by Marcie Fallek, D.V.M., C.V.A.

The cremation was prepaid; the jugular catheter already in place to facilitate the euthanasia for the vet tech arriving later that afternoon.  Talk about the 11th hour!

Claire had gotten my name a few years earlier from a colleague, and had saved it just in case.

Normally I don’t have the luxury of doing house calls, but as luck would have it, I was available to go to Claire’s Upper West Side apartment the next day.  Unsure that the cat would be alive even for a few hours, Claire nonetheless decided to postpone the three p.m. euthanasia until I had a chance to evaluate her beloved white Manx cat, Beau.

Claire and Beau shared an extraordinary bond.  But their love story was singular, despite a most inauspicious beginning.  It was barely one week since the loss of her 20-year-old cat Josephine, when Claire was called down to the lobby. No one was downstairs, so she waited until someone arrived.

I hope it is not a cat, she muttered to herself; still in mourning, she was not yet ready to commit to another pet.  But it was.

“I am an orphan; please take me home,” read the note in her boss’s script.  Claire felt the gesture kind, but not especially well thought out.  The animal should choose you, she thought to herself, reluctantly accepting the gift; people should not thrust an animal at you.

Unsure of what else to do, and extremely conflicted regarding keeping the tiny, white, tailless kitten (he was a Manx, which is an ancient tailless breed), she reluctantly brought him upstairs.   She was hesitant to return him, fearful of what his fate might be, and at the moment could think of no other option.

Within a week, realizing that Beau wasn’t reacting to sound, she took him to the vet, who confirmed that Beau, like many blue-eyed white cats, had been born deaf.  The vet, knowing Claire for many years, told her he thought it was a good match.

Claire again had doubts and was somewhat tempted a few weeks later when a friend told her that she had found another home for the cat.  Envisioning the car and the little white orphan being driven away, Claire’s feelings were mixed.

Over time, things began to shift.  Beau would not let Claire out of his sight, literally.  Being deaf, he was totally dependent upon his vision, and in his eyes, Claire was Mom.  He would sit and stare at her for hours.  As she moved around the apartment, Beau would follow her, never letting her out of his line of vision.  After a nap, if she was not there when he awoke, he would run through the house, pushing doors open in an urgent attempt to find his mom.  Upon entering the room, he would pause, look around, then give a loud (because he was deaf) cry of relief and happiness at the sight of her.

Any mother with a special-needs son or daughter knows that the bond with that child is even deeper than with a healthy child.  Claire’s conscious awareness of the disability disappeared, while subconsciously it began to endear him more and more to her, their bond growing stronger every day.

Beau loved to play games.  A favorite was hide-and-seek.  Hiding under the bed or in other places, Beau would playfully pounce as Claire walked by.  Chase was another favored game; he would always glance back to make sure she was following.  If Claire had to leave the apartment, she would turn on the lights—that was their signal.

Entering her flat, I sat down and began to take Beau’s history.  Beau, now twelve years old, was lying quietly nearby.  It seems that the decline had come very suddenly.  Two weeks ago, this was a healthy, playful cat.  Suddenly he started drinking voluminous amounts of water.  Worried, Claire took him to the veterinarian, who admitted him immediately to the hospital.  The next day, the news was disastrous.   He was in the final stage of kidney failure.  His BUN (blood urea nitrogen) was 230 and the creatinine was 27, values I honestly had never seen before; they are incompatible with life.  Indeed, the veterinarian had told her Beau’s condition was terminal and there was nothing they could do to help.  They said the only humane thing would be to put him to sleep immediately. In shock, Claire was unable to euthanize him there and then.  Instead, she chose to take him home for one more day.  She figured he might not be eating because he was away from home for the first time. So rather than leave him in a cage in a strange place, she took him home.  If she had to say to goodbye, it would be better at home.

Returning home, she suddenly remembered her colleague Linda, her cat Randolph and their experience with me, the holistic vet.

It is true; Randolph had done remarkably well under my homeopathic care. He had a squamous cell carcinoma, a very aggressive cancer of the mouth. The conventional veterinarian had removed the tumor surgically, but as is wont with cancers, it came back quickly and with a vengeance.  By the time I saw Randy, the sublingual (beneath the tongue) tumor was more than dime-sized, and so painful that the cat could not eat at all.

Generally I cannot cure cancer in the sense that it is gone forever, I had explained to Linda, but if we are lucky, we can put it into remission.  Unlike with chemotherapy and its disastrous side effects, homeopathy improves the patient’s well-being on all levels, physical, emotional and mental.  It is an energy medicine working with what homeopaths call the vital force or what acupuncturists call qi.  It does not see the cancer or the disease as the enemy to be destroyed with toxic medications, but rather sees the symptoms as external manifestations of an internal imbalance, and strives to bring the body’s energy back into harmony, or what we call health.  The tumor may shrink, remain the same size or grow very slowly, but in all cases the cat should feel better, be pain free, and the quality of life overall should improve.  Randolph did indeed live three more wonderful years.  I was as stunned as Linda and her partner that at the end of his life, despite having a tumor so large that the mouth couldn’t close, Randy was still gobbling up not only his own food, but the dog’s as well!

Although Beau’s blood-work was horrifying, the situation did not feel so bad to me.  How could a cat that was totally normal, eating and playing just two weeks earlier, suddenly crash so badly?  The conventional vet had told her that there was a 2% chance that this was acute kidney failure, but he highly doubted it.  (From a conventional standpoint, acute kidney failure is much more treatable than the chronic condition, so in essence, he was giving the cat virtually no chance to survive.)

I felt this was either acute kidney failure or an acute flare-up of a chronic condition. Never in all of my 20 years of practice had I seen chronic kidney disease come on so suddenly and so fatally.  I knew there had to be a reason that Beau had failed so abruptly.  It would just take a bit of sleuthing to determine why.  The kidneys are organs of detoxification, and oftentimes the administration of a vaccine or a medication can trigger the crash. It is like the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“Have you taken him to the vet’s recently for a checkup and a vaccine?”

“No,” she replied.

“Are you sure he didn’t receive any drugs recently?” I continued.

“Wait a minute. Yes, every few weeks we put an antibiotic lotion on Beau’s chin for his acne per the instructions of the vet.  He told me the acne was due to getting food there, and we have been doing this for years.  I do believe I administered it the day before Beau started drinking so much.  Yes, that is true. Do you think this has anything to do with his kidneys?” she asked me. “I have been giving it for years and nothing seemed to happen.”

“Well,” I told her, “there is always a reason, a cause and effect, and at this point this seems to be the most likely.  The proof will be if he responds to the homeopathic remedy that antidotes drugs.”

Claire then showed me the X-rays and they were shocking as well.  The kidneys and bladder were filled with calculi or stones, which had to have been there for months, I felt.  Strangely however, Beau had not shown any signs of discomfort or disease until two weeks ago.  Therefore, I chose the working hypothesis that the recent dose of antibiotic lotion was just too much for Beau’s kidneys to manage.  I have seen this scenario over and over again, be it with a vaccine, a flea product or a drug.  The body can take just so much, and then its capacity to cope is overwhelmed.

I chose Nux Vomica, the homeopathic medicine par excellence for the bad effects of drugs, as well as for the toxemia of kidney failure.

The results were dramatic.

The next day, Beau’s appetite returned and in little more than a day, he was able to sit up and walk a bit.  Claire cancelled the in-home euthanasia by the vet tech and instead called her regular house-call veterinarian. Happily, the jugular catheter was now used only to extract some blood to test the kidney values rather than as a vehicle for the euthanasia solution.  Nevertheless, he and Claire decided to leave the catheter in, just in case.

The lab results the next day showed some improvement, and four days later when the vet returned, Beau was his normal healthy self.  More blood was taken and the catheter was removed.  This time the blood-work came back almost normal.

What a miraculous recovery!

I eventually changed the homeopathic remedy to Phosphorus, which was a deeper-acting constitutional medicine to address his underlying state, including the stones.  Homeopathic Phosphorus is not the phosphorus that veterinarians are so worried about in renal failure; it is the energetic form of the element that rebalances the kidneys, rather than damages it.

Beau was totally normal for four years.

The end came quickly.  Claire knew this day would at some point arrive and had been steeling herself for it.  Granted, Beau was now 15 years old, and had been gifted four bonus years, but that didn’t make it any easier.  This hurt as much as any loss, even more so, as this was a special-needs cat, and they had a more than special connection; there was a true, deep communication and love between them.

Claire gathered him up in her arms, called a cab, and took him to the vet hospital. Because Beau’s lungs were now filled with fluid, they discussed heart failure and the possibility of oxygen and medication.  Given the situation, they decided the best option was to let her darling cat go.  As the vet prepared the injection, she kissed Beau, silently saying the Lord’s Prayer.  She asked God to watch over him and that he come back to visit her.  Looking down at his little form, her heart swelled with an overwhelming love.

Reminiscing in her journal days later, she wrote how Beau had been such a wonderful, loving and faithful companion, and how she had become almost as dependent on him as he was on her.  Strange how one can feel that about a little cat, she thought. How is it possible to love an animal so much?

Claire told me that after he passed, she saw him everywhere—on the windowsill, on the bed, just as when he played chase, blending in with the white coverlets.  The dreams kept coming, incredibly vivid dreams.  She told me he is there, wherever she is, feeling so real, just as in her dreams.

“Is this real?” she asked me, “or is it just memories or my yearning to see him again?”  “It is so very real,” she repeated to me softly.

If your animal faces seemingly incurable conditions, do not give up hope.  Holistic medicine can offer seemingly miraculous results when conventional medicine fails.

And do not discount the possibility that your animal companion does continue to be with you, albeit in another dimension, after they die.

Disclaimer:  The case histories that I write about are chapters from my upcoming book, and are based on actual animals that I have treated.  The names of some clients and patients have been changed to maintain their privacy.  The facts are written as accurately as possible, based on my medical notes and phone and/or in-person interviews.  Some minor details of setting or other non-medical facts may differ slightly due to lapse of memory after so many years. I apologize in advance for any such errors.