Mickey Michuda hasn’t always been a cat person. It was dogs who first held her heart, until she met her late husband Jim Baughman in 1990.
As Michuda and Baughman began spending more time together, she says it was as if she was also being courted by his cat, Andre. “That cat won me over. He was quite the little bon vivant.”
She recalls one dinner date at Baughman’s house where she sat in the kitchen while Jim cooked. All the while, Andre sat attentively in the chair next to her. “Jim said it was like his roommate was homing in on a date,” she laughs.
Following Andre’s passing there was Carla, a kitten taken in as a stray, then two additional cats, Grady and Sammy.
Through the years, UW Veterinary Care has served as their home base for annual checkups and other veterinary medical care. A proud alumna of UW–Madison, Michuda valued the campus connection. “I am incredibly proud of this university. And the fact that we have a vet school here makes it even better,” she says.
Michuda also appreciated the chance to help teach the next generation of veterinarians.
“I thought as long as my cats have to come to a vet, they might as well come to where somebody else could benefit, in addition to knowing I’d get good care,” she says. “I loved it. The vet students were all superb.”
In appreciation of the care received in the hospital, and in particular the compassionate approach of veterinarian Sandi Sawchuk of the Primary Care service, Michuda has made an annual gift to the UW School of Veterinary Medicine for 24 consecutive years. She especially takes joy in ordering the school’s annual holiday cards to distribute good cheer to four-legged members of her extended family. “I send them to my animal relatives and sign it with the cats’ names,” she says.
“We have such an outstanding vet school and I want to see it flourish and help in my own way.”
Michuda also recently purchased four bricks (one for each of her past felines) in the Walk of Honor that welcomes clients to the small animal hospital, and she has pledged a leadership-level gift for the next five years to the Feline Health Fund. This fund supports research aimed at improving the health and well-being of cats through better diagnostics, treatment, and prevention of a broad range of common diseases and conditions.
These are just some of the ways Michuda gives back to both animals and people. She has since relocated from Madison to Cedarburg, where she serves as a cat socializer and animal care volunteer with Wisconsin Humane Society. She also helps children and adults with special needs at Helping Hands Healing Hooves, a therapeutic equine-assisted riding program. While living in Madison she served in similar roles with Dane County Humane Society and the therapeutic horsemanship center Three Gaits, Inc.
“It’s very, very rewarding,” she says.
This article appeared in the winter 2019-20 issue of On Call magazine.