As soon as Ellie Purpura met Will, she knew something was wrong. The kitten was covered in fleas, had tapeworms and was underweight. But worst of all: He wasn’t breathing properly.
Will was brought to the Yolo County Animal Shelter on May 2, and the shelter called Purpura to pick up Will because she fosters kittens and often picks up ones that aren’t healthy enough to stay at the shelter.
When Purpura, a student at UC Davis, brought Will to the emergency room, she was told he had a hole in his heart and an esophageal defect that makes it hard for him to keep food down.
She learned Will needed medication to help his heart, and a CT angiogram and surgery to fix his esophagus. But the bill came out to $8,000, money Purpura doesn’t have. She set up a GoFundMe campaign for Will.
Donors came through – and then some. The fund has surpassed its original goal by $410.
“To be able to look at Will and say yes to him because someone else was generous just means the world to me,” Purpua said. “As a student, I don’t have $8,000. But when I see dozens of people coming together to support him, that’s just heartwarming.”
The GoFundMe is still accepting donations because Will has now had further health complications.
Will’s surgery was originally scheduled for May 16, but Purpura took him to a preliminary doctor’s appointment to make sure he was ready for the surgery on Monday, and doctors found that Will had pneumonia.
“He’s already a risky anesthesia candidate because of his heart condition,” Purpura said. “We saw he has pneumonia, which is common in animals that have his esophageal problem.”
Purpura said Will was given a round of antibiotics for the pneumonia, and his surgery has been rescheduled for June 3, when he will hopefully be a little bit stronger and a safer candidate for anesthesia.
Purpura has left the GoFundMe account open to continue raising money for Will’s health care costs. He is currently on a liquid diet, which means Purpura has to buy a cat food that is more expensive than normal.
“I am just overwhelmed, astounded and overwhelmed, by the generosity of the community,” Purpura said.
Purpura added that now that the weather is warm, thousands of orphan kittens like Will are coming into shelters.
“If anyone is unable to donate but is interested in becoming a foster parent, that helps as well,” Purpura said.
Purpura works for the Orphan Kitten Project, a student-run non-profit out of the UC Davis veterinary school. Through this program, Purpura pulls kittens from shelters like Will who would otherwise be euthanized.
For updates on Will, you can follow Purpura’s Instagram.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated May 16 with information about Will’s new surgery and the continued fundraising effort.