When adopting a cat, some people pick out their new feline friend from pictures online. For Gary and Rebecca Davis, Mona Lisa—Mony for short—was different.

“She picked me,” said Rebecca. In December 2015, Rebecca was at Town and Country Veterinary Clinic in Christiansburg, Virginia, playing with adoptable kittens in a crate in the waiting area.

“I felt somebody tugging at my coatstring, and I said, “I’m going to take you home.’ We got so lucky, it’s like we won the lottery with her!”

Mony grew up to be a sweet and social cat who loves to bring people toys, and she couldn’t have gone to a more loving home. With the Davises, Mony has all the toys and cat trees a cat could want — she even has her own bedroom.

“I can’t imagine our life without her,” said Rebecca.

In early 2022, Mony began to have trouble breathing, and after a referral to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, the Davises got the news that no pet owner wants to hear. Mony was diagnosed with intranasal cancer; an aggressive tumor grew behind her right eye. 

“When they told us, it felt like our whole world just fell apart.” 

The Davises took Mony to the Virginia Tech Animal Cancer Care and Research Center (ACCRC), the veterinary college’s state-of-the-art clinical and research facility in Roanoke. 

Mony’s cancer diagnosis came at a very stressful time, as the Davises’ other cat and Mony’s best friend, Lilly, was fighting through a kidney infection and all the symptoms and complications that come with it. It was a fight Lilly lost in November 2022. 

Having their two beloved cats struggle with serious health problems at the same time was emotionally difficult. It was financially difficult as well, but the Davises were dedicated to pursuing treatment. Thankfully, Petco Love was there to take care of some of the burden. 

Petco Love, formerly known as The Petco Foundation, is dedicated to supporting organizations that fight animal cancer. Partnering with Blue Buffalo, Petco Love grants the ACCRC funds every year to partially or fully cover costs for those who have difficulty affording cancer treatment for their pets.

“We were very thankful for Petco Love—we almost cried, it was so nice. Petco Love is a good organization that helps a lot of animals, a lot of fur babies,” said Rebecca.

At the ACCRC, Mony received treatment from veterinary radiation oncologist Ilektra Athanasiadi.

“The ACCRC was wonderful. The people who worked there—oh my gosh, like family to us. It may have been only two weeks, but they were so nice and thankful. One lady working there sang to her when she came out of anesthesia,” said Rebecca.

Mony took radiation treatments like a champ, and the Davises were delighted when the tumor began “melting away.” As of January 2023, Mony is officially in remission.

“We weren’t sure if she was going to be here last Christmas, but now we think we’ll have a lot of Christmases with Mony!”

Written by Sarah Boudreau M.F.A. '21, a writer with the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine


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