Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Year of Marlowe

by Leann

A year ago next week I brought a new baby into my life--Marlowe the ragdoll. He was three months old but as the runt of the litter, very small. It only took a few days to realize he wasn't small because he was the runt. He was small because he was sick. Very sick.

The first of many vet visits followed and some of you may be thinking I could have taken him back to where I got him. But I believe, and always have, that everything happens for a reason. Keeping Marlowe had a purpose, even if I didn't quite understand the purpose yet.

The diagnosis was epilepsy, but the cause of the epilepsy was far more serious. It is a disease called Feline Infectious Peritonitis or FIP. It is only contagious very early in the disease--the first two weeks--and since Marlowe had obviously been ill long enough to develop epilepsy, my other fur baby, Wexford, was safe.

Our journey began last January and it has been a roller coaster. As he fought  to survive with our help, he did grow. Each little spurt made adjusting his medication (Phenobarbital for the seizures) a challenge. One antibiotic he was on wasn't bringing down his enormous white blood cell count so we switched to another--a new one developed just for cats. He improved, his white count went down to normal and we celebrated. He began playing, running and doing "kitten things."
Until, that is, he was taken off the antibiotics and went down hill so fast it made my head spin and my heart break. He was the sickest he'd ever been for a month, but that little guy, with the help my wonderful, loving boy
Wexford, fought back once again.

As of now, still on phenobarb and that antibiotic that costs a fortune, his weight has stabilized and so has his medication dose. We won't be taking him off the the antibiotics yet. I'm not ready because I believe he's not ready. His high dose of seizure med keeps him sleepy, he's developed a yeast type infection on his spine, but he is better. Doesn't walk too well, but better. And so loving, so special.

I have learned something new from our recent visit out of town during Christmas. He started to improve after a few days out of this old, dirty rent house. He was actually running around during the last couple days there. My hope is that once we move into our new home soon, it will change his life forever. I know he's changed mine. Here is below now--having grown from 2.2 pounds to 7.5 pounds. He is a beauty and I do not regret my year with Marlowe. Not for a minute.

48 comments:

Cindi Handshew said...

Your story made me cry I'm so glad he found you. I also believe things happen for a reason and his reason was the will to live and yours was to love, your a very special person, bless you.

rgp1950 said...

Bless you for taking him in and caring for him.

Lynda said...

I didn't realize that Marlowe's problems stemmed from FIP. It is an ugly disease. Until I started volunteering at the shelter and fostering for Lapcats feline rescue, I had never heard of FIP. But over the past year, we have seen several sweet kitties with FIP who did not survive. I am so glad that Marlowe continues to battle back. I know it has been difficult on all of you, but Marlowe is so lucky to have you and Wexford to help keep him going. I hope that 2014 will be the turning point for him so that he will feel good enough to do more kitty things.

Charlie M said...

How wonderful that you never gave up on Marlowe. I hope he has continued progress.

There is a Facebook page dedicated to special needs pets that I'd like to share with you.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Page-For-Special-Needs-Animal-Stories/382895568404793

Tina Reitz said...

I had a cat that had FIP, you're blessed to have Marlowe and he's blessed to have you. An amazing story. Happy New Year!

Aurian said...

Every time you post on your little Marlowe, you break my heart. I have to admit I often thought why you did not ... I am happy that you are happy with your decision and I do hope the new house will bring him his health.

Dru said...

Marlowe is a survivor and he looks beautiful.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much Cindi. He gave me lots of reasons to get up and move and care for him every day. I needed him as much as he needed me. :-)

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much. He is such a special little guy.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Lynda. We don't know how long we'll have Marlowe. FIP takes most cats quickly. I was in denial that was the cause at first, but now I know. It's okay. I am here for him and so is Wexford. :-)

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Charlie and I will check out that site.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much Tina and Happy New Year to you, as well!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Aurian. I guess I am stubborn and it seems I have met my match with Marlowe. He just never gives up!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Dru. He is DEFINITELY a survivor! And a beautiful one at that.

Nancy Malven said...

He is a beautiful cat and I so admire you for sticking with him. Many people would have returned him to the breeder and probably certain death. It is good to know that however long he has, he has only known love and devotion.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Nancy. I guess this is a story about being true to yourself. I once had a terrible accident in the dental chair because of faulty equipment (that's a blog for another day because it is crazy). I could have sued and made a bunch of money. That's not who I am. Bad things happen. You deal with it. I feel the same about Marlowe. He was dealt bad cards and I can only stick with him. :-)

Carol B said...

Leann, I have thought about Marlowe several times lately and each time started to send you a message to ask about him. Then chickened out because I was afraid of what the answer might be! I knew I would cry for you if he was gone, and I didn't want to cause you pain. So I am really glad to read this. He's made it a year now, and that has to be encouraging. I do hope the new house will be a good fit for him, too, and that he will be around for a long, long time! Best wishes to you, Marlow, and Wexford!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Carol. I had the heating pad out for my pesky backache and guess who is now lying on said heating pad? He's happy. :-)

Carol B said...

LOL You WERE through with it, weren't you? :)

Andaje said...

He is lucky to have such a good family and a cat-"brother" too - amazing how some animals just senses, that something is wrong (ilness) in humans and other animals and just try to comfort (help).
One of my colleagues adopted two cats 7 years ago and the male cat got really sick - he is still hanging in there (sometimes he's fresh and genuinely believes that he's a kitten despite being 14 years old) - whenever she is away for more than a day, I cat-sit at her house as those two cats are the most fun cats I have encountered (I am not allowed to keep cats at my appartment building) and she's happy that he won't have to get stressed of being at a hliday pet-kennel

mary kennedy said...

I'm so glad that things with Marlowe are on the upswing! You took amazing care of him and it sounds like he will thrive. I am so happy you rescued this adorable kitty! I just learned there are heated cat beds (not the flat mats, these are more like "beds" because they have sides to them. I think I might try one for my fur babies.

Janet C said...

Having shared our lives with cats who have had serious illnesses, I know that it's difficult. But, for us, the rewards have always been greater than any hardship. As for returning him - how do you return him without giving up a piece of your heart? I'm so glad you found each other.

Leann Sweeney said...

Oh sure I was! :-)

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Andaje! Yes, Wexford is so sweet and loving to Marlowe--and has been since the beginning. Glad you can get a "cat fix" every now and then! It's good for the soul!

Leann Sweeney said...

thanks Mary. A heated cat bed sounds wonderful. Right now a heated PERSON bed sounds even better!

Jeannie D. said...

He is beautiful! He is very lucky to have you as a Fur Mom! and you are lucky to have him to share life with. They are special animals that teach us patience and love.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much Janet. You've been down this long road, too. The journey has taught me so much,

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Jeannie. When the medicine is wearing off his beautiful blue eyes melt my heart. (After he gets his meds, his pupils are dilated a long time.)

Lynda said...

I really admire you for that, Leann. It's not easy to deal with someone (human or animal) with a serious illness. Some people don't understand choosing to go through such hardships with a pet, but if their child was ill, they wouldn't abandon them (at least I would hope not). The really hard part comes later, when you have to make the decision that their quality of life has reached a place where they are suffering and nothing more can be done. At that point you have to do what's best for them, and that is so very hard. But you do it because you love them, and that is the best gift anyone can give.

One of my fellow Lapcats volunteers pulls kitties from the shelter that cannot be helped and are going to be euthanized. She keeps them with her for a few days, giving them love, and then has a vet come to her home to put them down, with her by their side. That is something that I am not emotionally equipped to do. It would tear me up too much, so I really admire her for what she does.

Also, I have transported kitties to a lady in Reno who takes in cats with Feline Leukemia. She had a foster who had FeLV and decided to keep him. That snowballed until she built a wonderful room that runs along the back of her house. It has a large platform that runs under a long bank of windows, with bird feeders outside for the cats to watch. It is covered in comfy bedding - some of it heated. There are shelves and beds under the platform, behind curtains, for kitties to hide if they want.There is a "catwalk" around the ceiling with ladders up to it. She has cat doors so they can go out onto an enclosed patio. Her vet works with her so she can administer most meds they need. She sometimes has as many as 10 or more at a time, and she keeps them with her for whatever time they have (Her FeLV kitties usually live to about 3-5 years old). When their time comes, she stays with them (and even has them cremated and keeps the ashes in bags with their names). People like this just amaze me. I could not do it - taking in cats on a regular basis that you know ahead of time will not be with you long would be more than I could handle. But it is so nice to know that there are caring people out there willing to do so much for animals in need. It helps to balance out the monsters who enjoy hurting them.

Leann Sweeney said...

Lynda, you are an absolute angel. I have helped Marlowe, and my diabetic kitty before him and my FIV boy, but you have helped SO many. I take my inspiration from you!

Tonya said...

He is such a beautiful and brave boy! Your story touched my heart. I too am very attached to my fur babies. I love all of God's creatures. I can see that your love and devotion has been paid back with lots of love from your little boy. May God continue to bless you both. Love and Prayers for Marlowe.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks you Tonya! He is brave and so wants to be top pet around here!! I love him for that alone. :-)

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

God Bless you for taking in and caring for Marlow. Perhaps the new help will be a new beginning for him.

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I meant to say House not help..

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much Diane. I know the new house HAS to be better for all of us!

Leann Sweeney said...

I figured it out! :-)

Rachelle21 said...

It sounds like Marlowe is in good hands. We had found a cat that turned out to have FLV and she was with us for two years. She was very loved during her short time here. It was better than being on the street. She was named after the town where we found her "Tioga". This is the first I have heard of Marlowes disease. I hope the new house helps.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Rachelle. Great you gave comfort to the leukemia baby. Tioga is now happy and healthy on the Rainbow Bridge.

Anonymous said...

So glad that you have Marlowe and that he has Wexford as they are great for each other. He may have a rough life with his illness but he knows that he is loved and that is the most important thing.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much! Yes he knows he is loved. :-)

Ashley Montgomery said...

Such a sweet story. I commend you for not giving up on Marlowe and helping him fight.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much Ashley!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

It's a lovely outcome, Leann. Things were certainly grim for a long time, but you are both courageous and the good guys came out ahead.

XOXO

MJ

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks MJ. We take it one day at a time. :-)

Sherrie Roberts said...

All my Love Marlowe! I am never going to get over this past year 2013. Ms Patches lived a long life and I caught Her with a bowl of milk. She had been an in door- out door Cat. Then we had to go to an apartment and Then We came North. The North is very different than the South. Seems the North does not take to Renters and Fur Babies.
I am so thankful you have had such Loving Humans. This year Marlowe, The Christmas Tree which Ms Patches, Loved as all Meows Do. Climbing Trees! But a tree with Bright Blues and Reds and Greens and Snow White Huge Super Smooth Hanging Parts!!! Well, for the first time Wexford and Marlowe, No Meow disturbed the Huge German bought Christmas Balls on the lowest limbs of the tree. My Heart went with Ms Patches. So, I know how much your are Loved. All my Love Wexford and Marlowe. My His Healing Angels come to You and Wexford.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Sherrie. I understand about renting and no fur babies. We had a tough time finding a rent house that would accept pets. I know your heart is with Ms. Patches and that she had the best life ever thanks to you.

Janet Morrissey said...

There's been a tiny stiffed cat on my altar this past year representing prayers/intentions for Marlowe. You have such a large and loving heart, Leann, and I think it's no accident that Marlowe found you.

Leann Sweeney said...

Aw, Janet, that is so SWEET! I know all the goodwill directed toward Marlowe has benefited him. Thank you so much for caring. :-)