Milla’s story starts with her humans looking to adopt an “adorable and interesting” Scottish Fold kitten. Once they met her, they became quickly smitten by her lilac coloring and orange eyes. The kitten, who was named after the actress Milla Jovovich, began to acclimatize to her new home in California. All was going well — until one day when her family noticed she was having trouble breathing.
After being whisking to the vet, Milla was transferred to an emergency pet hospital in Culver City.
“They placed her in an oxygen chamber and explained her heart was enlarged and her lungs were filling up with blood,” says Ray Contreras, one of the humans in her life.
Beyond the graphic diagnosis, worse was to come when the doctors explained that even if Milla pulled through, she would probably have only about three months left to live.
“It was devastating,” says Ray, “but we needed to try every option available. The bills were not cheap either, and her pet insurance maxed out right then and there.”
Thankfully, Milla’s sizable army of Instagram fans stepped up: “So many good-hearted people donated that day to help save her. They still donate for her ongoing treatment, which is not cheap. We’re so grateful for them. Sometimes I look at her and think, ‘Wow you don’t know how much you are loved.'”
In medical terms, Milla’s enlarged heart has now been decreased in size. So while she still technically suffers from heart disease, her treatment remains ongoing and she’s learning to adapt. As Ray says, “Unlike humans or dogs, there is no surgical option for cats — so any improvement of congestive heart disease in a cat is rare. We were told this happens in 10 percent of cases.”
On a day-to-day basis, Milla’s family members must stay vigilant but also grounded.
“Everything she does scares us now,” explains Ray. “She can sneeze and we freak out. When she plays or becomes too excited, she does start to breathe heavy so we try to take it easy. But she loves to play so she can get frustrated at times.”
Under doctor’s orders, Milla takes daily medicine that keeps fluid out of her lungs. In short, it “keeps her alive.” Milla’s treatment — and regular visits to the doctor — will need to continue for the rest of her life. To that end, Milla’s fundraiser is ongoing. It currently stands at just more than half of the targeted $15,000 goal.
Having been through a dramatic and emotional start to life with Milla, Ray says that in his experience “if you have a breed of cat that is known to get heart disease issues soon, constantly have your doctor check for irregular heartbeats or murmurs. The sooner it’s found, the better the options and outlook is.
“If your pet is going through something similar, it’s important to not give up,” he adds. “They need you to be there for them like any other family member.”
Follow Milla on Instagram to keep up to speed with her progress.