Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Update

Well, I tried to keep another blog and just got bogged down- the Daily Kitteh ended up on Facebook, though, and I did post pictures for 50 days straight! Anyone wanting to watch Bug as he grows up can see him here...

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=lf#!/DailyKitteh

Other then that, I thought I might have happy news to share with everyone. In fact, I won't downplay it- I have WONDERFUL news, tempered with sobering news, to share...

My gorgeous Cole baby- my curly coated boy- became a Grand Champion at the beginning of December at his FIRST weekend being shown as an adult cat in TICA. I am head-over-heels proud of him. He is my gorgeous, sweet tempered, lazy boy and I am always charmed by him...The sobering news is that his breeder, a wonderful, compassionate woman who does more for her cats then most people I know- had the need to bring in a couple of her cats to a cardiac clinic because they had heart murmurs. She was knowledgeable enough to realize that one heart murmur probably wasn't odd, but three in a cattery is impossibly high odds.

The news she received were devastating. All three of these cats have HCM. This breed is NOT KNOWN FOR HCM. Cole's sister, from his litter, has moderate HCM at 9 months of age.

This means I will have to neuter Cole. Although I was originally planning on neutering him, he has done wonderful in the show ring and I know that his genes in regard to conformation would be a benefit to the breed. HOWEVER, HCM genetics being what they are- I cannot risk passing those genes along.

What this means ever moreso though is that Cole might be carrying for HCM... He may be a ticking time bomb, my beautiful sweet soft kinky coated boy. We will have him scanned, but unfortunately, negative means nothing when it comes to HCM. A negative for HCM just means... until next year, hopefully, we are safe, but there are no guarantees. In six months, a negatively scanned cat can have full blown HCM and you may wake up to them suffering from partial paralysis or even dead.

This news has devastated me. It just breaks me to my core. I walked away from the Sphynx breed because Neala broke my heart and this particular phantom, HCM, haunted me with each litter of kittens born to my cattery. HCM IS found in the Sphynx breed and the incident of death is very very high. Unlike Maine Coons and Ragdolls, Sphynx breeders have yet to find any DNA markers that indicate HCM or anything that would make testing more effective. Like I said- you can test a cat year after year and get negative and at year five- have the cat have HCM. What about the litters it's produced to that point? HCM is hereditary. Even if you research the cats' background and purchase from the best breeder that has tested the past umpteen generations, you still never know. A fellow cat lover just had her THREE Sphynxes all diagnosed with varying degrees of HCM.

So where does this leave us? This leaves us loving our Selkirk Rex- no more-no less. But we will cherish him every day he is with us, whether he develops HCM or not. We will neuter him, I wish I could set aside this health issue, but I personally cannot. But we will love him- like each day is his last.

On another short note- last night, we had a Christmas rescue. We live in a highly populated city in the desert and it has been raining. Endlessly... For days... There is flooding, there is water everywhere... And last night, we came home from shopping and on the crisp cold night air, I could hear the tiny sound of kittens... Crying... Screaming... Cold and miserable and outdoors.

The desert is cold. People do not realize that, but wintertime is crisp and cold and with the rain, it becomes bitterly cold.

My husband pinpointed the sound as coming from the backyard of a neighbor's across the street that we did not know. I went and knocked on the door, but no one answered. I then went and knocked on the next-next door neighbor's and the poor senior citizen lady who answered probably thought I was nuts. I just wanted to know if they realized there were babies freezing next door and if they knew where the house owner was... Of course, she did not know about the kittens or know where the owner of the house was...

So my Hubby, bless his soul, took it upon his own to scan the backyard, locate the kittens with a flashlight and probably right before he was going to jump into this stranger's backyard, the older man returned home.

He claimed he had no clue there were kittens in his yard, BUT he had a Hav-a-hart trap set out, which is what contained the two screaming kittens. They were not sheltered from the environment and they were sopping wet. Hubby pulled them from the cage, was promptly bit for his kindness, and for now, they are in my garage with a space heater, food, and water. After they settle, we will regroup and figure out where to go from there.

So that is where we are as of today... This is what I ask of you this Christmas season... Love your critters and family members like each day is your last with them...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

We're here...

Hi Everyone,

We're here- it's just hard to keep this blog updated because I feel like it, along with Neala's blog, are rife with sadness...

During our time with Neala, one thing I really enjoyed was taking daily photos of her and sharing them with her, so I have decided to make a photo blog- I may actually write on it as well- but for now, it's just a few photos...

You can see us at...

http://www.dailykitteh.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Purrs and Prayers



So I'm very happy to see purrs and prayers coming in for Miss Coco... I've had the pleasure of meeting Coco and her Momma at the last cat show, but even moreso- I've known her Momma for a while online and she did a lot to help raise funds for Neala's surgery- so she holds a special place in my heart. Please, if you haven't- take the time to visit Jacky's site...

Life over here has gotten close to hectic- school starts up soon, so the little hairless beasts who make me laugh every day and yet can make me want to pull my hair out as well- are headed back (well, one is going for the first time on Monday and one still has a few years until he starts). PLUS, school starts back for me since I've decided I've put off returning to that big brick school called college for far too long...

And we are planning our trip to the great big cat show of the year- the TICA Annual. If anyone is in Northern California- we'd love to see you there! We will be bringing Cole, our new fluffy black boy, and Simon, my orange pudding pop cat...










Saturday, August 21, 2010

Story of Rescue

My very first rescue, actually, was on an Army base. I was in the military and there for training. We were walking to the theater that night when I heard a tiny mewing outside Army training barracks. I listened for a moment and located the sound coming out of a heavy grate set in the ground. Being strong and young back in the day, me and my buddy lifted the grate and set it aside the drain. The mewing abruptly stopped and we could see nothing in the drain, so believing we had freed the kitten by removing the grate, we went on to the movies.

The night sky was dark by the time we got back and the stars were out. It is gorgeous at night in Alabama, by the way... We were walking chatting, enjoying the night time, when I heard it again- the teeny tiny mewing of a kitten. Someone had placed that heavy grate back upon our kitten's hole!

(Thinking back now- she probably slipped between the grate and couldn't climb UP to get OUT, but I didn't think of that possibility back then).

It's been over a decade now, but somehow, in the pitch dark of night, we removed the grate again and I jumped into this dingy dirty gross drain to find the kitten. I pushed my hands through leaves and gods-know-what and suddenly, I felt her! Fur!

Pulling her out and holding her to me, now I was in trouble... She was probably a six-seven week old solid blue fluffy scrap of a thing. She was so happy to be out of that drain!

Now my problem was- I was residing in training barracks as well! I didn't have a house- I lived in barracks where pets weren't allowed and it was probably 10 PM at night!

I decided if I was going to get in trouble- this was the way to do it. So I snuggled the kitten into my shirt, brought her upstairs and introduced her to the girls.

We were in an open bay- ie there were bunk beds and we each had a wall closet, a set of showers in the back and a cleaning closet. I explained the issue to the girls and for once, we all agreed and we decided the kitten would stay with us until our Gunny came in on and then we would ask him to place her at the base shelter. I know- shelters aren't wonderful places, but it had to be better then dying in a drainpipe in the dark!

That weekend, we had that scamp running all over our bay. She was the cutest, sweetest little thing.

And yes, that Monday, as soon as our Gunny arrived, I trepidatiously went down to his office, rapped on his door, and went in with trembling knees to tell him I broke the rules, but it was for a good reason.

He took it well naturedly enough. I'd like to think he had a good heart.

She was actually our first rescue- in a long history of them now...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cat Shows for the Household Pet

So because someone mentioned they don't know much about cat shows, I wanted to take some time to fill in some blanks...

Cat shows, unlike dog shows, embrace not only the purebred kitties (pictured here is Cole, modelling his gorgeous, soft blankie from ML and made by Peggy! Isn't it fab?)...

Cat shows, hosted by TICA and I believe CFA as well, also embraces our beloved household pet kitties- you know, those slapped with the boring names of 'Domestic Shorthair' or 'Domestic Longhair', etc. You know as well as I do- those titles don't really say anything about our beloved kitties! I like the term moggy- it's just funny, so I use it for my regular kitties nowadays...

Anyways, if you have a sweet kitty that loves people- and loves to show off- he/she can do great at a cat show! Look at the TICA show calendar and pick a show near you...

http://ticamembers.org/calendar/

Now, you could register your kitty right off the bat- they still need to be registered, even as a Household Pet- but you can go to your first show and skip the registration if you want. I went ahead and registered my boy I have shown as a HHP before showing him- I figured that way if he did anything in the ring, I wouldn't have to submit paperwork afterwards to get his points. Good thing too- I hate paperwork!

Okay, register your kitty for the show and place them as 'registration pending' if you would like.

The big thing with cat shows and Household Pets is GROOMING. I really failed here when I took my kitty to the show...


(Short story: I had paid fees to bring two kitties to a show. One kitty went into heat and I wanted her bred, so I was hoping she was pregnant. Turns out- she wasn't, but I had to register the second kitty for the show a few days before I found out. I looked around at my kitties and said, "Hmmm... Who should go to the show?" And I picked my TEN YEAR OLD ONE EYED EAR TORN kitty- Teddy. He had a great personality at home and I hoped he would charm the judges at the show).

When I groomed my kitty, I didn't test my shampoo out prior and it made his coat seem a bit greasy... I would suggest testing out any shampoo prior to use and rinse-rinse-rinse to make sure it doesn't leave the coat greasy!

Anyways, guess what? Even with his coat in less then 'perfect' condition- that weekend, there was ONE judge that was simply in love with my boy... He had not placed in a single ring and then...

The judge kept him in the ring after she dismissed the rest of the class that didn't place! And then she placed 3rd and it WASN'T my boy! And I thought, well, he'll get second- that's great. And THEN she placed SECOND- and it wasn 't my boy!!! He got first!

But even more exciting- after that ring (he is a shorthaired cat, so he was judged first with all of the shorthaired adults- and as a HHP, all adults have to be spayed/neutered)- he was called back fo the Finals ring (this is where you get points) and he WON FIRST PLACE in the FINAL RING!

Yes, I cried. I was so sappy...

So the lesson today is- if you enjoy sharing your kitty and your kitty enjoys sharing attention with others- why not try showing at a cat show? Teddy got his Masters title that very weekend- with that one ring. I am so proud of him. He doesn't know and he probably doesn't care, but it makes my heart swell to know others find him as wonderful as I do...

Not bad for a one eyed senior catizen, huh? (Here he is in the Juniors Exhibitors' Ring being shown by my daughter...)




Crying



I am so sad- so many families lost their beloved kitties this week...





Winnie, in particular, touched my heart. She reminded me of Neala. Of course, she did- she was tiny and a fighter!

I know I'm not good at keeping up my sideline with all of the sick kitties and families needing prayers, but please don't think they aren't in my heart. The Cat Blogosphere is hard for me- I found it when I needed it the most, but it's still hard for me to go to the site and read it and see all of the heartbreak and pain and need... Even though it's wrapped in love and excitement and joy...

Sunday, August 15, 2010


ARGH!


Okay, another Ebay auction- all proceeds go to the Winn Foundation...




Jeepers Creepers, Where'd You Get Those Peepers?


Mum said it's about time I introduce myself since a kind lady, ML, finally let the 'cat out of the bag'...


My name is Cole, although on some fancy schmancy paperwork, I'm known as Susen's Jeepers Creepers. My Momma, the sweet one that I used to suckle the milk of life from, was a kind fluffy soul- with lots of curl and love to go around. I remember spending my days, nursing and hanging out with my brothers... We learned all of the things good kittens learn at Kitten Academy- how to use the litterbox, where to scratch, depending on whether the hue-mans have been good or bad that day, and how to be just aloof enough to put your hue-man back in their place if they've been exceptionally naughty. It was a good thing- but as all things go- couldn't last.


My Grams is a kind hue-man that taught me how to eat kibble and that hue-mans were good for scritches and pats. She was with me from birth too and then one day, she packed me and my bros up and we went to this place where there were a lot of other cats and hue-mans hustling and bustling back and forth from one set of wooden benches to another.


I didn't mind though. We had a nice cozy hide-out with a hammock (have you ever slept on one of those? COMFORT-DELUXE!) and blankies to snuggle under.


This is where I met my Mum- she came over and talked to my Grams and Grams took me out and we got to cuddle. I flashed my amber eyes at her- I could tell this hue-man was hurting and sad... I must admit- I kinda melted like butter in her arms- this is one of the Secrets to a Hue-man Heart you learn in Kitten Academy.


But would you believe it? Some hue-man male called numbers off the loud speaker and Mum dashed off! I was so appalled! How did I misread her? I thought I had her in my paw.


My brothers laughed at me that night! They told me I musta failed that class in KA! Pssh- brothers!


But the next day, right before the cat show, as Grams called it, was to end- Mum came over and started talking to Grams again. We were already in the plastic box that would carry us home, but Mum pointed me out and then Grams smiled and said something and Mum smiled and suddenly, I was outta the box and in Mum's arms!


She looked into my eyes and squeezed me softly and I knew- she was mine!
Well, that's my intro for now :)
(Edited to add by Mum: Cole isn't a rescue, although I can see by his description how one might think he is... The hustle and bustle he is describing is the hustle and bustle found at the cat show we last attended- and his little cave was his show cage :) He was there with his breeder- I fell in love and she offered him as a co-owned kitty. I couldn't turn him down!)


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Updates

Johnny, the little kitten with the possible PRAA, was finally diagnosed with a simple mega-esophagus. Nothing actually simple about mega-e. Unlike PRAA, there is no 'fix'- you can only use medications and hope that it will enable the kitten to keep food down. In fact, digging through the mega-e archives on the Yahoo Group before Neala was diagnosed with PRAA, I only found ONE kitten with mega-e without a primary diagnosis causing it- and although this kitten survived- it does not bode well for others that there aren't others online with the same condition.

Johnny, sadly, was put to sleep after he fought the good fight- he was simply losing weight and not thriving. I know his parents were very saddened by his loss- I was saddened too...

I was also informed yesterday about a Peterbald kitten that was diagnosed with PRAA and has since passed on. Breaks my heart- these little guys... I'm hoping his Mom will email me the story as well as a picture to add to Neala's PRAA website.

I'm sorry I haven't been updating as much as I should be. I finally received the gorgeous painting by Shannon Tolhurst- Neala's portrait. I am keeping it- it graces my wall with her presence and Shannon did a wonderful job. I love it. She is a good friend who has two of Neala's half-siblings- they are about 3 years old.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

For a smile...


Neala's half sister, our only naked baby left- waiting on her Mom to pick her up...

Neala's Necklace

ML from the Cat Blogosphere sent me something beautiful today...



Well , she sent it awhile ago, but it had to be rerouted *smile*



It is a necklace of Neala and on the flip side, it says, "I will whisper into her heart that I am always with her."


Thank you so much, ML. It made me cry, but in a good way.



This month was not what we expected going into the surgery... We had expected to be taking care of Neala, waiting for the birth of a beautiful baby kitten, and spending a lot of time at home celebrating with friends and family Neala's success.



Of course, we all know that's not how this month turned out... But we were still blessed- blessed by those who cared.



Thank you, ML!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FIP


Life goes on here, but now I am finding myself even more invested in other people's stories and tragedies revolving around their kitties and their health issues.

This week, a Savannah cat breeder whom I adore and respect had a kitten (under a year old, I believe) diagnosed with dry FIP and she was put to sleep. It breaks my heart to hear of her pain and to know so many other people have experienced the horrors of FIP...

FIP should be any cat lover's nightmare. The reality of it is- we have NO DEFENSE against FIP.

The vaccine doesn't work- point blank! And FIP is simply a mutated form of the coronavirus, which in most cats- it simply causes a cold and their immune system rallies and they survive.

In FIP cats, however, the coronavirus mutates and turns into either wet (the more common form) or dry FIP.

FIP frightens me. As a cat owner, letalone someone who shows/breeds, it terrifies me. The thought that one of my own cats might one day develop FIP and be lost to this dreaded disease- one where there is no cure- frightens me. But the thought that I might send a baby home and it's new owner might lose their beloved little one makes me break out in cold sweat.

Please- if you have never taken the time to read up on FIP- do so now. Most people are ignorant about the reality of FIP and they blame the shelter systems or their breeders if they lose a baby due to FIP, but the reality is- until there is enough money put into research, there is no one to blame except ourselves. FIP is not like FeLV or FIV; it is insidious and sneaky.

That's where my thoughts lie this week... If we can't afford to put an end to FIP, which is a silent, and oftentimes aggressive, cat killer- how can we afford any other research to help our feline companions?
In Memory of Aziza... B's baby girl...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Letter

This weekend has been a long blur...



The vet hospital contacted me last week while I was driving Galaxy to meet her new Momma. Needless to say, it wasn't pretty. They were polite- I was polite. But I was passionate and as much as I felt I was led in loops for a while, I wasn't letting go of my opinion- Neala shouldn't have been fed the food she received after surgery.

They did apologize for her loss- in as much as I know they are sorry that she died... And the good thing is- I know it's not JUST BECAUSE I'm causing a ruckus. But I do truly believe they were all saddened that our little trooper did not make it. I DO think they wanted her to come home, happy and healthy, because they love animals.

I think the main thing that angered me about the discussion was someone bringing up grief and using it as a scapegoat for my letter. I had to finally stop and point out that grief had nothing to do with my letter about Neala's aftercare. Of course, I am grieving her loss- we all are. Every single one of us who had her touch our hearts.

But loss is a part of our lives! We lose pets, we lose loved ones- we lose those we love and we have to deal with it each day of our lives. That's not why I wrote that letter, I must say!

The office manager finally came on and said she could tell the surgeon and I could go back and forth all day- and she's right.


This world kinda sucks sometimes. BECAUSE we live in a world where simply saying, "It was my mistake- I'm sorry" opens you up to lawsuits. BECAUSE admitting fault can get you in trouble... But no one is ever faultless- we all make mistakes in our jobs, in our lives, day to day...


So I knew as much as I didn't want to admit it- that the surgeon would never be allowed to admit a mistake even if he KNEW he made a BLATANT mistake!


The office manager offered a partial refund- and I told her I had to think about it.


And I did... I thought of everything... I thought, 'If I took it- does that mean I didn't fight hard enough for Neala?' And that is the thought that whirled around my head over and over and over while I tried to look at everything at every angle.


In the end, though- my goal with that letter wasn't a refund, partial or total, it was to ensure that Neala was not forgotten and that they watch their post operative care more carefully in the future. It was to ensure the next Neala has not only a kickass operation, BUT also superb aftercare.


So I talked to the office manager and said yes, we'll take a partial refund... She was very nice and honest today and I felt more at ease talking to her now then before. She had went to Neala's sites, she had seen her Facebook page, her website... She knows what went into Neala- we all loved her very much.


I will be making a donation in Neala's name AND in honor of my own veterinarian to the Winn Foundation with this money.


Neala will never ever be forgotten...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekend

First, the auction for Sphynx sweaters went off well- we managed to donate $52 to the Winn Foundation. Sure, it's not a huge amount, but every little bit helps! I found that out with Neala!

Second, I only have two of my Sphynx babies now... One will go home this weekend and the other girl will go home next weekend. I will miss my babies!

We had the Midpacific Regional TICA cat show this weekend in San Jose, California. We packed up and made the 8.5 hour drive out there. I took my Mom and Niece- along with my Mom's Sphynx (Neala's Daddy) and two of my own cats (Savannahs).

It was a long weekend, but a lot of fun, all in all. I made fliers that described PRAA and the symptoms and handed them out to everyone in the show hall. Although no one came up to talk to me about it- probably just as good because the ONE lady who said she had read about Neala online and wanted to know the rest of the story- I ended up in tears telling her what happened. BUT I did see quite a few breeders/show people reading the PRAA fliers- which means if they ever see it happen, they will now know. And maybe if they are never touched by it, a friend might be... It's a trickle down effect, really, informing people about conditions they've never heard of.

Made me laugh- I came up to ladies folding HCM fliers (cardiomyopathy) and I said, "Would you like a flier about a congenital defect?" and they said, "Only if you'll take one of ours!"

My cats did as well as I expected them- they were gorgeous and well behaved for the judges.

It was nice- it was relaxing. It was nice, also, to be around a lot of people who knew Neala's story- who didn't need to ask about it because they knew what had happened- every step of the way...

We benched next to a lady I had never met, but who had pushed for donations for Neala throughout the Sphynx world. Jacky is a great lady and her Sphynx are gorgeous!

But I just wanted to update all of you- life got busy out here!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tears for Neala




You have been there with us, every step, and I wanted to share the last tear-filled step with all of you. Her ashes arrived today. This is her urn, this is her Surgery Crab, and this is the blanket the hospital sent her 'home' in before we returned to the hospital.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Felix Update

Update on the little black and white kitten- he was pulled by a rescue group and already had his surgery!

HOORAY for little Felix!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Neala's Legacy

Already, a week after Neala's loss, I received an email from a wonderful Bengal breeder who has a little boy who has the symptoms of PRAA. She has had him to the vet already, but no barium xrays were performed, so that is her next step.



Unlike Neala, Johnny has already had a close call or two with death. His Mom and Dad have lavished a lot of time and care on him to nurse him through those periods- and they will continue to fight the good fight, as long as Johnny has the strength to keep going.



Please keep Johnny in your thoughts and prayers! I'm going to ask his Mom for a photo of him...



The funny thing with PRAA is that it's preferrable to have PRAA with mega-e then just mega-e. There is NO fix for mega-esophagus; there are medications to help with it, but no 'fix' per se. PRAA corrective surgery is THE fix for kittens that have mega-e secondary to PRAA. The surgery may not completely fix the mega-e, depending upon the chance of nerve damage, but oftentimes, with surgery, the animal will eventually be able to eat normally after enough time has passed, the esophagus healed, and the kitten is weaned from slurry to wet food to even possibly kibble.



We are going to a cat show next weekend- a big one. We had paid for it about a month before Neala was diagnosed and then decided we couldn't go because Neala would need hands-on care and one of our Queens was pregnant and due the week of the cat show as well. Neala went to the Bridge and my Queen miscarried while we were in Utah, tending to Neala- so I have no reason NOT to go.



We will be passing out very basic flyers to the cat show participants about PRAA- what to watch out for, how to diagnose it, how to treat it. It might not sound important, but it is- the sooner PRAA is recognized, the sooner it can be treated. And more valuable data can be collected on it if more people realize it for what it is.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I want him...


Since I was expecting to have a special needs baby, my heart is just wishing and wanting right now...


I would love to bring this little boy home...


He is currently called Felix and is featured on the Cat Blogosphere. He was caught in the belt of a car and his little leg is broke so he needs (I'd assume) either orthopedic surgery to save the leg or amputation...
I'd wholeheartedly take him if I could afford the orthopedic surgery (I have to assume that is between $2000-$3000). If he needed an amputation, I'd take him in a heartbeat- I could even AFFORD that surgery...
Sigh. I'm in love. Anyone else?

Friday, July 9, 2010

TBIF


I decided instead of a lengthy post today, I'd just share a picture with you and try to keep an ongoing Friday theme of photos- so today is 'Thank Bast It's Friday' in honor of the kitties...


This is Neala's sister, Galaxy...
Her siblings are going to their new homes in the next 2-3 weeks. I am very sad since I retired her Momma and my other Momma and we will have no more naked babies in our house :( The way things panned out- we were supposed to have Neala as our naked baby who would need a lot of extra TLC, but life didn't work out that way...
But appreciate Galaxy- I love all of my babies and tell them every single day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Story of Pagan

The letter is sent- certified, signature required, and should arrive on Friday. How long it will take to get a response is another story...
I have been working on Neala's website... If you get the chance, go over and look at the other kitties who were diagnosed with PRAA and their stories... There are two Sphynx, a domestic shorthair named Timmy, a Florida Panther, and a Savannah baby... That's five domestic cats, not including the Panther, diagnosed with PRAA that I knew of personally. Chantal, the breeder with the two PRAA Sphynx, actually found out about it due to another cat being diagnosed with it- so it spirals outward. I wonder how many cats truly have this congenital defect and how many die before it's diagnosed and how many are put to sleep as soon as it was diagnosed. Mind you- just the barium xrays at my vet, to DIAGNOSE the problem, were $350. That's a lot of money for a kitten- and for a lot of families, that would be the most they could spend on vet care for a small kitten... Not because they don't want to, but because money is hard these days...

Anyways, I promised Pagan's story, so here it is...

***



When Pagan was born, she was an apparently healthy solid blue Sphynx kitten. She grew rapidly- one of the larger kittens out of the litter and quickly stole my heart. I was planning on retiring her Mother and I felt that Pagan would be an exceptional baby to keep... Plus, she was blue! And adorable! It is very easy to fall in love with kittens- each baby, no matter what their color, fur type or not, that has been in this household has quickly charmed me...


At around 6 weeks, I noticed that Pagan had a rattle in her breathing. My vet quickly prescribed antibiotics and we continued on... She was still growing and eating and playing with her siblings and I was still totally in love.

The antibiotics did not seem to affect the rattle. So I took her back to my vet and we took xrays- assuming that perhaps she had aquired inhalation pnuemonia. The xrays showed clear lungs, however, and therefore we decided our best course of action was prednisone, hoping it was just an odd case of a kitten developing asthma at a very early age.

The prednisone did not help and Pagan's breathing began to grow worse... Sometimes, you could physically see her struggle to pull in air.

She was still eating and playing at this point in time though- she was a very happy little girl. She was an imp- her little eyes and face could easily steal your heart.

Puzzled, my vet and I decided to try an exploratory at our vet hospital. Pagan was knocked out, intubated, more xrays were snapped, and then she was woke up. She was such a trooper- so trusting and always purring. Just like Neala, who she wasn't related to, she charmed everyone she met. I call that a Sphynx Trick. They can charm anyone they meet!

These xrays still didn't show us the problem... There was a slight grey area upwards of her trachea, or windpipe, but we weren't sure if it was just the xray or something that needed to be fixed.

Our next option was to visit the Veterinarian Referral Center. I was forewarned- it would be expensive- simply to walk in the door costs almost a $200 exam fee.

But Pagan was slipping away from us quickly, now... I don't know if it was the exploratory irritating her trachea, I don't know if it was just as she aged, whatever the problem became worse, but she was fading and we had to make a decision.

Looking into Pagan's little face, I knew she had not quit- and that is my mantra. I will not quit if they have not quit.

We took her into the Referral Center and the staff was so kind and caring. They ensured us that all hands would be on deck as they knocked out Pagan, inserted a tiny camera down her trachea, and tried to find whatever was causing her respiratory distress.
Just as with Neala, we waited by our phone, barely baring to breathe... Just waiting...

The news, this time, however, was crushing. The vet could find no reason for Pagan's respiratory distress. The only thing the specialists could come up with was that perhaps she was suffering from laryngeal paralysis, which is another condition that is found in large breed dogs- they had never heard of it happening in cats before.

Since they were unsure if this was the condition Pagan was suffering from and they could not give us a success rate on the surgery, since they had never performed one on a 2 pound kitten, and since they had never seen this surgery performed on a cat at all- we made the hard decision of putting Pagan to sleep. While she had the will to live, she was truly suffering...

I drove down there, this time in the hush of the evening, and held our gorgeous Pagan as we let her slip from this world into no more suffering... I cried bitter tears because we could not save her, I cried tears at her loss and ours, but I knew we had done everything possible to save our little girl and it was just not meant to be.

Pagan's loss, maybe moreso then even Neala's, illustrates how much more we need to know in regard to feline health issues. Perhaps cat owners do not have the finances dog owners have to invest in their cats' healths. Perhaps it is a paradox- because cat owners, as a whole, own more cats- perhaps we don't have that extra padding to push the envelope, to explore further into a murky diagnosis... But we, as a whole, can help.

In less then two weeks, enough money was donated to save Neala's life- we need to use that same passion and that same goodness of heart to push for further research into feline health matters. Our cats- they are the world to us. We need to ensure the veterinarian field feels the same...

***


Epilogue...

Just to leave you with a smile...

Pagan's story does not end with her loss either... The day we were at the vet, waiting to have the initial exploratory, I overheard the receptionists talking to a lady about two dogs she had found- two Pomeranian mixes. She commented that she found the puppies running down the street and since she found them, she was going to keep them. I do not believe they were microchipped, but I did momentarily wonder about the possible owners of these puppies and how they would feel at their loss...

A week later, while still dealing with Pagan's lost, I saw a post online about two missing Pom puppies and figured it would only take a moment of my time to email them about what I saw at my vet hospital 'just in case'...

As luck would have it, after the distraught owners talked to the vet staff that was on hand that night I was at the vet hospital, and faxing them photos of their puppies, the staff verified that these were, indeed, the two pups the lady had come in with! The puppies were soon returned to their original owners!

This is what the owner emailed to me after the puppies returned home, "I am so sorry for your loss (of Pagan). May her life have meant something as it saved my puppies... You were a God send and her life really mattered. Had you not been there, I am sure I never would have seen my puppies again..."

The Letter

The letter is printed and I will be mailing it certified today.

I am nervous- it's easier just to pretend it never happened then to ask for someone to take responsibility. I hope whoever decides to look into the situation takes the time to read Neala's blog- to see the hope and faith we rested squarely into their hands and to understand that we full well know it was a mistake and that they did not mean for her to die. I believe, if the person responsible for what happened could turn back time and fix the mistake- they would. But since I don't know who that person is and since none of us have that ability, then the next best step is to admit that it happened, look into the events leading up to her death, and creating a plan to ensure it never happens again at that vet hospital.

I know a lot of Neala's fans harbor anger and resentment towards the hospital and its staff, but I don't. I just have intense sorrow and grief- for them, for me, for us, and for Neala. Until such time as they respond to this letter, I will continue to hope that they will readily admit a mistake happened and that they will offer to rectify the situation, as limitedly as they can because who among us can bring back the dead?

Soon, Neala's ashes will be home. I'm not ready to deal with that, but deal- I must.

Until then, though- the letter will be sent today and I shall keep you updated.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday Memories

I meant to discuss Pagan today, but I find I simply don't want to discuss anything...

While Thursday is the day we lost Neala- Tuesday was the day we brought her to the surgeon, so hopeful, so full of expectations and hope. We held our breath for what seemed like hours- waiting for the call from the surgeon. And when we finally received it- boy, did we celebrate! Not only us, but the people all over the world who were supporting Neala!

I think of the rollercoaster ride of last week and my stomach just clenches painfully. Today was the last day Neala was 'normal'. I think the results of the misfeeding could be seen when we visited the night of the surgery... Remember how I pointed out that we stayed only a few minutes, because she felt so cold? I think her body was already diverting energy towards her breathing versus keeping her warm.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Truth About Cats & Dogs

This is an interesting, short, statistics article about cat and dog ownership in the United States...

http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/diseasesall/a/aa051303a.htm

The most interesting thing to note, I think, is that there are more cat owners in the US AND that more cat owners own multiple cats- while only 24% of dog owners own more then one dog, about 51% of cat owners own more then one cat.

Now, I know the numbers can be skewed- because what do we consider ownership? TO ME- it is an indoor animal that is either spayed/neutered or in a planned breeding program; to others, it may be the outdoor moggies that they feed and care for.... So there is disparity in what ownership means to different people... I am sure if I fed an outdoor cat every day, I would consider him mine too- except he wouldn't stay outdoors for long and he'd lost his nuts awful quick ;) (Sorry about that!)

But my point is- THERE are MORE cat owners then dog owners. MORE of us OWN or claim to own more then one cat! So why oh why are we behind the curve when it comes to medical research?

Wake up, America! Our precious Domestic Shorthairs, Longhairs, Sphynxes, Bombays, Persians, Savannahs, Bengals, and everything in between DESERVE better! They deserve more research into areas that affect their lives and we deserve the best care for them!

Tomorrow, I will tell you about Pagan.. She was an adorable blue Sphynx kitten born to me... If I don't have you screaming for more medical research for our cats yet- perhaps tomorrow, it will be a different story.

***

PS- if ANYONE wants to write an article for this blog about any area of feline health- including breeding- I will gladly post it with full credit to the author! Just email me at PRAAkitty@gmail.com!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Neala's Last Video

Ah, so I haven't ran out of tears...

I forgot about this... I had videotaped this in the exam room, waiting on the surgeon to arrive. I wanted you guys to hear Neala purring... If you turn up your volume, you will hear it...

Now I remember where that phrase 'drowing in sorrow' comes from.. The tears just won't stop. I know- eventually, I'll remember the happy highlights like this video more then the tears and the anger... But until then, they just don't stop...

video

Gorgeous Sweaters on Ebay! Proceeds go to Winn Foundation

Before Neala passed away, a darling Sphynx owner offered me two hand made sweaters to auction off to help with her aftercare...

Since my sweet girl is at the Bridge, we decided to auction the sweaters off and have all proceeds go to the Winn Foundation to further FELINE RESEARCH (Yup, you'll hear that term a lot).

If you don't have a Sphynx, but have a small pup- this sweater migh fit. If you don't have a Sphynx or small pup, please feel free to share this link with others who might...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=320557332194

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=320557337677&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Support for Feline Health Research




I asked ML from the Blogosphere if she knew anyone who could make a button for me to share with all of you... She asked Anne at Zoolatry and she made these gorgeous little buttons.




Please- use them! Link them to whatever captures your heart! HCM Research, FIP Research, the Winn Foundation, WHATEVER touches your life right now!
Seeing these buttons on others' sites will put a smile in my heart, knowing Neala will always be remembered.




The Winn Foundation

I just decided to sit down and email the Winn Foundation... I wanted to ask if they had any research looking into Persistent Right Aortic Arch. As much as online, it says it's rare in cats- in my research, I found a Domestic Shorthair, Timmy, as well as two Sphynxes located in Holland, who were diagnosed with this disease. I wonder how many kittens have it and are lost before the diagnosis can be made- and I wonder how many kittens have it and are euthanized due to the high cost of surgery.

I also asked about running a donation drive for them... I am thinking, in my head, that maybe next June, I will run a month-long donation drive with all proceeds going to the Winn Foundation. The honest truth is- we NEED more research done into our cats' health care. We NEED to know MORE. Our VETS need to know more. And the only way to do this is to fund MORE research.

Look at FIP! It's a horrible silent type killer. Even the best catteries and rescues have had to deal with FIP. I am so thankful I have not seen it yet, but I am not naive- I know it can hit when you are least expecting it. Why don't we know MORE about this disease?

Or HCM! At least in a few breeds of cats, there is a relatively easy test to diagnose the possiblity of HCM in their lines- not within the Sphynx breed! We are losing beloved cats day after day to the horrors of HCM- we need to know MORE!

Anyways, so that is where my thoughts are today... I feel as though I found all of this fire in the last two weeks, to fight for Neala and her life, and it would be a shame to let it fade and be wasted.... Perhaps, together, we cat lovers can bring more knowledge to the forefront of veterinarian care.

Friday, July 2, 2010

To Err is Human

A comment below mentioned that even vets make mistakes... And that's completely right. None of us can say we've never made a mistake in our lives- heck, even with our pet care. How many times have we made a decision that looking back, we can see we screwed up? I know I've done it. My learning curve with kitten care was on stray babies with no one to care for them, but me. I had to try- even if that meant losing them- because to not try sentenced them to certain death. I am glad to say, I saved more then I lost, but my time handling those tiny babies was on a harsh learning curve.

That being said, however, I always tell people- the sign of a good breeder, cat or dog, isn't how they act when everything goes great- it's how they act when things go wrong. How they respond, the actions they take... Because in life- things do go wrong!

And I think that is a sign of a great vet too...

I think they need to acknowledge the mistake that was made and ensure it does not happen to the next PRAA baby that comes in their door- cat or dog. And I think, from the staff I met, that they are completely capable of ensuring this never happens again. This hospital does not seem to be sloppy, but mistakes DO happen. Mistakes that cost lives.

So we shall see what they say... I am hoping that I can report that they responded in a responsible manner and that will allow me to release the anger that I am harboring inside. Oh, it conflicts with the feelings of warmth I had towards the staff- I do think they are good people. Which is why it's so hard to push this issue, but if I don't, who will? Do we really need to wait for a 'next time', for another person to have the same thing happen to them? And would the next person even realize a mistake has been made?

Out of all of the people following Neala's story- only one person slammed me for questioning the fact that Neala was released Wednesday morning. Yet, even the veterinarian agreed, after he saw her xrays, that I was right in returning to the vet hospital and for checking her back in. I think something we, as regular Joe Schmoes do,- we discount our own feelings and instincts in regard to our babies.

Over the short course of Neala's life, I thought she would teach people only about Persistent Right Aortic Arch, but she has taught us so much more. She teaches to be valiant, to be brave, to keep purring even when life seems grim; she teaches us to trust our instincts and to keep asking questions- even if the professionals do not see what we are seeing. She teaches to love with all of our hearts, no matter what the cost.

It seems as though weeks must have passed by since Neala left us, yet it was only yesterday. The emotions are still very raw, though, but I feel as though time is passing too quickly.

Anyways, but to err is human, to forgive is divine. I'm not feeling too godly at this moment. I think for forgiveness, I need someone to take responsiblity and to admit their mistake. Otherwise, I will always harbor this knot of anger in my chest over this situation.

Tears for Neala

I wanted to leave Neala's original blog up in its original format and not sully it with discussions of her loss or the issues about her care...

People keep asking me how I'm doing... To be honest, I'm lost. I cannot wrap my mind around Neala dying yesterday. I cannot manage to convince myself that she is truly gone. We fought so hard- all of us, alongside Neala- and to lose her over something besides her surgery is just too boggling for my mind to comprehend.

I am not interested in suing the vet hospital. I'm not interested in filing a report with the veterinarian board AS LONG as they respond to my letter I have wrote to them, detailing her journey to their hospital and the mistake made in her care with compassion and the willingness to make amends. The horrible thing is- there can be no true amends made when the result is the loss of a beautiful soul. If they offer a refund, we will donate the monies that we, in turn, were donated to the Winn Foundation to help provide more research in cat health. As we found during our research into PRAA, our beloved cats have been given the short end of the stick when it comes to medical research... Dogs- there is a plethora of information about them. Cats- if you ever have a rare condition diagnosed in a cat, good luck finding anything that will help you make the right decisions along the way.

As of today, I am sad. And mad. I am comforted, however, by the fact that Neala was loved- oh, she was so cherished by so many different people. So many people cried with me yesterday- for every tear that fell, during my long lonely drive home with an empty cat carrier at my side, believe me- I cried alongside you.

I know that she is not suffering is a comfort, but I can't help but ask- if she had been fed the correct diet, would she have been suffering if she was home with me? We could have beat the Persistent Right Aortic Arch- in fact, as far as I'm concerned, Neala DID beat it. Her spirit and punkiness came through. The night after her surgery, she was talking to the vet techs from her cage, telling them how happy she was to have made it! If only she wasn't being fed Science Diet Kitten Food during this critical time, which eventually formed a bulge in her esophagus and crushed the very air out of her lungs! Basically, her esophagus was so distended from the kitten food (that would not pass) that it was pushing into her lungs- making her unable to breathe.

I'm sad because she suffered too... Although I knew her surgery would cause her pain, I also knew that a week of pain for a lifetime of happiness was worth the cost. However, the whole idea of her starving to eat and then eating, only to have pressure applied to her lungs and cause her not to be able to breathe PAINS me in my heart so badly. It just hurts to know she suffered so.

But this is my blog to say how I feel... I will keep it updated with any response from the vet hospital... Thank you, all of you, for enveloping Neala into your hearts.