You may remember that little Princess Ophelia Powderpuff was a homeless kitten taken in because she was nearly pure white and so cute and friendly, and could therefore be a target in an outdoor colony. A few weeks into her indoor stay, waiting to reach two pounds for a spay, she began having difficulty keeping food down, though she acted like a completely normal kitten.
After the condition advanced and she was examined and scanned and tested she was diagnosed with “persistent right aortic arch” or a “vascular ring anomaly” which meant the muscles at the base of her heart were wrapped around and constricting her esophagus as she grew. Without surgery, and in fact even at that point, she had to be fed small amounts of liquid food at a time, sitting up, and then be held in an upright position for a time after eating to make sure the food went down her esophagus on its own. You can read more about the condition and her early treatments here.
Ophelia was taken for her surgery on October 14, a risky surgery with, honestly, a large chance she might not even survive, but it was her only chance at a normal life.
But the doctors discovered she had developed diverticulitis and could not do surgery at all. So plans have changed, but Melanie and Jeff have decided to do what they could for Ophelia. She will require life long upright liquid feedings several times per day and will remain at high risk for what is called an “aspiration event”, dangerous in its own right for the possibly of choking, but also for the possibility of aspiration pneumonia which would require immediate treatment for survival. An aspiration event could also cause sudden death depending on the severity.
Melanie and Jeff have considered a second opinion, but for now they’ve decided to treat Ophelia as she is. On the one hand it’s a risky and dangerous condition and it takes a lot of skill to keep her safely fed, but on the other hand she’s a cute and playful and rambunctious kitten, the reason Melanie and Jeff decided to pursue treatment and the reason even the veterinarians decided they’d take a chance on a rare surgery for her even though they’d initially advised euthanasia. Putting her to sleep when she’s happy and healthy for fear of aspiration that may happen next week or next year or even ten years from now, they’ve decided she should be able to live as long as she possibly can. She can gain weight so that she can be spayed, up to five pounds and she’s already over three pounds.
They’ve also decided to place Ophelia up for adoption as a special needs kitty after she is spayed. Melanie and Jeff have so many pets already and there is the risk of Ophelia getting into food she shouldn’t eat so she would have to be kept separate most of the time. She will need to have only toys with nothing that can be bitten off or chewed. And she’ll still need the special feedings.
Melanie will teach the adopter how to properly care for her and explain all the potential complications, such as the risk of aspiration. The adoption will be as usual with an application, reference checks and a home visit.
“Ophelia is very special and I’d love if her adopter would allow us to visit once in a while. We are very attached to this baby and we’ve come a long way with her. It will be difficult to give her up, but it’s what is best for her in the long run,” Melanie says.
You can read more about the situation and also get updates at the YouCaring link set up for Ophelia’s care. If you want to donate, you can donate directly to PVSEC by calling (412) 366-3400 and making your donation to the account for Ophelia Ulicny, but remember that it’s also an emergency hospital when calling. You can also use the YouCaring link :
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