In Memoriam: Our beloved Zach (5/99–10/7/14)

Zach, the Official Hospital Cat

Zach, the Official Hospital Cat

It was with great sadness and tremendous love that we euthanized our beloved Zach on 10/7/14. 

Zach was our very special friend at Foothill Pet Hospital (FPH) for many years.  He was Dr. Rittenberg’s (Dr. Ritt’s) “Official Hospital Cat” and went home with him on all weekends and holidays.  So, in reality, since Dr. Ritt works such extensive hours, he and Zach were together far more than his other two (at home) cats.

To celebrate his life we would like to tell you a bit about our Zach. 

Zach was a Domestic Shorthair (DSH) gray tabby that Dr. Ritt found at the Ventura County Animal Shelter in Camarillo.  One of the veterinary technicians there knew Dr. Ritt from his time working in Oxnard.  And, when Dr. Ritt described the type of cat he was hoping to find for our FPH setting, she said she had the perfect cat.  She said no one seemed to want Zach because he was a bit older than most of the other kittens up for adoption. 

The technician then proceeded to have Dr. Ritt follow her while she took Zach on a saunter through the dog kennel area.  The technician had Zach draped comfortably over her shoulder like a baby and they took a leisurely stroll through the kennel.  While tons of dogs where barking, screaming, bouncing around and raising total havoc, Zach was totally calm and relaxed.  He acted like nothing was going on and reveled in all the attention.  Well, as you could imagine…that’s all it took. 

Dr. Ritt instantly knew Zach would not be nervous or fearful of our canine patients (which was one of his big potential concerns in having a hospital feline).  Also, in speaking with the technician further, Zach loved greeting people and liked being with other cats too!  So, Dr. Ritt surmised he had scored the perfect feline for FPH!! 

Dr. Rittenberg and Zach

Dr. Rittenberg and Zach

Dr. Ritt’s next step was to convince Lisa that this was the perfect guy for home and FPH.  After losing their previous two very special cats within that past year, Zach had huge shoes to fill.  Dr. Ritt was a bit worried.  But, even back then, Zach knew immediately what to do.  Upon his arrival at home, Dr. Ritt let him out of his carrier.  Zach immediately walked into the family room where Lisa was sitting, jumped in her lap and gave her a big kitty hug!  Lisa was sold instantly.

As the Official Hospital Cat, Zach’s primary job tasks consisted of greeting people and patients, and just “hanging out”.  In reality, all he really had to do is sleep.  And then, once Bru came along, he had to teach and socialize Bru.  In fact, due to Zach’s tutelage, we think that is why Bru has a lot of cat-like habits.

Yet, Zach liked to do more.  If it was too hectic, he and Bru hung out in the office together.  But, when it wasn’t going to be any sort of imposition on a client, their pet or FPH activities, he cruised around the hospital to make sure everything was going well and to socialize. 

He hung out in his favorite vantage points and locations so that he was privy to all that was occurring.  He had his cushiony beds, he’d lay or sit on the appointment book so he could greet incoming people, he’d go out in the waiting rooms (always somehow knowing when it was OK to do so), he’d be on top of the refrigerator where it was warm and snuggly and sleep on the cat (weighing) scale, and of course he always knew when there was an unused clean cage where blankets had just been set-up just right. 

Ah, what a life he had.  He even consoled clients at difficult times by coming up to them and sitting next to them or just snuggling at just the right time.  How he seemed to know who would like that attention (and when) we will never know…but, amazingly our beloved Zach did.

As one would expect with his gentle Zen-like personality, Zach was also a wonderful patient.  He made it extremely easy to give him all his medications and treatments.  And, with all his extensive medical conditions, this was a tremendous blessing because it allowed us to easily help him for a very long time.

Over the years, Zach dealt with hyperthyroidism, heart disease, chronic kidney failure, kidney cancer, gastrointestinal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.  But, he never appeared to be in any discomfort or pain.  However, once his disease processes became too advanced, we felt it was important to spare Zach from suffering and say goodbye to our special friend.  So, with tremendous sadness and heartfelt compassion, we let our Zach go…

In honor of his special place in our hearts, Dr. Ritt decided to keep Zach’s memory alive by keeping his picture on all our website pages {with Bru and our special guy Geo (see their personal stories) too}.  Furthermore, in perpetuity, we will keep this memorial page under our “About Us” header under the “Staff” section where Zach truly belongs.  And, in addition, the wonderful photo of Zach with his amazing gaze (taken by Dr. Ritt) will remain as the centerpiece photo on the wall in our cat/exotic waiting room. 

As a final epitaph for Zach, Dr. Ritt wrote:  “A kind, sweet and gentle spirit; you will be greatly missed!”