August 6, 2013:
My husband took our remaining two kittens, Lovey and Lily, to the vet today for their annual checkup. We updated their shots and took blood samples to see if they have somehow miraculously outgrown the FeLV+ virus.
We were told that if the kittens made it past their first year, they might outgrow the disease.
Lovey and Lily are exactly 1 year and 4 months old today.
Unfortunately, both cats still tested positive for the disease.
This is devastating news for us. The cats appear to be so healthy. They are eating like horses and they play constantly. Their demeanors are those of completely healthy cats so this revelation came as a shock. We were so hopeful that they had managed to escape the same fate as their mother, Carrie, and their two sisters, Daisy, and Missy.
We have no idea how long their lives will be, but one thing is for sure; their lives will be great ones for as long as they live.
My husband and I have spoiled them horribly. We have just ordered a Cats Meow toy that will be delivered in the mail soon. I will have to get video of them playing with the toy and post it on this site.
An amazing event happened at the vet today. Lily was a very good girl while she was being given her shots and the vet techs drew her blood sample.
Lovey, on the other hand, was screaming her head off as though the vet was going to kill her or something.
This upset Lily tremendously!! Lily jumped up on the table where Lovey was held down then Lily challenged and hissed at the vet!!!
I knew she loved her sister, Lovey, but I had no idea she would protect her to such a degree.
These two remaining kittens (now cats) are devoted to each other. They bathe each other and play with each other. They also sleep next to each other most of the time.
It is going to be horrible when one of them passes away from the FeLV+ before the other.
September 6, 2013:
Lovey’s Feline Leukemia disease has now gone active.
My husband and I have been noticing strange behavior from her for the past three weeks since she last went to the Vet for her annual checkup and shots.
She started becoming obsessed with licking the fireplace stones. Very bizarre behavior that I have never seen before in a cat and we have had many of them over the past 20 years.
Also, Lovey has been a huge fan of Chobani Yogurt the past few months. Every morning when I would get a yogurt out of our refrigerator, Lovey would practically dance around the kitchen, follow me into the sitting room, and be all over me while I opened the container. She would not leave me alone unless she got at least three or four teaspoons of her yogurt in the morning.
However, about two weeks ago, she stopped asking for the treat and wouldn’t eat any even if I put a small amount on a plate. I knew something was up and I have been praying that she was just going through a phase.
The past two days have been hell to get her to eat any of her food in the morning or evening meals. Finally today she completely shut down and refused to eat anything.
We called the Vet immediately when we observed this sudden withdrawal from even wanting her favorite treats. She and two Vet Techs came over to our home to take blood and check her out. The Vet immediately went back to her office and analyzed Lovey’s blood sample for anemia…..the first real indicator that the Feline Leukemia disease has gone active in her body and is now beginning to enter her bone marrow.
Her blood sample results were positive and showed her red blood count down from a normal 40 to a mere seven on the scale. Lovey is one very sickly anemic cat now.
As soon as the Vet told us the news, my husband broke out into tears and began crying like a baby. We have fallen so much in love with these wonderful sweet kitties over the past year and a half. We have experienced a tremendous amount of grief watching the mother cat, Carrie, and the first two kittens, Daisy, and Missy slowly disintegrate before our very eyes from the most beautiful animals into shadows of their former healthy conditions.
Our Vet gave us the same treatment option that we applied to Missy way back in December 2012. We can try to jump-start Lovey’s immune system and attempt to reverse the advancement of the disease by giving her a blood transfusion.
I don’t know what made me begin thinking about this about two weeks ago (maybe the yogurt rejection or the strange licking episodes), but I asked my husband to talk to our Vet about the T-Cyte therapy that I researched and posted as a treatment alternative for this site. On August 17th he took one of our healthy older cats for her annual shots at our Vet and while he was there mentioned the T-Cyte product.
Interestingly, our Vet had never heard of the therapy. That is how new it is on the market. She called around to see if any Vets in our area had ever used it before. She found a few Vets who were invaluable sources of information. T-Cyte is so ground-breaking that the only studies that have been done on FeLV+ cats have been conducted in-house by the T-Cyte company. There aren’t any outside independent studies that we can go to find out how effective T-Cyte might be to help the disease go into submission.
Our Vet spoke to a research scientist at T-Cyte and said the therapy is a series of shots; three the first couple of weeks then tapering down to twice a week for another couple of weeks, then finally once a week for a couple of months (or something to that effect). The first week of three shots is $70.00.
After wiping away the tears, my husband and I discussed which treatment we should try. At least this time we have an optional therapy that we didn’t know about last December.
I asked our Vet to find out if any Vets have tried to do a combination of the two therapies at the same time and if so, what were the results. Our Vet called T-Cyte and spoke to the same scientist and found out that there have been instances where a few Vets have tried to combine a blood transfusion followed up with the T-Cyte shots.
The scientist said that successes have been documented with this aggressive approach. However, our Vet also told us that sometimes a blood transfusion can actually cause the Leukemia to go into hyper-mode and accelerate the disease because the cat’s system cannot not handle the new foreign substance into their body.
I told my husband that since the only frame of reference we have to draw upon of the effectiveness of a blood transfusion is with Missy, we know first-hand how the disease can still persevere in a short period of time. Missy had her transfusion and for a few days she seemed normal again. We had hope that maybe she could beat FeLV+. That was a fleeting glimmer of hope. Soon she was anemic again and then her decline that led to her death.
We now understand that regardless of what we do, Lovey’s days are numbered. I told my husband that we have nothing more to lose and everything to gain if we try the T-Cyte therapy alone and not risk aggravating the disease into spiraling out of control with a blood transfusion. We are only hoping to put the disease into remission. We know the T-Cyte isn’t a complete cure. However, if we can do anything to give Lovey any further extension of her life, it will be worth the time, money, and effort to try. We owe her that much.
We ordered and over-night shipped the first week of T-Cyte shots and they should arrive here to our home sometime by this Saturday morning.
Our Vet told us to call her when the medicine arrives and she will come over to administer the first shot. Lovey will be our Vet’s first “experimental” case to try this therapy.
Please pray for our special “Lovey Dovey”. I told my husband today that I don’t know if I can handle another death of one of the kittens to close on the heels of losing the last one in the spring.
Emotionally, we are trying to hang on and hopefully make the right decisions to help Lovey. Pray for me and my husband to give us the strength to deal with this new turn of events.
September 11, 2013:
Today, September 11, 2013, Lovey passed away at our home at 3:25 a.m.
She was surrounded by those who loved her the most, her human mother and father, and her dear sweet sister, Lily.
She has gone to heaven to be with her mother, Carrie, and her sisters, Daisy, and Missy.
Today another furry child from our family crossed the Rainbow Bridge:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
January 17, 2014:
We had the privilege of knowing her for 21 months and 11 days. Lily was our precious adorable last surviving kitten from Carrie. She passed away in my arms on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 6:51 p.m.
Lily was a remarkably loving and incredibly intelligent cat. I used to tell my husband that Lily was born with only one organ in her body and that was a huge heart. She loved to jump in my lap when I would say her name and motion for her to come to me. Every time I asked her to “come to Mama”; she would run down the hallway with the cutest little gallop and jump into my lap purring happily. She had the most adorable little jog. Her front legs were just slightly bowlegged and the way her little legs moved back and forth as she ran towards me would always make me laugh.
Lily brought my husband and myself indescribable joy. Ever since Lovey passed away on September 11, 2013, I thanked God everyday for letting her live to see another day pass and be in relative good health.
After we lost Lovey, my husband and I knew that Lily would be facing her own death very soon as all the others of Carrie’s beautiful kittens had throughout the 2013 year. Instead of standing by passively and feeling helpless, my husband and I decided to be more proactive with Lily and do everything within our power to try to extend her life and give her a good quality for the remaining time we would have with her on this earth.
We decided to start Lily on the T-Cyte treatment program the Monday after Lovey’s death on September 16th. We had our veterinarian contact the T-Cyte Company and ask for their recommended treatment plan for Lily. Since her FeLV+ was still in the dormant stage at that time, we felt we needed guidance from the research doctors at T-Cyte to know exactly how often Lily should get the shots. Their recommendation was to administer the shots to Lily once every two weeks for two months and then reduce the dosage to once a month. Our veterinarian chose to do blood work every treatment so we could closely monitor the T-Cyte to see if it was making any difference to her immune system and enable Lily to fight infection and keep her red blood count high.
After one month of treatments, Lily’s blood work was very encouraging to us. Although her red blood cells hadn’t increased very much, her lymphocyte reading was very high! That meant that her lymph nodes were able to produce enough of the good white blood cells that built up her immune system to ward off microorganisms and infections that could activate the FeLV+.
After the second month, her blood work reading had a very similar result. Her red blood cells were a little lower, but nothing to give us alarm. We were very excited over her progress, but we were cautiously optimistic. We knew all too well that Lily’s blood work gave us facts for the here and now, but we were working with a relatively new FeLV+ therapy that hadn’t undergone an outside neutral research study; T-Cyte experimental studies were all conducted in-house as of this writing.
Meanwhile, my husband and I relished in Lily’s good health and her lively escapades. After Lovey died, we increased our playtime with Lily. This was partly done to get her mind off of Lovey’s death. Lily was present when Lovey died at our home in our living room. Lovey and Lily shared a tremendous sisterly bond and a special loving relationship. Once they both realized that they were the last of Carrie’s family still alive, they played hard with each other, they shared toys, they slept on top of each other, and they constantly bathed each other. I have had many cats in my life, but I have never witnessed the affection of two littermates that these two had for each other. We were very afraid that the trauma of experiencing the death of her last sibling could activate the FeLV+ and so we consciously made the decision to occupy her many times throughout the day with lots of play and love.
Once the second month of treatments were done, we switched to the once a month plan at the end of November as prescribed by the T-Cyte doctor. Two days after Christmas, we took Lily to our veterinarian to receive her next monthly shot and do blood work. When the test results were completed that afternoon, we immediately got the news that Lily’s red blood count had sunk drastically low and was now in the critical range. What an incredible blow to our happiness and sense of security in one short month’s time. My husband and I now knew that the T-Cyte, although it worked for a couple of months, was not working now for whatever reason. We asked our veterinarian to give us advice as to additional therapies that we could try to see if we could reverse the direction Lily’s battle was headed with this wretched disease.
Our vet came up with implementing a combined treatment of Interferon and Orbax. This therapy regiment involved giving Lily a .01-milliliter of prescription liquid Interferon dosage orally once a day for seven days; no medicine for seven days, and then return to the seven-day treatment again. At the same time, we gave Lily one half tablet of an Orbax 22.7 milligram dosage once a day for two weeks. Lily also developed an open wound on the back of her neck. I had noticed her scratching from time to time, but I didn’t realize she had done it often enough to break her skin. We gave her an antibiotic shot that would relive itching and put her on a spray to be given twice a day to clear up the lesion.
Lily was a marvelous patient! We never had to fight with her to give her medicine in any form regardless if it was a pill or a liquid. She would easily open her mouth and let me medicate her without a complaint or violent reaction. However, we always gave her treats to let her know what a good girl she had been and she looked forward to these special times in the day. We gave her the seven days of medicines and I noticed an improvement in her demeanor. She began to jump on my dining room furniture again after a couple of week’s absence of this behavior. She also got on top of my entertainment center that is very high and difficult to traverse. She started to play vigorously again and we were relived to see her quality of life improve. My husband made a long string by tying several shoestrings together and this became Lily’s sole playtime concentration for about two wonderful weeks. Lily also became more amorous and began to get on either my chest or my husband’s chest for long periods of petting, hugging, and kissing interludes.
However, this brief time of improvement didn’t last and when we went on the seven days off period of the Interferon, she began a slow decline. She still wanted her new shoestring, but instead of jumping and leaping for the toy, she began to lie down on the floor and swat at the string as it dangled near her head.
We also noticed that her appetite started to diminish a little bit every meal. This was bad news to us. All of the other kittens lost their appetites in the last two weeks before their deaths. We feed our cats twice a day (every 12 hours) and we do not leave extra dry food out. We do this because we have a couple of porker cats in addition to Lily that would gladly consume everything in sight then immediately throw it up because they ate too much. Instead, we have regular meals with occasional treats throughout the day if they are hungry. Lily started leaving uneaten food in her bowl about two weeks ago. This was very new, as Lily loved her meals. In the past, she had always eaten every morsel of food and would frequently go to the other cat’s bowls to see if they had any left over and munch on their leftovers. By January 10th, she would hardly touch her food at all. She would nibble on the dry food in her dish, but turned her nose up at the canned wet food. She also still wanted to eat her treats. I told my husband to give her what ever and as much as she wanted to try to get her to eat.
Last Monday, January 13th, Lily stopped eating entirely. We both knew that the end was near. However, I continued her Interferon regimen on the seven days on again just in case it brought any relief to her in her last days.
Ever since we found out that she was in the critical stage of the disease, I began to stay up during the night and eventually go to sleep in my recliner in our living room with Lily on my chest. She wanted me to nurture her. She would get on my chest and lay down for hours and sleep. I couldn’t refuse her wishes knowing full well that these would probably be the last times I would have to comfort her before she died. The last three days of her life she became so weak from the lack of nutrition that she couldn’t climb on my lap anymore. I took the initiative to pick her up and cradle her so she could rest in my arms and on my chest. Her purr was so loud that my husband could hear her from across the room. Even on her last day, she tried to purr several times to let me know that she loved me and appreciated my love for her in her dying hours. Her anemia, however, became acute and she barely was able to move or stand up the last two days of her life.
Yesterday, on January 16th, Lily began to whimper and cry out in pain around 3:30 p.m. She had never done this before and it reminded me of Lovey when she did exactly the same thing several hours before she passed away. My husband was out running a few errands and he came home about 20 minutes after Lily vocally expressed real pain and suffering. When he returned, Lily cried out again and my husband was visibly distressed. I told him that was the second time she had cried out in pain and we both agreed that now since she was in such agony, it was time for us to end her suffering and put her to sleep. We called our veterinarian and she agreed to come to our home to perform the duty when she closed her practice at 7:00 p.m.
About 35 minutes before 7:00 p.m., Lily began to scream horribly and I kept asking my husband “how much longer until the vet comes”. I knew we had to act soon to give Lily a peaceful end to her suffering. At 6:51 p.m., suddenly Lily had a spasm and screamed repeatedly and stiffened up her legs. I was attempting to lay her down on our couch to try to relieve her pain when she took two gasps of air and then passed away in my arms. I laid her body on the couch to see if she was still alive, but it was obvious she was dead.
As soon as we both realized she was gone, we both became inconsolable. I picked up her lifeless body and began to rock her back and forth and wailed with tremendous grief. My husband began sobbing uncontrollably. It is now 24 hours later, and we are both still traumatized from the whole overpowering sense of loss.
Our two remaining cats heard Lily’s screams and came inside the living room and observed the entire sad scene playing out before their eyes. Our Maine Coon was the most visibly shaken and exhibited genuine concern over Lily’s cries. Both cats saw her death and our immediate reaction. I mention this because although these same two cats were here in the house for Carrie and Lovey’s deaths (Missy and Daisy were put down humanely at the vet’s office), they stayed upstairs and never saw their deaths up close. Their reaction was amazing and profound as they showed worry over Lily and unease over our sorrow.
My husband found out that our vet was on her way to our home and when she arrived, he told her the sad news. My vet is such a wonderful compassionate person. She saw me on the floor holding my darling Lily and weeping while I rocked her like a baby. She came over to me and put her arms around me and hugged me for a long moment.
I told her that my husband and I never had children and our pets have filled that void. Lily was my baby and I loved her as deeply as a mother could possibly love her own child. My vet told me she understood completely and empathized with our crushing loss of an entire family of five cats in 12 months time. She told us she admired us because most people would have either euthanized the cats as soon as they found out about their disease or would have abandoned them outside to fend for themselves.
There is no way my husband or I could ever do such a thing. These precious beings were a special gift from God. Although we had them for a very short time, we have so many lovely memories of their loving tender souls and their mischievous capers to last us a lifetime. They gave much more to us than we could have ever given to them. Their unconditional love will have a special place in my heart for the reminder of my life on this earth.
It was 26 months ago that a young feral female short-haired brown tabby cat wandered into my yard. She was frightened of me, but very hungry. I began to feed her in my front yard and eventually she made her way to my back porch where there is an awning to shield her and the food from the rain. I put two big pillows in the corner of my patio for her to have a soft comfortable and dry place to sleep.
Little did I know at that time that this feral cat would take me and my husband on a journey of learned/shared trust that evolved into love, the discovery of Feline Leukemia, and ended in repeated tragedy. An odyssey that would not only involve her, but the four kittens she gave birth to the sixth week after she entered our home and our lives.
My husband and I stayed up all night last night reflecting on not only Lily’s life, but also all of Carrie’s family. We reflected on the past year’s experience of dealing with five FeLV+ cats and the excruciating pain our hearts have undergone repetitively.
We both agreed that as hard emotionally and financially this ordeal has been we are very thankful we took Carrie into our home and our hearts. She entrusted to us her four magnificent kittens. There can be no greater show of trust and love to a human than for a mother cat to let us take over the nurturing of her babies. This is even more overwhelming because Carrie was as wild a feral cat as I have ever seen. She learned to have faith in us and she loved to watch our interaction with her kittens. She knew how lucky she was and that she had found a wonderful safe place to leave her offspring. She also knew we intensely loved them and that we would give them the great life that she was only beginning to understand and appreciate before she died.
In return, we gained the adoration of five cats that loved us with all their hearts and souls and wanted nothing more than to hear our laughter and make us very happy. They certainly did that and so much more that I can’t even put into words.
Our lives have been enriched and hugely enhanced by these awesome cats. As lucky as they were by our willingness to accept the responsibility to care for these superb animals, we are truly the lucky ones.
I have no doubt in my mind that Carrie, Daisy, Missy, Lovey, and Lily are in Heaven right now.
The Bible teaches that God does save animals.
For example, God brought Noah two of each kind of living creature in order to save them from the Flood. God chastised reluctant Jonah about the need to save not only the human inhabitants of Nineveh, but also its many animals.
God not only saves animals; at times, his covenants include them. God’s covenant with Noah included “every living thing of all flesh” (Gen. 6:18-19, KJV). In Hosea, God proclaimed a covenant “with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground” (2:18, NIV).
Ecclesiastes 3:18-21: “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath (literally “spirit“); humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
Job 12:10 “In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath (literally “spirit”) of all mankind.”
Genesis 9:9-10 ““I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.”
The prophet Isaiah foretold that God will include animals in the new heavens and new earth:
“The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.”(Isaiah 65: 25, NIV)
In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, the Apostle John’s vision of Heaven also included animals, showing Christ and the armies of heaven “riding on white horses.” (Revelation 19:14, NIV)
Even Jesus, our Savior, said that not even one sparrow is ever forgotten by Him.
I cannot imagine Heaven without our treasured pets there. It is a place of unparalleled beauty; a paradise where we will live for eternity in utter joy and peace. It can’t be all those things without our dear beloved pets to share eternity.
I found this wonderful story on the internet and I have to share it here. It sums up my belief that my husband and I will one day rejoin Carrie and her kittens in the hereafter:
The story is about an elderly widow whose beloved little dog died after fifteen faithful years. Distraught, she went to her pastor.
“Parson,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks, “the vicar said animals have no souls. My darling little dog Fluffy has died. Does that mean I won’t see her again in heaven?”
“Madam,” said the old priest, “God, in his great love and wisdom has created heaven to be a place of perfect happiness. I am sure that if you need your little dog to complete your happiness, you will find her there.”
Amen to that.