Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Less Adoptable: Pets with Chronic Ailments

This post is #10 in a series. You can read post #9 at Sebastian's blog,

Licorice (photo courtesy Catherine L. Sherman)
Meet Licorice. 

Isn't she adorable? You wouldn't know it by looking at her but she has two strikes against her. 

One, she's a black cat.
Two, she currently has tummy issues.  

Ryker would have called them "magnificent barfisodes." And he would know.

You see, Ryker suffered from Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  On good days, he'd vomit only once. On bad days, he could have as many as nine. Sometimes he'd have a run of 2 to 3 barf-free days in a row (woo!). We joked about how he'd raised it to an art, Feng Shui-ing his barfisodes so they were displayed in the most artistic manner: on the (white) bedroom pillow…in the center of the (white) sofa…at the entrance to the (white carpeted) family room....

IBD is a chronic disease for which there is no cure, and no known cause.  There are few things more frustrating to a pet owner than a chronically ill animal. And if this is known about the animal at the rescue shelter, well…that can certainly make the animal less adoptable.

This was why Ryker's breeder was going to euthanize him, on the advice of her veterinarian.  Ryker was a purebred Tonkinese, but he was also my rescue!

The good news about chronic illnesses such as IBD is that they are manageable. In the case of IBD, it meant trying out various hypo-allergenic or limited ingredient diets,  giving each one a full 2-week stint before moving on to our next candidate until we found one that worked.

It meant managing flare-ups with medical therapy, such as corticosteroids (prednisone) and the occasional antibiotic. We did this only when needed, and the medication was fairly inexpensive. Ryker and I even got into a "pilling" rhythm (though he hated the antibiotic – nasty tasting stuff!).

Cats with chronic disease aren't for every adopter. But they don't necessarily have to be the money pit or time-draining exercise that many may fear. Did we visit the vet more frequently than the average cat? Yes. But Ryker had pet insurance, and that helped out a lot. And my vet and I had those "flare-ups" down to a science:  a quick once-over, a bottle of pills and we were out the door…often with only a minimal fee.  And how often does it take to change a pillowcase or swipe up a mess with some carpet cleaner?

I can tell you I'd give anything to have a few more years of that. Ryker's been gone ten months now, struck down suddenly – not by anything related to his chronic IBD, but of all things, a blood clot  and there's not a day that goes by that I don't miss him with all my heart.

I can't fathom what life would have been like without him. If you or someone you know is considering adopting a chronically ill pet, I can tell you this: look past the illness to the heart of the animal…please! If your souls connect, then that makes it all worthwhile


Licorice has not been diagnosed with IBD or any other chronic disease. She's just currently suffering from a bout of upset tummy. This adorable little girl is currently available at Wayside Waifs.


  1. We're glad Ryker had a good home with you. Our mom lost her first adoptee, Chumley, to a blood clot one night and doesn't want to remember that, wouldn't wish it on any other kitty.

    Purrs that Licorice finds a wonderful and loving forever home.

  2. We miss Ryker too sweetie. M is sending you a big HUG. This is an excellent post and a good reminder to take a chance on a less-adoptable pet.

  3. Mama's eyes are leaking. We're glad you gave Ryker a forever home despite his tummy troubles. He was a lucky kitty.

  4. Fanks you, Mario! Person could use it! Can't believe I've been gone a whole 10 months *sigh*

    (Not that RB is bad or anything, especially with all the Abundant Nip Fields. But I have to make sure Person's Properly Cared For, yanno. Oh the responsibilities we cats bear...)

    BTW, Licorice gets Two Paws of Approval from Moi - that little girl has a set of LUNGS on her! MOL!!

  5. I still miss Ryker too. *sighs, thinking about dreamy blue eyes*.

    Candy has chronic colitis. Mom has to be very careful about what to feed us. Sometimes she throws up no matter what, and then the monster that foams at the mouth comes out. He cleans the carpet. It's not such a big deal. She's fun, so I'll let her stay. MOL


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