Halloween is coming and my impish black cat, Jaspurr, is busy getting into mischief as usual. Watching him play makes me think of last spring when we noticed there was something wrong with him. In the journey we took to help him get better, he taught me how facing the “impossible” is often not what we expect - and pushing past it might just be the best thing for us.
If you’ve ever been told by a doctor that you’ll have to do a treatment or therapy which sounds too hard, too complex, too overwhelming... then you need to read Jaspurr’s story. Who would think that a cat has an important lesson to teach all of us chronic pain/illness patients?
|This is my rascally Jaspurr - with his amazingly flexible tail.|
When we were first married 19 years ago, we adopted two Abyssinian cats and one of them developed severe asthma. It was a difficult road to diagnosis and finding the right treatment, but eventually we got it under control with a combination of medications, including steroids. This sweet cat lived a great life but developed pancreatic cancer and died within seven days. The vet speculated the high dose steroids very likely contributed to his getting cancer.
About a year later, we adopted a pair of shelter kitties. A few months later we began to hear that familiar cough. What were the odds the next cat we’d get would also have asthma? My sweet little black cat was indeed diagnosed, but the vet made a treatment suggestion we didn’t expect. Instead of the same pills we used to treat our last cat, she said there was a new option. Humans with asthma use inhalers; the vet said a company had developed inhalers for cats called AeroKat (they also make inhalers for dogs and horses!). She explained that using inhaled steroids is better for the cat because the side effects are not as extreme and it doesn’t stay in the tissues. It also can give immediate relief during an attack unlike a pill.
We visited the AeroKat website to learn how the system works. After reading about it and watching demonstration videos on YouTube I told my husband, “This is IMPOSSIBLE! There is *no way* Jaspurr will allow us to hold a mask over his face and then stay still to breath in the medication!”
As we discussed the issue, we kept coming back to how our first cat had died of cancer and how we wanted the best treatment possible for Jaspurr. Sure it seemed to be better, but would he accept it? We decided it was best for the cat so we’d give it a try even though we never thought it would work.
The first time we tried it, Jaspurr scratched up my hubby's legs and ran under the bed. We almost threw in the towel, but then I found a really helpful Yahoo group for people who were using the AeroKat system called FAIM: Feline Asthma Inhaled Medication Users Group. They offered advice on how to get Jaspurr used to the mask before using the inhaler. Using some of their tips and devising a few of my own as I flew by the seat of my pants, I gradually got the cat used to it by enticing him with treats he was crazy for and holding the mask over his face - at first for just one second and then longer as he relaxed and got used to it. It took about three weeks of training, 4 sessions a day, sticking to the same exact sequence with a struggling, unwilling cat. But at last - success!
|Cuddling together: Jaspurr gets a kiss from our other cat, Cruiser.|
I truly believed Jaspurr would never accept the AeroKat. I was wrong. I was more than wrong! He became so willing and eager that we decided to make our own YouTube video showing how we trained him and demonstrating the AeroKat system (You can watch our video HERE). But even further beyond the “impossible” - the company which makes AeroKat liked our video so much they asked if they could use Jaspurr as the demonstration cat on their website!
Boy, did Jaspurr teach us all a lesson!
If your doctor prescribes a difficult therapy, a complex medicine regimen, or any kind of treatment which seems to be *impossible* to incorporate into your life... think of my Jaspurr. Don’t be so quick to dismiss it and try to ‘scratch’ beneath the surface. Is this treatment or medication the best thing for you? Will it improve your health and make it possible for you to have a better life? If so, then you owe it to yourself to give it an honest try and commit fully to following through.
Never say “it’s impossible”!