28 May 2008

Either you're VIN or you're OUT

I'm Out... and can't get VIN.

Ok, so for those who don't know, VIN is the Veterinary Information Network. It's been around since 1991 to service the vet industry and their support personnel. It's a database jammed packed with information, chat logs, educational and clinical information... and has a searchable dB of documents.

I have a vet within my family. I've asked if they would log in and search for articles on Ketamine, or if they'd allow me to do a search. When I explained why I wanted access my request was ignored. That's been several weeks ago and I am still steaming over it. It feels a bit like a conspiracy of sorts. There is a definite unwillingness to go against the grain, go against other vets, go against typical, usual protocol.

I asked a vet recently if they had any idea why the vet we used with Gimli - or their vet techs that they relied on to talk to owners - did not, in any way, suggest an alternative to Ketamine. I asked the clinic we used about an alternative fifty different ways and was met with the same answer. There wasn't an alternative... which is a falsehood. As many readers or "owners" of pets may also do, I had a list of questions that I asked prior to committing to the dental procedure.

Here are the questions I asked:
  • What is the process, and are there any risks?
  • Is there other alternative to sedation? And is your sedation considered safe?
  • Can you use a constraining blanket rather than “twilight” sedation?
  • Are there other options to a sedated dental that can be done at home?
  • Has your clinic EVER lost a patient during a dental?
  • Will a blood test and light physical be done prior to the procedure?
And, here are the answers I received (yes, I logged my phone call with the vet tech):
  • the risks were low
  • no other alternative was available or suggested in regards to the anesthesia
  • a constraining apparatus could not be used
  • “twilight” sedation meant that the patient would “barely be under”
  • the clinic had NEVER lost a patient.
Why was Isoflurane or Sevoflurane not suggested? (By the way, readers, Haloflurane is a Ketamine derivative, so steer clear).
Vets know and use gas as an alternative to injectible anesthesia, it's not uncommon or odd to ask for alternate induction agents. Here's what one vet said - and I'm paraphrasing:

"...Most vet clinics have a standard protocol that they follow for surgical procedures. The staff, vet tech, and doctors all know the standard protocol extrememly well. When something outside this standard is used it causes the vet, vet techs, and staff more time and energy because they are not as familiar with it..."

Therefore, this vet concluded that an alternative was not offered to me because it would have caused that particular vet and clinic to go outside their "norm".

That... is NOT acceptable.

26 May 2008

Why it's important to learn and empower ourselves

Rosie Rosebud
Rose relaxes

Junipurr Lily
Lily loves BG (Granddaddy)

Bilbo Bombadil

And for our sweet lost boy, Gimmie. who so loved his life:
Where's the cat in the water, Mommie?

Ketamine References: the buzz is out, isn't it?

There are many articles available via the Internet, written by vets or scientists, which raise serious concerns over the use of the very common and very cheap induction agent, Ketamine. Research substantiating this was conducted in the early 1990’s by Dr. Michel Houard, of Chambourcy, France, and specifically states if Ketamine is used on Devons, Cornish, Germans, Selkirks, and Sphynx, it will cause death.

What's important to note for Devon and Sphynx owners is that within THESE breeds this drug can do one of three things:

1. Cause non-diagnosed cardiomyopathy (HCM) in a cat to progress
2. Due to the drug lowering the *heart rate, it can cause a cat to go into congestive heart failure (CHF)
3. Advance an undiagnosed HCM so that another dose of Ketamine may cause death

What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a widely used dissociative drug. It has a noted history of causing an increase in blood pressure, a rough recovery, and, as is referenced in numerous resources, can cause cardiac arrest leading to congestive heart failure in breeds – particularly those that may have the spasticity gene.
Ketamine is commonly used as an induction agent for children and the elderly, and is noted on the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

What does "dissociative" mean?

A dissociative is a drug which reduces (or blocks) signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain, typically, but not necessarily, limited to the senses.

Ketamine as a street drug - vet clinics beware: -- resourced from DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency)

Street terms for Ketamine: jet, super acid, Special "K", green, K, cat Valium.
Ketamine comes in a clear liquid and a white or off-white powder form.
Ketamine is a tranquilizer most commonly used on animals. The liquid form can be injected, consumed in drinks, or added to smokable materials. The powder form can be used for injection when dissolved.

In certain areas, Ketamine is being injected intramuscularly.
Ketamine, along with the other "club drugs," has become popular among teens and young adults at dance clubs and "raves."

It is marketed as a dissociative general anesthetic for human and veterinary use, the only known source of Ketamine is via diversion of pharmaceutical products.
Recent press reports indicate that a significant number of veterinary clinics are being robbed specifically for their Ketamine stock.
DEA reporting indicates that a major source of Ketamine in the United States is product diverted from pharmacies in Mexico. Prices average $20 to $25 per dosage unit.
Higher doses produce an effect referred to as "K-Hole," an "out of body," or "near-death" experience.
Use of the drug can cause delirium, amnesia, depression, and long-term memory and cognitive difficulties. Due to its dissociative effect, it is reportedly used as a date-rape drug.

Scientific/Medical: -- resourced from Wikipedia
Ketamine is a drug for use in human and veterinary medicine developed by Parke-Davis (today a part of Pfizer) in 1962. Its hydrochloride salt is sold as Ketanest, Ketaset, and Ketalar. Pharmacologically, ketamine is classified as an NMDA receptor antagonist, and at high, fully anesthetic level doses, ketamine has also been found to bind to opioid ╬╝ receptors and sigma receptors. Like other drugs of this class such as tiletamine and phencyclidine (PCP), it induces a state referred to as "dissociative anesthesia" and is used as a recreational drug.

Ketamine Death


There are numerous other anesthesias that your vet should be aware of, and suggest as an alternative if that question is raised. Many of these are non-dissociative and do not cause an increase in blood pressure and do not have the rough recovery that is noted over and again with Ketamine, or Ketamine derivitives such as Telazol and the gas Haloflurane.

Isoflurane or Sevoflurane are extremely common examples of gases that can be used instead of Ketamine or like agents.

Please note: Anesthetics agents increasing the risk for death in Rex and Sphynx are:
- Dissociative: Ketamine (Imalgene®, Clorketam®, Zoletil®)
- Volatile: Halothane

Dr. Mike Richards, DVM – Cobbs Creek, VA Matthews Veterinary Clinic

“Ketamine causes hypertension during anesthetic recovery and it is possible that the detrimental effects attributed to Ketamine may be due primarily to cases of undiagnosed cardiomyopathy in cats undergoing anesthetic procedures. These cats would be especially sensitive to hypertension and the increase in blood pressure induced by Ketamine is supposed to be pretty significant in some cats.”

Additionally he wrote:
“For a long time I have heard reports of episodes of pulmonary edema and/or heart failure following anesthesia in cats. There has been some concern among veterinarians over the potential for Ketamine, a commonly used anesthetic agent, to cause episodes of pulmonary edema. Ketamine appears to cause hypertension during the recovery period in many cats. If the cat has pre-existing cardiomyopathy this could lead to a sudden worsening of the cardiomyopathy leading to pulmonary edema and death, if the cardiomyopathy cannot be brought under control with medications. There is some possibility that this effect could occur even without cardiomyopathy being present. I have only seen reports of this condition in association with Ketamine but it may occur with other anesthetic agents".

NOTE: I located Dr. Richards at his vet clinic in Cobbs Creek, Virginia, and phoned his office. He suggested that I read over available articles on this subject at PubMed.org for citable references.



http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=1255390&pageindex=1#page http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=1255390&pageindex=2#page http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=1255390&pageindex=3#page


On the risks of anesthesia - even when your vet tells you that it's safe:

Feline Anesthesia in the New Millennium—SOTAL

State of the Art Lecture
Dr. Jan Ilkiw
Diplomat, ACVIM (Anethesiology)
Professor, Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, University of California, Davis.

EXCERPT – full lecture at this link

The last and most recent study included all species and reported techniques and concerns, rather than complications and morbidity. While castration and ovariohysterectomy were the most commonly performed procedures requiring anesthesia in cats (together 54%), dentistry accounted for 22% of cats requiring anesthesia. Intubation was carried out in cats by 76% of practitioners and all small animal practitioners used inhalants for maintenance.
These studies indicate the significant risks and mortality associated with anesthesia in cats, especially if they are ASA category 3-5. The use of inhalants for maintenance of anesthesia in veterinary practice is frequent and the most commonly reported complications relate to intubation and respiratory arrest. While halothane was the mainstay of inhalant anesthesia in these studies, Isoflourane is now probably the most commonly administered inhalant. In veterinary practice, the use of monitoring equipment that is likely to warn of impending complications is rare. In those patients that were monitored appropriately, hypotension was the most frequent complication.

Information will be added to this post as gathered and verified. The goal is to encourage the drug companies that produce Ketamine for veterinary use to include a warning on the label for exotics breeds.

The smaller picture is to have breeders, owners, and vets be provided legitimate, verifed information regarding Ketamine and potential deaths of felines in the exotics breed.

22 May 2008

The quest to contact Dr. Houard... are we closing in?

I contacted the vet cardiologist that kindly translated the French article on Ketamine and asked if she would consider phoning Paris and speaking directly to Dr. Houard. She has agreed to do that. Thankful am I for the kindness of true animal lovers like Dr. Straeter-Knowlen.

UPDATE: In what I felt was a rather polite but political reply, I received a stiff "NO" from the Association of American Wives of Europeans regarding my email to them asking if someone would kindly give my contact information and inquiry to Dr. Houard - whose street address is near to their association office. Votre manque de bienveillance d├ęcevait.

20 May 2008

Another milestone

Thanks again to Britt Swartz for coming through with an address and telephone for Dr. Houard.

Like most treasure hunts - finding and communicating with Dr. Houard being the prize in this instance - the hunt is fraught with excitement and frustration.

I need to find the following:

--- an email address for Dr. Houard
--- the name of his business or practice (hopefully he's still working with animals)
--- someone willing to speak to him on my behalf that is fluent in French

My next step will be in recontacting some of the people I've relied on recently. The problem with asking for favors of busy people is that one runs the risk of losing a connection. I'm hoping that won't be the case. I have been slightly pushy in regards to getting and gathering up information. It's a compulsion for me and my rush to find information often doesn't play into other people's time schedules.
So far, though, everyone has been very kind and patient with me. (thank you patient people)

It's early yet this morning and too soon to try to call my contacts who might help with this *new* request.

I located an association on the Internet that I have contacted for help; the
Association of American Wives of Europeans. This organization is located in Paris and, as the name implies, is American women married to Europeans and living long-term there. I've asked if someone at this association would be willing to track down the address and telephone number and send me back a business name, website address, or hopefully be willing to call the number and give my information to this office (or whatever type of facility it is).

It's a great start to the day. At least the good doctor is still living in France.

16 May 2008

Burning the Midnight Oil

I have sat here at the computer from 10 PM last evening until this very moment trying to track down Dr. Michel Houard, of France (or he WAS at some point). So far I'm hitting dead-ends.

I have his document translated into English - thanks to the efforts of kind people - but without validation it doesn't have the impact that it justly deserves.

I'm positive that this paper was published in some journal - maybe as a scientific research Abstract? I don't have access to online vet journals or scientific information... but there must be a way to find this veterinarian. Even if he is deceased he left a footprint somewhere.

Dr. Houard... where are you?

15 May 2008

Silver Ferns and Golden Friends

I've had so much support over the past month. Gimli's death was a crushing blow to me, inparticularly, and for my husband as well. It's been just like a person's death... to US... and I realize that some people may not understand that emotion.
Last evening... perhaps because I'm so wound up with this Ketamine quest... I had another emotional moment where tears wouldn't stop flowing. I miss that little boy so much. Channeling my feelings into trying to make his death meaningful has helped, but it doesn't stop the missing or doesn't fill the spot in our home.

Today, still feeling alittle blue, I had a set-back on my attempts to find an attorney to represent us with the vet. He wanted $800 to write a letter on our behalf - so back to the drawing board there.

But friends... what would we do without them?
Today an artist friend of mine, who knows how we feel about New Zealand (avidly wish to live there) and understands how it makes me feel (uplifted / hopeful) to *think* about someday making it to that Land of the Long White Cloud, gifted me with a sculptural piece she created of the silver fern - a symbol of Zed.

She told me that the piece started out as the base of a memorial Fine Art gourd I commissioned her to do of Bilbo and Gimli together. Then, it morphed into the Silver Fern. We talked alittle yesterday about Bilbo and Gimli's names. Why I named them after Lord of the Rings characters, and I talked about the Maori tribes, the Haka, and other NZ related chatter.
Her gift is not only timely as an uplifting gift of loving friendship, but it gives me a tangible symbol of a place I long to visit, or immigrate to... something for Hope, something for Dreams. Something positive on a blue day.
Her name is Missy Miles, and her art can be seen online at Organic Vessels.

14 May 2008

Mentality & Attitude - Status Upgrade

Late in the day yesterday I received a call-back from a vet at All Animal Vet Clinic, in Tupelo, MS. She called about 6:15 pm, after I'd given up my hunt for the day, and told me she wanted to be sure she had ample time for our introduction call.

I'm so happy to say that she met - over the phone - the criteria I was hoping for, which is:

-- an interest in learning about the Sphynx breed
-- an ability to allow me to participate and learn along with her
-- a willingness to allow me to make suggestions which she will follow-up on
-- an affable personality that reflects a joy in their profession
-- a high-tech facility with equipment for testing
-- knowledge of cardiac symptoms and processes (they're affiliated with a vet heart clinic in FL)
-- 24/7 emergency services with a multiple staff of vets
-- close enough for us to drive to w/in an hour

The vet I spoke with asked that we come by next week for a tour of the facility and a meet-n-greet with our cats. The response I liked the most during our conversation was when I lightheartedly, but seriously, told her that I would be "all in her business" with our cats. That I would not allow blind trust to cost this dear a price again. Her reply was that she wished more pet parents cared enough to be involved in the health maintenance of their animals, and that she welcomed it. Kudo's to her!

Mentality & Attitude Status: 7

13 May 2008

Mentality & Attitude

In looking for another vet for our Sphnyx I have slammed into stumbling block after stumbling block. The names on those blocks are Mentality & Attitude. The mentality and attitude I've run across in my area is that cats are cats. Vets, used to only using one type of anesthesia, seem unwilling to use anything else, or won't consider using something else because, "they've used it in their practice for years and years." The problem with that is that they are accepting that deaths are "normal". That's not always the case. With Gimli, his immediate death would have been avoided had the vet not used Ketamine. Even with a flurry of questions from me regarding the dental procedure / safety she still did not take the time to investigate or offer another form of anesthesia. Why? I don't suppose I'll ever know. This vet is not the kind to accept accountability ... on her own. With my help, she may have to.

What causes this way of thinking? Is it ego? Ignorance? Mediocratity? Believe me, in this area of the world...it's out there. It's prevalent. It's disturbing. It's frustrating.... BUT... it's surmountable. I'm not giving up hope that there's some vet within decent driving distance of us that will be willing to work with us, learn about our breed, and be a conscientious professional. I hope I'm not being naive.

Sadly we, as pet owners (who's really owned here, anyway?), don't have laws to protect us or our pets. Our pets only have one voice... ours. It's our duty to speak up for them and hold vets accountable for lack of basic professionalism and courtesy. The mentality and attitudes of many that I've interviewed these last several weeks has been eye-opening and distressing. Hopefully I can find the perfect vet and clinic for our family of Sphynx.

Here are some observations and suggestions if you find yourself in a similar situation.

-- Ask about the drugs they're using and don't settle for statements like, "We've used it for years", or "It's the industry standard."
-- Ask if it's the right drug for YOUR breed.
-- Ask them to verify or do a little research and then ask to see what they found.
-- Take and active part. Do some research, and don't make my mistake and trust your vet to follow through after you question them. Make sure.
-- If your vet refuses or balks at working with you, then fire them as your vet.

Wouldn't it be great if we had:
    • a protocol fact sheet or info packet with every Sphynx sold as a pet or show cat
    • an organized effort w/in the breed councils to promote and distribute these protocols both online and in print
    • better communication with the vets we use and a willingness to challenge them to up their knowledge of exotics, like Sphynx and Devons.
    • better laws to protect pets as living things, not property
    • advocacy information we can send to vets, and drug companies when dangers are found
    • a way to provide all SX health records to the breed council, or some other entity, so that information can be gathered to better maintain the health and lifespan of the SX breed.

At the most primal level I am referring to behaviour that allows us to be proactive rather than reactive in regards to the health and welfare of the Sphynx (and other similar) breed. Just thoughts I've had today as I have tried to find a vet.

Mentality & Attitude status: Zilch

2nd Houard translation come in. Thanks, Britt Swartz!

As was posted previously, I have been trying to get the Houard document translated (preferably by a native French vet) for about three weeks.

Today another translation came in from Sphynx owner / breeder (Talk About Sphynx), Britt Swartz. I've asked her to see if the vet that did the translation would allow me to place her name on the document as "translator". I'm also hoping that Britt, or the French vet, can help me locate Dr. Houard to further validate the document and find if it has been published in any vet journals.

French Houard document on Ketamine - translated by French vet

One thing I've found out during this research is that if you are not a vet you can't access vet information. Hopefully some of the very nice, caring vets I've been in contact with will access their vet libraries online and otherwise to help confirm information.
Unless confirmation is clear the information gathered is heresay.

If you feel so inclined to help with any of this process please jump aboard. Contact me through this forum.

12 May 2008

Houard's document translated into English

Thanks to Dr. Ingrid Staeter-Knowlen, DVM for translating Dr. Houard's article on Ketamine's effect on Sphynx, Devons, and other breeds in the exotics line, into English.

Dr. Houard's article on Ketamine

The Origin of Gimmie's Fishes

This blog's title and presence is in honour of our beloved Sphynx boy, Gimli.
We affectionately called him Gimmie, and Gimmie had a life-long fascination with his pet fishes. He helped his daddy feed them each night, and if asked how they were he would peer over at the tank to check on them. He took his pet fishes very seriously and I'm sure they miss him too.

We have Gimli's ashes on the table where the fishes live so he can watch over them forever.

My name is Kay, and I am the human-mom of GODZ Gimli Gil-Galad "Gimmie", and mommy to GODZ Bilbo Bombadil, and his new little Sphynx sisters, GODZ Junipurr Lilly "Liliper" and GODZ Rose of Sharron "Rosebud".

Our story and my quest began in April 2008.

At our vet's urging, we scheduled a dental cleaning for both Gimli and Bilbo on 8 April (the day after Gimli's 3rd birthday). Prior to the visit I asked every conceivable question I knew to ask... except what induction agent would be used and if it was safe for our boys. I didn't know. I didn't ask. I felt that our vet understood our concern and would take every precaution to make sure our boys were OK.
I asked them to do blood work and a quick physical check and then phone me before starting the dental. Forty-five minutes after leaving I still had not received a call. I phoned to find that Gimli was in cardiac arrest and was being coded. I never saw him alive again. When the vet brought his body to us she made a statement to us with crossed arms that caused instant suspicion, saying, "I can see you are upset. I want you to know that I have a million dollar insurance policy, so if you feel you need to sue please go ahead." We'd not said anything about suing. Her smug words still incite my rage and continues to fuel my determination to help others avoid this type of insane loss.

Gimli was taken to Mississippi State's vet lab for a necropsy and cremation. The report I received stated that Gimli had HCM and died as a result of that disease. While I do understand the properties of HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), how it can kill instantly, etc.; it didn't feel "right". A physican friend suggested that I look on their vet records for Ketamine.
Not only did this vet clinic use Ket/Val on Gimli on the 8th, but it was also used on him, without our knowledge or consent, during a trip to the emergency clinic in October 2007 for a slightly burned paw pad. I was told they would give him Valium and nothing else. During that visit Gimli had the casebook look and reaction of the disassociative behaviour of Ketamine (unable to close his eyes, jumpiness, extremely slow to come out of the drug).

With the tip on Ketamine I began to dig, search and scratch. I've called vets all over the US for more information on Ketamine used on Sphynx, deaths reported (and admitted (rare), and ciations on HCM including a French document by Dr. Michel Houard. Dr. Ingrid Straeter-Knowlen,DVM and a board eligible vet-cardiologist very graciously agreed to translate the French document by Dr. Michel Houard. Dr. Straeter-Knowlen stated that she would "never use Ketamine on these breeds."

Since Gimmie's death I have been trying to validate this French research paper, which was presented as an inclusion in an, apparently, out of press publication called CHAT M'INTEREX, Volume 1 / July 1992. I've talked and emailed with members of the science communities including Dr. Ir. Jan-Bas Prins of the FELASA in the Netherlands. He was kind enough to forward my request to locate Dr. Houard to the ECLAM scientific community in Europe and I'm still awaiting their response. I've also been corresponding with the Committee President of Rex United on joining forces - so to speak - to help our breeds steer clear of Ketamine, and she is hoping to bring on-board two French veterinarians who deal with SX and Devons in their practice.

I would like to try to find more information and links - if possible - that Ketamine, when used on our breed, MAY cause latent HCM to develop and advance. I felt so convinced that Gimli died due to the Ketamine that I phoned the pathologist back and we discussed the information I had dug up, including citations and references on Ket/Val deaths not only in SX but other breeds.
I asked that an addendum be placed on the necropsy report and, despite being one of our former vet's professors at Miss. State, he amended his report and faxed the copy to me the next day. It now states that although he found that Gimli had HCM, the use of Ketamine and the stress from the dental procedure cause his death on 8 April.

Based on the discussions I've read, on numerous Sphynx breed list, the Ketamine / HCM connection is a relevant concern for many breeders / owners. Perhaps, if we work together and share the information we have, we can help determine a link for Ketamine and HCM - enough to have a warning placed on the Ketamine / Telazol labels.
We know that it most certainly will cause death in HCM cats and even those with UNdiagnosed or latent HCM.

But what, if anything, caused Gimli's HCM condition? Was it the dosage given to Gimli last October or, quite possibly, the Ket/Val given to him during his neutering as a kitten that caused a possible latent case of HCM to began advancing? I do understand that he could have been the unlucky one amongst many in his line. It could have been his Fate; but I believe that it was due to cause and effect, and I believe that Ketamine was the cause. Proving it is the issue. I don't know if that's possible for my sweet Gims, but I hope the on-going shared information and research can help others.

I contend that if veterinarians accept all breeds as their patients then they need to sharpen up their breed information and fully grasp the concept that not each and every creature is the same just because they happen to share the same common name...in this case "cat". Ketamine - as I've also discovered - is the cheapest, most common induction agent available to vets. Owners and breeders should be given options...especially when they ask for them as I did... repeatedly. My concern was only for my boys. To prolong their life, not end it. It is a vet's obligation to not accept death as a possible "oh-well" side effect of anesthesia. As it has been said, "If a few deaths occurred in humans it would not be tolerated in the medical profession." But, with vets, and the laws that backup that mentality, it's often swept under the carpet. Pet's... to some.. are so much more than property.
Gimli's fate was sealed by two horrific convergences; his vet's ignorance and my trust. As I've told the new vet that was recommended to me by the MS State pathologist... if you take me as a client I will be all in your business. I will never again allow my ignorance to put my cats at risk.

[Photo above: Cards of support and a silver box are among many items sent to us. Over three-hundred emails came in from friends around the world, and as well as flowers and letters of encouragement. Thanks to all.]

Ketamine is the most common and the cheapest induction agent used today by vets. It's the standard issue but it is not for ALL breeds. I want to see Ketamine banned by vets for the breeds it can harm. We each have to demand that and not be bullies or cajoled into feeling that lower doses of Ketamine, Telazol or other derivatives are safe. Vet's may not want to take the additional time to consider that an option to Ket/Val might be necessary for certain breeds. In my book that is unethical and unprofessional. It's that mentality that must be challenged and overcome... and from what I can tell it will be a long row to hoe.

For us, we'll always have a hole in our hearts that only Gimmie could fill, and I so want to spare other owners the loss that we've suffered. Whatever the outcome determines the cause to have been, it's all for the good of the fabulous, incredible, and deserving Sphynx breed. Many people may have a Gimli in their lives. It's for them that we work to preserve and protect.

[Thank you to Gloria for her support and loving tribute box to Gimli. Silver box is engraved GIMMIE 04-07-2005-04-08-2008]

Thank you visiting this blog. Feel free to email or send what you feel would be valuable information for other SX or Devon owners... and thank you to all of you in this tight community of Sphynx lovers.


Gimli's tribute on PetLoss.com

Godz Gimli Gil-Galad Marshall, 04/07/05-04/08/08

Gimli Marshall, our special little boy, passed without warning during a routine dental cleaning at our vets, one day after his 3rd birthday. A hairless Sphynx, he was our youngest little boy. He has a surviving brother, Bilbo Bombadil Marshall, who is now lost without him.
Gimli touched every part of our lives. He was a mommy's boy, but loved his daddy and brother immensely. Gimmie had pets of his own as well. He loved his pet fish. He watched after them every day, and helped his daddy feed them every evening. He took his role in his fishes lives very seriously; they were important to him.

Gimli had a wide vocabulary of words and several unusual traits. He loved to fetch a spongy ball (40-50 times a go), and loved to help his mommy make the beds - although "help" is a bit misleading.
One of his favorite things to do was to go RV camping with us in the woods. He absolutely loved getting into his harness and sweater (or shirt, if warm), and would be antsy with excitement as we put on the leash for a tramp in the woods. Gimli knew all the trails at our favorite campground and would pull his daddy along with a snappy, hurry-I-can't-wait flair. He enjoyed these outings immensely and, as an indoor cat, he particularly loved these special times to smell and experience a wider world.

Another fun trick he insisted on doing each and every day (and night) was to stand in his mommy's hand. He loved to balance and have me lift him up, and he liked for me to undulate my hands so that he "danced" in the air. His trust was complete, which made him confident with this trick. Gimmie also loved to jump from the floor straight up and onto our shoulders... which on my husband was close to 6'. He never missed stepped and sometimes even caught us as we were walking by. He loved to run over and threaten to jump on my husband, who would then turn about and pretend to "put up his dukes". Gims never allowed that bluster to fool him for a second as the moment daddy's hands went down, or his head turned to laugh with me, up Gimli would go with a resounding thump on his shoulders. They had such fun with that game!
Gimli's special time each morning was with his mommy. After daddy fed he and brother, at 6 am, he would run back to our bedroom, push open the door and wake his mommy up. Plus or minus 10 minutes, he never allowed his mommy to sleep past 6:30 am! After some sweet kisses he would either follow or beat his mommy into the bath where he wanted to be picked up. He'd tuck his body close on one side, put his face in my hair, and purr and coo and nuzzle my face. He loved his mommy so! This sweetness is most dear in my heart. I'm so glad this boy loved me. He learned a new trick one month ago that involved the bathroom door. One day his brother wanted to come in the bath (to put his mousie in the toilet, most likely), and mommy was in the shower. Gimli jumped onto the vanity, walked to the door, pulled on the door handle and let Bilbo in. He then turned and walked back to watch the shower in progress. An amazing thing to witness. He continued to learn how to manipulate doors during these last few weeks and enjoyed showing me how he could now open the bath door any time he felt like it. He'd open it, peer both ways into the hall, then calmly go back to whatever he had been doing. The day before he died I came in from my office to find the door to our bedroom closed. This is a door that is always open. I walked in and opened the door and there on my 4' jewelry cabinet sat Gimli... a cabinet that is directly by the door; and on the bed, looking relieved, was Bilbo. My guess is that Gimli was showing off his new talent to Bilbo and instead of opening a closed door he closed an open door and their stuck-in-the-bedroom adventure began. Such a little minx.
He was all boy, though... no mistaking that. He was younger than his brother, Bilbo, by one month and Bilbo had him outweighed by a couple of pounds. Did that matter? Nope. Gims was the Alpha male and everyone else towed the line. He had his own electric blanket, and his own chair. He'd share them, but you knew quite well that he was doing it out of generosity. He and his brother were both very protective of one another and loved each other very much. They ate, slept, played, argued, loved on, fought with, and constantly were together. Our Bilbo will be lost without him.
Although as Lord of the Rings fans know... Bilbo's do not like adventure (but tolerated them), but Gimli travelled many places with his daddy, mommy and brother and was a wonderful traveler. His favorite spot during a drive was as "co-pilot" in his daddy's lap. He was an adventurer and loved his experiences in the woods, the mountains, and at the beach each year. Someplace new to go? Bring it on, he was game. He had a passion for watching birds and squirrels, and enjoyed viewing Animal Planet and his Cat Sitter DVD. When a bird was spied he would chatter especially to them in his birdie voice. Or, if mommy spied a bird and told him about it, he would run to the window for a look. He loved having his photograph taken and he and his brother have an album of over 600 photos on Flickr.com. He and his brother (and their mommy) were avid members of Sphynx Friends, and Sphynx Adventurers on Yahoo Groups and have made many dear, and supportive friends. Gimli was a CFA premiership winner but due to his lack of appreciation of the show cat life he opted, most graciously, to avoid those events (and his mommy agreed).

Gimli was a beautiful, young, and perfect boy in every possible way. Loving, faithful, and generous he gave his parents an enormous sense of pride and supreme joy. His passing was both bewildering and devastating and due, in part, to HCM which strikes without warning, symptoms, and even after a clean bill of health. We could not have been more stunned, and his dynamo presence is now a vast and deep void in our home. It is our hope, as his family, to help other vets and Sphynx owners who wish to know more about his death - and the cause - to better understand our unique breed. I encourage anyone wanting more information to contact me, or read more about HCM and the fundraising for research on this disease at the Winn Foundation website. We, as loving pet parents, would also like to encourage other to inquire first about the types of anesthesia used in sedation practices. For exotic breeds, like ours and many others, Ketamine should not be used.

We, my husband, his brother, Bilbo, my father, and several family and friends have loved Gimli and our lives have been enriched by him. He knew that he was unconditionally loved. He was a confident young boy because he knew we supported him and wanted only the best for him. He did his part by always trying to delight, please, amuse, and love and cherish us. He will forever be in our hearts as one joyful and too-short moment of unabashed love; and we shall always feel regret for what could have been years and years of his most enchanting companionship.

Our thoughts and love go out to all who have lost as we have.