Back in 1992 I was newly married and we had just gotten a 10 week old kitten.  While my then-husband really wasn't a cat lover, he'd taken to the 10 week old kitten, who was named Fastus (his misspelling of Faustus for one of his RPG characters).  It's never a good idea to leave a 10 week old kitten alone for long periods of time, so we went to the Alexandria Animal Shelter to look for an older companion for him.

While I was looking at the cages of cats, this white face with a lopsided toupee poked out from the depths of one, and I immediately knew he was the one.  He was named Spike and was 10 months old.  Perfect.

Especially since I was a Transformers fan.

He and his dilute tortoiseshell sister Laverne had been left at the shelter with the typical 'moving' excuse that many people who aren't really that committed to their pets tend to make.  We felt guilty about leaving Laverne there, but we were only allowed two cats in our apartment...but she got adopted the same day Spike finally came home with us, after a required home interview and a two week waiting period.  We felt like we were adopting a child!  I very much agreed with their procedures, tho. :)

A lot has happened in the 15 years since. 

My husband turned out to be a physically controlling passive aggressive who started to get violent, including two attempts to beat Spike to death.  He grabbed but never hit me, but he was a child hater so when I got pregnant and he wanted me to abort it was time to leave.

So I did.  And Spike went with me.  Fastus was my ex's baby, so I knew he wouldn't hurt him.  But he would Spike.  Spike and I moved in with my parents until the baby was born, a tumultous ten months.  Due to many strikes I had against keeping the child, I gave him up for adoption.  Which was hard all around, but the right thing to do.  And Spike was always there to comfort one point he even tried to give me his toys to play with to cheer me up.  He was my constant companion through times when I even wanted to kill myself.

Once I moved out, and Spike came with, of course, I got a divorce and recieved half-starved Fastus in the settlement.  Then I added a small dog and two more cats to the mix.  And then the Air National Guard, for whom I was a federal technician, decided that I'd taken Prozac for too long and put me out of the military, which lost me my federal technician status - but since it was involuntary they gave me a disability retirement.  And then I got a mustang.

And then, for all but one year during the last 9 years, at least one family member, human or animal, died each year.  I was down to two cats by Nov 2005, Spike and a female named Miaka.

Then, starting about January but most prominently in April of this year, both cats started going downhill rapidly.  I didn't know what was wrong, and couldn't afford to take them to the vet until a friend donated money to get Miaka, who was worse off, looked at.  And put to sleep.  She had stopped eating, tho she clearly WANTED to eat and kept trying, but something kept her from even wanting to put her head in her bowl.  It wasn't until after she was dead and Spike was suddenly DRAMATICALLY rebounding on a different food that I found out about the pet food recall, and that the Natural Balance Reduced Calorie dry wasn't on the list but SHOULD have been, right there with their Duck and Venison.  I even found some other owners who's cats had been affected like mine had, by the same food and brand, and by others.  The company still refuses to admit fact, when I email with general questions they've been more than happy to answer quickly, but as soon as I bring up my cat's death I get no answers whatsoever.  Spike did not come out of it unscathed, however.  He has permanent disabilities.

It was confirmed by the vet (again thanks to a friend's donation) that Spike's kidneys have failed almost completely.  In veterinary terms, he has Chronic Renal Failure.  She doesn't have an explanation for his muscular spasms, tho, that sometimes cause him to almost fall off my lap, tho since acetaminophen was a possible contaminant that would explain it

.  So since I'm a veteran living alone (except for him) on less than $1000 a month which has been pretty hard (I struggle at times to even buy $2 butter at the end of the month), I've been managing his condition since April with just diet - Felidae canned with water and vitamins.  Chronic Renal Failure, however, is a progressive condition which eventually requires the cat to recieve daily subcutaneous fluids and possibly medications (tho I'd like to avoid those as much as possible) to control it and give the cat and the cat's person, me, as long a time as possible together.  The new signs of degeneration he is just starting to get are chronic dehydration and constipation, which also causes litterbox accidents, which are likely going to require him to go on subcutaneous fluids...which for the layperson means I'll have to give him daily shots of saline under his skin to keep him hydrated. Yep, needle and all, like diabetics do with insulin.  I'll also have to start giving him Pepcid or Pepto on a regular basis for acid stomach, and a laxative.

Its been said that caring for a CRF cat or any beloved disabled animal is just like caring for a disabled, dying human - it takes time and money and physical and emotional support.  I have everything but the extra money.  Even if I were to want to euthanize him at this point which I don't, I don't have the money to do it.  Eventually I'm sure I'll have to.  But for now he still and runs around and plays when he's feeling good, leaps on his cat tree when his hips aren't bothering him (and sometimes even then he misses).  But just in the last few days he's started to show signs that he's beginning to deteriorate, and will need more help to have as many happy days as we can, for the vet visits and supplies.  I'd like to do some holistic supplements instead of the medications, if that's possible, and I'm doing what I can to give him as much as I can possibly afford, like the best food I can afford.  But I don't have enough to cover vet expenses or supplies...and I'd like to have something to memorialize him afterward.

So...I'm admitting we need help.  Even if its just prayers.  I am not able to promise anything in return at this point, other than prayers for your and your pets' wellbeing, but if you want to help, here's a PayPal donation link I set up:

I HAD planned to apply to a foundation for assistance, but our vet has said 'no' to participation and they require the vet be on board (because they pay the vet directly but its more paperwork for the vet), so we still need help. 

Thank you for reading our story. :)

--Christine and Spike K.

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