10/31/98 - 6/13/03

Glow brightly, little light, and send my message:
I will love you, never forget you, always be with you. -Jeri Gingham



Gus was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - 2/12/02 and

congestive heart failure (pleural effusion & pulmonary edema) on 4/12/03.

Medications: Enalapril, Atenolol, Lasix, Spironolactone & Lovenox.

Supplements: CoQ10, Taurine, B-complex and a multivitamin.
The coolest cat ever......Gus was an indoor cat but loved to go outside on his harness.
Gus was very special...he had such a strong sense of self and is so sweet.
He was also very handsome...he had some very cute markings on his nose and the back of his neck. Our Gus was 12.9 pounds of love.

Favorite foods: California Natural Chicken & Rice crunchies & 3 of Pet Guard's canned varieties:
1) Premium Feast, 2) Fish, chicken & liver and 3) Chicken & wheat germ dinner

Favorite Toy: Skull Mouse! The mouse that lives on....

How was Gus' heart condition discovered?


We adopted Gus from a local family when Gus was a mere 10 weeks old...Gus was the last kitty left...it was meant to be! We fell in love with Gussie Lou! When we adopted Gus at 10 weeks old, the vet said he had a congenital heart murmur but said not to worry because often murmurs go away.

About a year later, while at the vet for an x-ray of a lump in Gus' abdomen (which turned out to be fat), the vet noticed Gus had an enlarged heart. An echocardiogram was recommended...and the vet discovered Gus had mitral valve regurgitation and to have an annual echocardiogram, which we did.

It was about two years later that Gus was diagnosed with advanced HCM. We were completely blind-sided. You would never know by looking at Gus...he appeared completely healthy..zipping around...chasing Louise and dragonflies. The only sign we would see occasionally was that Gus would tire easily and breath out deeply if he had been running around. We had no idea what was to come.

Thinking back, we wish we had taken Gus to a vet cardiologist back when our regular vet noticed the enlarged heart. We did not know about how common feline HCM is and had no idea vet cardiologists existed! We ended up taking Gus to Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston where Gus was seen by veterinary cardiologists Etienne Cote & Nancy Laste. We were so glad we brought Gus to Angell Memorial. Even though our vet said he looks good on the outside, he has some serious complications going on inside. His left atrium was about three times the size of a normal cat's heart and this increased his risk for developing blood clots. It's still so hard to believe, but the vet said that we should be prepared for anything. She did add, however, that sometimes you cannot always go by the numbers. Many animals have a strong will to live to matter what. Gus surely did. We were very fortunate to have found Gus' heart condition in time before it was too late. Although Gus' heart disease was advanced, our vet cardiologist prescribed some medication to hopefully slow the progression of the disease. We're very grateful for the level of care and expertise we found at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital.

I believe that the love we gave Gus was probably the most important, but the help Gus has received from the cardiologists at Angell was tremendous. We were also very thankful to our family and friends for watching over Gus physically & spiritually. Having to endure several vet visits, it was great to have someone come to Gus to bring some healing energies. Gus had 2 Reiki sessions with a wonderful Reiki master, Carol. And...Steph received her level 1 Reiki attunement, so she could put her hands on Gus and give him some warm, healing energy anytime. We even put healing stones on Gus' harness. He looked so handsome....

From the time of Gus' diagnosis of HCM, we were extremely diligent about his vet care, taking him to all of his appointments regularly, having echocardiograms performed every 3-6 months, x-rays taken, blood work done, etc. We left no stone unturned. We were doing everything we could possibly think of. We gave Gus his medications twice daily like clock work. We even consulted with a holistic veterinarian over the phone, Alison Davis, DVM. She was very caring and helpful and was able to recommend some supplements for Gus.

Every time we brought Gus back to Angell for rechecks, our vet discovered that his heart condition was progressing much quicker than we had anticipated and hoped. It was always so hard to believe this, as Gus always looked so amazing. In August 2002, I brought Gus to Angell for a recheck and echo. Dr. Laste discovered things had gotten much worse. Gus' left atrium contained a 1 cm blood clot. She said that it could stay there and be static, it could break apart or it could eventually leave the heart and it if did, it would most likely cause some severe problems for Gus. We we very upset to say the least. Upon our vet's recommendation, we switched Gus from aspirin to a daily dose of injectable low molecular weight heparin in hopes of preventing more clots from forming. We also learned that Gus has something called 'spontaneous contrast' in his heart which is some what of a precursor to throwing a clot. The blood tends to pool in the left atrium and this was very visible in Gus' echos.

From this time on, I spent even more time researching other ways to help and support Gus. I consulted w/ many vets and cardiologists via phone and email. I would have done anything at any expense for our Gus. I literally would've given Gus my heart if it was possible. Gus was my 'child'. We regularly had friends and family that Gus was comfortable with, check in throughout the day if we were at work, to see how he was doing. I was so worried something was going to happen to Gus. I was always so relieved to come home to see Gus or to wake up each morning to his beautiful face. We spent so much time with Gus, showering him with love and spoiling him in every way we could dream of.

In April of 2003, Gus went into CHF. He spent one night at the ER when we suspected his breathing was a bit labored. Prior to this, Gus had short episodes of heaving/coughing which we never really figured out if they were furball-related or CHF. This is when he was put on an additional diuretic, Spironolactone. This really seemed to help, even though the fluid build up was not really bad according to Dr. Laste.

On June 13, 2003, Steve & I had taken the day off to spend together. We left the house for an hour to run a couple of errands. I gave the kitties their usual kiss & hug bye, "see you soon"........we came home to find a frantic Louise and heard Gus yowling, which was unlike Gus. I knew that something was very wrong. I said to Steve, "Gus has thrown a clot, I just know it", before we even found him. When we found him, Gus was under the bed, legs both paralyzed. I was hysterical. We rushed Gus to our local vet, 10 minutes away, who was able to stabilize him and give him pain meds. He was in so much pain. This was just the worst experience of my life. We all agreed we could quickly transport him to Angell Memorial An. Hosp. in Boston (1 hr or so) and have more hope down there. Well, after we were there for 1/2 hr his condition worsened and the cardiologist did not give us much hope but was willing to try to keep him overnight. He thinks he threw more clots while we were there. Of course I second guessed every little thing we did. We opted to take him home and meet our local vet at our house to have Gus pts because he was so sick. I would've given him any chance but I knew he was suffering. Gus didn't make it home. He passed on in Steve's arms. This was the most painful thing I have ever ever gone through. I was driving through Boston traffic hysterical. I couldn't drive....I couldn't stop crying. I love Gus more than I can even explain. We both feel so empty. This hurts so bad. We had a ceremony for him and held him for a long time. I felt so very sad for our Louise, who Gus loved so very much. I know she still misses her Gus. Our lives have changed so much without Gus. Our hearts are literally broken.

We are so happy that Gus came into our lives. He is such a big part of us. Gus has changed our lives in so many wonderful ways. I would never trade in the pain I feel after losing Gus. In his short time here, Gus has brought so much love into our lives....

Please support research towards a cure for this terrible disease, in Memory of Gus.
Morris Animal Foundation and the Winn Feline Foundation.

 

"I would give anything I own,
Give up me life, my heart, my home.
I would give everything I own,
just to have you back again."

-Bread

 

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