Monday, November 13, 2006

Haemobartonella Felis

My love, the true love of my life, my best friend and companion - Bubba - is sick. He just turned 16 in September, and I've just turned 32 in August which means I've had him for HALF OF MY LIFE! Bubba has lived a very exciting life for a cat (but if you asked him I'm sure he'd rather be an ordinary cat living in one home for 16 years). We have lived in 14 different homes in 16 years - he's lived all over Ontario, was flown to Boston for a few months, and got on a long flight all by himself to New Zealand - even stopping in Vancouver and Hawaii for a couple of days! He is a very worldly cat and speaks multiple cat languages.

I can't help but feel guilty though. Sometimes I wish I could have provided Bubba with a stable home. The long flight to New Zealand was stressful and he developed Feline Diabetes shortly afterward. He nearly died from Ketoacidosis. I was broke and homeless in a new country but I couldn't let him die... so I got out the credit card and told the vets to do whatever they needed to do. There were no guarantees that he'd live... but he did. I've never regretted my decision. That was a year and nine months ago. All of the articles I've been reading about Diabetes in cats says that the average cat lives to the age of 12-14 and a cat with diabetes lives an average of two years on proper treatment. So I suppose Bubba's done pretty well.

Since we've come to New Zealand, Bubba has been attacked by a few wild cats. He's fought back but has had a few nasty abcesses as a result. This is how I think he contracted the Haemobartonella Felis. It's also known as Feline Infectious Anaemia. It's caused by a parasite destroying his red blood cells. It is quite serious and could lead to his ultimate demise. We're treating it with antibiotics but he has become quite weak and anorexic. My big fat Bubba cat is now Fat Boy Slim.

I'm in denial... clearly. I think that he'll pull through this and fatten up and be Bubba again. His personality is still the same - he's a momma's boy and wants to be carried around like a baby. I can tell that he wants to be strong and follow me around - instead he follows me with his eyes - with that longing look saying "pick me up Mommy".

This is a tough one. Haemobartonella Felis can be treated - but it's quite aggressive treatment and costly. We've already been down that road with the Diabetes. I've already spent a small fortune on getting a diagnosis. How much can I try to prolong his life? Is it worth the stress it will cause him? Besides, the treatment will be much more complicated because of Bubba's Diabetes. It may make him sicker. It's tricky also because the symptoms Bubba is displaying could also be caused by the Diabetes advancing. It really is difficult to say which problem is causing his lethargy. You can see the shaved patches from all the blood work he's had done in the photo above. At this rate, he'll never be suitable for a rug or handbag as planned!

But it's so hard watching him fade away and not do anything when I know I could choose to do more. I wonder how he feels? Somehow I just don't think he's ready to die. I know I'm not ready to let him go. He is fading so fast... two weeks ago he was normal old Bubba... the king of the cats... the pride of the household... and the talk of the town. He's the most popular cat I've known. And he's MY BUBBA.

Just look at that face


Monica said...

Sweet Mama Tracy,

There is no need to feel any guilt for providing a loving home for Bubba. He's a sweet 16 and has been fortunate to have you care for him all these years.

My heart goes out to you for the decision you need to make about how aggressively you want to treat a cat of his age. Can the vet help you make that decision?

Phil the dog is not even 5 and sometimes Tim and I get so sad when we think of how he will one day not be with us. It's the "highs and lows of choosing to love". Go ahead and feel it all. Love and be loved.

We love you.


Jennifer Matis said...


Was doing research on feline infectious anemia when I stumbled upon your blog about Bubba. I understand where you are coming from on two fronts. This past June I lost Murphy & Jerome in 2 consecutive days. Both kidney failure. Murphy we knew had crf for 2 1/2 years and we fought it hard. He was amazing how he battled it. Jerome, we had no clue was that sick. He just started acting funny so I took him in. He didn't make it home again as his kidneys were so bad that dialysis wouldn't have helped. Here I am 9 months later. My 8 month old kitten Charlie came down with the bloody parasites (no pun intended) and he hasn't responded to the meds yet. I'm not sure if I can take losing another cat, nevermind a kitten. So I understand where you sit all too well. And Bubba is beautiful. I have a thing for black cats and my Murphy was and Charlie is a black cat. If I learned anything from Murphy, he was a fighter and so will Charlie be and so will Bubba be. My thoughts are with you and Bubba!


Tracy said...

I'm so pleased that you found my blog Jennifer. I'm so sorry that you lost both of your boys in such a short space of time. I sobbed for about a week after Bubba died. It was the biggest loss of my life. Some may think that's a bit neurotic but he was my family. It was always Bubba and Me.

But I have a new love now. His name is Mac and he's pretty cool too. He's not as cuddly as Bubba but I think that I'm purposely not bonding with with the same. Mac has a great life... the life I would have loved Bubba to have. I'm stable, I have a great garden. Cat Heaven!

I hope Charlie makes a recovery from the parasites. Please let me know! I'm thinking of him!!