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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 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 on 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 me, 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.

Read on to hear Katy’s story.

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. 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 – gives up on them? 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 make 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 their 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 engaged, and to monitor 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 for 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 to shelter a special needs pet. 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.

Insights into the Past

January 2, 2018: One thing has 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 the age of 18. At that point, I didn’t realize how fortunate my husband and I had been.

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 was 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. Katy is now going to be on another medication to keep her alive, lasik (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 about her grim life span. 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 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 herself. 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 (Katy) 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 for Katy and Ellie and 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 lasik 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 it but I didn’t think she’d final at all. However, I was wrong. I was looking at Katy as a sickly kitten, while strangers saw only a 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 wasn’t possible. 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 because 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 degree turn 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, 2018: I have been negligent in keeping up with Katy’s progress, although there have been some developments. I tried to keep her Facebook 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. However, we decided that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back about her future with breeding. 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 cell count hit 30. She was at 21.

We were scheduled to go to on our annual family road trip at the beginning of August, where all our pets would go as well, including Katy. But wouldn’t you know it, the day before we would set 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 up to 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 above 30 for her red blood cell 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 had been 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 with 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 was eligible to show in and has been showing in since she was eight months old. At this particular show, 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 was 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 will 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.

June 27, 2019: So it’s been a long time since my last recording of Katy’s log and I deeply apologize. I have been negligent in keeping this story up to date, although Katy has been diligent in keeping her Facebook page fresh. I am ashamed and feel like I need to catch everyone up on her story.

I left off at a time where we were waiting for Katy’s blood level to reach a certain point where it would be safe to spay her. That time finally came and she underwent surgery. I was terrified the whole morning, waiting to hear word of how she was doing. The vet who did her surgery, Kip Madsen, worked with her cardiologist to come up with a safe protocol of anesthesia, so I felt better about that. But when we picked her up, Dr. Madsen told us that he’d had a heart-rending time trying to revive her from the anesthesia. He almost lost her on the table.  My heart nearly stopped hearing that. What would I do without my Katy.

But the surgery was over and Katy was okay, so all was good. She was spayed and that meant she wouldn’t be at risk of getting pregnant with a whole male cat in the house. Time to breathe easier.

Despite the bad experience at the show in Sepetember, I did show Katy in Alter Class. It turned out that she was outstanding in her class. She started racking up the finals and points. She got high compliments from judges and I was even told by a judge that she was the best example of a Minuet the judge had ever seen. I gushed over showing Katy. She enjoyed traveling and we went almost twice a month to a show out of state. I brought other cats with me so she had friends along, but I felt extremely lucky to have her with me.

Katy’s health fluctuated throughout the months. My husband and I learned to tell when her red blood count was declining by how she started to act and the more sleep she was getting. The vet tried to reduce her steroid dose, even hoped he could wean her off them, but when that happened, she declined in health. Eventually, it was decided that she would have to stay on them for the rest of her life.

In June 2019, I took Katy to Reno, NV for a show and she suddenly became listless during the weekend. I thought it might be the heat because even the show hall was hot. It was a small room and packed with people, which made it uncomfortable.  But Katy just didn’t seem right and wasn’t her usual playful self on the judging table. I vowed that I would take her to the vet when we got home, and I did. It turned out that Katy’s red blood cell count had dropped to the lowest yet: 7.  She was borderline transfusion point.  The vet double dosed her on steroids and decided to add another steroid medication to her repertoire of medication she was already taking: Atopica, which is actually Cyclosporine.  Within a few days, she started to rebound. Her health improved and she became more active.  That was always the way it happened. For some reason, she would decline over a period of days, and with tweaking her medication, she would pop back up.  We were always watching her activity level to determine whether her red blood cell count was falling. I suspect it was whenever she got a slight infection. That’s when her white blood cells would go into overdrive.  When that happened, they didn’t know when to stop and started attacking everything in her blood, including her own red blood cells. The problem is, our bodies are always fighting infections, even when we don’t know it or aren’t feeling sick. This is just what white blood cells do.  So even the slightest foreign body in her bloodstream would set her immune system off.

Despite her up and down health, I loved taking Katy to shows and she loved going with us. There were times when she wasn’t feeling right and I left her home, but she seemed to hold that against me. The cats knew when we were going because they would see me pull their show shelters out of the closet and pack the car a day ahead of time. That meant bath time, which Katy took like a champ. She would suffer through it, look mournfully up at me like I was torturing her, but she tolerated it. A show bath can take upwards of over an hour and a show cat has to be very tolerant to put up with it. Katy was a veteran at it and never gave me any guff.

Our travels took us on many adventures, including dangerous escapades. There was the time Katy was riding shotgun with me through an ice storm on I-70, through Kansas. It was a blizzard and I was trailering a 14-foot trailer. Traffic was going no more than 30 mph, except for the ice road truckers who felt it was safe to blow by other cars at 70 mph.  We passed many cars that had spun out in the median and even a critical accident involving two mangled cars and a UPS truck.  It took 3 hours to go 99 miles and I should have nixed the show for safety sake, but that’s not like me.  I actually spun out on the highway with the trailer and ended up half in the median and half on the left lane of the highway. Gratefully, traffic was going so slow that no one hit me and I was able to pull out of the icy, snow-laden median and head on.  Katy loves riding shotgun, but at that point, she looked at me and said, “Don’t mind if I just go back with the others and hide my head in the luggage.”  

Despite her concern, I continued on, thinking that if I could only get off I-70 (the widow-maker highway), I’d be okay. But 20 miles before my turnoff, as I was approaching an overpass at an entrance ramp, I saw an 18-wheeler and a monster snowplow getting ready to come onto the highway from the entrance ramp. Braking was highly dangerous during this ice storm, as it could cause you to go into a skid, so I looked behind me to see if the coast was clear to carefully navigate a lane change to the left. That’s when I saw one of those nasty devil-driven ice road truckers barreling up behind me on my left at 70 mph.  There was no way I could make the lane change, and looking ahead, I couldn’t brake in time to give the two beast vehicles time to merge into my lane.  God forbid they yielded to traffic that had the right of way on the highway, i.e. me. I could see in that instant that neither one was going to give up getting onto the highway – smaller vehicles be damned.  All this happened in a matter of a few seconds. I actually thought this was the end. I questioned my sanity for trying to drive the highway during an ice-storm and blizzard. I regretted that I had my cats with me but was thankful that I didn’t have one of my human friends along for the ride. I was sure I was going to die in a fiery ball of destruction.

So, in those moment of extreme danger, you resort to training and instinct. I don’t really know exactly how I made it through the tunnel of an 18-wheeler passing me on the left and a snowplow barreling onto the highway to my right on a two-lane road, but I do remember screaming a vulgar profanity at them over and over as we all vied for the same space.  I did not brake during the whole time because I knew if I skidded, it would veer into the mere inches between me and either of those vehicles.  But, as you must know by now, I made it out of the corridor of death with my skin intact. I’m sure the cats in the back were not cheering my driving skill. Instead, they were probably cursing me for taking them on a death drive.  

We made it to the Oklahoma show after a grueling 6 hours of white-knuckle driving.  The sun never came out that day and it was miserable. We were all exhausted, but since I was vending during the show, I still had to set my stuff up in the show hall. The cats and I were beyond tired by the time we got to the hotel and I made good with them by giving them whatever they wanted to eat that night.

Katy tolerated everything we put her through. She suffered through all her medication and visits to the doctor. Her doctor visits always entailed blood draws and fluids or B12 shots. I’d like to think that even though she might have a bad episode of her immune system, she never really was in pain. It was more a matter of her being weakened. But I don’t want to give the impression that she was feeble. She had many, many good days. On those days, she would run and play with the other cats.

In August of 2018, I started a nonprofit animal organization called Garden of the Cats. To raise money, we would put on TICA sponsored cat shows, just like those I would travel hours to go to. Our first show was supposed to be March 23-24, 2019, in Colorado Springs. It was going to be a big event. I had organized a huge craft show to correspond with the cat show to bring in tons of spectators. I was going to enter all my show cats, including Katy, but she ended up not able to show because of an unfortunate event. During one of her good spells, when she was active and playful, she ran through the bedroom, into the bathroom, and Tokyo-drifted into the bathroom counter. The bottom corner of the cabinet tore a swath of fur out of her shoulder and gave her a nasty sore.  I couldn’t show her with missing hair, so she had to stay home. I was devastated.  This was my show and I was so excited to show her.  I stayed in Colorado Springs that weekend with my other cats but not her. She knew I was at a show (she’d seen me pack the car) and she was not happy with me. When I got home on Sunday night, she would have nothing to do with me.

Garden of the Cat’s second show was in October 2019. This was a Halloween themed show and Katy got to be a part of it. She finaled in almost every ring. She was always doing well at shows.  It was a pleasure to show her. I have a friend, Mary, who would come to shows with us at times just because she loved being a part of it. Mary would proudly parade Katy back and forth from the rings like she was her own. I loved watching Mary beam with Katy in her arms. Who wouldn’t. Mary is the same Mary from the Mary/Jerry couple who had taken care of Katy while we were on our family vacation. Katy had become their cat by proxy.

So Katy’s life was a series of ups and downs. Her health would decline and improve. She had a lot of experience in life – more than normal cats have in a domestic setting. Katy got to see the world and be a part of it. She got to meet people and be handled by feline fanciers. She got to tell her story and to make new friends.

Christmas in 2019 was good. We had the whole family here and Katy loved being around everyone and all the decorations in the house. When the family is going to be here for the holidays, I dress the house up like the North Pole exploded inside it.  But this just made it more interesting for Katy to explore new things.  Her favorite place was climbing onto the boxes of presents and lying on them.  It was a great time.

This past January (2020), I took Katy to a show in Deer Park, TX. During that weekend, I noticed something wasn’t right with her. She was overheating in the show shelter, to the point that I had to take her out and let her lay on the table out in the open. Her health concerned me, so when I got home, I took her right to the vet. The vet checked her red blood cell count and it was dangerously low again. Kip Madsen, the vet who is extremely dedicated to her, brought out a bottle of pills and said we should try Prednisolone.  I told him that she was already on Prednisolone. He looked at me in bewilderment and said he thought she was on Prednisone, which the body breaks down to make Prednisolone. He informed me that cats, for some reason, cannot break down Prednisone, so they need Prednisolone straight. Being very familiar with her medication, I told him that Katy had been on Prednisolone from day one.  However, when I had ordered her refill the last time, the vet’s office gave me a bottle of pills that didn’t look like her usual pills.  I questioned them about it and the receptionist said, “Oh, that’s what she takes.”  It turns out that someone at the vet’s office had refilled her Prednisolone prescription with Prednisone.  Katy’s decline in health was a result of being on the wrong medication.

Needless to say, my husband and I were furious.  The response from the vet’s office was that the person who had refilled her prescription was no longer working there.  So my cat almost died as a result of someone refilling the wrong prescription. Fortunately, we caught the problem in time and got her on the right medication, and she started to respond to it slowly.

Katy didn’t quite spring back to herself after this episode of the wrong medication. Dr. Madsen said he was at his wits end with ideas and suggested taking her to a specialist in Colorado Springs. We made an appointment with an internist and Katy got to see another doctor. This one seemed a little more on point with her problem and suggested a course of B12 treatments.  We learned how to give Katy B12 shots and proceeded with this new protocol, including all her old medication.  The B12 shots seemed to work in giving her more energy.  With this new idea, we were hopeful.

During this time, I was preparing for Garden of the Cat’s third show, which was scheduled to be held on April 23-24, 2020, in Colorado Springs.  I was excited to show all my show cats again, including Katy.  I was a little concerned with her declining weight but she seemed to be getting somewhat better.

However, out of the blue, her weight loss became more noticeable. She started to lose energy again. The B12 didn’t seem to be working anymore.  A friend of mine suggested taking her to a cat specialist in Castle Rock, up by Denver, so I made an appointment for her right away.  By this time, Covid-19 had struck and I was forced to hand Katy over to a vet technician through the window of my car and sit in the parking lot while Katy was examined by the cat specialist without me.  I did get to speak to the vet over the phone about her condition, which the vet was very concerned about.  It was clear that Katy’s usual medication was no longer working. Katy’s breathing was getting worse because her red blood cell count was so low that it could not carry oxygen to her organs.  The vet suggested a new medication, which was almost impossible to get in the dose she needed.  Katy had once been over 8 pounds, but she was now a little over 5 pounds. She had lost more than a third of her weight. After several phone calls to pharmacies, the vet finally got a pharmacy to do a special compound of the medication and overnight it to me.

When Katy’s medication came, I was shocked when there was a warning label on it that said “Chemotherapy Drug.” To me, chemotherapy is for cancer, but no one had told me that Katy had cancer.  I convinced myself that chemotherapy must be used for many different conditions, not just cancer.

Katy was getting more and more listless by the day. She could barely get up and walk. Her breathing was labored and we carried her around the house to have different exposures and to be a part of the family.  I continued to give her her medication, even these new chemotherapy horse pills, which were difficult to get down her throat. My husband and I were using words we didn’t want to mention about Katy’s grim future. I would cry at night, thinking about a life without her. There were nights I was up until 4 a.m., crying to myself. When I’d wake up in the morning, I rushed to find where Katy was and to check on her. Katy took to laying on a little cat cabana beside my bed and I slept with a flashlight on my nightstand. I would turn it on several times during the night to check on her.

The cat specialist vet called a week later to check on Katy and I broke down on the phone, saying that nothing was helping. Katy was getting worse. I knew what was going to happen. My husband knew it. My life was misery every day.

On May 25, 2020, I got up in the morning and gave Katy her medication as I have done every day of her life. She was so week and emaciated, breathing with such difficulty, that she started to choke on the pills.  I ran out of the room and called out to my husband that Katy was choking.  He came immediately into the bathroom and tried to calm me down, saying that she was breathing.  But I was crying out of control.  Katy was in severe distress.  I knew she was going. We tried to find a way to make her comfortable but she was fighting death.  She tried to stay alive. My husband was crying but I was screaming, “I killed my cat!  I killed my cat!”  In my mind, I started her death by giving her her medicine.  If only I hadn’t given her her pills, she wouldn’t be dying.

We brought Katy to her cabana and put it on the bed.  She was struggling so much to breathe that she could only lay there.  I kept my hand on her just to feel the rise and fall of her chest, hoping this was just a spell, an episode, and she would recover. But then her chest stopped moving and I started screaming again.  She was my life and I felt her spirit leave her broken body.  At that moment, I remembered every good time I’d had with her.  I couldn’t believe we wouldn’t have any of those ever again.

I picked up Katy’s lifeless body and held her in my arms for so long. My husband got everything together to get ready to bury her in the yard, in our pet cemetery, where so many other pets have been laid to rest. He came back into the room and sat next to me and said I could hold her for as long as I wanted. But I knew that wasn’t right. She wasn’t there anymore. She was gone. I had to resolve to put her to rest. I followed my husband out to the hole he had dug and watched through tears as he buried her.

I feel empty even now, a month later, without her. When I stand at my bedroom bathroom sink, which looks out on where she is buried, I want to cry.  There are nights I cry myself to sleep.  I had to drive to California to deliver two kittens after her passing and I cried for hours in the car.  I am in tears right now. No one can say her name without me crying. I have never experienced this kind of grief for losing a pet before. Maybe because she wasn’t a pet. She was my friend. We had invested so much in keeping her alive, we can’t believe she is gone. Katy wasn’t even three years old. She would have been three only a few days ago if she had lived.

Katy was a special needs pet. She had to have medication every day and she needed regular vet appointments. She was a source of emotional upheaval her entire life. It cost a lot of money to keep her alive.  Do I regret it?  Emphatically no. I had so many adventures with Katy that we had a special bond. Her down days were devastating, but when she sprang back, we lived with hope. Katy had made friends with Maison, my daughter’s eight-year-old son, and got to meet the new baby in the house, Marley. She got to see the world and won many finals at shows.  Her accomplishments were amazing. She was regaled by judges as being a remarkable example of a Minuet.  The following are the awards and titles she got in her very short life.

2018 Regional Winner, Best Minuet LH Kitten of the Year (SC Region) RW BW Supreme Grand Champion Alter (SGCA)

2019 International Winner, Best Minuet LH Alter

2019 Regional Winner, Best Minuet LH Alter (SC Region)

2019 Regional Winner, Best Minuet LH of the Year (SC Region)

2019 Regional Winner, Best Chocolate Lynx Point/White Minuet LH of the Year (SC Region)  

2020 Regional Winner, Best Minuet Longhair Alter of the Year (SC Region)

2020 Regional Winner, Sixth Best Alter of the Year (SC Region)

People try to console me that she is over the “Rainbow Bridge” and offered a beautiful poem to go along with it. But I don’t believe that. I don’t believe in life after death. I’m not religious and I believe when you die, the light goes out and never gets turned back on again, no matter where it might be. You can try to convince me otherwise, but you won’t change my mind at this point. Perhaps that’s why I can’t get over her loss. Such a wonderful, beautiful, amazing light has been snuffed out, never to shine again in mine or anyone else’s life again.

Goodbye, Katy, I will love you forever. Every tear I shed in my life will have a memory of you in its drop.

Blueskies Catrice Purrgeron of Tiny Lions (Katy)