The day we learned of Beliza’s cancer diagnosis was a difficult day – to be honest, the days were difficult for awhile. Not knowing how long Beliza had left, or how quickly she would decline was not easy information to process. How can we help make her life easier? Do we need to modify her exhibit and holding areas? How quickly do we need to make modifications? If she needs medication, will we be able to get her to take it as needed? We had so many questions, many of which had no immediate answers.
Once the initial shock wore off, keepers quickly got to work and came up with exhibit and holding modification ideas. Lower branches were added to the Day Room and a platform was added to the outdoor exhibit yard to help with limited mobility. Large stumps were added near taller platforms and shelves. A low platform and ramp were added to the holding areas. The intention of these changes was to allow Beliza to get up as high as she physically can once her health declines. Like most cats, Beliza likes being up high, so we wanted to give her the opportunity to do so.
While Beliza’s health hasn’t declined nearly as quickly as we feared, she does take advantage of all the new amenities that were installed just for her. Beliza, being an older cat, does have some arthritis, so using the ramp and stumps should be easier on her joints.
As you all know by now, Beliza is on a medication to help slow the growth of the cancer. She takes the medication very well in ground turkey. She is only offered ground turkey when she is given the medication, so it remains a novel food item and she continues to be eager to consume it.
We do not know how much time Beliza has left, but we will continue to make life as easy and comfortable for her as possible. We are overwhelmed by love and support provided by our community and are forever thankful to be a part of such an amazing animal’s life, day in and day out.
— Keeper Jackie