You can proudly wear a t-shirt with this art and help support Frankencat’s care! Details below.
You’ve met the incredible Frankencat a number of times here on The Creative Cat, the cat who was trapped as a feral cat with a broken jaw, dead eye and necrotic facial wound, but who went on to heal, trust and love people through a certain geriatric blind and deaf rescued pit bull, and then in turn comforted that pit bull through the last months of his life, staying with him even after death. And then Frankencat went on to work on the rest of the household of dogs he lived with. All while looking pretty spectacular for a cat with one eye and a badly healed jaw. And FeLV positive too.
Though Franken is FeLV+, his health is beyond good. His weight is perfect, his fur is shiny, he is social with people and animals, including his new “fur brother”, Doc the Pig. One would never know he’d been in such bad shape to begin with or that he had a typically fatal chronic illness right now.
A little over a month ago, his caretaker Heather Long noticed his appetite wane as he didn’t finish then turned down his favorite foods. A visit to the vet found life-threatening anemia, and treatment of some sort had to begin immediately or he would not recover.
Frankencat received an emergency blood transfusion and rebounded, looking dapper and feeling magnificent, though his greater healing took nearly a month. But still, the concern was there—why had it happened in the first place? Would it happen again or was this just a brief recovery? Was it because of his FeLV? Was treatment going to help him, or was it only prolonging a painful condition and pushing off the inevitable?
Frankencat was diagnosed with a chronic condition that will require continuing treatment, as Heather explains what happened at the vet and beyond.
His PCV (packed cell volume), aka red blood cell count, was at 39% in April, which is perfect. His vet even asked if we were certain that he was FeLv+. Normal PCV in a cat is 25% – 41%. When he went in to the vet on August 31, for decreased appetite, his PCV was at 10%. We immediately began a vitamin/iron supplement and Doxycycline, in case it was Mycoplasma, then retested the following day. He had gone down to 8% PCV, which is obviously critically low, and was in need of a blood transfusion if he were to keep living.
One of the kind staff members at his vet, The Big Easy Animal Hospital, has a donor cat with his blood type. She brought him in and he became Franken’s “blood brother” so to speak. His own vet, Dr. Sarah Lavery, had first brought her cat in for him, but found that after many generous past donations, her cat had to be retired from being a donor. It went perfectly, no reactions or rejection. He began eating again too, and the following day his PCV came in at 15%. He hung in around there for several weeks, and then did experience a small gradual drop. He is currently between 10 – 12% (there is a small margin of error for in house testing).
We have added a Chinese herb purported to help stimulate bone marrow to his daily regimen, as well as steroids, and an appetite stimulant as needed.
He also has begun acupuncture treatment, and that has seemingly helped him after just one treatment so far! I haven’t had to give the appetite stimulant again since that treatment on Friday (October 2).
Emotionally, he has been strong 200% with his signature calm, caring and friendly disposition. You honestly wouldn’t know anything was wrong….until you look at his stats on paper. Even in the vets office during that trying first week, I would break out into tears randomly. And he was quick to comfort me, with his gentle head nudges, therapeutic purring, and his chatty “verbal feedback”. I’m sure you’ve seen the videos and pics I posted of that.
He will likely need another blood transfusion at some point, and it would be prudent for us to have his next donor chosen. He can’t use the same donor since they can only donate a limited amount of times and within a certain time frame between donations. What we will need is a healthy cat, 6 years or younger, at least 12 pounds, who has his same blood type (he is Blood Group A). Ideally, it would be a cat already cleared for donation and already tested for blood type (for example, already screened by PVSEC Rogan-Rexford Blood Bank); the reason I say this is that the testing for this is a couple hundred dollars, and so every little bit helps with his vet bills that are already in the thousands from this past month alone. The donor cat would come to my vet’s office for the donation.
We are also researching and plan to begin further treatment therapies, including Alpha or Darbo Poetin injections, and a few others. The goal, as it is my understanding, is to stretch the time out (or ideally eliminate the need for…) subsequent transfusions, since with each transfusion the likelihood of rejection is much higher.
He is relatively stable for now, though short of a miracle, will never be “cured”.
Like I said though, his spirit, his emotions, and his life force are strong as ever. Which to me, as his caretaker and “life guide”, translates to mean that I need to do everything I can to help preserve his life that he is so vibrantly still enjoying. It just doesn’t seem right to give up on him, despite his terminal status, when HE hasn’t thrown in the towel yet. He has overcome so many obstacles, and this is probably the biggest one he has been faced with. It’s very sad, overwhelming, and scary to think of his disease in the bigger picture, so I try to take it one day at a time. And each of those days is still colored with lots of love and appreciation being given by him…and of course many bully cuddles, which is home to him!
You can read more about what Frankencat has done in his brief life so far with Old Grand Dad and the other rescued dogs in his home, and see that he clearly doesn’t think his mission here is complete. Here he is with his “new” elderly pit bull who needs “Frankening”. No one places him with the dogs who need his vigilance, he simply finds them and stays with them, sometimes guiding them around, sometimes giving them a little massage and purr therapy.
And even with the other dogs in the house who don’t need Franken Therapy, he has one by one, with careful observation from Heather, won them all over until he sleeps with them—on them—without any incident at all.
He’s also buddies with each of them. Here he naps belly to belly with Diamond. You can see lots more photos and even videos of them together, especially Franken kneading Diamond’s belly and NeNe’s back and more. You have to see him to believe him on OGDandFrankencat on Facebook.
Frankencat has survived against incredible odds, from his initial rescue and all his medical issues at that time, to living healthy with FeLV for several years, and if any cat is going to keep living with it, living well, and continuing his peaceful work with rescued dogs, it will be Frankencat.
Buy a tee to help Frankencat
The t-shirt purchase mentioned above is to help cover the costs of Frankencat’s treatment to date, and future treatments to keep him healthy. Heather and all included in Franken’s healthcare are reasonable about expectations for his continued wellness, and no one would force him to live if he no longer wished to on his own. This will help ensure treatments are prompt, and in the process we can learn more about helping a cat with FeLV live the longest, healthiest life possible.
You can read several other articles here about Frankencat as well.
Read more stories in my weekly Rescue Stories series
and read about my Rescue Stories series.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
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Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
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Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
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