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A special cat honored through MSU scholarship
By Karen Templeton
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Stephen and Dava Imes will always remember their cat Mac as being one of a kind, and they are ensuring his legacy lives on through a Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine scholarship.
Mac was a Maine coon cat, a breed known for its large size, long coat and intelligence. Stephen Imes of Columbus first saw Mac nine years ago in South Carolina and knew right away that Mac was something special.
“Mac talked to me in his own way and we developed a kind-of language. We understood each other completely,” Imes said. “He used different sounds to communicate what he wanted, and I responded. I’ve never seen such a laid-back cat.”
Imes recalled how Mac would use a deep, guttural sound to make requests.
“Mac didn’t like to drink water out of a bowl; he wanted his fresh from the spigot or faucet. He’d basically ask me to turn on the water for him,” he said. “Mac was also known for performing tricks. He could stand on his back legs or sit completely still if I asked him.”
Their local veterinarian referred Mac to MSU’s veterinary college when he became ill with a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. After his first visit, Mac quickly became known at the college for his outstanding personality.
“I remember the first time I saw Mac,” said CVM intern Dr. Krista Gazzola. “Mr. Imes carried Mac in under his arm. He was a calm, obedient cat and one of the sweetest I have ever met.”
Gazzola and fourth-year veterinary student Hanna Cook took care of Mac during his last 24 hours.
“Mac was suffering from respiratory distress and acute loss of function of his hind limbs during that last day,” Gazzola said. “As sick as he was, he would still ‘talk’ to us when we were caring for him. He really let that personality of his shine through.”
Imes got to know the CVM clinicians and staff during his many trips there for testing and treatment throughout Mac’s illness. He and his wife are thankful to them for their expertise and compassion.
“We saw a lot of veterinarians and vet students during Mac’s visits to CVM,” Imes said. “Each one of them treated us with respect and gave Mac the kind of care someone would give their own cat.”
After Mac lost his battle with his illness, Stephen and Dava decided to honor the veterinarians who cared for him through the Mac, Stephen and Dava Imes Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to a junior or senior full-time CVM student, and priority will be given to those who show an interest in feline medicine.
“We want to honor the doctors and staff who cared for our Mac,” Imes said. “I’ll never forget the exceptional care Mac received.”
The Imes hope that the scholarship will also help keep Mac’s memory alive.
“Mac deserves the recognition,” Imes said. “You just don’t run across a cat like that but once in a lifetime. He was my buddy and he won’t ever be forgotten.”