Sunday, November 13, 2011

Prayers for Murray

I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything.  Even longer than usual.  (I do have a couple of posts almost ready to go and will get those up in the next few days - I promise!)  It's been a very difficult past 2 weeks and I'm going to take the time to sit down today and tell you why.  I'll let you know right up front that this is going to be an emotional post for me to write and while I'll try to keep from going on and on, I'm not making any promises.  Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Two months ago on a whim I decided to adopt a kitten from a friend at work.  She and some neighbors had been caring for a little stray who'd been turned out onto the streets by his owners because they couldn't be bothered to care for him.  He was nicknamed "Mew-Mew" because he meowed ALL THE TIME!  He was also the friendliest little guy they'd ever met, going up to strangers for food and attention and seemingly fearless, even of dogs.  

Mew-Mew settled into a routine over the summer of sleeping on different porches during the day, in a tree at night, and being fed and played with whenever the neighbors were around to do so.  He once followed my friend and her son on a 2-mile walk, meowing the whole way!  This was not your typical cat!

When she told me about him and how he desperately needed a forever home, I couldn't say no.  I didn't even consult Brian.  I picked up the kitten and was at the vet before calling him to say, "Remember when you said I could go to the shelter to look at kittens...?"  I knew at that point he couldn't say no.  And of course once he met this little guy he'd surely fall in love!  (He did.)

Amazingly enough, the kitten was given a clean bill of health from the vet.  He was 4 months old and had been a stray most of his life yet he wasn't feral, he didn't have fleas, ticks, or ear mites, and he ended up testing negative for intestinal parasites and feline leukemia.  The vet truly could hardly believe he had been a stray.  

His first night at home - so sleepy!

After much deliberation, Brian and I officially named our new little guy Murray.  Sort of a nod to "Flight of the Conchords."  (It's the orange fur.)  It turned out to be very fitting, too, since whenever Brian brings out his guitar Murray curls up with him to listen.

Murray has brought such joy to our house.  Well, to Brian and me at least.  Zoe needed some time to warm up to him but her hissing lessened with time and before long she was trying to play with him.  It was strange, though.  We assumed it was because he'd been a stray and hadn't been around other cats but he didn't seem to know how to play with her.  He also didn't know what to do with cat toys.  He sat around and slept a lot.  But he seemed content to just do his own thing and was happy.

After a little while we started to notice 
some other things that were a little odd about Murray.  Other than being super laid-back and being more sleepy than normal kittens, he almost never drank water.  Then he developed some really weird eating habits, which we let go on for a few days but when he started throwing up every time he ate, we knew it was time to call the vet. 

We knew he was a scrawny little guy but we were shocked that to learn that Murray had lost a whole pound in a month.  He was also severely dehydrated (not a surprise), nauseated, and constipated.  Poor little Buzzy!  He was miserable!  Dr. Walker kept him for a couple of hours to give him fluids and some medication to help get him cleaned out.  She also prescribed some anti-nausea medication for me to put into his food each morning to help him eat.  We started feeding him canned kitten food for the higher fat and water content.  He was eating well, keeping it down, using the litter box, and was relatively active.  I was pretty sure he'd gained some weight and we were on the right path.

When we took him back for a follow-up appointment, however, he'd lost a couple more ounces.  Dr. Walker was at a loss as to why he wasn't growing.  His blood work had come back normal and everything else was checking out okay so as long as he continued to maintain where he was at, she felt comfortable seeing him back in about 3 months.  If he was still showing poor growth at that point we could look at some other options.

Just a few days after that appointment Murray suddenly became extremely lethargic, stopped eating, and started having tremors.  I took him back to the vet.  He'd lost more weight and was dehydrated again.  Dr. Walker gave him fluids and drew blood.  His results came back normal so she suggested a bile acids test to check liver function.  She thought maybe toxins were getting out into his system, affecting his brain and causing the tremors, as well as leading to poor growth and digestion problems.  If so, my options would be to manage it medically or to have Murray undergo surgery.  Neither would be a great option but both would mean it was something we could treat.

Dr. Walker called me on Tuesday night.  His test results came back fine.  By this point she said it left one thing, which is what I had been worried about from that first time he was sick - Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).  It's a viral disease that occurs in a small percent of cats - mostly kittens under 2 years of age - and it is almost always fatal.  Ozzie, our last cat, died from it shortly after his second birthday.

So our little Murray, only 6 months old, is dying.  I was heartbroken to get the news.  In a matter of days his condition seemed to worsen almost before our eyes.  His tremors got worse.  He would lose his balance easily and fall if he tried to jump up on something.  He cried if we touched him or picked him up.  Instead of sitting on our laps like he always did he only wanted to curl up by the vent or in his little tunnel.  Then he stopped eating entirely.  

I took him to the vet this past Friday prepared for the worst.  I knew cats don't recover from FIP and he was only going from bad to worse.  I just couldn't watch him like this and if he wasn't eating, how much longer could he last?  I was sure I would leave the vet without him.

Then Dr. Walker surprised me by saying that although rare, some cats do recover from FIP.  It depends on how far the disease has progressed and since Murray's kidneys and liver do not seem to be affected, there may be a chance.  She gave him a strong steroid injection to help suppress his immune system and stimulate his appetite.  I was to call in the morning with an update.  

I couldn't get Murray to eat that night or in the morning but he did at least seem interested in the food.  At this point it had been about 36 hours since he'd last eaten so I was really worried.  It seemed the steroid didn't work.  Again, I was prepared for the worst.  I called Dr. Walker and she said we could try one more thing.  Since he'd previously responded to anti-nausea medication, I could bring him in for an injection, which I felt would be a more sure-fire way to get it to him than trying to have him take a pill.  I brought him home and with some coaxing, Murray finally ate!  I was so happy I cried!  I called the vet and even the receptionist was genuinely excited to get the news.  She made sure I had the emergency vet information and I said I would see how he did through the weekend. 

Brian is out of town this weekend so Murray and I spent the weekend bonding.  I slept on the couch Saturday night to be near him.  He was on my chest, nuzzling up to my face every time I woke up.  He doesn't really purr much but I could tell he was a happy kitty. 

When I got up in the morning he came hobbling over to me meowing for food.  He was ravenous and gobbled up 3/4 of a can of kitten food!  He at another 3/4 of a can for dinner.  He's doing so much better than he was a few days ago and I'm sure the food has a lot to do with it.  Instead of huddling alone in his tunnel he's been sitting on my lap almost all day (and following me around the house when I wasn't sitting).  In fact, here he is on my lap right now!

I know that most cats don't survive FIP.  It would pretty much take a miracle for Murray to beat this but he's a fighter.  If any cat can pull through it would be Murray.  And if not all I ask is for him to be comfortable and happy for as long as possible.  I love this little guy and am thankful for every single day I get to spend with him.  

Right now I just want him to continue eating to keep up his strength and stay on the level.  I don't necessarily expect improvement but hope not to see further deterioration, at least for a while.  I'd appreciate if you would say a prayer and think good thoughts for my little Murray.  

I'll keep you updated.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Poor little Murray. I will definitely say a prayer for him & keep him in my thoughts. I know if anyone can help a kitty get through this it's you. (((hugs)))


  2. Ava enjoyed playing with Murray the other night...hopeful they can have another playdate soon....she has been talking about him all the time!!!