From his dramatic rescue as a tiny, dirty
un-weaned kitten, his time in foster care, initial diagnosis of a probable
feline liver shunt, numerous vet visits, tests, holistic consultants,
dietary evolutions, to the difficult decision to opt out of surgery, Newt has enchanted everyone who meets him.
From his earliest kittenhood, Newt has shown that he has the heart of a
lion, and has made a profound impression on those of us fortunate enough to
Who could ever imagine that such a tiny little kitten could have such a huge
In the summer of 2008, at eleven weeks old, on the day he was to go to his
new home, he ended up in the emergency room with an initial diagnosis of a
Portosystemic shunt. As his foster family, we were told that he was
probably going to die any day, and advised to "just keep him
Liver shunts, while rare in dogs, are even less seldom seen in
cats and kittens, and very little information was available.
We were given prescription food, Lactulose and antibiotics, told to feed him
numerous small meals each day, and if he happened to survive and grow large
enough, then he could be tested to determine if he was a candidate for a
surgery that he might not survive. But the prognosis was not hopeful.
We soon made the decision to adopt him into the family, and keep him
comfortable and loved for whatever time he had left. The ensuing
days, weeks and months became a blur of research, as we desperately tried to
find information on his condition. We were thrilled to discover the Yahoo
Group for Liver Shunt and MVD Support, and while not a dog, Newt the Kitten
was welcomed with open arms by the membership who provided a much-needed
sense of community and hope, as well as invaluable information and resources
on the condition.
That year was one of many unexpected "firsts" for Newt - his first Autumn,
his first Thanksgiving, his first Christmas, his first international fellow
shunt kitty friend, his first snow, and then, wonder of wonders, his first
birthday! As we eased into the second year of his adventures, we continued to
be humbled and amazed at his progress.
Newt is not being managed according to traditional vet
recommendations; however, this approach seems to be working very well for
him. We are maintaining a fully integrative medical management approach,
combining elements of traditional, as well as complimentary care. Lactulose
and antibiotics, in conjunction with homecooked meals, on-demand energy
acupuncture, acupressure and massage are the core of his maintenance.
After much painful debate, we opted out of surgery, and
have instead chosen to maintain him in as non-invasive a manner as
possible. This is not a decision we made lightly. His care and quality
of life have remained paramount in our choices for his treatment protocols.
While we are aware of numerous cats who have had successful surgical ligation,
we just do not feel that we wish to risk the odds of potential post-surgical
We did feed him a prescription diet for the first several months, but ended
up switching, because most of his symptoms remained, and we were concerned
about the effect that meat by-products and corn would have upon a growing
kitten with an already fragile digestive system. Once we began incorporating
a more natural, human grade approach to his dietary choices, he began
showing improvement. He is now on a home-cooked diet consisting of 1/4
protein to 3/4 pureed raw vegetables, and has remained symptom free for the
longest stretch of his life so far.
support and encouragement of "Team Newt" has helped us so much.
Never underestimate the power of Hope.
We are indebted to various members of "Team Newt," including his holistic
her ability to complement traditional with holisitc vet care; his
nutritionist for helping to find
prepared foods that would work for cats with liver shunts; and his
traditional vet for saving his life during his urinary obstructions. To Flea's
mom, for sharing her successful home prepared diet, as well other members of
the yahoo Liver Shunt and MVD Support Group for being the first place we
We are also so very grateful
for fellow shunt cat owners, especially those on his support group, who have been in contact to share their
stories, and to let us know that we are not alone in this journey.
While we still live every day with the knowledge that today could be his
last, we are comforted by the fact that he is acting healthy, and has
certainly been comfortable! Newt, aka New New, aka Pookie Bear, aka
Schnookie, aka Booger, aka Twitch, aka Pissant, has enriched our lives with
more tears and more joy than we ever could have imagined, and is proving to
both his traditional specialists as well as his holistic vets, than an
integrative approach combining the best of both worlds is the right approach