Cat helps owner cope with loss of husband

Posted at 3:54 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 17:54:53-05

A burned kitten looking for a new home found its perfect match in an owner who also survived a burn accident.

The Dumb Friends League said the cat was found near an apartment laundry room with burns all over its body.

"The worst injuries were on the head and the ears," said Dr. Jeff Fankhauser, Chief Veterinarian at the Dumb Friends League.

Dr. Fankhauser named the cat 'Phoenix,' a symbolic reference to rising from the ashes. He spent two months nursing her back to health, and then the search for a new home began.

"Immediately, I had this heart thing and thought, 'That poor baby!'" said Gloria McKeever, who saw pictures of Phoenix on television news.

McKeever felt the two were kindred spirits, having suffered severe burns herself in a cooking accident.

"I have scarring," said McKeever. "I've had plastic surgery a couple times on it."

But, what she remembers most about the recovery is her broken heart.

"I was very much in love at that time, and I had just left my boyfriend behind because of a military transfer," said McKeever. "All I could think of is -- he is never going to want me now. I kind of thought my life was over, as far as being a pretty girl."

Fifty years later, they reconnected and got married in April 2014.

"We finally had our 'happily ever after,' and then in October, he got bronchitis, and it turned out to be stage four cancer," said McKeever. "He was gone by the end of December."

McKeever said the past year has been a struggle, as she coped with the loss and longed for companionship. So, when she saw the cat on the news, she felt compelled to adopt.

"I guess I was kind of thinking the kitty needed to be rescued, and I kind of needed a new focus, a new rescue," said McKeever. "I've got all this love and no place to put it now."

She renamed the cat 'Rosebud' because the burn injuries altered the appearance of its ears. But, the new name is also fitting for the blossoming of a new relationship, for both of them.

"Just having that kitty in this house, it's a joyful thing," said McKeever.


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