Mother’s Day Disintegrated. I’m A Basket Case.

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Don’t forget to stop and sniff the flowers. You never know what may be coming your way.

 

My sphynx, my first nekkid baby, my Noobie. I’ve always, always dreamed of having one of these, and finally last April, I was given the opportunity to adopt one. It wasn’t long enough, and my baby is gone. *Tears welling up for the thousandth time*

 

 

 

 

Tattoo

Noobie was occasionally subjected to sharpie tattoos. This one says “Mom” and was texted to me while I was traveling.

Noobie was loved by his original family, but he suffered from a very refractory case of cystitis and started having recurring bouts of urethral blockage, which is a veterinary emergency and has to be treated with hospitalization and urethral catheterization for several days. His family could no longer afford to keep him, and returned him to his breeder, who asked another breeder if she knew of any potential home that might be a good fit for such a problematic health condition. One of my former colleagues was the primary veterinarian for this other sphynx breeder, but I’d treated her cats a few times when I was on call, and always told her I’d be interested if she knew of a rescue sphynx or wanted to retire one of her breeding cats and find a home. So I was contacted and offered Noobie, and it was really love at first site. I agreed to take over his medical care, and we decided he would be a clinic cat at my newly purchased veterinary practice.

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Noobie had no fear of dogs or other cats and was the first to volunteer to keep other pets company when they came for appointments or hospitalization.

There really couldn’t be a more well-suited personality for the job of clinic cat. Noobie didn’t know a stranger, and he was always hopping uninvited onto people’s shoulders from his perch on the lobby counter, or jumping in their laps as they sat in the waiting room. Always a topic of conversation, for obvious reasons. Most people have never seen a hairless cat, or pet their soft, soft skin, in person. Noobie had the biggest motor, and he loved to sit in the window and watch for new clients to greet. He didn’t try to go out the door, but he was ready and waiting as soon as they walked through. Many clients would bring family and friends to see the cats, and I can’t say it wasn’t good for business. An unexpected benefit of having such a bizarre breed of cat.

 

 

 

 

 

kojeenoobieNot only was Noobie a people-person, but what made him even more perfectly suited to his job was that he was highly sociable with other animals, and never met a cat or dog he didn’t like. Even if the other pet wasn’t of a like-mind. So many dogs and cats would give him the most leery looks, not knowing what to make of this really, REALLY weird looking … bat? Rat? Cat?

The staff all thought Noobie was comically ugly to look at and made fun of his “possum tail” and his “man boobs” all the time. But it didn’t take long before he stole everyone’s hearts. He was just so full of love, and so comical all the time. A true ambassador for the breed. I’ll never not have a sphynx again. They’re just the most gregarious, personable, outgoing cats… and that’s the kind of cat I’ve always loved.

 

high upOf course, the kids were deeply enamored of Noobie. He never met a kid he didn’t bring his ball out for. He loved to play fetch, and even retrieved the ball at least 50% of the time. The kids are really torn up. Lots of tears. So is Hubby. The quintessential cat lover. If Hubby didn’t have a reason to stop by the clinic to perform some manly repair task that we ladies decided required a penis, he’d stop by just to get his nekkid kitty fix.  Sigh.

So we’re all just super torn up. Noobie was only 2 years old. I honestly can not speak about this without my throat choking closed and I cried all night since about 1:30 am. And I cried on and off all day today, in my emotionally raw and sleep-deprived state. I was and am a basket case. But I can write about  what happened, and so I will.

Noobie crashed yesterday afternoon and he died at about 11pm. He wasn’t alone, but we weren’t able to resuscitate. I do know what happened now, and I’ll tell you about it.

 

sunning

Another favorite pastime… sunning himself in the window. Sphynx cats are always heat-seekers.

Long story short, my Noobie had a congenital abnormality called a circumcaval ureter, which caused the part of his ureter in front of the abnormality to dilate until it ruptured. This was my finding on post-mortem examination. I was called by the afternoon kennel tech at about 6pm on Mother’s Day Sunday, and she was crying. She said Noobie was in his litter box when she came in, and when he stepped out, he just fell over and was limp in her arms and cold. Both my surgery tech and I rushed to the hospital, and the kennel tech had started heat therapy- his temp was too low to read (less than 90°F ).

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Charlie and Noobie. They’re brothers, from different litters. Noobie the elder, taller brother.

On my mad rush to the hospital, I suspected the little guy had a urethral blockage again, because of his past history of these and the fact that they often present collapsed on emergency. However, when I arrived and examined him, his bladder was not enlarged and I could easily express urine. He was clearly in shock, with poor gum color, rapid breathing and heart rate. The kennel staff from Saturday said he was totally normal, chasing with his brother Charlie and his usual energetic and playful self. The employee responsible for the Sunday morning shift said he was spending excessive time in the litter box, and hadn’t seemed interested when the canned food was brought out for the dogs boarding, which was unusual because he usually would make a nuisance of himself for a taste of any canned food. However, as of 9-10am, he was up and about, moving around, though somewhat lethargic.

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This is a typical type of place we’d find Noobie. It was an employee backpack that time, but he didn’t hesitate to crawl into a clients’ roomy purse if the mood struck.

Back to Sunday evening: we started fluids immediately and I gave pain meds, shock dose steroids, antibiotics and vitamins. We did radiographs and didn’t pick up on anything there, bloodwork which showed he was septic, dehydrated, had all 3 kidney values elevated, but most concerning his blood sugar was super low, at 30 (should be around 100) so we gave IV dextrose and added more dextrose to the fluids. He did seem to rally and his temp was rising, he was lifting his head and his gum color looked a bit better, his heart rate and breathing rate came down, maybe due to pain meds and treatment for shock. However, over the next several hours, he declined again and we couldn’t get his blood sugar up despite multiple injections of dextrose. His breathing became labored and he arrested at 11pm, and we couldn’t resuscitate.

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They were so close. I knew if it was contagious, Charlie might be next.

At the time, I had more questions than answers and I was numb and almost mechanical. Weirdly dry-eyed, when the staff was all in tears. I sent them home, and performed a methodical and completely detached post-mortem exam. It baffled me that I was able to do this- yes, it’s something I do occasionally and I’m always detached while I do it. But I’ve never autopsied one of my own. All I knew was that I needed to do a post-mortem examination and collect samples for testing in case this was possibly something infectious that could put Noobie’s brother Charlie Bugs at risk (he’s fine BTW). So I started in the chest cavity and could find no reason for death- no evidence of heart disease, no fluid on the lungs or other lesions. I moved to the abdomen and at first, everything looked normal; I began systematically collecting samples of all the organs for culture and histopathology.

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This is a borrowed image and it’s not a cat. Probably human. You can see the ureter on the left is dilated anterior to the location where it abnormally tunnels under the vena cava blood vessel, compared to the normal ureter on the right, which does not pass under the vena cava. The other image is a contrast study. In these images, the ureter is dilated but not yet ruptured.

Then I got to the left kidney and ureter (the ureter is the tube that carries urine from kidney to bladder) and I saw there was urine in the retroperitoneal space and realized the ureter was grossly dilated and ruptured. The path of the left ureter went under the very large vessel called the vena cava, instead of over it like it’s supposed to, and this would have pinched/smashed the ureter, causing the urine to back up and dilate the ureter between the kidney (which was also subtly enlarged) and the vessel. The ureter beyond the vessel was normal diameter, and the right kidney and ureter were normal in appearance.

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A photo from the breeder. Cute little nekkid baby.

It is probable that Noobie’s left ureter had been slowly dilating since he was a kitten, but the right kidney was compensating and he wasn’t showing any symptoms of kidney failure right up until it couldn’t expand any more and just ruptured, then he crashed. Perhaps if his other kidney hadn’t compensated for so long, and he’d started showing signs of renal failure, this could have been picked up on an abdominal ultrasound or contrast study, and the problem might have been either repaired, or if inoperable, the left kidney could have been removed altogether. I contacted the breeder (in writing, as I couldn’t trust myself to speak) to notify her and to recommend that any of his siblings have an abdominal scan to look for signs of enlarged/dilated ureter and circumcaval ureter. I actually don’t know if this is just a random congenital mishap or a heritable congenital disorder, but I have already scheduled my dwarf sphynx Charlie (he’s a full younger brother) to have him scanned by a board-certified internist, in hope that if he does have a similar hydroureter developing, it can be surgically addressed before it ruptures and becomes a life-threatening emergency.

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We had so many laughs with these boys. *Sobs*

When I got into the car to drive home, that’s when I suddenly became overwhelmed with emotion, and I have been teary almost non-stop since my detachment abruptly fizzled, and am operating on perhaps 1 hour sleep today. Needless to say, the entire staff is devastated. I just can’t talk about it and nobody at work can speak about it without we all start bawling. After I was sure that the breeder had contacted Noobie’s original family so they wouldn’t find out about it via our hospital Facebook page, I posted an announcement there, knowing how fond many of our clients were of both these little mascots. I know that when they don’t see that eager face in the lobby, they’ll start asking questions, but we’re all too raw to speak about it as of yet. At least this way, we can direct them to the Facebook Post if they ask questions about exactly what happened.

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Another pic from the breeder. He could bring a smile to anyone’s face, from his kitten years until now. Though I like to think God is smiling at his antics in heaven right now. =)

You were a comedian, a gentle soul, a faithful friend, snuggle bug, a brother’s bestie, and perhaps my all-time favorite cat. I’ll never forget you, Noobie. I miss you like crazy.

Someday I’ll be able to look at these pics and smile again.

Rest In Peace, My Love.

 

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19 comments

  1. Servetus · May 11, 2015

    How inexpressibly sad. I’ll be thinking of you.

    Like

    • jholland · May 12, 2015

      Thanks, Serv. Better today. It helped to write it up. I think I’m cried out, and I definitely got sleep last night. Still not ready to discuss aloud.

      Like

  2. Perry · May 11, 2015

    I’m heartbroken for you, your children, your husband, your staff and all who knew and loved Noobie. My first ever cat died two years ago March 22 and though not just 2, he was 11, which is still youngish for a cat. I won’t go into details, but what gets me here is the “crash.” He seemed fine one minute, flirting with clients and then . . . The shock of it all. While he had medical problems which we were treating, it seemed that he was doing OK, but on March 22, 2013 he crashed, collapsed, right on my conference table while I was with clients preparing for a trial. He had something a bit mysterious, to me at least. The vet was two blocks away, and he died there, in my arms. He lives on, in a way. I always refer to him as “my little cat,” when I write about him and his adopted brother, Oliver, but his name was Perry.
    I am so, so very sorry for your loss.

    Like

    • jholland · May 12, 2015

      Thank you for your kind words, Perry. And so sorry for your loss of Perry. I didn’t know you took your online ID from your kitty. When it’s sudden like with Noobie and Perry, it’s just so much harder to process. It’s never an easy decision to euthanize, but at least it’s a decision and you can process before and after. I think Noobie will live on, too. The outpouring on Facebook from clients, family and friends was really heartwarming to me, too. We’ll get through it.

      Like

      • Perry · May 12, 2015

        Yes, sure what made me choose the name Perry – I first chose it just to be a commenter. You hang in there. I wish I believed in Heaven, because if I did, I’d look forward to seeing all my animals there.

        Like

        • jholland · May 12, 2015

          It’s a comforting thought, isn’t it? =)

          Like

  3. Guylty · May 12, 2015

    Oh, you nearly had me in tears here, too. So sorry about the loss. He seemed like an extraordinarily warm and happy cat, and all those photos of him made me smile. What a character!

    Like

    • jholland · May 12, 2015

      He really was a special cat. We won’t ever be able to replace him, even though the sphynx breed in general tend to be comedic and far more outgoing than the typical cat. Still, we’re already thinking about looking for another. Charlie Bugs loves dogs, but dislikes furry cats. He loved his brother, though, and he’s yowling around and almost pathetically clingy. He needs someone to snuggle with and keep him company at night. Any one of us would gladly take him home rather than leave him here by himself, but he wouldn’t care to share space with furry cats we all seem to have at our houses, and it would probably just stress him more.

      Like

  4. Helen · May 12, 2015

    You did have me in tears… I’m so, so sorry. Tbh I’ve always wondered why someone would want a cat without fur, and now I know. He sounds fabulous, and my heart goes out to you all. And I’m in awe of your ability to do the pm without cracking up, so you could see if Charlie was at risk. I take my hat off to you and send you big, big hugs from across the pond.

    Like

    • jholland · May 12, 2015

      Thank you, Helen. Yes, that was really surreal how I just did that post-mortem exam like Dr. Robot. It’s a good thing I did, though, as it did ease my mind to know that we did everything we could reasonably do based on the information we had. The only thing that might have saved him would have been a surgical procedure, but you can’t expect them not to crash under anesthesia when they are so unstable in the first place, so it wasn’t an option that night, even if I’d known what was going on.

      Like

  5. Hariclea · May 12, 2015

    Oh, so so so sorry! Sending you a big big hug!!!! he seems to have made many many people very happy and will be much missed! Sending you a big big hug!!!!

    Like

    • jholland · May 12, 2015

      Thanks, Hari. I have been getting lots of virtual and real life hugs. Hubby especially has been his usual nurturing self, and the kids have been offering the sweetest words of condolence when they see my eyes well up. The young love said, “I have 2 bits of good news for you, Mommy. First, Noobie went to heaven so he’s ok up there. And second, we still have Charlie Bugs you can snuggle with when you’re lonely.” The daughter said, “I think Noobie will have his own ball to fetch in heaven and it will be a rainbow sparkle ball that’s soooo pretty.” Kids. Gotta love them.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hariclea · May 12, 2015

        awwwww, gosh bound to make you well uo again, but aren’t they sweet! and your hubby sounds like a massive brownie-points-kinda-person 🙂 I am sure Noobie is a massive star in cat heaven 🙂 xx

        Like

        • jholland · May 12, 2015

          LOL. A massive star, no doubt! =)

          Like

  6. zan, O1C · May 12, 2015

    Hugs, hugs and more hugs. I’m crying here, reading about your precious little one. It’s so difficult when they leave us, especially so young and so unexpectedly. My heart goes out to you and all those who were touched by Noobie. (I understand the whole “detachment” thing. I went through something similar when our puppy, Merlin, passed away. Like being on automatic, doing what needs to be done, then crashing yourself. I cried for days when he left us. He was 17.)

    Like

    • jholland · May 12, 2015

      I’m so sorry about Merlin, Zan. Sometimes I wonder to myself why we put ourselves through this, knowing how relatively short their life spans are in comparison to our own. It tears me up inside any time I lose a pet, and I’ve had a great many pets. But 4 in particular have been the toughest for me. My horse Fudge of 25 years, my cat Halford from vet school, my dog Thomas from vet school, both of which also lived long lives, and now Noobie, who I only had for a little over a year but still managed to wiggle his way soooo deeply into my heart in what was just a matter of days.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. dededotti · May 12, 2015

    So sorry for your loss.I just took my Canaan to the vets.He is getting old and has oesteoarthritis so we are on meds to keep him comfortable.They are like our children and we mourn them.My 2 akitas passed at old age,which I am thankful for.I never had to face the decision.Heartfelt sympathy for you.

    Like

    • jholland · May 12, 2015

      Thank you, dededotti, and welcome. I hope Canaan responds well to his arthritis meds. Some of them respond almost like puppies, and I hope that’s the case for him. They really are like children, and I know from experience they’re less trouble. =)

      Like

  8. Pingback: Blog Introspection Challenge #8, 9, 10 and 11 | preoccupiedwitharmitage

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