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Katy is our beautiful kitten that we initially got to breed and show. However, a series of health issues that ARE NOT genetic related have made it unwise to breed her. She will need constant care and medical testing, but we are committed to seeing that she gets everything she needs, including a happy life for however long it lasts.

I want to use this page to chronicle Katy’s life in honor of her. I would also like to add a space on this website to bring other stories of people who are taking care of a handicapped or a gravely ill pet, to inspire others to give homes to animals that have special needs or short life spans.

If you are someone who is taking care of a handicapped pet or one that requires special care to live, or you know of someone who does, please send us your story so we can inspire others. Send your stories to

As for Katy, she has a limited time on this earth, yet we will make it as full and happy as possible.

Follow Katy on Facebook.

Katy’s Page

December 20, 2017: Katy came from a good breeder but fate didn’t shine favorably for her. She suffered several health issues in her first few months of life, which led us to have several medical tests done in the course of treatment for those conditions. Every test up until the last one gave us hope that she would not only be healthy, but a good candidate to breed. However, the last test proved the worst news of all, which gave her a grave prognosis for surviving. Given that Katy is a strong kitten now and there is medication to help prolong her life, we are determined to stave off the end for as long as possible. Her quality of life is our main concern and we hope to give her a happy, full one.

Our problems with Katy opened our eyes to significant concerns. My husband and I have dealt with many pets facing the end of their lives, but those have been after a full lifetime. I agonized over putting my last dog down after fifteen years, even though she was well past the point of a quality life. I didn’t want to let her go, so I put it off until it became too painful to watch her only existing for my benefit. But now, facing the fact that our kitten has a limited lifetime, we face that dreaded question of what to do.

Katy is a strong little girl and an active, feisty kitten. She isn’t in any pain and she acts just like any kitten at this point. But she will require medication twice daily and regular expensive testing. For my husband and I, it’s a no-brainer. We will provide what she needs for as long as it takes so she can live a good life. When her condition changes and her life becomes too painful to bear, we’ll have to face that horrible decision.

To read Katy’s story, click here. Or you can read my blog article, My Kitten with a Big Heart in Cats Happen.

Our Little Kitten with a Big Heart

Living with a Special Needs Pet

December 23, 2017: This is a new situation that my husband and I find ourselves in and this part of the page will be an ever-expanding section as we learn how to deal with it. We’ve had pets before that have grown old and needed extra attention, but we’ve never had one of this magnitude. The emotional commitment is also different, since you expect an elderly pet to eventually pass as a part of life. But to have a kitten in this position is heartbreaking and nerve wracking. We look at this beautiful, vibrant baby and want to see a whole lifetime ahead of her, but we know the truth–and there’s nothing we can do about it. If there was anything we could do to change her fate, we’d do it, but we don’t have that option. It’s just not fair.

But life isn’t fair. We have to live with the hand we’re dealt with. I’m angry about it but I can’t do anything to change it. And now I’m old enough to realize that wasting energy on anger and regret is just that–wasted energy. Better to focus on what you can do. In this case, it’s to make Katy as happy as she can be.  

As for the commitment of taking care of a special needs pet, one that is gravely ill, terminal, or suffering an impairment, it is not an easy thing to do. On the more practical side, it is expensive. For most of them, they require special medication or appliances to keep up normal functions. Too many of these pets are euthanized because they become too costly for their families to keep, and many shelters won’t take them.

Should we criticize someone who does that to their pet? I don’t know. I think it’s a horrible position to find oneself in, especially if the financial burden is what forces them to that decision. No one wants to end their pet’s life, but for many, constant medical costs for a pet is a difficult burden to bear. People have to prioritize their needs–mortgage, rent, food, gas, etc.–and prolonging a pet’s life might not have a place in that budget. That is a terrible situation to find oneself in. And with nowhere else to place their pet, what other choice do they have.

Grim, I admit, but it is a factor of having a special needs pet. Suffice it to say, my husband and I are fortunate enough to have some money to take care of Katy, so that decision isn’t forced upon us now. Not while she still has vibrancy in her. However, there are other matters to address in raising a special needs pet, and the next important issue is patience and time. Do you have the ability to commit the time necessary for caring for a special needs pet. For Katy, she needs medication twice a day, which needs to be prepared at the time of administering it–no sooner–and exercise. Exercise is important for two reasons: keeping her strong and vibrant, and monitoring her health. She also needs regular exams and tests, which take time in and of themselves. Fortunately, my husband and I are retired, so we have time to give Katy her medication when needed and to take her to her vet appointments, as well as to invest in play to give her exercise.

Another need is emotional commitment. Can you live with a pet that needs special attention to live? Some pets are handicapped and it’s obvious; others don’t appear to be ill at all, as in Katy’s case. But every pet parent knows the truth. It is emotionally taxing to them. For us, we see a beautiful, energetic kitten that looks normal for all intents and purposes. But we know she’s got a short life span–a year or two, maybe. Medication can extend it for a while–if it works–but we live with the constant thought that she could be gone very soon. How those pet parents deal with it is whatever works for them. For us–me–I want to use this opportunity to support those in a similar situation and to inspire others maybe to shelter a special needs pet. For those who find themselves in a similar situation, please feel free to share your stories here. As for inspiring others to take on a special needs pet, I plan to create Katy’s own Facebook page, as well as to chronicle her exploits in life. I want to show others that you can still get a ton of rewards from a special needs pet.

Tell Us About Your Special Needs Pet

If you have a special needs pet–species doesn’t matter–tell us your story and we’ll share it here and on Katy’s Facebook page.  We want to inspire more people to give good lives to pets that require special medical attention.  These pets have so much to offer in terms of love and lessons that we shouldn’t discard them.  Email me your story at

Insights into the Past

January 2, 2018: One thing that’s become abundantly clear in taking care of Katy; it’s that I am truly grateful that I was blessed with relatively healthy children. Aside from one having had a kidney problem that needed surgery at a young age, my children had no issues other than the usual childhood injuries. Nothing that ever came close to being life threatening. That makes me realize how much we take for granted. Too many children are stricken with critical and terminal diseases, even in this day of modern medicine, and the odds seem against a family with multiple children that at least one might suffer something tragic. But we were lucky, even if we didn’t realize it at the time. I remember fearing the birth of each of my children until I heard them utter their first cry. I remember thinking the worst from every simple sickness. I was always afraid that something horrible would befall my children. But as they grew, I became confident that they were going to make it to adulthood–and they did. I never looked back. I had done my job in raising my children to age 18. At that point, I didn’t realize how fortunate my husband and I were.

Maybe Katy is just a cat and you can’t compare the life of a cat to that of a child; but I”m not trying to do that. What I’m grateful to Katy for is giving me perspective. She’s made me realize how lucky we were that our children were–and are–healthy. She’s given me the inspiration to reflect back on my family life and appreciate all the close calls, imagined fears, and true scares with medical matters I had; in that we prevailed over them. I love Katy for that, the memories she’s brought back, and I hope I never forget the gift she’s given me.

Follow Katy on her own Facebook Page at:

January 6, 2018: Recently, we noticed that Katy’s belly is getting bigger. Her cardiologist had told us that part of Katy’s problem is that fluids will build up in her abdomen and start compromising her other organs. Her growing belly was a big concern for us. Her weight was increasing, but in conjunction with her swelling belly, it wasn’t a good weight gain. I discussed this with her regular vet, since her cardiologist is two hours away, and asked if he would contact her cardiologist to come up with a plan. Our vet, a wonderful man by the name of Kip Madsen, got right on it. His initial idea was to drain her abdomen, but the cardiologist wanted to try her on another medication first. She is now going to be on a second medication to keep her alive, lasix (furosemide).

What is crushing is the words and gravity by which this conversation went. When I had initially spoken with the cardiologist, I had gotten the impression that Katy would have years to live with the proper medication. But after speaking with our regular vet, he set me straight. He said that Katy having one or two years to live was a very optimistic prognosis. I felt my world fall in on itself when I heard him say that. The idea that I would lose Katy within weeks or months was unconceivable.

I admit that I stay awake at night, thinking about what would happen if we lose Katy. I fear the day when all medical options have been exhausted. Tears inevitably fill my eyes and I try not to sniffle in case it wakes my husband. I don’t want to have to admit my fears, since he wasn’t there when the vet said what he did. My husband is not much of a reader and I’m confident that he will never read this, but I don’t want him to lose his optimism.  

January 21, 2018: Katy has had many ups and downs these past two weeks. The new medication that is supposed to regulate the fluid buildup in her abdomen had some serious consequences. Katy stopped eating and started losing a lot of weight. We had to bring her back to the vet. They gave her a B-12 shot, subcutaneous fluids, took blood, and gave her an appetite stimulant and nausea medication. By the time we got Katy home, she was rip, roaring, and ready to eat. The vet adjusted her new medication to a lower dose and all seemed well–until her belly started to bloat again. The vet raised her dose up to the initial level and we carefully watched her reaction. She began eating again.

We then had a problem with Ellie (and still are dealing with that), where Ellie stopped eating as well. Another week of vet visits with no answers. We had to force-feed Ellie to keep her strength up. Finally, I asked the vet to take an x-ray, and lo and behold, there was a partial obstruction by a foreign body in her stomach. Ellie was given appetite stimulants, antacids, anti-nausea medication, and a special diet while we waited to take her to an internist on the January 23 to explore options of how to get the foreign body out. Maybe they could get get it out with a scope through the esophagus; maybe she’ll need surgery. None of this is what we need while dealing with Katy’s problem, but life is funny that way.

As for Katy, while Ellie wasn’t eating, Katy was all vim and vigor. She tried to keep Ellie’s spirits up and to get her to play. But Ellie was weak and disinterested in play. Then Ellie started to eat and get her energy back. We were able to breathe a sigh of relief. That was when Katy started vomiting. Another frantic call to the vet. He said we could bring her in for a shot of anti-nausea medication to see if it was a fluke, but I had Ellie’s shots left over from her previous bout of not eating. The vet agreed to let me use Ellie’s medication on Katy and luckily, Katy’s vomiting stopped. That was yesterday and we are monitoring both. Katy has minimal interest in eating but she is. Ellie is eating enough not to have to bring her in on an emergency basis. We’ll bring her to the internist on Tuesday (today is Sunday) and see how that goes. As for Katy, all we can do is watch how she responds.

This week has been a test of fortitude. I lost hope and got frustrated. I didn’t get angry with Katy or Ellie, but I did get mad at fate. I guess it’s human nature to blame someone or something for bad things that happen, and since I am not religious, I blamed fate. I don’t pray but I have no problem with someone who offers prayers for Katy or Ellie. I know Katy’s fate is sealed but Ellie has a good chance of fully recovering. It’s just that we can’t get a break and have these two kittens not needing veterinary care at the same time. Okay, Ellie’s issue is a fluke and could have been avoided, but that’s why I blame fate. And why, oh why, does this beautiful, vibrant kitten have to have such a short life span.

February 26, 2018.  It’s been a month since I last logged my feelings about life with Katy and it has only been fear of jinxing our good fortune that I’ve held off from saying anything. But I need to share the good with the bad, so here I am, sharing with anyone willing to read this far.  

There are two days left in February, and with any luck, we will get through this month without having to visit the vet. That will be a first with Katy and Ellie and it will be cause to celebrate.

Let me catch everyone up to speed. Ellie went to the internist on January 23, and lo and behold, an ultrasound showed a foreign object in her stomach. She was scheduled for surgery and a wrapper was removed from her digestive tract. She had to stay a day at the vet, but she recuperated quickly, and all was well (except for the bill). However, a couple of days later, we noticed Katy’s belly swelling and firming up. I brought her to the vet to have the fluids removed. Surprisingly, there was no fluid to remove. The vet took an x-ray and discovered that she was severely constipated. The medicine she was taking to reduce the fluids in her abdomen was actually drying everything out. Simply enough, the vet gave her an enema and all was well. There was a change in her lasix dosage, which proved to be just right, and we haven’t had to take Katy to the vet since.

In the meantime, Katy went to the Brighton (Denver) show and surprised everyone. She racked up the finals, even taking Best Kitten once. Imagine that! My little kitten that was snubbed on her first show and criticized on her second one, put other kittens to shame this time. She was amazing and I was so proud of her. I hate to admit, I didn’t think she’d final at all. But I was wrong. I was looking at Katy as a sickly kitten, while strangers saw only a vibrant, beautiful, stout cat.

In truth, Katy looks healthy and strong. She is a solid kitten and has spirit and energy. Everything about her screams vibrancy. It’s hard to believe that she was struggling not so long ago. I love her more and more each day for all the happiness she gives us. My heart aches that I cannot breed her, because she is the epitome of everything I was looking for. But taking her into our family is not about breeding her; it’s about enjoying the love she shares with us. I will never take her for granted.

May 29, 2018. Katy went to her cardiologist on May 23, for her sixth month echo-cardiogram. I had dreams that the doctor would discover a miracle and Katy would be completely healed, although I knew that was impossible. When the doctor started to listen to her heart, she kept listening. And listening and listening. I got horribly worried by how long it was taking and it must have shown on my face. The doctor explained what was taking so long: She was having trouble finding anything wrong with Katy’s heart. My own heart skipped a beat. The doctor listened some more and admitted that she heard only the faintest murmur in the back. Perplexed, she then moved on to the echo-cardiogram and went through the measurements. Again, she was taken aback. She was astounded by the results. Katy’s heart had much improved. There was still some scarring visible, but her heart was working efficiently. All the numbers were impressive. The doctor explained that Katy was pumping blood through her broken little heart almost like a normal cat. She confessed that she never thought Katy would live past two years, but her assessment did a full 180 after she saw the results of the echo-cardiogram.

I was nearly breathless. Had my dreams come true. I asked about the possibility of breeding her and the doctor was quite confident that it was possible. She did suggest giving Katy more time to see if the improvement was lasting.  

I have no problem giving Katy that time. I want to be absolutely sure that she will be safe during a pregnancy. The doctor confirmed that Katy’s heart is not a result of a genetic issue, so she won’t pass it down to her kittens, but she does have a certain spirit that makes her an exceptional cat. In fact, I look at her as my little miracle. No doubt, the medication is helping her, and she will continue to take her medication faithfully, but she isn’t in any immediate threat of heart failure now.

September 10, 2019: I have been negligent in keeping up with Katy’s progress, although there have been some developments. I tried to keep her page abreast of her life, but this is my place to vent.

We were delighted by the prognosis of Katy’s heart and possibility of breeding. She was my miracle. But if you remember what I said about fate, it foiled us again. I’m back to wondering how long Katy will last.

I noticed something during shows that I took Katy to, and I thought it was just a sign of anxiety. She began to eat cat litter–even at home–and I suspected something was wrong, especially since she was becoming lethargic again. I contacted the vet and they said to bring her in immediately. Eating cat litter is a sign of several serious health issues–one being feline leukemia.

I brought Katy to the vet that morning and they did a wide assortment of tests, including feline leukemia. Of the tests done at the vet’s office, we discovered that Katy was extremely anemic, nearly to the point of needing a transfusion. However, we had to discover the cause of her anemia to treat it. There were options that could be the cause of her anemia, the best being a blood parasite, but we had to wait for the lab tests to come back. Unfortunately, when the tests came back, it wasn’t the blood parasite we were hoping for. On a good note, it wasn’t feline leukemia either, which was a relief. After several mishaps with the blood (being sent to the wrong lab and back), we finally discovered that she was suffering from an auto-immune issue. This means that her immune system overreacts to any infection and doesn’t turn off. It continues to attack her own blood cells. The treatment is a course of corticosteroids.

Katy responded very well to the steroid treatment and began to thrive again. We were thrilled that she was back to her normal self–for her. We decided that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Despite her broken little heart working well, this auto immune issue was a clear indication that she shouldn’t be bred. It wouldn’t be safe for her. We talked with our vet about spaying her as soon as possible. The vet said it would have to wait until her red blood count hit 30. She was at 21.

We were scheduled to go to on our annual family road trip on the beginning of August, where all our pets would go as well, including Katy. But wouldn’t you know it, the day before we were off, Katy went into heat. There was no way we could take her on a road trip with Claude while she was in heat. We had to find someone to take care of her and I thought of our friends, Mary and Jerry. I asked them and they were delighted to take her for a week. They opened their home for Katy for a week and loved having her, while I fretted that Katy would enjoy herself so much with Mary and Jerry that she wouldn’t want to come home. But we got her back the instant we got home and I was thrilled to see her. Mary made sure Katy got her medicine and that she was loved.

By this time, Katy was being weaned off steroids and everything seemed to be going well. I weighed her every day and her weight was increasing. I was excited about her progress and couldn’t wait for the results of her next blood test.

Her last dose of steroids was on September 2 and we took her in for her blood test the next day. I was hoping for anything about 30 for her red blood count so I could schedule her for her spay. But I was mildly disappointed when the blood test was only 26. Up from 21, sure, but she had been a month on steroids. I was expecting a higher number. The vet said to bring her back in a month.

Within a week, Katy started to grow lethargic. I grew worried and took her back to the vet for another blood test. Her red blood count was down to 15–in less than a week. I was devastated. All that hard work was erased. Katy would have to go back on steroids and most likely would have to be on them for the rest of her life. Again, more medication to keep her alive.

September 19, 2018: If it isn’t hard enough dealing with the series of disappointments on Katy’s health, I have to deal with discrimination by other competitors at shows because of her health.

I took Katy to a show this past weekend and entered her in adult championship, which she is eligible to show in and has been showing in since she was eight months old. Katy did horrible against three other minuets, being dumped by several of the judges–which has never happened before. However, there was an exhibitor who is familiar with the judges–if you know what I mean and who shall remain nameless–who is extremely competitive. While I cannot prove that she told the judges about Katy’s heart condition, she did accost my friend Mary (the same one who watched Katy for us on the trip), and said in no uncertain terms that Katy should not be showing because she “has a bad heart.” I was highly infuriated that the exhibitor brought this up to my friend because it showed that she was willing to throw this information around to the judges as well. Showing in adult championship is based on how well a cat conforms to breed standards to pass on the ideal breed traits to future generations. However, Katy’s heart condition IS NOT genetic. She would not pass on bad genes to any kittens she produced. It is our decision not to breed her because of the stress it would put on her.

Okay, I said it. This is my obscure page where I can rant. It is extremely doubtful that the exhibitor in question or any judges read this, and I mentioned no names or the show we went to. I am just angry that anyone would taint my cat’s chances of finaling based on her health, especially when the information was inaccurate. The other minuet was beautiful, without a doubt, and could have taken best of breed all on its own, so why ruin Katy in the meantime. It is unlikely that I will show Katy in adult championship again because of this vicious treatment of her. Most exhibitors are respectful of each other and judges are fair, but there are those that are not. I’m angry, yes, and this is my place to express it. It’s my website and if it offends anyone, don’t read it. Once I spay Katy–when her red blood cell count reaches a safe level for surgery–I might show her in alter, but that will depend on how I feel about showing then.