Orion, the wonder cat


Vincent Centoze, Contributor

It’s sometimes unusual for animals to be hanging around on campus; that is, unless the campus is Plant City, which houses HCC’s veterinary technology program.  Animals are frequent visitors and day residents.  One of the most beloved denizens on the Plant City Campus is Orion the cat. 

However, Orion is no ordinary cat.   

She is a 21-year old feline with just about every veterinary ailment known.  She has feline immunodeficiency syndrome (the feline equivalent of HIV), kidney disease, mammary cancer, corneal disease, ruptured ligaments in both knees, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease… just to name a few.  But, she’s as content and loving as a cat can be. 

Veterinary Technology Program faculty member Cindy Robinson is Orion’s caretaker. She raised Orion since she was five months old.  Together, they’ve been through numerous moves, jobs and adventures.  She was even there during Robinson’s time as a student in the HCC Vet Tech Program.  They’ve come full circle now that Robinson is a vet tech faculty member.  On days when Robinson is not teaching, Orion is a resident of Robinson’s office where she eats like crazy and then curls up on a chair or her bed.

“It’s amazing – she won’t eat at home … but in the office, she’s always at her food bowl,” says Robinson.  It’s probably because other cats in the home are intimidating and stressful for Orion, and she is on a special diet.  As a Certified Veterinary Technician, Robinson is able to keep a close eye on Orion, and medicate her during the day.  Her office mate, Anthony Spatola, is also a Certified Veterinary Technician, and they’re both trained to respond to any emergencies that may arise, which is always a possibility with Orion.

Orion has also become the unofficial mascot of the vet tech program, and is the program’s walking classroom.  Students often go to the office and discuss Orion’s conditions. 

Students also ensure the she gets plenty of petting and lots of love.

It has been shown that petting a cat or dog lowers both your blood pressure and the animal’s blood pressure, and that’s great news for Orion, who also adds hypertension to her list of ailments. 

Orion has fans outside the program as well; she is a favorite stop for everyone who wanders by, from adjuncts to cleaning staff.  With at least nine lives already behind her, it seems she’ll break the mold and persevere for many more.


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