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When Kim Kardashian acquired a teacup Persian kitten, courtesy of boyfriend Kanye West, and carted the poor thing around everywhere she went, I was afraid that Kardashian’s choice would result in a disastrous celebrity-spawned "designer pet" trend. Like many people, I wondered when she’d dump the kitten and whether she had considered what she was doing before she got the cat, let alone a relatively new breed.
It turns out I was half-right: Kardashian did give the kitten, Mercy, to her sister Khloe’s assistant, Sydney Hitchcock, just a month after the world found out about the new cat. In her blog, Kardashian said she gave Mercy away only because she had allergies. She’d never had a cat before, she wrote, so she had no idea that she had an allergy to cats. Apparently Hitchcock had recently lost her 17-year-old cat, and because of Hitchcock’s track record of solid, responsible pet ownership, Kardashian figured that if she was going to give Mercy to anyone, Hitchcock was a good choice.
Unfortunately, Mercy became ill a couple of weeks ago. Hitchcock rushed her to the vet, only to be told that the kitten suffered from a cancer-like stomach virus, and nothing could be done to help her. Hitchcock made the humane decision to release Mercy from her suffering. According to one source, the virus is "associated with breeding."
"Mercy was a gentle and loving kitten, and we are all going to miss her so much," Kardashian wrote in her blog. "Thanks to Sydney for making Mercy’s short life one filled with love."
Whatever I think of Kim Kardashian as a celebrity, and whatever I thought of the way she treated Mercy in her early days, I do have to applaud her for giving Mercy away to an excellent cat parent who provided the best possible care and a safe, loving home.
May the lessons of Mercy’s short life, however painful they are, raise the consciousness of Kardashian, her fans, and anyone considering rushing out to buy (or adopt) a kitten. Those lessons include the responsibility inherent in being a cat caretaker, along with the importance of making thoughtful choices, being realistic about your lifestyle and how a pet will fit into that lifestyle, and doing your research on the breed — and the breeder — before laying down your money.
After losing two beloved cats of my own in less than a year, my heart is filled with compassion for those who knew and loved Mercy, including Kardashian herself. I just can’t find it in myself to be snarky about people who are already hurting, even if the odds are good that they’ll never see this article.
Let’s remember the importance of treating others the way we’d want to be treated if we were in the same situation. Let’s have some sympathy for those who are grieving Mercy’s death.