A Case for Alternatives

IMG_2134 Late Monday afternoon in June 2011, during my shift at The Big Bad Woof (holistic pet supply store) in Takoma DC, I learned of two 6-week old  kittens who had been left outside the front door earlier that morning.  A community member of Takoma Park, where 9 out of 10 members have a pet, saw them in a carrier and delivered them to a local home-based rescue.

Five days later Sterling and Silver were at the store again, only this time they were up for adoption.  Their small crate was accessible for viewing and easy handling.  The kittens were guesstimated to be around eight weeks old.  They were clearly sick with an upper respiratory infection (very common in kittens).

Sterling was not doing well though.  She was tiny, feverish, sleepy, to the point of almost falling over. Sterling’s brother Silver was rowdy, three to four times her size and playing way too rough with her. Sterling could barely stand up, let alone defend herself.  Silver was sick too, with a bit of pus in his eyes, but his constitution was stronger and his symptoms far less.

Silver (now Sam) was sweet, though he seemed frustrated and angry, or maybe he just had lots of male kitten testosterone to express.  Unaware of the impact he was having on Sterling, I am glad I intervened to help, ultimately adopting them both.  With conscious attention and boundary setting, Sam shifted quickly.  With observation it was easy to see he was jealous and insecure…more about his viscous behavior later–it is coming full circle with conscious everything (love, communication, food, medicine, and play).

I couldn’t bare to watch Sterling suffering so.  I bought a sling-pouch, put her in it, pulled her close to me and carried her around all day while I worked.  She was ever so grateful and sweet.  She most definitely needed an advocate, a mother, and a nurse. Familiar with the typical Rhino upper respiratory virus cats commonly get, I felt confident I could help restore Sterling to health with homeopathy, whole raw food, and love.  I took her home that night.  I convinced Karin I wanted to help the kitten, so she agreed and supplied me with everything necessary, including the antibiotic for her eyes.

IMG_2133I had a great deal of experience with with the Rhino virus, with my cat Cleopatra as a kitten, and my other cats over the years. Little did I know then that we were not dealing with the Rhino Virus.  It was the Calici Virus, which I had never heard of in seventeen years of cat care.

I ditched the antibiotic and learned she had been given a vaccination during her short duration at the rescue.  I gave her two different remedies.  Immediately Isis began doing much better (gave Thuja 30c and Plustilla? I think–have to look up notes), and within two weeks significantly better, but she continued to have watery eyes, especially the left eye.  Maybe she had an ulcer.  I’m wasn’t sure.  I read more, relating her symptoms to swollen inflamed gums and her leaky eye.  I gave her a high dose of Cal Carb (based on poor teeth, gums swollen…), which worked for a short while, but the symptoms continued.


Isis (Sterling) found a comfy cubby and some friends.

I felt the vaccine given to Sterling was making it harder for her to heal.  She was too small and ill to handle the effects of the vaccine and fight the virus off, and also deal with the underlying abandonment and apparent lack of immunity transferred from her mother.  Silver and Sterling had a great deal to heal from, not just the virus.

In the meantime, my two much older cats contracted the virus.  It was a nightmare!  I had let the kittens run around in the room my cats most frequented (they were living in a small bathroom), which was a mistake. One we all paid for dearly.

Gem and Rosie, fourteen and fifteen at the time, had less and less interest in food, which I thought was strange because they loved food!  I was baffled, especially with Gem being hyperthyroid–he was always hungry.  Then, they began to express symptoms–copious amounts of drool and I realized they had the virus.  Mouth ulcers were preventing them from eating.  The kittens didn’t have any of those symptoms, so I was seriously confused, as I didn’t know drooling and horrible smell were Calici virus symptoms.

I feverishly sought the right remedy for the kittens and my older cats.  A friend lent me Dr. Don Hamilton’s book, Homeopathy for Small Animals.  His book is phenomenal for those interested in homeopathy.  In it, I found several remedies listed that matched the older cats symptoms, known to treat the Calci Virus.  I took my cats to the vet.  It was clear they had Stomatitis–very serious and difficult condition to treat.  Under her supervision, Mercurius Solibus 30C was given via dropper bottle and succussed (succussion) and given as needed–which was often.  Gem lost five pound’s and had to be force fed twice a day, along with subcutaneous fluids, and two herbal formulas. One for pain (Lemon Balm tincture) and the other to jump start his immune system (Wei Chi Booster).  Gem had a very serious and complicated health condition(s) already.

Three weeks and counting, Gem and Rosie finally began to get better.  The kittens though, were still shedding the virus (fluid coming from their eyes, especially Isis), but otherwise wild and crazy like any other kittens.  They lived in the bathroom.  Isis-Angel’s (Sterling) eye symptoms seemed to be connected to her lungs (she coughed and wheezed) and Sam (Silver) seemed to get better, and then get re-infected by Isis.

Fifteen years of consciously raising cats and I had not heard of the Calici Feline Virus, and now I knew more than I had ever hoped to.  For homeopathy to work, you have to find the right remedy.

As an educated pet owner, I try to handle to basics on my own, since I’ve been working with cats for a long time, and I defer to the vet on a regular basis.

Thus, patience and discernment are needed when determining what is working and what isn’t.  In cases like these, patience can be hard to find, but homeopathy has come through too many times for me and my cats to deny its power and efficacy now.

Desperate, I decided to contact Dr. Hamilton to determine the best remedy for the kittens.  We focused on Mercurius as well.  During this time, I had to move and didn’t have a home for the kittens to come with me.  Because of my stress about the whole situation and moving, I took the kittens back to the vet, after I got them situated in a bigger more accepting environment.  We changed the dosage from 30C to 200C and the kittens began to make marked improvement.  I was feeding raw organ meat with Honest Kitchen Prowl Chicken, Answers Raw Goat milk (Isis laps it up like it is going out of style), ByNature canned food, Stella & Chewy freeze-dried and anything else of high quality.

In a new stress-free setting, aside from me not living with them, the kittens had an entire bedroom to roam around in, a bed to sleep on and two large windows to observe the world through.  I visited twice a day to feed, play and clean-up. The kittens were very happy, though it was clear Sam’s behavior was going to be an issue.  Sam needed lots of attention. When he didn’t get it, he took it out on Isis.  When we played, Isis was fast, spontaneous, courageous.  Sam was more reserved, and became sheepish when Isis injected herself.

In early stages of life the immune system is developing.  Kittens that have well-balanced environments (still with their mothers or with a nurturing substitute that encourages homeostasis), who are fed wholesome food, and have limited exposure to the outer stresses of modern life, of course have a better chance at building strong immune forces.  When they are exposed to the common air-borne upper respiratory virus they usually are strong enough to fend it off.

If they do get the virus their immune systems work diligently to recover, which is not such a bad thing, because in essence the virus is helping to develop their immune system.  Kittens whose basic survival is threatened and are ill right off the bat have more difficultly gaining immunity, especially when they are also given a vaccine while they ill and so young.

The challenge grows then if they get a virus and can’t ward it off, because medical intervention is clearly necessary and yet typical medicine doesn’t incorporate emotional stressor’s in the treatment protocol.

Allopathic medicine has its place and is generally chosen in emergencies and when it’s the only medicine one has been exposed to.  Here’s the nice thing:  there are alternatives, and comprehensive approaches to health and healing, outside of the convention model, are available.  

I personally am committed to the holistic path, for many reasons.  This article or blog entry begins to explain why.

The standard protocol to treat upper respiratory infections is antibiotics and vaccines, but the holistic approach is much more gentle on little bodies and souls, and more effective in building immunity both in the short and long term.

Whatever is suppressed in the immune system in the beginning stages of life continually shows up in the animal or persons health, many times in a serious manner.  Thus here’s where homeopathy is an ideal alternative.

In the case of Isis and Samson they were given a distemper vaccine just after they were found abandoned, while they were sick.  This is not a smart or caring thing to do (in my opinion).  Vets and owners can learn a great deal from avoiding this tactic.  While the immune system is busy building antibodies to ward off an illness, it can’t handle an immune suppressant to boot!

My experience with my own cats (my cat Clea almost died from FVR as a kitten and was put in ICU for ten days on antibiotics and was given a vaccine at the shelter prior to my adopting her–then she had health issues her whole life), educating myself about natural holistic medicine from reading the most up-to-date holistic books, working with and for homeopathic veterinarians over the years and being a professional animal intuitive and empath gave me direct insight into what was going on with the kittens.

I am not a vet and I’m not suggesting antibiotics and vaccines are not appropriate, though I do have strong opinions about it.  What I am suggesting is making educated choices based in integrative and mindful approaches, rather than surrendering to one-stop-shop thinking.  Our culture is generally so disconnected, disembodied from feeling and understand how important, valid, and loving it is to utilize healthcare approaches that are inclusive of the mind, body, spirit and soul, that we follow–many times blindly–the advice of “authorities” without ever tuning into the message of the moment, listening to what our little friends truly need.  Even if we feel we don’t have the ability to hear what our animals are saying, if we have the willingness to educate ourselves about alternatives, we are well on our way.

During my time working with Dr. Carol Lundquist and Dr. Monique Maniet, I saw over and over how a homeopathic approach cured cases that traditional medicine was unable to address.  In Dr. Pitcairn’s book, Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, there are several homeopathic remedies used to treat the Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis. With Sterling and Silver, I followed Dr. Pitcairn’s homeopathic protocol, in his book…, and gave Silver (now Isis) Pulsatilla 30C, one pellet every four hours, three times.  She did improve, but still had pus.  I then gave Thuja 30C to clear the vaccine.  She improved again, but this still didn’t clear up her eyes all the way.  I used eyes drops (herbal).  Now the pus was mostly gone, but not fully and her eyes continued to weep constantly with clear fluid.

I began to add Colostrum and Astragulus into their food, but this did not clear up their eyes.  They needed a stronger and more specific remedy for their eyes.  I ordered Calcarea Carbonia 10M (per Dr. P). (all of this was done prior to giving 200c Mercurius).

Calcarea Carbonia is specific to eye problems.  I used it in the past, when Gem my fourteen year old cat, had gotten a scratch many years before in his eyes.  We tried the homeopathic approach and another alternative and it was not working, so we put him on a steroid, which still didn’t clear it up.  Then we went to an eye specialist.  He prescribed the same steroid my doctor had given us, but to be administered in a more frequent rate.  The next day, after our vet visit, I put the steroid cream in Gem’s eye.  He turned to me and said if you do that again I will leave!  We went back to the holistic vet and chose another remedy, Silica, and his eye improved immediately.

UPDATE (2012/13):

I have been waiting to finish this article and waiting for positive results to occur with Isis and Sam’s health, and we finally have super good news.

The plaque on their teeth is FALLING OFF, yes falling off, the gums are back to normal, no reddness, and their other symptoms, conjunctivitis has almost completely dissappeared.  Isis has some residual residue and Sam no longer has any.

Today, February 26th, I checked their teeth, after playing and clipping nails, and to my delight all the plague on their teeth has disappeared!!!!!!!!  I credit this to the raw diet.  In late January I completely shifted their on and off again raw diet (feeding lots of canned food, with a few morsels of dry maybe every 3 months) comprised only of COOLING meats, and raw GOAT’S MILK.

I took Isis to see Dr. Maniet in January, to follow up from an appointment we had in December when we started her on Silicea (which matches her symptoms perfectly).  I wasn’t sure Silicea was the right remedy, as she was still having so many symptoms.

Food combinations are just as important as the medicine.

After having Dr. M. confirm Silicea was the right remedy, I realized a few things.  The first was the Chicken and Lamb I was feeding was introducing too much heat into the kittens systems (see Chinese Medicine food combining chart at bottom of the blog), thus inducing chronic inflammation in their gums.  Plus I was feeding lots of “processed cooked” food (canned), although I also fed the new Sprouted Dry Food numerous times throughout this time.  Right when I made this connection, I made a solid commitment to feed the kittens only Rabbit or Duck (very cooling meats) and Raw Goat’s Milk.  Dr. M and I had also discussed the possibility of worms.  The “kittens”, now two, were constantly asking for food and burning a hole in my wallet.  Four or five times a day they wanted to eat.  Dr. M said even if worms don’t present in a fecal, they can still be there.  A few weeks after I made the commitment to change only to raw rabbit and duck, I was talking with Mindy at the BBW in Hyattsville.  She was buying a bag of food grade Diatomacious Earth to give to her feral cats (since they live outdoors making them more susceptible to worms).  She encouraged me to buy a bag to address my cats “starvation”.

I found this website, which answered all my questions and educated me about feeding DM to my cats. The hunger patterns subsided immediately.  The combination of DM, raw food (usually raw Bravo rabbit or Stella Chewy freeze-dried duck) mixed with ANSWERS Raw Goat Milk, a raw egg (their new raw cat food formula is amazing (I feed this to Rosie too), plus the homeopathic the kittens taking, they are moving out of auto-immunity into true immunity!  I couldn’t be more thrilled and happy to see them make this huge shift.  It’s much easier on them and me.  I have been worried about affording to care for them with a diagnosis of Stomatitis.  A very serious and difficult condition to treat.

Most cats treated conventionally for Stomatitis, eventually end up having all their teeth pulled. 

Over a period of feeding this way for five weeks, all their gum inflammation is gone, except for two teeth on Isis (they look as if they never came in all the way).  She needs more time to heal, as her auto-immune dis-ease, and response was much more serious than Sam’s.  I have a bottle of Silicea made from one 200C pellet, spring water and Gemclear from Dr. M.  I have given her the remedy five times, succussed (this means it builds in strength each time the bottle is hit against the palm).

Typically, Stomatitis is treated by cats having their teeth taken out and live their lives on cheap dry food made with grain and chicken, rather than getting the nourishment they really require.  I am of the Do-No-Harm ilk, and follow-thru with the natural path, for as long as it takes.  And it can take awhile sometimes.

INTEGRATIVE (MEDICINE) comprises not only the integration of eastern and western medicines in the treatment of a patient or illness, it is also the combination of various methods and modalities, possibly all natural, to bring full wellness into being within the  patient.  For instance…

Update: 7/25/14
Checked Sam’s teeth today, since I’m thinking about putting this case study forward.  His teeth look amazing and his gums near perfect (gums around one tooth on left side red).  One would never know he had any problems.

Isis is another story.  Her gums are red, inflamed – worse on the left.  I haven’t been consistent with her treatment though.  We have just moved into temporary living and may be moving again next week into new permanent space.  She still needs coaxing to eat sometimes, but mostly she needs lots of coddling.  She’s also a crier.  I feel she needs Chamomila.  I need to pick some up and make a bottle.

HIGHLIGHT – Sam has made miraculous strides in allowing his nails to be clipped!  I made an aggression formula (FES) and he has responded fantastic.  I put the remedy on his paws/pads and around his ears and he melts like butter.  Also he is doing well during the day in one room with Calming treats, Animal Relief Formula in his water and whole food breakfast.

UPDATE (5/1/15)

Nourishment of Isis & Addressing Sam’s Heat (Aggression & Hyper Behavior)