Pooch & Kitty Companion Animal Care
Animals bring tremendous value to our lives, and yet ask for very little in return. They ask for love, entertainment, and a safe environment. They don't ask for, but need, good health, including the best in medical care when it is required.
I lost my darling companion Cory in 2006. Lord knows how he lived to be 18 and a half years old... I (unknowingly) fed him bad food, vaccinated annually, and put blind faith in my vets. When Cory died, Sophie and Benjamin came into my life immediately. Sherman came along a month later, and Vaggio came to live with us in 2009.
Early in my cats' lives, I unintentionally embarked on a journey to learn about what's really important in animal health. I learned about nutrition (which is a whole 'nother topic), vaccinations, and medical treatments. Many people will hear my soapbox lectures on these topics. But my first wakeup call was when 6-month old Benjamin developed a hairball-like cough that was not going away. The vet pounded on his table "ASTHMA!" and administered a steroid shot. How was I to know about the dangers of steroids... my vet was looking out for me, right? A few weeks later, Sophie had the same symptoms! Can two cats possibly develop asthma just two weeks apart? A lightbulb went off in my head, and both cats was brought to a new vet... who said it was NOT asthma, but that both cats had simple upper respiratory infections. A round of antibiotics for everyone.
Fast forward to June 2009. Benjamin again has a hairball-like cough, and is escorted to the vet. This time, a chest x-ray indicates that he does have asthma, or bronchitis... pretty serious, but just one attack. Then came the first battle with the vet. It is very hard to determine whether bronchitis is infectious or allergic. But I knew it was allergic, as the attack was directly tied to an air purifier being taken out of commission... the air purifier went back on, and poof, the attack stopped. So why-oh-why was she telling me to start him on a course of antibiotics? Antibiotics are not candy... there are consequences to every drug. After a few debates with the vet, she finally admitted that he did not need antibiotics. Benjamin was "fine", but I felt in my heart that his issue was not over... and it wasn't.
In August 2009, I discovered alternative medicine veterinarians, so foreign to me. Many operate on a remote basis, and never actually meet the animals they are treating.
A vet was recommended to me that specialized in homeopathy for animals. He has written books and is well-known in his field. And he was really dangerous.
Benjamin was given a homeopathic remedy to reverse the possible harm caused by vaccinations. This was supposed to be the first step toward peeling the onion and fixing Benjamin. Besides Vaggio who was rescued last year, the three cats that share my life have not been vaccinated since they were kittens. Yet, the kitten (or puppy) series is apparently enough to cause harm. Vaccinations also stay in the DNA for around 6 generations.. so vaccinations given to the parents, or grandparents, or great grandparents, can still cause issues.
But Benjamin had a terrible reaction to the remedy (or "aggravation" in homeopathy lingo).
Purist homeopaths believe that we need to avoid suppressing symptoms of disease, and also believe that aggravations should be allowed to take their course. Without going into a dissertation of the schools of homeopathy and why they think as they do, this vet did not want to suppress Benjamin's symptoms, even though his reaction included breathing problems. But the aggravation passed; this was supposed to be stage 1 in a 3-dose homeopathic "cure".
November 2009 was stage 2. And a complete replay of what happened during stage 1, with worse problems breathing. Long story short, in spite of the fact that the vet wanted to continue on, I was DONE. If he wants to live with an animal that cannot breathe, all the power to him.
But the story continues. As many 2-legged allergy sufferers know, we had an early onset to allergy season in New York in the spring of 2010. Asthma in cats and humans is similar -- it is almost always a result of either allergies or stress. And Benjamin had a severe asthma attack in April. This time, I brought him to a homeopathic vet in Manhattan. I handed over a ton of cash for homeopathic treatments, but based on what happened to Benjamin in 2009, I couldn't bring myself to continue the treatment.
Instead, he went back to to the original vet, got another chest xray (result of which was horrendous), and went on inhaled medication. Based on his lung damage, the vet gave Benjamin a very gloomy prognosis. When I asked about a specialist I could talk to, her answer was "there really isn't anyone else to talk to".
In our lives, many of us will have one special animal that becomes part of our soul. When I am on my deathbed, thinking back on the animals I have loved, the one that will bond with my soul will likely be Benjamin. So imagine how upset I was with the gloomy prognosis and the "there reallly isn't anyone else to talk to" answer. My heart was shattered, but I was not going to give up on Benjamin.
Next: on to Vet #4. This was a holistic vet (also practicing from a distance) who works with a number of different modalities outside of what I was used to dealing with. One thing she specializes in is non-invasive allergy elimination. Testing is done from a fur sample, and treatment is done using a technique similar to acupressure. Did it work? I honestly don't know. Remember, Benjamin's issues appear to be seasonal.. and he is on inhaled suppressive drugs. Too risky to me to take him off the drugs, particularly when the vet is far away. I also couldn't get my arms around a long-term treatment plan with this vet... so again, I chose to move on.
Between Vets, there have been non-veterinary consultations and treatments. Distance-Reiki, Animal Communicators, Flower Essences... we've done them all.
Currently, we are working with Vet #5. This vet is a specialist in Traditional Chinese Medicine (herbs & acupuncture). While its hard to assess results with Benjamin, and since he is on a long-term treatment plan, we have to wait and see. We will also consult with a conventional respiratory specialist soon, so will have the benefit of an altmed veterinarian and a conventional practitioner (they know each other, which should help).
I've also researched supplements (to death). All of the vets I've worked with love the regimen I have put together for Benjamin. Do they help? I think they can. Can I stop using the inhaler? I don't know. But I feel so much more optimistic than I did in April.
Benjamin woke me up this morning running zoomies over my head. To look at this cat, you'd never in a million years think there is anything wrong with him. Every day with him is a gift. Remember the original vet who said "there really isn't anyone else to talk to"? That is hardly the case. "There's nothing that can be done" usually means "there's nothing that *I* can do". There are so many things that can happen to Benjamin in the future: his condition can certainly degrade. Or it can stay the same. Or he can be rid of his symptoms forever. But my point is that if you love... really love ... an animal enough, there are always alternatives to consider, which may mean bringing in people with ways of thinking that are completely foreign to us.