One of my very first blog posts featured Denver the Wondercat*, our pet from 1991-2009. We adopted this gentle giant from the St. Louis County Animal Shelter on my daughter's 4th birthday in 1991. He refused to be an outdoor cat, ignoring all of our plans, and lived a sheltered, pampered life in Kirkwood, MO, and Omaha, NE.
In 2008 he became my favorite patient when his vet diagnosed stage III chronic kidney disease. From that day forward he received daily potassium supplements, moist cat food, and subcutaneous fluid boluses several times each week. These treatments won us no immediate love or gratitude from the animal, and they added up to $40 per month; however, he had a good quality of life for another 18 months. The average survival time for a cat with stage III disease is 6 months.
As a pediatric nephrologist, I take care of kids with chronic kidney disease. They, too, have to take yucky medications and uncomfortable shots that win me no love or gratitude. They did enjoy hearing about my cat and his struggles with a special diet and various treatments. I learned the lesson that many before me discovered: children will listen to a talking animal faster than a knowledgeable adult!
After Denver's demise, I decided to write a book for children about his life with chronic kidney disease. Are there a lot of children with this condition? According to the US Renal Data System, approximately 1,300 children are diagnosed with permanent kidney failure in the US each year; an equal or larger number are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Approximately 110,000 adults start treatment for kidney failure every year, and at least that many more are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. These adult patients are likely to have children or grandchildren who would benefit from a kid-friendly discussion of these topics. Finally, according to the Pet Food Institute, over 80,000,000 pet cats live in the US, and kidney disease will be the most common cause of death for these felines. So far no takers on my proposal, but I keep plugging away looking for an agent and publisher**.
If you follow this blog regularly, you also know that my family hails from Missouri and we often attend Missouri Tiger sports events. Big cats, so sleek and powerful, are a favorite venue at the zoo. When I heard about National Geographic's new campaign to raise funds for big cat research, I had to participate!
Little Kitties for Big Cats is a gallery of pet photos. A minimum donation of $5 will get your favorite feline into the gallery where others can tweet it, like it, and donate to it.
Of course, I donated and uploaded Denver the Wondercat. Denver loved to curl up in a lap while we watched Tiger sports, even though he sometimes got dumped out during exciting plays. We know he would want to keep his wild brethren safe and happy as he was for 18 years, even though he didn't choose "the wild outdoor life."
So click here to see Denver in the online gallery. Please tweet it and like it and consider donating; National Geographic wants to raise $10,000 and, so far, they have $2,000. After all, it is in the name of Science!
*Why was he a wondercat? My husband considered himself a "dog person," but our firstborn could not be persuaded to want a puppy. Shortly after Denver's death, my husband missed having a cat so much that we adopted again! Denver turned my spouse into a "cat person," a truly miraculous feat to those who knew him well.
**Of course if you are an agent or publisher with an interest in this manuscript, I would love to chat more with you! Drop me a line at pascalelane at gmail dot com.