In the summer of 2013, Tess – Rochelle Bates’ beautiful black and white cat – was no longer easy to be around. “When she opened her mouth across the room from you, the odor could just about knock you down,” she said. “It was intense. And it had developed very quickly over a couple of months.”
Rochelle and husband Ed had taken in Tess when she was a feral kitten. She soon became a loved member of their household. So Rochelle took the cat, just four years old, to a dental cleaning clinic at a pet store. The veterinarian who examined Tess “took one look inside her mouth and he told me what was wrong. He said: ‘All her teeth are rotting. You’re going to need to take her to a veterinary dentist.’ It’s a congenital condition.”
Rochelle, a former writer and producer in Hollywood, is disabled and her husband Ed was unemployed at the time so she immediately began to search for a dental specialist who could give Tess the treatment she needed – surgery for tooth resorption and stomatitis – at an affordable cost. “It was a rough time for this to happen,” she said.
“I called around to lots of veterinary clinics and found that the treatment was just too expensive. It was thousands of dollars to have all her teeth removed – or some of her teeth removed. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I looked on line for different grants and explored every one that was available – every single one.” Finally, she found Angel Fund. “It was the only one left. And it was the one that helped us.” Angel Fund provided a list of hospitals that could do the surgery. She chose the Dog and Cat Dentist in Culver City not far from her home.
She took Tess to the clinic and met Dr. Anson Tsugawa, VMD, DAVDC, and Jody Janes, RVT. “They were just the most wonderful people,” she said. “Jody is so kind. She shepherded all the paper work through and it was processed very quickly. There was a small balance that I had to pay. But they [Angel Fund and the hospital] covered almost everything. It was so amazingly generous of them!” Angel Fund and the hospital each contributed $500.
Dr. Tsugawa at first thought that he could save four of Tess’s teeth. But he called Rochelle after her cat was under anesthesia and said that all her teeth should be extracted. “Otherwise,” he told her, “she’ll have to come back and have the others removed later. We might as well do all of them when she’s young and healthy.”
The surgery “made a world of difference,” Rochelle said. “Tess had a very quick recovery and you would never know now that she doesn’t have any teeth. Dr. Tsugawa told us what would happen and that’s exactly what happened.”
Tess needed pain medication and antibiotics for a few days. Rochelle said that she gave the patient and her other two cats soft food at first, then switched to dry food. “Tess ate it with them [the other cats]. Now she eats a mixture of wet and dry food, like she always did before. She doesn’t care.”
The surgery has made a “world of difference” for Tess, she said. “Her personality has really blossomed since she doesn’t have that pain. I can only imagine what it was like for her.
“And I will always he so grateful to them [Dr. Tsugawa and Angel Fund] for this because, honestly, I don’t know what we would have done.”