. Hundreds of people from all walks of life started posting prayers, kind words, and offers to help. The Society’s Miracle Fund, a donation-based fund that pays for above and beyond care for homeless animals that need extra help, grew in size raising over $12,000 overnight.

The community’s response was spectacular. Due to their generosity, Edgar was transferred to a VCA animal hospital for his surgery. Our fingers were crossed that all would be successful the day he had his procedure. We were all on pins and needles waiting to hear from the surgeon that Edgar would be fine.

When the news came, it wasn’t good. The hole in his heart was much too large to be repaired using a basic procedure. Little Edgar was already in congestive heart failure, and the doctor felt it would be best to let him rest for a few more weeks. There are two options after he recovered and gained some weight–a second, riskier surgery or trying a different device with the original surgery.

After they got the bad news, the Humane Society posted a Facebook update about Edgar. So many people were following his journey and asking after him. This time hundreds of well wishes poured in. Most people were thankful that we were doing everything in our power to save his life. There were a few, however, who responded with questions. They wanted to know why we were spending money on one animal when there are so many that need support. Or, they commented on the fact that we should not continue with the surgery and just let him go at his own pace and in peace. Edgar’s situation was difficult and complex, and I am glad that he touched so many people. It’s this conversation that will elevate the understanding of the human-animal relationship.

Last week, Edgar’s veterinary team started to become very worried about his progress. His congestive heart failure was progressing and he was getting very week. The prognosis was poor. He would not survive the follow-up surgery. Once again, his foster mom stepped up to the plate, this time taking him into her home for hospice care. For as little or long that he was going to be with us, she knew he deserved the best and the best she gave him. He died peacefully on Sunday, 7/9, knowing that he was loved.

I received the following note from his amazing foster mom:

I just wanted to say thank you for going out on a limb for Edgar (foster kitten w hole in his heart). I won’t pretend to know the difficult decisions you must constantly weigh and make – but I see that you clearly bring tremendous heart to those decisions. And while having to juggle the needs and your accountability to hundreds, thousands of animals – you showed the caring, attention and support to one. That is a remarkable act of kindness and compassion – which we need even more of and more role models for than ever before. I am even prouder and more honored to work with PHS and appreciate your leadership and efforts.

 I can smile knowing that all of the efforts, support, and attention to this little kitten made a difference in the lives of many.

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