As the months of the year 2023 began to roll by, it soon became known to the members of our family as …
“The Year of the Cat!”
… this is the story that explains why.
Our boy, Mr Wendell (aka ‘The Best Cat!’ and ‘Fat Puss!’) was adopted by us in 2015 after being found wandering the streets by the RSPCA. From day one, he enriched our family. He immediately made himself at home and seemed thrilled with his new home (dribbling with joy!) Wendell proved to be such a friendly, social and happy cat who liked humans almost as much as he liked food! After ‘being on skid row’ as we referred to his days before we knew him, he made no secret of how much he loved his new environment and human family. He was and still is such a pleasure to have around.
After years of no health issues at all, Mr Wendell did not have a very good start to 2023. The year began like any other, until only into the second week of January, did Mr Wendell appear to come down with a ‘cat cold.’ After a few days and with little to no improvement, we took Mr W. to our local veterinary clinic where as expected, they prescribed him with some medication to combat said ‘cold.’
A few days passed and even though on medication, Mr W. still showed no improvement and we were now, beginning to get very worried.
(Mr W. unfortunately contracted F.I.V. in his early life, before we adopted him in 2015. We were told that the RSPCA had come upon him in a very poorly state, around the age of one year and it came to pass that he most likely encountered a very big, tough, unfriendly and F.I.V. infected cat along his journeys and was gifted F.I.V. by this bully!) Wendell’s F.I.V. status would prove to be very challenging to his health issues.
With no improvement and Wendell’s health rapidly deteriorating, the local vet decided to admit him and subsequently do all manner of tests to try and get to the bottom of his condition. After a couple of days, we were notified that Wendell had contracted Toxoplasmosis but with the right medication, (famous last words!) he would be on the mend. If only that could have been the case!
Wendell was prescribed the ‘go to’ drug, (an antibiotic) which he absolutely hated and administering it to him was not for the faint hearted! It only took one or two doses for the trouble to really start … Wendell developed the absolute worst case of diarrhea ever seen! His poops (if you can call them that) would just literally pour out of him! It was extreme and this was only after a day or two … he needed to be on this medication for a MONTH!
Sufficed to say, he was given counteractive meds for the diarrhea which gave minimal improvement but we were in for a month of hell as of course, so was poor Mr W.!
This awful scenario went on for weeks and although Wendell’s toxo. symptoms had improved some, we now had a whole new situation on our hands. The antibiotics had effectively eradicated Wendell’s gut micro-biome, his appetite was diminished and he had lost an extreme amount of weight – (from approx. 5 kgs at health to an abysmal 2.9 kgs by April.) – and he had now also developed a most challenging condition which caused him SO MUCH AGONY – his little bottom was inflammed, raw and even CUT in places making it torturous every single time he needed to ‘use the litter box.’ In fact, it got to the point where the litter box was a mere pipe dream and Wendell would writhe around in pain on the floor and attempt to defecate wherever and whenever he possibly could. Sometimes this went on for hours.
Again, in March the local vets were concerned that poor Mr Wendell may actually have lymphoma so surgery was performed on his intestinal tract to determine this, but it came back clear. This was a blessed outcome however did nothing to explain why Wendell wasn’t healing or improving.
By early April, we were at the depths of despair with Wendell’s situation and finally conceded that it was time he was seen by an Internal Medicine Specialist – something had to give here. We had tried so much and spent so much money that it seemed wrong to give up on him now. I requested his case be taken up by the specialists at SASH Adelaide. In mid April, Wendell was assessed by Dr. David Davies.
Even Dr. Davies concluded that Wendell was quite the difficult case. Full blood tests were done, he was admitted for other tests and observations and was placed on a regime of medications and continued laxatives. His F.I.V. status was making treatment options and potentially healing, a major challenge. Wendell hated the new diet so this made feeding him and administering his meds more difficult. Still, the most distressing part of his predicament was the injury (yes, you could only call it a serious injury) to his bottom and the fact that it just would not heal. He struggled with this inability to poop without agony for a good three more months and Dr. Davies had given Wendell pain killers to help with this. We really just needed his body to have a chance at repairing but every time he needed to poop, more damage was perceivably being done so it took this long for him to show any signs of improvement.
Here’s the thing … after months of this awful situation, at some point in late July, Wendell somehow finally began to show signs of repair! We weren’t sure how long we could let him continue with this injury and condition as the medications etc. for so long had seemed to be only managing his pain and we were heavily struggling with whether the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ was the kindest option for Wendell but miraculously, and in a relatively short amount of time compared to how long he had suffered, Wendell DID repair, improve and begin putting weight back on. He came out of hiding and started to socialise with us again, (something he loved to do at health), he returned to regular visits to the litter box and his little bottom began to appear repaired. After seven long and agonising months, under the care of SASH, Mr Wendell had achieved his recovery!
Our Cat Came Back!
However long this story is, it really is a heavily abbreviated and unjust version of everything we went through with Wendell and also the extent of care he was given by SASH. Even though it took some time, the degree of thoroughness that Dr. Davies and the team at SASH offered was second to none. We knew that if they couldn’t help Wendell, then no one could and even though it was considered, we are SO THANKFUL that we didn’t give up on him.
Mr Wendell was last seen by Dr. Davies in early November. Dr. Davies was impressed by his state of health, happy to see him now fit and healthy but recommended he remain on very low levels of medication (B12 mostly) and return to his local vet for future, regular care UNLESS he presents with obvious, relevant symptoms again.
Mr Wendell is now the happy, healthy (and sometimes naughty!) cat that he used to be and we look forward to a much better start to 2024 than what 2023 offered us!
SASH saved Wendell’s life and we are forever grateful. He really is
‘The Best Cat!’