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Newt the Cat, (formerly known as Newt the Kitten), is being hailed as a "Miracle Kitty" by those who have been following his remarkable story.
From his dramatic rescue as a tiny, dirty, unweaned
kitten, his time in foster care, initial diagnosis of a probable feline
liver shunt, numerous vet visits, tests, holistic consultants, dietary
evolutions, to the difficult decision to opt out of surgery at this
time, Newt has enchanted everyone who meets him.
From his earliest kittenhood, Newt has shown that he has the heart of a lion, and has made a profound impression on those of us fortunate enough to know him.
Who could ever imagine that such a tiny little kitten could have such a huge impact?
In the summer of 2008, at eleven weeks old, on the day he was to go to his new home, he ended up in the emergency room with an initial diagnosis of a Portosystemic shunt. As his foster family, we were told that he was probably going to die any day, and advised to "just keep him comfortable." Liver shunts, while rare in dogs, are even less seldom seen in cats and kittens, and very little information was available.
We were given prescription food, Lactulose and antibiotics, told to feed him numerous small meals each day, and if he happened to survive and grow large enough, then he could be tested to determine if he was a candidate for a surgery that he might not survive. But the prognosis was not hopeful.
We made the decision to adopt him into the family, and keep him comfortable and loved for whatever little time he had left. The ensuing days, weeks and months became a blur of research, as we desperately tried to find information on his condition. We were thrilled to discover the Yahoo Group for Liver Shunt and MVD Support, and while not a dog, Newt the Kitten was welcomed with open arms by the membership who provided a much-needed sense of community and hope, as well as invaluable information and resources on the condition.
That year was one of many unexpected "firsts" for Newt - his first Autumn, his first Thanksgiving, his first Christmas, his first international fellow shunt kitty friend, his first snow, and then, wonder of wonders, his first birthday! As we ease into the second year of his adventures, we continue to be humbled and amazed at his progress.
Newt is not being managed according to traditional vet recommendations; however, this approach seems to be working very well for him. We are maintaining a fully integrative medical management approach, combining elements of traditional, as well as complimentary care. Lactulose and Amoxicillin and homecooked meals, on-demand Reiki, acupuncture, acupressure and massage are the core of his maintenance.
After much painful debate, we have opted out of surgery at this time, and have instead chosen to maintain him in as non-invasive a manner as possible. This is not a decision we have made lightly. His care and quality of life have remained paramount in our choices for his treatment protocols. While we are aware of several cats who have had successful surgical ligation, we just do not feel that we wish to risk the odds of potential post-surgical complications.
We did feed him a prescription diet for the first several months, but ended up switching, because most of his symptoms remained, and we were concerned about the effect that meat by-products and corn would have upon a growing kitten with an already fragile digestive system. Once we began incorporating a more natural, human grade approach to his dietary choices, he began showing improvement. He is now on a home-cooked diet consisting of 1/4 protein to 3/4 pureed raw vegetables, and has remained symptom free for the longest stretch of his life so far.
We are indebted to various members of "Team Newt," including his holistic veterinarian, Dr. Sara FOX CHAPMAN, for her ability to complement traditional with holistic vet care; to JULIA CAHILL for helping to find prepared foods that would work for cats with liver shunts; and to Flea's mom, for sharing her successful home prepared diet, as well other members of the yahoo Liver Shunt and MVD Support Group. We are also so very grateful for fellow shunt cat owners who have been in contact with us to share their stories, and to let us know that we are not alone in this journey. The support and encouragement of "Team Newt" has helped us so much.
While we still live every day with the knowledge that today could be his last, we are comforted in the knowledge that he is acting healthy, and has certainly been comfortable! Newt, aka New New, aka Pookie Bear, aka Schnookie, aka Booger, aka Twitch, aka Pissant, has enriched our lives with more tears and more joy than we ever could have imagined, and is proving to both his traditional specialists as well as his holistic vets, than an integrative approach combining the best of both worlds is the right approach for him.
the Original music (excerpt playing) by Mike Surratt, © 2009
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