Rescue kitten leaves legacy

Rescue kitten Snoopy was a tiny, helpless, 10-day-old bundle found in the middle of a busy road but a decade later when this defenceless little creature crossed the rainbow bridge, she left an important legacy for her adoptive parents.

Somerset West resident and Snoopy’s adoring Dad, Ian Laxton, takes up the story:

“Back in 2009 my wife Sonja and I were driving on the R40, heading to the Ingwelala reserve.  The R40 road goes from Nelspruit up past the Kruger Park to Hoedspruit and is always busy with trucks and cars. About 8km outside of Hoedspruit the road went between game reserves on both sides.

“I was driving at about 50km/hour when I looked in the rearview mirror and spotted something small and grey in the road behind me.  I had driven right over it but fortunately it was in the centre of the lane and the wheels had missed it.  Curious about what this tiny animal could be, I drove back and pulled over.  Trucks passed and then Sonja climbed out and went to look.  It was a tiny, 10-day-old kitten, its eyes barely open.  It couldn’t move.

“Sonja picked it up and it just lay there in her hands.  We went to a vet in Hoedspruit but they couldn’t take it, so we got some Kitty Milk and (illegally) took it into Ingwelala for the weekend.    When we got home to Joburg four days later we saw that the kitten was lethargic and still – it was basically starving.  For days we pushed solid foods into its mouth, bought a toy baby’s bottle and kept it alive.  Only just.

“Long story short – Snoopy (yes, that’s what Sonja called her!) grew up to be the most delightful, loving kitty, playful and friendly, a big climber who would go to the top of the tallest tree in the garden and look down at me.

Rescue kitten’s mystery arrival remains unsolved

“We have no idea how she got into the road.  She looked like a Russian Blue breed and it’s unlikely that she was born in the bush.  Also, she could not have survived out there in a busy, narrow road for more than a few minutes without being run over by something.

“We guess that someone just put her there, in a middle of the R40, 8km out of town, minutes before we arrived.

“We will never know but we were extraordinary lucky to have had 9 precious years with a delightful kitty and she, of course, had 9 happy years in a loving, cat-friendly home.

“Sadly, little Snoopy died of renal failure before she turned 10.  It was a tragedy and I still miss her,” says Ian.

Rescue kitten Snoopy taught her adoptive parents an important lesson about cat care which Ian has happily shared with us. Read it below:

Rescue kitten’s important legacy

“We wish we had known more about renal failure and I’m sharing our story so that other cat parents will understand the importance of regular screening for cats over the age of 7. Early intervention and treatment can improve prognosis.

“The first symptom we noticed with Snoopy was slow and steady weight loss, which lasted for about 6 months.  I cannot remember any other clinical signs but I may have missed them.  So the end was pretty sudden and quite traumatic.  We had no idea what was happening.  One day I realised that she had lost significant weight and took her to the vet. I never saw her again as the diagnosis was end-stage renal failure and she had to be euthanased, aged 9 years 8 months.
“She lived her whole life on imported premium brand kibble and water, which the vet said probably had nothing to do with her disease.  Apparently premature kidney failure is a relatively common, and profoundly sad, cause of death in cats.

Kidney disease in cats: what you should know

Chronic kidney disease is one of the most common diseases in older cats. For this reason, all cats older than 7 years of age should undergo an annual checkup and kidney screening.

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease

– Increased water intake. Cats may start demanding that you open the tap, or drink from a pond or pool, or try to get water from your glass

– increased urination

– urinating in a different place to where they usually do

– weight loss

– decreased grooming: they may start looking unkempt

– pale gums

– pain when you pick them up under their tummies

– constipation

What tests will be done?

“The first test we do is a urine test,” says veterinarian Dr Ingrid de Wet. “If the urine is very concentrated it indicates that the kidneys have at least 65% function. If the urine is dilute, this is a warning sign and indicates that further testing is required.

“The next test we do is a blood test and we test the following two parameters: urea and creatinine. This test is easy to run and we can do it in the clinic while you wait – these values start increasing when the kidneys have only 25% function left. “Unfortunately, there are other reasons why these values may increase so if they are high we will send more blood to the laboratory to run what is called an SDMA test. This is a new test very specific to kidneys. It picks up kidney disease much earlier than other tests. It is also great for monitoring kidney function in the long term.

“If the cat is diagnosed with kidney failure, then we run a phosphate test and a test to determine if the cat is losing protein in the urine as this affects what medications need to be prescribed.”

What treatment will my cat need?

Many cats will need to be admitted to hospital for a few days if they are very dehydrated in order to get them stable.

The next step is to slowly introduce them to a diet specially formulated for kidney patients. Our diet of choice is Hills k/d. If the tests indicate that it is necessary, they may go on medication to bind phosphate in the diet and to decrease protein loss in the urine.

Your cat will need to visit your vet regularly for weigh-ins and blood and urine tests to monitor its progress. If he/she dehydrates often, you will be taught how to give subcutaneous fluid (fluid under the skin) to prevent your cat from being hospitalised for a drip.

 

 

Department of Health COVID-19 updates available at www.sacoronavirus.co.za

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