I’ve delayed telling most people about Desi leaving us because it has been just too painful. I’m tearing now as I did yesterday when I searched for photos of our beautiful girl to share with you. Not only did I find photos of all our feline angels but my equine one too. Many are in Heaven waiting for us but missing them all right now. Six kitties came to Tennessee with us in 2015, but our oldest Birman girls, Desi 17 and Cassie 18, were the remaining two.
Desi was very sweet, but also a scaredy cat and easily stressed in abnormal situations, like vet visits. My husband,Jim, nicknamed her Desi Dingleberry, and she had another nickname, Desi Destructo. She loved toys and loved to play, especially with us. She was chasing a wand the week before she left us. Unfortunately, she loved to chew the stuffing out of her toys, which led me to submit her DNA to a Birman wool sucking study. Fortunately though, she didn’t eat it, so toy replacements were always forthcoming. Desi was always a talker. Sometimes, she initiated the conversation, and sometimes we did.
When Desi was a young kitten, she had recurring eye problems, and the good fortune to be seen by an eye specialist, Dr. Jerome Glickstein, who visited my regular vet’s office weekly. Desi was diagnosed with Uveitis of the left eye and an extra set of eyelashes on both eyes. Because of her previous history of Upper Respiratory Infections and eye problems, he suggested the FIP Elisa be repeated, because he suspected it was increasing and it was. He suspected she was headed to full blown FIP and suggested a protocol of a brand name version of doxycycline. It worked and she never developed FIP or had an eye infection again.
Desi was also diagnosed with a heart murmur at a young age. My vet just advised me to periodically count her respirations and observe her for any signs of difficulty breathing. Desi had no overt cardiac problems throughout her life. She played hard and remained capable of jumping high onto objects easily. During Thanksgiving in 2020, my BFF Amy Jackson was visiting. I had the table set, including a floral arrangement, and Desi always loved flowers. Desi was on the table when Amy came downstairs and Amy declared “Happy Catsgiving” coining the phrase often used now. She also took several photos.
I remember a horrible experience years ago when I thought for sure I had killed Desi. I routinely left my nighttime medications on my bedside table to take right before bed. Desi started acting strange and was pretty much out of it. I was afraid she might be having a stroke. Jim and I were trying to figure out what to do when he found some pills on the floor of my bedroom. There was only one missing, Ativan-the one Desi decided to eat. I called an emergency vet office and they directed me to call the Poison Center. I was just sure Desi was going to die, but the kind lady at the call center calmed me down. She told me that vets use Ativan on cats and to get Desi to my vet’s as soon as they opened. I did, Desi was given fluids to flush it out of her system, and she was fine. Desi definitely taught me a valuable lesson for life!
Later in life Desi was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), although at a stage where no medication was indicated. It caused no problem until the end. As Birmans, both Cassie and Desi had elevated creatinine levels, which normal for the breed, but no renal problems until they got older. Cassie is stage 3 and Desi was in stage 4 renal disease, and I was giving her fluids three times a week. After some trial and error, it turned out to be pleasurable for both of us. Desi loved to be brushed and groomed, and extra sessions were her reward. She also loved a few treats. Pure Bites and Churu tubes were her favorites.
Because both Cassie and Desi had advancing renal disease, they were prone to urinary infections (UI). Cassie was on her second round of antibiotics for her UI so when Desi started urinating outside the box, I thought she caught Cassie’s UI. But Desi was still eating and drinking well. I made an appointment with my primary vet team and took her in expecting the routine urinary lab tests. She was taken back to the lab area to be examined, then her vet came out and asked if she could do a chest X-ray. I said sure. When she came back to the exam room, she said it wasn’t good news and showed me the X-ray. Desi was in Congestive Heart Failure with fluid in both her chest and abdominal cavity. You couldn’t even see her sweet, little heart. I told Dr. Dugan that the X-ray reminded me too much of FIP. I have always been blessed with vets whom I trusted, so I asked her the question I’ve had to ask before. “If Desi was your cat, what would you do?” Dr. Dugan recommended that we euthanize her, because the fluid would just come back quickly.
I called Jim, and he came in. He agreed with my decision. After the IV catheter was placed, Desi spent time with Jim and me before the procedure occurred. It was all calm and peaceful, and Desi wasn’t stressed at all thanks to the gentleness of Dr. Dugan and staff. Before her last breath, I spoke in Desi’s ear and told her that her daddy and I would like it very much if she came to visit us like Angelique, the sister in Heaven she never met, came to visit. Angelique loved to get under the bottom sheet when I made the bed and would lie on her back and kick her feet up so I could play with them. No other cat ever did it until it happened with Desi. I knew that Angel was visiting and telling Desi, “Do that your Mommy likes it!”. It wasn’t the first time one of the fur angels visited, and we look forward to Desi’s.
Jim and I went home with an empty carrier and arrived home to a house with lots of reminders of sweet, beautiful Desi. In many ways she is still with us and in time, we will be with her again.
Good bye for now Desi Dingleberry, with the beautiful blue eyes.
If you have been helped by Desi’s experience, by me, or touched by her story, please consider making a donation to one or more of these EveryCat Health Foundation (Winn) stipulated funds for research, since all these diseases affected Desi.
All donations go only for research, none to the organization’s general fund.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart!
Susan Gingrich, MHS
Founder, Bria Fund for FIP Research
September 12, 2023