~ Claudia and Crystal ~
After having gone through cancer at the young age of 3 ½, Claudia had experienced many ongoing health issues. After receiving a bone marrow transplant to treat the cancer, this luckily got rid of the cancer cells, however, left her with some nasty side effects. This has included severe skin damage, and damage to her joints, muscles and bones, which has led to her having to use a wheelchair permanently.
Amid the worst of the side effects, 9-year-old Claudia was desperate to get a cat. She was unable to do this for years as there was a risk of infection. However, as she was worsening and this was the one thing she was desperate for, the registrars finally gave her permission. Upon returning home after this, Claudia went onto the SPCA website to see which cats were currently there. One cat, in particular, stood out to her and she wrote down the information.
The very next day, Claudia and her mother went to the Auckland SPCA. Unfortunately, she had forgotten the paper she had written the information on, so they went and met all the cats at the shelter. After some time spent, Claudia met a small tuxedo cat named Marilyn. She was named this as she had a beauty spot on her cheek, as did Marilyn Monroe. The cat was timid, and had been in quarantine due to having been found with cat flu.
Claudia felt there was an unspoken bond between them both. She felt that as she had been through much herself, as had this cat, that there was a mutual understanding. It was soon decided that this little cat would become part of the family, though with a new name; Crystal.
Once they returned home, Claudia was in a lot of pain. She was crying in agony. After a few days, she found herself in bed and found it difficult to do much else. Then, Crystal, in her new environment, decided to jump onto the bed and that’s where she stayed for the next six months. She left for food and the toilet, but other than that, she remained by Claudia’s side until she was able to sit up.
During this period, Claudia had home-visiting nurses providing care. This involved changing dressings and providing intravenous (I.V.) medications. Every time this happened, Crystal was there. She would start meowing at the nurses and would try to push them away. As she heard Claudia crying, she would jump onto her lap and shoulders, purring.
Crystal would always stay by Claudia’s side. Whether undergoing treatments or experiencing pain and anxiety, Crystal was always there for Claudia. Not long after adopting Crystal, however, the medical team saw how much of an impact Crystal was having. In 2010, the two were invited to help open the Starship Hospital Cuddle Corner. This is an area in the hospital where patients can go and simply spend time with their pets.
In 2018, Claudia welcomed mobility dog, Wren, in her life. Although this was an adjustment for Crystal, both animals now enjoy spending time together. When it is cold, they enjoy snuggling up together in Wren’s bed.
It has been 11 years since adopting Crystal, and they has remained a very important part of Claudia and her family’s life. The two share a very strong bond. Claudia is now in a better state and no longer experiences the same pain or ongoing treatments. Crystal has been able to retire from her protecting duties, and now spends a lot of time playing, sleeping, and cuddling. Although, if anyone is upset, hurt, or unwell, she is there by their side to help.