ST. JOHNSBURY — Millie was on high alert in a treatment room at Western Avenue Veterinary Clinic in St. Johnsbury on Thursday.

She’s got kittens to protect.

As her four-week-old kittens frolicked in their box, Millie assessed the area for possible dangers, taking special attention of the dog that walked into the clinic for treatment.

Millie has been on high alert since her kittens were born. It hasn’t been easy.

She suffered a painful bout of mastitis and needed veterinary intervention.

Her owner, unfortunately, couldn’t afford the care.

So she surrendered Millie and the tiny kittens to Western Avenue Veterinary Clinic who then sought assistance from the Save-A-Dog Save-A-Cat (SAD-SAC) fund operated as a charitable foundation by The Caledonian-Record Publishing Company. The fund raises donations that are used to benefit animals that do not have owners, and need medical attention.

Leslie Jacques, veterinary technician at Western Avenue Veterinary Clinic, said Millie’s owner calculated the cost of a possible two surgeries for the mastitis and a third procedure to spay Millie and realized she could not afford to give the cat the care it needed.

By surrendering Millie and the kittens, the owner “definitely did the best thing for the cat,” said Jacques.

Mastitis refers to a bacterial infection in the milk ducts. The infected area ruptured on Millie, but the mother cat never stopped feeding her kittens.

“It ruptured so that the whole area was open, and she was still nursing all them,” said Jacques. “She’s definitely a great mom.”

Addressing the rupture was a significant procedure for the veterinarian, Jacques said. “Once you have all that tissue exposed, that all needs to get cleaned up and closed up internally and obviously the skin needs to be closed,” she said.

But for a surgical scar and a shaved belly, Millie looks to be in good shape. She patrols, jumps and makes herself available to her hungry kittens.

Jacques said a program like SAD-SAC is necessary.

“I think it’s amazing, especially in this area of Vermont,” she said, where addressing veterinary needs is an affordability concern for many people with pets.

Because SAD-SAC is only in a position to help out if enough funds are donated, Jacques encouraged people to see it as a worthwhile charity to support.

“I think it’s a great way to help out pets in the community,” she said.

Momma Millie and her kittens will continue to be cared for at the veterinary clinic until the kittens are old enough to be adopted, which Jacques said is never sooner than eight weeks. Two of the three kittens are male, and all three are unique. One of the males is curious and always on the move, while the other male appears more reserved but ready to slap at a passing tale. The female seems cautious in her movements but not fearful.

Mom will keep an eye on them.

To donate to SAD-SAC, mail a check to The Caledonian-Record Publishing Company, P.O. Box 8, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819.

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