Stem Cell Therapy for My Cat Ivory

… a story about potential help for cats experiencing kidney failure
by Sandra Crosnoe

Ivory Nov 12 2016 copy.jpegFriends and family know that once upon a time there was Peaches and Ebony and Ivory. Ebony and Ivory were born in 2002 on the Hall estate in Keller Texas. Peaches was a rescue cat who came along shortly after the other two and was quickly the smallest but the feistiest of the bunch. Ebony died in 2011 (heart attack/stroke) and Peaches in 2013 (liver failure) and that leaves only Ivory to take care of me.

Ivory is 15 years old (2017) and recently she was getting pretty lethargic, loosing weight and not grooming herself properly, so I took her to Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic in Dewey on January 25th. They did a blood analysis on her and found she was in early stage renal (kidney) failure.

The recommendation was special prescription k/d cat food, fluids subcutaneously routinely, and Azodyl which is a pricey probiotic for cats. I set about to implement these lifestyle changes and research renal failure in cats at the same time. None of these things is a cure for the disease.

My good friend Donna Gustafson, who had helped me take Ivory to the vet, told me about a show she had seen on a cat with kidney failure who got stem cell therapy and did very well. The show was on the Pet Channel with an Alaska vet named Dr. Dee and a cat named Honey. It was segment 9 on Season 2 on Amazon with the following description:  

9. Operation Baby Owl Rescue

Dr. Dee and her husband Ken respond to an emergency, flying to rescue six baby owls whose parents were killed by an eagle. At Animal house, Dr. Dee’s dog becomes a blood donor for a lab with an auto-immune disease, and a cat undergoes stem cell therapy.

TV-14 CC Language: English Runtime: 41 minutes Release date: September 23, 2016

I purchased the segment so I could watch it. Then I called her office to ask how to find someone in my area to talk to about help for Ivory. I called Dr. Dee to see if she had any contacts for the lower 48:

Dr Dee Thornell

Phone (907) 479-2800

Her office promptly returned my call and  referred me to Vet Stem Cell:

Karina Benish, MSEd., RVT / Vet-Stem Regenerative Veterinary Medicine

12860 Danielson Court, Suite B  Poway, CA  92064

Direct Line_ 858-218-8650

858-748-2004

Email  Karina Benish kbenish[at]vetstem[dot]com

I contacted Vet Stem Cell and they referred me to Dr. Caren Lawrence at VCA Woodlands in Tulsa

VCA Woodland South Animal Hospital
Caren Lawrence DVM
9340 S Memorial
Tulsa, OK 74133
United States
(918)524-5000

http://www.vcahospitals.com/woodland-south

I talked with her by phone about the procedure and the price and learned that she could do the surgery to extract the fat cells and send them to Vet Stem Cell to convert to stem cells. The stem cells are overnighted back and then reinjected into Ivory intraveneously. We scheduled the surgery for February 7th.  I must admit the surgery and recovery from the extraction of the fat was a little more traumatic than I anticipated.  But Ivory did just fine and the people at VCA were all wonderful.  The key thing is to not wait until your cat is really debilitated from the disease to try to get enough fat for the stem cell extraction/therapy.  If you are going to do it, do it as early as you can in the disease process.

I took her back in on February 9th for the first stem cell injection intravenously and the second on February 16th.  We had enough to ‘bank’ for a future injection if needed.  Here are some pics of her getting her stem cells.

I am continuing Azodyl only giving one pill per day instead of 2 recommended for two reasons – price and lifestyle (have you ever tried to pill a cat?).  I am also giving her fluids subcutaneously about once every two weeks, whenever I have help and think she needs them.  The recommendation is for more like once a week, but also if/when she gets lethargic.  That is not happening any more, but I don’t want it to either!

We have switched over to K/D prescription diet almost completely just supplementing with other food to try to boost appetite a bit.  I also add a little water to the food per the suggestion of Dr. Hinz to help her get a little more water.  I was giving her vitamin B complex in a little squirt bottle when I gave her her pill for a while.  But appetite seems good now and I have stopped that for now.

Vet Stem Cell folks asked for a 30, 60, and 90 day report on Ivory. We were a little early on the 30 day vet visit (back to my local vet in Dewey, Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic), but got a good report. Her Bun/Creatin numbers were both down. I am hoping we get back in the normal range next visit, but Dr. Lawrence said we might see improvement for two or three months. Here is the March 7th lab test:  Bun went from 48 down to 40 and Creatin went from 3.0 to 2.7.

Photos:  Dr. Caren Lawrence,, Ivory and David Ramage

Special thanks to Dr. Erin Haxton and Dr. Elizabeth Hinz at Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic for all their love and care for Ivory during this process as well.  I have opened the comments on this post and would love to hear your stories on topic and be glad to answer any questions too.  I hope to add updates here to this unfolding story in the future.

In addition to all the medical things I am doing related here,  I should mention that  I have been praying for Ivory’s healing and often lay hands on her and ask for the Lord to restore her kidneys and give me wisdom about what/when to do for her.  He has taught me a lot about His love and care for me through the years and I believe that I can trust Him in this matter as well.   I do believe that the prayers of others make a difference, so if you are a praying person, please keep us in your prayers!

Some additional information on costs has been added to the comments below.

Finding Gems & Sharing Them – Stem Cell Therapy for Ivory

A Gift that Time Travels and Cat Cartoons Too!

eye candyChristmas season means lots of different things to lots of different cultures, but one thing seems to be fairly consistent.  It is a time to give gifts.

When we think about that from a Christian perspective, the greatest gift ever given was the baby Jesus — God coming to earth to rescue man from the bondage of sin with the ultimate consequence of death.  It is a priceless gift beyond anything we can comprehend and explain to others.  To fully enjoy a gift one must unwrap it and embrace it and share it with others!  One would most naturally be thankful to the giver for the precious gift and say so in many ways.  We tell others about the rescue and that they can be rescued to, but some don’t even know they need to be rescued yet.  To those friends we stand ready to share in more appropriate times as the door opens for us to share.  This is an example of a gift that gives beyond life on this planet and steps into eternity.

I am going to tell you about a gift in my life that has given beyond the lifetime of the giver.  You have them too, but maybe this will help you put them in perspective and treasure them all the more.  Maybe this will help you package your gifts to others in such a way that they give beyond a lifetime.  Give them the story that goes with the gift.  Give them good memories.  Give them a treasure of wisdom, a sparkle of imagination, a blessing that multiplies.  Gifts of time and treasure accompanied with love and prayers are the best!

Back in the early 2000’s a good friend of mine who knew of my love for cats (he was a dog person), began sending me cat cartoons and cards rather routinely.  They were often accompanied with the political wisdom of the day also, but that is another story.  I always enjoyed the cards and cartoons and shared some further by email with personal notes back then.  I saved them and realized at some point that I had quite a collection.  It wasn’t until I started clipping and organizing them (with the help of another friend) that I realized how much time and treasure was in the gift of finding them and sending them to me originally.  They turned into a cat cartoon album that sits on my living room coffee table and has brought many a smile to many a guest and of course to me.

In 2006 I had a foreign exchange student named Hanna, who did the cover artwork for me as a gift.  She wonderfully captured the personality of my three cats Ivory, Ebony, and Peaches (L-R).  Ivory was primping, Ebony had on a top hat, and Peaches while she has a halo on her head was sharpening her claws.

Cats Do Talk by Hanna 2006

This year I scanned the pages and put the cartoon album online for my family for Christmas. Hanna’s artwork will be the cover online competing with the New Yorker cat cover on the album on my coffee table.   I hope the smiles will multiply from generation to generation.  There is nothing like the sparkle of light and laughter originally captured and put on paper by someone you love.  The light bulb moment shared.  The blessing multiplied.

Here is the album on scribd (and it is a work in progress).  It is dedicated to our family pets through the years.  There was Count, the pedigreed boxer and then Shadow, the miniature blue poodle and delight of my early years.  Then there was Pierre, the gray tom cat; then Tina the long haired white and gray talker (with a special bird trill alert alarm).  At the Caswell household, we have Calvin and Hobbes, the bengals  — smart, playful, and cuddly too.  Then there were the Garland ferrell cats —  Auria, Melody, Jazz and more!  And last but certainly not least the three pictured above, Ivory (blue eyed female with Siamese markings and playfulness too),  Ebony (golden eyed black male love bug),  and Peaches (green eyed Calico female with a  love of running water).

Some of the cartoonists collected over the years and included are listed below:

Crankshaft

Family Circus

Far Side

Larson Fav - cat fud ->

one of my all time favorites…

Frank and Ernest

Garfield

Get Fuzzy

Hazel

Heathcliff

Mother Goose & Grimm

Mutt

Pickles

Rhymes with Orange

Rose is Rose

Speed Bump

That’s Life

The Bucket

Ziggy

Communing with Cats — selected pages from Cat Fancy 2002

Super Bowl Commercial about Cat Herding – article from 2001

Cat and Fish Bowl ad from Washington Post

Share the laughter and enjoy!

Cat and Mouse Entertainment and More

Recently, I had a lovely dinner with my neighbors.  After dinner, Shawn and Joanna shared about some tiny little mice that he had made by hand.  It turns out these little mice will be gifts of encouragement for a fundraiser for breast cancer survivors.  They were all done in shades of pink.  Every one was individual and very cute.  What you wouldn’t know is the amount of time it takes to make each one.  So then they showed me a little about the process and how each one is made a bit like you would make a fishing lure and yes he has some expertise in that area.  You know the gift of our time with and for each other is a treasure that just keeps on giving.

Give your time wisely because Your Time is A Real Treasure (recent post here)!

They let me bring home one of the little mice and you can see that it clearly became entertainment for one of my cats.  I didn’t let her hurt it though because it  was made with love by friends who are both neighbors and a blessing to others every chance they get.  It is a little treasure.

I am blessed  just to know them and share special times with them and their delightful boys!

Thanks for a lovely evening~

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