Healing

June 1st 2013katie

Well. If you follow me on twitter you’ll have seen that we’ve had an awful couple of weeks. I don’t really feel like talking much in depth about what happened, but in brief our little Yoni cat suffered a massive trauma, during treatment of which they found he had a rare blood type, an aggressive infection leading to amputation of his back leg, anaemia, icterus, and – scariest of all – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic non-curable heart disease which has caused a thrombus (blood clot) near his heart. The good news is he’s recovering very well from everything that’s been thrown at his little body, amazing the vets who gave him a very poor prognosis when he first arrived. He’s now adapting to life as a three-legged tripod kitty and we hope to have him home by the end of the week. The bad news is his life expectancy now hangs at between one month and seven years due to the heart disease. So on one hand, yes, it’s great that he’s pulled through from the trauma, but also this is just the start of a very painful period of uncertainty.

cats

It feels like I’ve cried out every tear I had in me, but I do at least take comfort in knowing that this little cat has had the best life we could have given him, and will continue to for as long as he’s got left in him. He certainly couldn’t have been more loved, and I’m very sure he knows just how special he is to us. He’s my best bud and it’s been so lonely not having him around for two weeks. Of course our other kitty Lila is lovely and very special to me too, but they are worlds apart in terms of personality. Lila is so laid back, content and happy – she’ll gladly take a quick cuddle then pad off to lie in the hallway for a nap. Yoni is more demanding: always up in our faces, wanting hugs, wanting food, wanting to see what we’re up to and trying to nose in. So I’ve felt the loss more acutely because everything – from eating breakfast unhindered by meowy demands to share, working at home without my cute furry colleague, to going to bed without his comforting warm weight at my feet – reminds me of him.

garden

I was basically a wreck last week, when we weren’t even sure if he’d make it home at all. I couldn’t really work as my mind was so fractious. I could barely remember to eat or drink, and only got dressed so we could go and visit him every day. It’s really hard to keep distracted and will the days along when you feel too sad to do anything that you used to find fun. I found the few things that gave me any calm were keeping busy with making and doing at home. Pottering in the garden, tending to our little veg patch and taking quiet enjoyment in seeing the plants and flowers unfold into spring. Every day there’s little jobs to do and progress to see out there, and the recent rain followed by warmth has made our veggies bloom.

sewing

I turned into a sewing fiend. I blasted through the stash of vintage fabric I bought at The Shop the previous week and made two tops, some culottes and a dress in a matter of days – with varying degrees of success. I find time flies when you’re at the sewing machine and that’s exactly what I needed to pass the hours between our visits and phone calls with the vet. I’ll share my makes and a bit more about The Shop soon.

I’m also having a think about if there’s way way I can help other cats and owners who find themselves in this awful situation. It seems like there’s a lack of information about lots of things relating to kitty health – especially blood transfusions – that my internet skillz might be able to help spread. I’ll also be reopening my Etsy shop shortly with some proceeds going to cat charity (and some towards our vet bills – ouch).

Comments (31)

  • Andy

    June 4th 2013 at 10:38 am

    Sorry to hear that Katie. As you know, I’ve had my own pet trauma this week so I feel for you. At least you can be with him, and as you say he’ll spend every conscious moment feeling loved.

  • Mandy

    June 4th 2013 at 11:23 am

    Hi Katie

    I’m so sorry to hear about your lovely Yoni, I’ve followed your blog for a while now, as a fellow cat lady and designer its one of my favourites.

    We went through something similar with our cat Mia last year, she had a tumour in her ear and underwent two operations to have it removed, which were massively traumatic for her. We were told it was likely the tumour would come back, and that it would likely cause a kind of stroke, so we had it hanging over us, that she could go at any time, that said, true to her diva personality she totally defied all the vets and made a fantastic recovery and lived way longer than they expected. It was the most awful thing I have gone through, but she did have the best life we could have gave her and she taught me lots about love, fear and courage. Like yourself I felt I wanted to do something to help other cats, so I took part in the LOLcat exhibition and immortalised my wee Mia in a piece of art, proceeds went to Battersea. And I’m working on a proposal for another catty project too.

    I wish you all and handsome Yoni all the best, he looks like he really does have a wonderful life with you all.

    x

    1. Katie

      June 4th 2013 at 5:02 pm

      I can’t help but be a bit hopeful that Yoni will defy expectations too – he’s come this far as a little fighter, but it’s overly optimistic to hope for a miraculous recovery.

      Thanks for sharing your story about Mia, it’s good to know I’m not alone and that some positivity and creativity can come from the sadness.

  • Kate @ M is for make

    June 4th 2013 at 11:59 am

    I saw that Winnie the Pooh quote you put on Tumblr recently and it struck a chord with me recently having experienced a fair bit of loss in my life this last year. I’m glad you’ll have him home to enjoy and nurture and an excuse to spoil him everyday :)

    1. Katie

      June 4th 2013 at 5:04 pm

      I took comfort from it too, although it’s not so easy to feel at the time.
      Sorry for your rough time last year.

  • Jess

    June 4th 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Sorry to hear of Yoni being through the wars so badly, but glad that he is making a steady recovery. It must be horrible to have that uncertainty hanging over you regarding his new life span; I suppose all you can do is enjoy each others company while he is around, give him lots of cat hugs and hope for the best.

  • threesmallapples

    June 4th 2013 at 2:48 pm

    How awful! I’m so glad to hear that he’s on the mend. My heart goes out to him x

  • Claire

    June 4th 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about all this. It sounds truly awful, but I am glad to hear he will be coming home. I know what it’s like to have an unwell cat, and it is absolutely dreadful, especially when you get a prognosis like Yoni’s. I do hope he’s with you both and Lila for a few more years (rather than the dreadful alternative). My thoughts are with all of you, including Yoni.

  • Jen Smith

    June 4th 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Katie, thanks for sharing what is difficult to read – but must have been harder to write. I’ve been praying for a speedy recovery for Yoni, since you told me he was at the vets. I know exactly how you feel about your cat being your best bud… now I’m working from home I’ve got my very own furry colleague in Monty and it makes me sad to think he won’t always be around.

    Here’s to Yoni returning home to lots of cuddles and treats and to a happy rest of his life, however long he’s with you. At least you’ll cherish his friendship and love even more consciously now.

    I’m right behind you setting something up to help raise awareness of kitty health. Before this, I didn’t know, or even think about cat blood donors. It’s something I’m going to talk to my vet about when Monty next has his trip there. If I can help in anyway on this, you know where I am.

    Jen x

  • grania

    June 4th 2013 at 4:02 pm

    it really shocked me when i realised that there was no kitty equivalent of the NHS blood bank, particularly for kitties with rare blood types. if there is a way us cat owners can muck in an help out, i’d love to know.

    when i take sabre in for his next kitty-MOT i’m going to ask them to do a blood test to establish blood type and put him on any donor list my local vet’s can provide. it sounds like the system needs to be more joined up though, and i’d love to be able to do a little more to help other people in your situation help their much loved kitty.

    so glad to hear that yoni’s doing better, and fingers crossed you have many more years with him x

    1. Katie

      June 4th 2013 at 5:10 pm

      Yes I was surprised too, it seems to be down to the individual surgery whether they collect a donor list or not. I saw a brochure appealing for dog donors in the animal hospital we’re going to, but not cats. I’ll ask our vet what might be the best way to help and raise awareness. Thanks so much for offering Sabre’s help – give him a big stroke from us.

  • Hello Bee

    June 4th 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Oh K8T I am so sorry, this is totally crummy and I know nothing I can say will change that. I hope it doesn’t sound crass but when I found out my cat Baggage had feline HIV in a way although I was devastated, it made me treasure every precious second and it wasn’t an unexpected shock when he then did die a few months later. I am sure little Yoni trooper-boy has YEARS in him yet, but knowing everything about his health and future means you are more equipped with knowledge to keep him as safe as possible and know exactly what is going on he does start being ill again. So much love to you and Josh and Yoni and Lily, and I’m just sure you have tons of family life left as a unit. He’s got this far after all xxx

    1. Katie

      June 4th 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Thank you Bee. Yes in a way it’s positive that we found out about his heart disease through the scan, as we can start giving him blood-thinning and anti-clot medication to try and keep it at bay for as long as possible. The disease tends to strike when cats are about 6, so chances are he would have keeled over with sudden paralysis or a stroke soon anyway, which would have been terrifying. I hope he’s a little miracle cat who defies all the odds and lives a long, normal life but at least we’re slightly prepared for the worst now. x

  • frances

    June 4th 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Oh Katie, I am so sorry to hear about poor Yoni, that sounds awful :-( I hope he gets used to hopping about soon and he’ll be so happy to be back home for cuddles xx

  • Diane

    June 5th 2013 at 12:27 am

    Katie, this must have been a really difficult post to write – you’re very courageous! I was so sad to hear about sweet Yoni. He definitely has the loveliest and most loving home, and I hope he gets to come back to you guys really soon x

  • Kim

    June 5th 2013 at 8:41 am

    I can’t imagine how scary this must be for you & Josh, but it’s so good to hear that he’s on the mend and coming home soon. Yoni has had the best life so far, and however many years he has left in him (hopefully lots) will be full of everything a cat could possibly want!

    If there’s anything I can do to help your project (dev, design, promo) then just holla, I’m happy to help the kitties :)

    1. Katie

      June 5th 2013 at 10:54 am

      Thank you Kim! I’ll definitely have a think about the best thing to do to help.

  • Kate

    June 5th 2013 at 9:16 am

    Poor Yoni and poor you, Katie. I wish you many, many cuddles and lovely moments. He has a wonderful life with you guys.

    My first and lovely cat died last year but survived three years after a cancer diagnosis and I really struggled to find good information about it online. So your idea is genius and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

    Kate x

    1. Katie

      June 5th 2013 at 10:58 am

      Thank you Kate. Sorry for your loss, I’m glad she held on for a good while after diagnosis. I’ve found that FAB (now International Cat Care) was the most straightforward and helpful site for information, so I’m keen to see if I can support them somehow.

  • Kathryn

    June 5th 2013 at 9:23 am

    I can’t imagine how horrible the last few weeks must have been for you, our animals are like our children and when something happens its horrendous. I have two dogs who are my world and you do anything for. I have however spent many a summer as a teenager working in my local vets as a volunteer and it never ceases to amaze me how strong animals truly are. Even those with the worst prognosis come back fighting, amazing the vets and go onto lead strong, happy lives. I wish you & Yoni a calm and settled return home where you can get back to cuddles and nap time at the bottom of the bed. All the best, thinking of you and the family x

    1. Katie

      June 5th 2013 at 11:00 am

      Thank you Kathryn. I initially felt a bit stupid being so upset over a sick cat but they really are my babies and I’m glad to see so many people are understanding even if they aren’t really ‘pet people’.

  • Sarah

    June 5th 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I am so so glad that the little guy has pulled through and is coming home again, though so sorry to read about what an awful two weeks it has been. One of mine recently had a terrible episode when we thought we were going to lose him and I was devastated, so I really feel for you and Josh right now. Luckily, he’s come back stronger than ever and I really hope for the same with you all. xx

  • Madeleine

    June 5th 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve always admired Yoni from afar.
    He’s very spirited and I have no doubts he’s a trooper. Cats are such amazing survivors – I’m sure he’ll adapt to 3 legged life. I once observed a 3 legged cat getting around with such apparent ease. As for longevity, well we are most likely to outlive our pets, and the horrible parting is the price of the massive massive love and you cant have one without the other. He knows he’s very loved and that’s the main thing, and I’m hoping you can have many happy years with him.
    I don’t ‘alf feel for you guys.

  • Sara

    June 6th 2013 at 1:15 am

    I don’t usually leave messages on Blogs. But I just wanted to say that I too faced the upsetting news that my cat had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy last October. I was absolutely devastated. It was very advanced by the time they realised, which it usually is as cats are very good at masking illness. The gave him two weeks to live. But he responded fantastically to his medication and I managed through hard work and much research to extend his life by 6 months, and it was a good quality of life. He really did seem like a brand new cat once we got his meds right. Join the yahoo heart group. There is a wealth of advice on there. And if there’s anything you need to ask me please feel free to contact me via email (I assume you can see our email addresses). It sounds like they caught it early? And he didnt go into congestive failure? Which is good. The earlier it’s spotted, the better the outcome. Lots of love to Yoni. X

  • Katie

    June 6th 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Sorry to hear your troubles with Yoni. I’ve had cats all my life and it’s scarey how much you love them. Just be safe in the knowledge that he has the best life with you and spoil him rotten for every second of it, be it a month or several years. I’m sure he wouldn’t stand for less anyway.

  • Mondaland

    June 6th 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Awwww Yoni.
    Cats have a remarkable way of pulling through what seems to be huge life threatening events.
    Our Stevie broke her pelvis, and the vet gave her metacam for the pain whilst she recovered. She didn’t seem to be getting better and we were giving her the metacam as advised, yet she seemed to go downhill rapidly. Blood tests revealed that she had acute kidney failure, caused by the metacam :( we were told we could be referred to the royal vetinary college hospital but they couldn’t tell us whether she would survive, just that the attempt to help her would likely cost thousands of pounds. We felt we had to try. She stayed in the hospital for 2 weeks and had weeks of cage rest following her stay. They felt they did everything they could for her although could not say whether her kidneys would ever recover enough and told us she’d have a shorter life expectancy, although they couldn’t say what that might be.
    That was about 4 years ago. She’s still with us and for the most part is a normal cat who runs up trees and lies on her back with her legs in the air. She has her off days too but she’s a trooper, and those thousands of pounds were money well spent. I’m sure Yoni is a trooper too. Love and cuddles are just as good a medicine as anything else and Yoni will get lots of that I’m sure.

    1. Katie

      June 6th 2013 at 9:57 pm

      That’s horrifying – it’s awful to think that meds given with the best of intentions can cause such a bad reaction. Cats, while resilient in some ways, seem to be very fragile in others. Yoni was at the RVC too and I think they did their absolute best for him. I’m so pleased you kitty is holding up so well.

  • Jon

    June 6th 2013 at 9:36 pm

    So sorry to hear about poor Yoni’s condition. Glad to see he’s home and looking pleased to be there with those who love him the most.

  • caroline

    June 6th 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Hope he’s doing OK and that you are too. Keep us updated. Cx.

    (ps: the shop is my fave vintage shop. I must pay a visit there soon.)

  • Natalie

    June 8th 2013 at 10:41 am

    Pet illness and trauma is just so horrible. It’s now almost exactly two years since we lost our beloved dog Jimmy and there isn’t a single day that goes by without me thinking of him (and not infrequently crying). He was also a rescue dog and although I new we had given him the best life possible it was (and is) myself that I grieve for. Like you I just miss his little demanding being around the house. But hopefully you’ll have many more years with Yoni. I have made a lot of programmes about vets – including the RVC where I think you went – and there were always many case of pets that defied all expectations about their health and life-expectancy. Plus I was amazed at how well both cats and dogs cope with 3 legs! I’m thinking of you all and wishing you well.

  • Rachel

    June 21st 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I just came across your blog while testing my husband’s theory that our cats are more googleable then he is; I image searched “lila cat” and thought I saw our beautiful black cat Lila but it turned out to be your beautiful black cat Lila. Then I spent a while reading your blog as it is so very lovely, and you have an etsy shop (like me) and live in London (well not quite like me but I do work here). And then finally came to the most recent post. I’m so sorry about your little Yoni, I hope in the intervening weeks he’s continued to recover and not cause you any further stress. What they put us through :-(

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