Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Not everyone is a friend on Facebook but there are probably a lot of you who read my blog, so I thought I would post here about my dear sweet Howie boy. A lot of you who've been to the house have probably met Howie. He might've dug around in your purse or rolled around in your lap or sat next to you on the couch. Howie is a great cat, without a doubt the best cat I've ever had. Here's a picture of him sitting in the rain:

Howie is a Maine Coon and, as such, is genetically predisposed to developing heart problems, specifically hypertrophic cardiomyopathy ("HCM"), which is a thickening of the heart walls. If you're interested in learning about this disease, click here.

On Saturday, February 7, after shooting a fabulous wedding all day, I came home to find Howie in total distress. I rushed him to the emergency vet where it was initially thought that he'd ingested some sort of toxin. They kept him overnight for observation and to receive fluids, with the idea that I would come the next evening to take him home and all would be great. When I called to make arrangements to get him, the doctor said he'd suffered another "episode" about 15 minutes prior and that an EKG showed an arrhythmia in his heart. It turns out the episode then - and on Saturday - were actually little kitty heart attacks.

Yesterday morning, I transferred Howie from the emergency vet to the cardiology department at the OSU Vet Hospital where he's been in the intensive care unit receiving anticoagulants via IV to keep clots from forming in the afflicted heart chamber that because of the disease is unable to fully pump out all of its blood.

As of this morning, his condition is improving. His temperature and other vital signs are at or very close to normal and it's thought that I will be able to bring him home in the next couple of days. HCM is very very serious and there is no real cure, so treatment will consist of twice-daily injections and probably some pills, most likely for the duration of his significantly shortened life expectancy. Cats with advanced HCM, especially with secondary conditions such as the arrhythmia, are expected to live anywhere from a couple of months to under a year, with sudden death a real possibility at any moment. My hope is that we can work to help Howie enjoy the rest of the time he has in comfort and happiness, although his days of prowling the neighborhood might be over, absent a leash. I tried Howie on a leash once and it did not go well, so we'll see!

I'm encouraged by the news from the vet this morning and appreciate all the words of support I've received from family and friends and my client friends. Thank you to everyone for that, it means a great deal to me, and I will be sure to keep everyone posted on Howie's progress.

So, everyone, go give your kitties a nice big hug and a smooch, and keep a close eye on their little kitty hearts. One thing I learned from the various vets I've spoken to over the last few days is that cats are very very adept at hiding any kind of illness, usually to the point of it being too late, so keep an eye on your furry loved ones.

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