At the height of kitten season, Kwane Stewart was visiting each cage with his vet tech to examine ill and wounded kittens when he first saw Sushi.
Sushi was only one of the numerous kittens that Stewart noticed in need of his help while working as a veterinarian at an underfunded shelter in Modesto, California. But she had a unique quality.
The Dodo quoted Stewart as saying, “I came up to Sushi’s cage, this little Siamese mix… her eyes were crusted shut [and] she had a pretty terrible upper respiratory illness.” She was little enough to fit in my hand’s palm. She most likely weighted similar to a set of keys.
Stewart immediately thought the most humane thing to do would be to put her to sleep. But something stopped him.
“I came back to her cage and I just looked at her and I said, ‘Why don’t you put some food in there?’”
Usually, whenever Stewart would do the food test with other kittens in Sushi’s condition, they would just sit in the corner and ignore the meal. Stewart was shocked when Sushi immediately sniffed her way over to the food and started eating.
At that moment, he knew that Sushi deserved a chance to heal, so he decided to take her home and foster her himself.
“She looked like a fighter,” Stewart said.
Sushi received the greatest possible care from Stewart, his son, and his girlfriend, as well as all the affection she had never experienced. She took two weeks to even open her eyes, and by the time she was six weeks old, she had grown into a strong, spirited little cat.
Stewart remarked, “Every day I simply witnessed how much she wanted to live.” I began to develop feelings for this adorable kitty.
Stewart had always preferred dogs over cats, but Sushi really impacted him. When the time eventually came for Sushi to be placed for adoption, Stewart and his family were unable to handle it. They opted to retain her after some deliberation, and Sushi effectively became her father’s daughter.
She would instantly go to me and start crying when I got home from work, according to Stewart. “She would leap up on my shoulders, almost like a neck pillow, and wrap around my neck while I worked at my desk while purring. We shared a pretty wonderful relationship.
Sushi made sure to express her gratitude to her father, who she appeared to know had saved her.
The once-tiny cat has since served as the inspiration for all of Stewart’s future projects. He campaigned for his county to build a beautiful new shelter where people are actually excited to go and pick out new family members.
The euthanasia rate was one of the worst in the country before, and now it’s practically a no-kill shelter. Sushi influenced all of this and more, including Stewart’s current endeavor, Project Street Vet.
Project Street Vet, a charity that Fetch by The Dodo is the title sponsor of, came about after Stewart stopped to help an unhoused man whose dog had a flea condition. Everyone else had ignored the pair, but for Stewart, it only took a little time and a few bucks out of his own pocket to get the dog a flea treatment and transform both her and her dad’s life.
The man was so incredibly grateful, and Stewart decided he wanted to help other unhoused individuals and their pets get the care they needed.
He held his first pop-up clinic at a soup kitchen, then started driving around to different locations to help the people who couldn’t get to him.
Over the years, Stewart has significantly impacted the lives of several animals, and Sushi is entirely to blame.
I learned that these creatures are unique after adopting Sushi and a strange cat who was on the verge of being put down, said Stewart. “After her, I let a bit more of my heart out.”