Saturday, November 8, 2008

GiGi Super Kitty

GiGi is our 4 year old, pastel calico cat. I rescued GiGi from the Seattle Animal Shelter in November 2004. She was supposed to be a foster but I failed there and ended up adopting her because Lucky and George, our other cat, got along with her so well (plus, we fell in love with her too). I picked her out of a litter of 5 kittens. She was the skinniest, sickliest looking one of the bunch - the only one not playing. Knowing I could only foster one cat at a time, I took her to try to rehabilitate her. I wouldn't say she was feral, but she did spend her first couple of days at home hiding behind the toilet and hissing when we got near. Then, she figured out that people were her food source and she quickly become a totally loving, happy little cat. Here is a kitten picture of GiGi after she put on some weight...

For the last few weeks GiGi had been acting pretty strange. She was SUPER hungry all the time and actually would try to steal food off our dinner plates, she would push Lucky the dog out of the way and start to eat his food, and she would constantly be hanging out by the pantry where her cat food was stored. Then, this past week or so, she started behaving oddly - sleeping under the bed and not trying to steal food anymore.

I took her to the vet on Thursday and she was diagnosed with something called Hepatic Lipidosis, or "fatty liver disease." Apparently, GiGi put herself into a state of starvation by not eating the cat food I was providing her 24/7. I guess George, my older cat, was eating her share and leading me to beleive that the lower-calorie formula of food was working for one of my cats - GiGi was losing weight (she was pretty chunky). In actuality, she was only eating the treats and canned food I was giving them everyother day (for which George also probably got a large share of).

The condition is horrible as it affects a cat's liver. Any cat can get it but I read it's more prominent among cats who are overweight, put on a diet, female, and indoor cats. GiGi meets all that criteria. The survival rate of a cat with this condition is 80%. GiGi's test results from the vet indicate that this is the only thing that she has wrong though, which is good news. In 50% of the cases of cats with HL, half have cancer or some other critical disease. I have a feeling it's those cats with other conditions that will have a higher mortality rate - that's what I'm hoping anyway since GiGi doesn't have another condition.

GiGi is actually jaundice, which I didn't know cats and dogs could even get jaundice. The jaundice is a clear indication that her liver is messed up. The only cure of Hepatic Lipisos (HL) is to make GiGi eat as much as she can. I'm so thankful that she has not lost her appetite. We have her on her favorite foods now, she gets extra treats and thankfully, she is keeping all this food down. If she chose not to eat we would have to have a feeding tube inserted into her side directly into her stomach and essentially "force" feed her through the tube for 3-6 weeks! Let us hope it doesn't come to that.

So, thankfully, GiGi is eating, keeping her food down, and eager to eat and greet us. She is an ambassador of cats because she is very pretty, sociable, doesn't scratch unless frightened and has impeccable house manners. We couldn't have asked for a better kitty actually.

Here is a picture of GiGi recently...

And here is a picture of her from the perspective of a spider that she is about to kill, er, I mean play with. She is quite the hunter and keeps those horrible wood-spider (Hobo spiders technically) at a minimum in our home.
We'll know that things are going well once GiGi starts to put on weight and her jaundice clears. That may take 2-4 weeks. I will then take her back in to the vet for more blood work just to make sure her liver is stabilized and healthy again. Having lacerated my own liver before, I know that the liver is an amazing organ in that it can heal itself quickly and that it is forgiving in the sense that once it heals, it's healed.

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