PHOENIX — Less than one month after a litter of kittens was found dead near Phoenix Elementary, another Phoenix resident is mourning the loss of a beloved pet.
A 4-year-old ragdoll cat named Rosie was poisoned last week with enough of a toxic substance that veterinarian Steven Poet said it was one of the more heart-wrenching cases he had seen in his years of treating animals — and could not have been accidental.
Phoenix resident Laurie Nielsen said she has watched in horror as recent reports have disclosed a rash of events involving pet cats and strays:
When she heard her outdoor cat crying in the front yard Thursday, Nielsen knew something was wrong. Rosie had ingested something during the night Wednesday and lay in the yard suffering organ failure.
An affectionate cat that stayed closed to home — home being Nielsen and her next-door neighbors — Rosie was leery of strangers.
"Both our houses took care of her, and she never wandered farther than between two or three houses," Nielsen said.
"I woke up that morning, and she was sprawled out on the ground, and I went over and could hear her crying. It was heartbreaking. I took her straight to Dr. Poet."
"When the blood work came back," Nielsen added, "there was so much poison in her system there was nothing they could do."
The vet said that based on the symptoms, the cat probably had been poisoned about 10 hours before she was discovered. (Correction: Details about when the poisoning likely occurred, when it was discovered and when the cat died at the veterinary hospital have been clarified in this article.)
Nielsen and the doctor declined to identify the type of poison that killed Rosie for fear of providing ideas to would-be cat killers.
"The kidneys stopped functioning and failed completely," Poet said. "It's a horrible way to go."
Nielsen, who lives near First Street, said the recent series of instances involving cats is concerning — and now they're hitting too close to home.
"This is a really cat-friendly neighborhood, and I can't imagine who would have done this around here," she said. "Rosie didn't wander. She was just a sweet, innocent 4-year-old."
Councilwoman Karen Jones said she plans to learn about city policies pertaining to cats and ask for an update on the two investigations.
City police officials did not immediately return calls Friday, but no updates have been reported recently on either case.
Poet cautioned cat owners who allow animals to go outside.
"When they go outside; you lose a lot of the control over their safety. My cats don't go outside. I tell my clients, 'If you keep your cat inside, you will see me a lot less, because your cat isn't getting hit by a car, getting in fights, getting poisoned, attacked by raccoons,' " Poet said.
He acknowledged some cats protest life indoors.
"I know it's hard, especially for ones that really want to go out. I have one that's like that, but we just give him a lot of things to do in the house and a lot of things to look at," Poet said.
"It's hard to watch them want to go outside. But it's harder to watch them pass away. Especially like Rosie did."
Nielsen hopes the city will reconsider an ordinance prohibiting feeding of outdoor and stray cats. She also hopes that sharing Rosie's story will prevent more cat deaths in the city.
"It was an awful thing to have happen. There was a lot of pain for Rosie," Nielsen said. "I hope no one else has to go through something like this. I hope that sharing her story will make people keep a closer eye on their cats and watch for anyone who might be doing this."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at email@example.com.