I had been fostering for a kitten rescue group for a year and a half (and am a twice foster fail) when I was walking through a PetSmart and spotted Destiny in a kennel for adoption. She was sitting in a little ball in the corner of the cage shaking. My daughter and I knew immediately something was not right.

When I asked the volunteer to check on her, she blew me off and said it was just stress from being on display. We knew this was more than just stress. I asked another volunteer to tell me about this little tiny kitten. I asked if I could hold her and the volunteer proceeded to tell me about her. She was four months old, had all her shots (including rabies), was spayed and microchipped.

I couldn't believe she was four months old because she was so small. I estimated that she was just barely 2 pounds if that! She was shaking so horribly. I held her to my chest. Then she looked up at my face with her big golden eyes as if to say, "Save Me." The volunteer then told me her name is Destiny. Well, that did it. How could I walk away from this little tiny girl named Destiny?

It was destiny that we found each other. We immediately adopted her and brought her home.

Once home, I realized just how tiny and sickly she was. She was so unstable when she walked and constantly ran into walls. I couldn't get her to drink water because her little head bobbled so badly when she was at the water bowl she kept inhaling water through her nose. She ate canned wet food, but that was it. I took her to the vet the next day. The vet determined that Destiny's body temperature was below normal at 95 degrees, she was dehydrated, and only weighed 1.7 pounds." The vet suspected she had Cerebral Hypoplasia (CH) given her severe wobbliness. We were given antibiotics and sub-q fluids. She did pretty well that first month, but continued to have strange wobbly episodes. She never really played. She just loved being held. Looking back I now realize they were small seizures and being held was her way of feeling secure because she was so unstable. We continued to give her wet food because she was so dehydrated.

We returned to the vet three months later because Destiny had a urinary tract infection. More antibiotics and more things to encourage her to drink more water and more wet food. She would improve because of the antibiotics, but continued to have little episodes. We purchased a great water fountain that Destiny loved and would drink from so I started her on dry food with occasional wet food. I noticed that her episodes were always after wet food and started wondering if she was allergic to something in the wet food.

Three months later, we were back at the vet again with another UTI. Another round of antibiotics. I explained my concern with the wet food. I think my vet thought I was crazy. They put her on a UTI wet food. Three months later, we were back at the vet again with another UTI. This time I saw a different vet.
They located crystals in her urine and suspected a possible liver shunt and ordered an ultrasound that was done a week later. The ultrasound results reported there was no shunt.

We continued on the UTI wet food and you guessed it, three months later we were back at the vet again. This time they performed a bile acid test. Her results were off the charts. The vet did some research for us and learned that ultrasounds are not conclusive and referred us to UC Davis where they have better technology to determine if it was a shunt and to look at her eyes because she was losing her eye sight. UC Davis did an MRI and found the shunt! We immediately put her on a low protein diet, Pepcid, lactulose, and antibiotics. We discussed the possibility of surgery, but I wanted to try the protocol given that surgery was so expensive. Destiny's health improved on the protocol, however, she began to hate me for giving her medicine all the time. She would hide and not come out. When I would finally get her, she would scratch or bite us to get away. It was at that point that we decided it was in her best interest to look at surgery again.

Destiny had surgery, March 7, 2015. After spending one night in ICU and two more days being monitored constantly, we were able to bring her home. She was so happy to see us! We sat on the floor of the UC Davis office and cried as she climbed up my chest to give me kisses. She was very bruised on her belly and had so many stiches, but it didn't slow her down. She was already more energetic than I had ever seen her! Those first nights home were challenging as she would constantly get out of her soft collar. I had her in a kennel, and checked on her every couple of hours. At one point, she had the collar around her waist and incision. Terrified, I decided to sleep with her on my chest (well, didn't really sleep) so I could make sure she didn't bother her incision.
We immediately stopped the Pepcid. She stayed on antibiotics for two more weeks. Then they had us take her off her lactulose one month after surgery. Then six weeks after surgery, we were told to start introducing regular cat food.
Destiny is doing amazing!! She LOVES food now. She thinks she should be able to eat anything and everything and at any time she wants! At nine months post-op, Destiny now weighs almost seven pounds. The eye sight in her left eye hasn't gotten any better, but it hasn't gotten any worse and she can see perfectly in her right eye. She still loves to be held, but not as often. She likes to play or lay in the sun. She has truly become a cat and is just now going through her kitten phase even though she is two and half years old. She gets into everything, climbs everything, is constantly under foot, and loves chasing the laser and playing with feather toys. To see her so happy, makes everything worthwhile.

Destiny's Mom is Julie McFall


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