Breeder of third generation Napoleon cats, the pride of cat lovers, and the kings and queens of the cat world.
Katy is our beautiful kitten that we initially got to breed and show. However, a series of health issues 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 email@example.com.
As for Katy, she has a limited time on this earth, yet we will make it as full and happy as possible.
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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 right 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-
Living with a Special Needs Pet
December 23, 2017: This is a new situation my husband and I find ourselves in and this part of the page will be an ever-
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 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 it, 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 on time and to take her to her vet appointments, as well as to invest in play to get her exercise. I currently give her an hour of playtime a night, and she wears me out.
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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. 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; 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.
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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.
What is crushing is the words and gravity by which this conversation went on. 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-
We then had a problem with Ellie (and still are dealing with that), where Ellie stopped eating. 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-
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-
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. 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 23rd 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-
In the meantime, Katy went to the Brighton (Denver) show and surprised everyone. She racked in 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. 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 the 23rd of this month, for her sixth month echo-