Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cats On and Cats Off Your Prayer List

Whaler the cat, an enormous Siamese rescue cat, is quite a guy even though he really doesn't like flash cameras (front of photo, Kiki is behind).

Several months ago I asked for prayers for him as he was terribly ill. Well, you can STOP those now! He is eating everything in sight these days.

Whaler's Story

Whaler came in from the Upland, CA shelter extremely obese (25 lbs) and quite ill. While his blood work did not show hepatic lipidosis as a certainty, his ALT values were just at the top edge of normal.

He was obviously not well, but we were not able to pinpoint the exact problem, and the stress of being lost/abandoned and then put in a shelter, then moved twice certainly didn't help. Cats stress very easily.

After about a week, having had his blood work done and having also visited my vet, he was still not eating well and I was beginning to really worry. A 25 lb. cat needs a LOT of calories to maintain health and proper organ function and it was clear to me he wasn't eating enough to do that. Losing too much weight quickly in a cat--especially from calorie loss--sends red flags through cat rescuers. It is usually the beginning of hepatic lipidosis and it can often also mean pancreatitis. Both are quite serious, the former much easier to diagnose and treat than the latter.

So... we started force feeding to calories needed to weight. At first, Whaler would throw up, so we backed up until we found an amount he could digest (which was tiny for him) and gave him this amount about every 1/2 hour for the first 48 hours, then increased that amount as he could tolerate it reducing feeding frequency. This was NOT easy given his enormous size, but this is not the time to even think about weight loss strategy.

After 11 weeks, and multiple daily offerings of food, he finally chose to eat fried chicken (skin removed) but would not eat ANY type of cat food... believe me, we tried, and tried, and tried.

So, chicken it was along with felovite to assure he was getting proper vitamins and minerals. He would eat the equivalent of about a chicken thigh daily (I turned to baking them, no salt or spice at all).

The other cats, meanwhile, were eating wet food, largely Wellness chicken formula which is a superior food, and for the cats not used to wet yet, Wellness dry and cooked chicken (first we give them cooked, then we cook it less and less to the point where they are getting in near raw... then they either gravitate to raw or to canned. This also requires vitamins during the transition).

Two cats were eating a low calorie formula (different brand) and one eats entirely raw which was the fix for this particular cat's IBD problem. Dry food was left out, but few were eating it.

Then one day, out of the blue, Whaler began eating Wellness canned food. Yeah! We kept up (and still give him) chicken.

Soon after that, I caught him munching on some dry food... not good.

Now, about one month or so later, Whaler will eat anything, anywhere, any time.... and has turned into a little food thief! We cannot leave ANY food out (or the oinker eats it) regardless of type. Whaler now weighs 15 lbs. 2 oz. and still needs to slowly loose about 3-4 more pounds. He still has trouble grooming parts of his body due to weight, but has become more active, which is great. Whaler has been with us now almost six months and while he likes to chase one of the smaller rescue doggies and tries to bat him, he is a wonderful cat.

We would release Whaler to a good, experienced furrever home but the problem is there are so few homes these days for these kinds of cats given the economic environment and the absolute wave of all domestics going into shelters and packed rescues. We have been at our permit limit (15 cats, 10 dogs) for almost a year now and get about 20 requests/day to take in animals, in some cases, the entire household of animals from cats to rats to birds, turtles and bunnies. It is a tragedy.

Whaler may be with us for a long time, sadly. I only say sadly because he really could use a quiet and stable home of his own. Rescues were not designed to be permanent homes, and I actually have animals of my own, as well (behavioral rescue rejects, or animals that have so many health problems they are better off here and are treated as family).

If you have neighbors who are losing their homes, PLEASE talk to them about finding a place for the animal right away. It can take a very long time. They must NOT wait to the last minute or, I can tell you from experience, the animals are often abandoned at the home (so check the home, please, after they leave), dropped off in some remote location (we get a lot of that here), or end up at shelters which are overcrowded where, by law, they only have 72 hours to find a new home.

There are rescues for just about everything: Reptiles and turtles, all kinds of amphibians, pocket pets (rats, mice, hamsters etc.), all kinds of avians, dogs, cats, exotics and others. But it takes time.

These little animals cannot help themselves, they need your help, too!

Chuck and Spencer

Here is a picture of Spencer (the long haired orange) and his brother, Chuck. Both have hepatic lipidosis, are on appetite stimulants (which may or may not work), and are being force fed and given vitamins. Spencer will eat a small amount on his own now. Chuck will eat nothing on his own. Sigh.

They were abandoned in a mobile home park when the family left. They just tossed them outside and took off. A kind neighbor took them in, but got caught with more than one cat (her allowable there). She works at the local feed store so asked me to take them.

Bottom line: You can take Whaler off your prayer list, but please put both Chuck and Spenser on it. I can do all the medical parts of this, but need your additional help in the prayer department!

Because they have human names, you can even put them on your church's prayer lists and increase the prayers!