Bryce Whitman, 12, cares last week for Missy at the Whitman family’s house in Winslow. Missy, short for Mistletoe, was injured and had a front leg amputated days earlier. Bryce says he sometimes climbs into Missy’s crate to comfort her as she recovers from surgery. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — In the days leading up to Christmas, Ashley Whitman received the kind of telephone call no one wants.

The Whitman family’s cat, Missy, was found with a bleeding and mangled front leg, perhaps from having been hit by a car or getting tangled in something.

The cat’s veterinarian could not provide immediate help. Instead, Whitman, 31, was advised to hustle Missy to an emergency care veterinary office in Portland.

Staff members in Portland determined Missy, short for Mistletoe, had a bad fracture. Making matters worse, the bill for emergency surgery was estimated at $5,000, while Whitman knew she and her family could not afford more than $1,000.

Whitman called other veterinary offices, with some only offering to euthanize Missy.

Feeling defeated and not wanting Missy in pain, Whitman told Dr. Monique Kramer of Portland Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Care she did not have the money for surgery so Missy would have to be put down.


Kramer resisted, telling Whitman not to give up and to wait an hour.

Missy the cat is the focus of attention last week at her house in Winslow. Missy, short for Mistletoe, was injured and had a front leg amputated days earlier. With Missy, from left: Bella Whitman, 4, and her mother, Ashley Whitman. Bella’s grandmother, Sheila Gaulin, is holding Missy. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Kramer then called the Cumberland-based HART Adoption Center & Shelter for Cats. The organization located a veterinarian at the Saco Veterinary Clinic who would do the procedure for $1,700. The HART staff then posted a fundraising plea on Facebook and was able to cover the difference between the surgery’s cost and what the Whitman family could afford.

The procedure required amputating Missy’s injured front leg, but she pulled through the emergency procedure. Now, Missy, which used to spend part of each day wandering outside, is an indoor cat.

“We’re just really excited to have her home,” Whitman said.

Whitman, a math technician at George J. Mitchell School in Waterville, said it was difficult to tell her six children about Missy’s leg. She said her 12-year-old was in tears thinking Missy had to be put down.

Two years ago, the Whitman family lost another cat, Gemini, to a similar injury. Nothing could be done to save Gemini, Whitman said, adding, “Having this help for Missy was amazing.”

Missy has to sleep these days in a crate until her wounds heal. Whitman’s children take turns sleeping near Missy and comforting her.

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