I moved to Texas in 2002 after living in Virginia my whole life. It was a big move for me, I was leaving my whole family behind to move to Austin, Texas with my husband. I know it seems like a lifetime ago, but I was near the Pentagon on 9/11 and Washington DC was full of anxiety.

Shortly after moving to Austin, my husband was deployed to Iraq for a year, with six months of readiness training at Fort Hood leading to a total time away of one and a half years. I was in a new town, a new state, and thousands of miles away from my family it became really lonely. I knew that I wanted to work in the Veterinary profession and began looking for jobs at the local clinics.

I got a job as a technician assistant at a clinic nearby. It was here that I would meet my soul-mate and forever friend, Fritti “Velcro” Tailsucker. Spring session had just ended at The University of Texas and an employee walked into the clinic carrying a box. Inside the box were three kittens.

Some students had snuck them into the Jester dorms and when they moved out left them behind. There was a male that looked like a Himalayan with beautiful blue eyes, a tortoiseshell female, and a plain black female.

I knew the moment I looked at them that I was meant to take them home, foster them and find all but the male a new home.  He was so beautiful, yet he had no personality. That plain black female did. I was determined not to love her because she was plain, and this is where I learned one of my biggest lessons in life, cliché as it may sound, “It is not what is on the outside, but what is on the inside that counts.” I found homes for the other male and female and decided I would keep that plain black kitten. As it turns out, black cats are the hardest to adopt.

Fritti and I were meant to be together. She was just as weird as I was. She got her last name Tailsucker, because I decided to give positive rewards for the behavior. I like to encourage one to be themselves, so if she wanted to suck on her tail why not let her.

Over the next year she was always by my side, being a black kitty and all, she inherited the nickname Velcro. If a friend was over, she would wiggle her way in between me and that person. She would lay on my textbooks. When making the bed, she would chase the sheets. She never left my side.

Every memory I have of her is interference. Interference because she placed herself into every aspect of my life. In life some things come and go, people move on, people find new loves, and hardships happen. The one constant for me has been her.

In 2012 she became very sick, she went from a fat 15 pound kitty to losing 3 pounds in one month. Fritti had IBD but an extreme form, esosinophilia. It took ultrasounds, surgery with 8 biopsies, reaction to surgical incisions, 3 weeks in the hospital, a visit to the cardiologist, and finally internal medicine before anyone could determine what was wrong.

During the process, she also had a TECA to remove a polyp from her ear, so now she has a cute lopsided ear. The insurance company covered 80% of her treatment bills. That year she became known as the $20,000 dollar kitty. At first I had to give her eight or more medications a day, along with injection of anti-vomiting medication. It was a very rough road, but, we made it.

Every year, I promised her one day she would have a yard and a deck to sunbathe on. That’s her favorite activity besides being around me, finding that one spot in the house in which the sun shines through and warms her within. I like to think that the warmth she gains from the sun, is related to the warmth she brings me from within. Together we shine.

Tisha has been part of the THRIVE team since 2016 and currently works between THRIVE and Petco and in developing new clinic layouts. She now travels to all sites and helps assure all equipment and supplies arrive so the clinic can open.  Tisha currently lives with her Doberman Vash, two ferrets Nicodemus and Dominique, six cats Rukia, Fritti, Mugen, Isis, Winry, and Chibi plus her service dog Zu-Zu.

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