After Angel passed away, I made the decision to have Spanky, her brother, x-rayed to have a look at his lung function as Dr. Sharon said that would have been the only way we could have known Angel's lungs were so diseased. I've been suspicious of Spanky's health for over a month now and what I heard wasn't good. His heart was twice the size it should be, plus he too had some form of lung disease. Spanky's heart ultrasound was today and what he has is actually rare, however more than likely curable. He has DCM, or, dilated cardiomyopathy. The reason why this is a rare heart condition is because cat food manufacturers now put taurine in their products.
Lack of taurine in a pregnant mama cat will lead to fetus reabsorption, abortion/miscarriage, low birth weight of full term kittens, still born kittens, and fetal abnormalities.
There's a simple answer. A taurine supplement. Thankfully, Spanky is in the early stages of DCM and the radiologist believes that Spanky's DCM will actually be gone after six (6) months of medication and taurine supplements. So far what little research I have done, it explains the following:
Regarding Passion's litter: Dorothy's passing, Angel/Darla's abnormalities and passing, Spanky's DCM.
Regarding Gracie's litter: The abortion/miscarriage of all her kittens.
Regarding Dottie's litter: The abortion/miscarriage of her one kitten
Regarding Cleo's litter: The stillbirth of Adonis, the passing of Langley, and quite possibly Selene's "mineral deposit" in her eye (need to clarify this with Dr. Sharon).
Needless to say, many of our rescues that came from the streets are now on Taurine supplements, including Neo, who also came from the street and likely a mama that didn't get enough taurine while pregnant.
It's shocking how the passing of one beautiful feline has led us to so much information. I am beyond heartbroken over Angel. It's somewhat reassuring her death has given us so many answers.
Which brings me to some more sad news I can only pray will be fixed with the taurine supplement. Digit is quite sick now as well. Within the past couple days he has become run down and his coat no longer shines. His stomach has been quite upset and he too has been sleeping more than he should. I brought him in with me today and one X-ray later I'm hearing that his abdomen is filled with fluid and his heart is also larger than it should be. I'm not sure how many more times my heart can break. I should be getting most of his bloodwork back tomorrow. I've cried so much in the past week I just don't know how many more tears I can shed.
I have a fairly large running tab with Dr. Sharon who has been beyond gracious and generous with her services. We both want what is best for these rescues and we both want all of them to have the best life possible.
Along with Dr. Sharon, our amazing vet tech; Melissa, and myself, we have all agreed that it's best for us to stop intake at this time so we can focus on the health of who we have in our care.
I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and do go the extra mile and spare no expense for my rescues. ELM has been commended by other veterinarians for the care we provide to our rescues. We don't do it for praise or recognition, we do it because we are passionate about what we do. I'm not someone that can grab kittens off the street without their mom and adopt them out the next day. I need to learn about their personalities. I need to check their stool. I need to keep them isolated for 10-14 days to ensure there isn't some kind of infection brewing. I take pride in what I do and I'm a very sensitive person. If a cat or kitten gets sick after I adopt it out, I feel responsible. I want to guarantee the health of my felines and in doing so, I've run into a fairly large bill with my vet. I run tests "others" may deem unnecessary or even frivolous. The thing is, I don't want my adoptive parents to run into exactly what I have this past week. Clearly there will never be enough one can do to ensure a healthy cat or kitten.
I'd be lying if I said I've considered shutting down. I've been absolutely crushed over Angel, then Spanky, and now Digit. I get angry as well. For many reasons. I worry so much about my rescues I often think I'm not cut out for this. I love every minute of it and I know this was just an extra bad week. Thankfully I can still find joy in Honey doing great without her cone, only one Teeterville kitten left to adopt, many praises and thanks from others, and of course, my two latest baby girls; Mookie and Raina. I don't want to give up which is why we are currently saying "no more intake" until we get more of our rescues adopted and our vet bill paid off. I'm not one that likes to owe money so it's a heavy burden on my proud shoulders.
We will be setting up a YouCaring fundraising campaign to help pay off our vet bill. We would appreciate any and all help, even if you are only able to share. Every little click helps.
Thank you all for being my rock and my family.
"Increased resorption of fetuses, reduced litter size, and increased incidence of stillborn kittens was observed in queens while on taurine-deficient diets"
"The reproductive performance of female cats is severely affected by dietary taurine deficiency resulting in excessive reproductive wastage, including frequently resorbed or aborted fetuses and stillborn or low birth-weight live kittens. These studies were performed using female cats fed a completely defined purified diet (taurine-free) alone or supplemented with taurine for greater than or equal to 6 mo before mating, and their breeding performance was monitored for several years. Diets containing 0, 0.005 or 0.01% taurine produced severe taurine depletion and poor reproductive performance. Those containing 0.05, 0.2 or 1% taurine resulted in no apparent abnormalities and a normal breeding performance. A diet containing 0.02% taurine resulted in no apparent abnormalities and a normal breeding performance. A diet containing 0.02% taurine resulted in modest taurine depletion and a partially compromised reproductive performance. Kittens from taurine-deficient mothers have a poor survival rate and grow at a slower rate than kittens from females fed an adequate taurine diet. The brain weights of kittens from taurine-deficient mothers are significantly smaller than normal, both at birth and at weaning at 8 wk. Surviving kittens exhibit a number of abnormalities. The differences in maternal dietary taurine are reflected in the taurine concentrations found in the milk of lactating females. Our results strongly suggest that a certain amount of taurine is mandatory for survival and normal development in the cat."
"Taurine deficiency occurs in a large number of cats fed unfortified commercial diets. Deficiency arises because cats are unable to absorb all the taurine in processed diets and/or are unable to synthesize the deficit between absorption and requirement, which makes taurine an essential amino acid for cats. Taurine-depleted cats develop retinal degeneration, cardiomyopathy, altered white-cell function, and abnormal growth and development. Taurine deficiency is best estimated from the plasma-taurine concentration, with values less than 30 mumol/l considered deficient."