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My Aloha Animal - Sweetheart

Hi, my name is Carol Arney and I’m Aloha Animal Hospital’s newest photojournalist. This is my cat Sweetheart - who defied the prognosis of another vet when she lived to see 2009. Sweetheart is my living miracle and this is our journey together.

I adopted her from the Kauai Humane Society in December, 1995. Sweetheart was the only possible name for this cat. She is so gentle and loving. They estimated that she was about 8 months old, but very small for her age. She had no health problems until she was about 2.

At that time, we moved to Kona and she developed Feline Stomatitis - a severe inflammation of the gums. After several years, the condition worsened to the point that I had to make a difficult decision - to have all of her teeth extracted.

It was a tough surgery, but within a week, she was healthier than ever and eating even dry kibble! This showed me what a strong cat she was. Although toothless, she adapted quickly and remained my happy indoor cat for the next 10 years.

But in December of 2007, all of that changed. She started spending hours pacing in small circles (about the size of a car tire.) The pacing seemed almost panicky. She also started having trouble holding down food. I rushed her to our vet at the time - the Keauhou Veterinary Clinic - where they gave me some shocking news: Sweetheart was blind!

After many tests, we learned she had extremely high blood pressure which had damaged her eyes. But that wasn’t the worst part of it - Sweetheart also had feline chronic renal failure (kidney failure). Additionally, she developed acid indigestion (a common CRF symptom) which caused her to lose weight.

Could your pet be our next "Aloha Animal?"
We put Sweetheart on an aggressive therapy - two types of eye drops (in the hopes of regaining her sight), blood pressure medicine and Pepcid AC. That winter, a special veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Maya Yamagata, came to Kona and examined Sweetheart. That’s when I learned that she would never regain her sight. Her retinas in both eyes had detached. I was heartbroken for her. No more bird or gecko watching. No more watching in the window for my return from work.

By this time, though, her acid indigestion was stabilized. She could eat regularly, but only Hills Prescription KD (cans) with minced chicken. Even other flavors caused her to vomit. She took amlodipine with a tasty sauce called “triple fish.” Ironically, this treat became one of the highlights of her day. It was April of 2008 when her Kona vet gave her just six months to live.

Today - a year and a half later - Sweetheart is still stable. She sleeps most of the time, is confined to one room so she won’t hide or get lost, and eats and drinks regularly. She knows every inch of her room by smell, touch and memory. She is still an affectionate and cuddly cat. Although she still runs in her little circles from time to time, she is content and very loved.

We have since moved to Oahu and become part of the Aloha Animal Hospital Associates family. I know Sweetheart is in good hands. Like most “pet parents,” I sometimes try to turn back the clock and wonder if we could have caught her condition earlier. Our first Kona vet (who shall remain nameless) told me that Sweetheart didn’t need a yearly exam or vaccines because she was an indoor cat without interaction with other cats. As a result, we stopped her annual exams.

Sometimes I wish I had continued her exams so we could have caught the high blood pressure, blindness and CRF. But, true to her name, Sweetheart will typically curl up on my lap when I have these thoughts and begin to purr. She is now over 14 years old, which is a ripe old age for a cat. She may have lost her teeth and eyesight, but she has never lost a single drop of her unconditional, inspiring love.

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