Athena Puddy Cat died on Monday, January 13 following surgery three days earlier to remove an intestinal endolith. The 14-year-old stallion, owned by Jim Bilbrey, Pikeville, Tenn. and standing at EE Stallion Station in Whitesboro, Tex., developed complications following successful removal of the endolith at JEH Equine Hospital in Whitesboro, on Friday, January 10, according to EE Stallion Station manager Steve Adams.

“He never really presented any symptoms, he just went off of his feed a little bit and wasn’t quite himself,” said Adams, who took Athena Puddy Cat to JEH Equine Hospital on Monday, January 6, for a medical workup and observation. “With most horses, if something like that is going on, they are in a lot of pain. But he wasn’t at all.”

On Thursday, January 9, when Athena Puddy Cat had not improved, he was taken to Animal Imaging in Irving, Tex., where an MRI revealed a large endolith in his colon. “They estimated it was nine inches across and that is just what it was when they removed it,” said Adams. “It was certainly the largest one that I’d ever seen.”

Athena Puddy Cat, by High Brow Cat and out of Athena Accent, by Doc Athena, was bred by Bryan and Julie Stewart, Mesquite, Tex. and purchased by Bilbrey in utero along with his dam. Brad Mitchell trained the colt and showed him for Bilbrey as a semi-finalist in the 2003 NCHA Futurity and to fifth place in the Augusta Futurity. In February 2004, Bilbrey sold Athena Puddy Cat to Suzanne Thomas, Savannah, Tenn., who showed him successfully in non-pro limited-age events, while Mitchell and later Neil Roger continued to show him in the open division.

Athena Puddy Cat concluded his show career at six with official NCHA earnings of $213,029. Bilbrey acquired him from Thomas in 2007 to stand him to the public. Athena Puddy Cat began his official stud career at EE Stallion Station in 2008. Prior to that, in 2005, he had sired six foals, five of which were trained. All five of that first crop became money earners, including major winners Itawtathenapuddycat $291,460; Athena Nuff $102,571; and Lost Wages Cat $86,446.

At the 2013 NCHA Futurity this past December, three Athena Puddy Cat offspring made their mark in Non-Pro competition. Highly Tempted with Brad Rogers and One Man Wolfpack under Kelle Earnheart were Non-Pro finalists earning $26,475 and $20,037, respectively, and Meradas Puddy Cat won the Non-Pro Ltd. championship for 14-year-old Sheridan Clark. Puddy Lil Puppy also won the the Amateur championship for Marco Sacchetti, and Spitfire Kitty was an Amateur finalist under Marty Davis.

In addition to their official 2013 NCHA Futurity earnings, 10 Athena Puddy Cat geldings also earned a total of $28,434 in the EE Ranches, Inc. Gelding Incentive.

“I was on my way to jury duty, when Steve called to tell me that Athena Puddy Cat had died,” said Jo Ellard, owner of EE Ranches and EE Stallion Station. “I was just sick about it. This was his first big foal crop (4-year-olds of 2014). They were so impressive at the Futurity and he was booking a lot of mares for this year.”

According to Ellard, Athena Puddy Cat will be buried in a place of honor next to the turn-out at EE Stallion Station.

By Sally Harrison