When our friend Jen Tate, who volunteers and fosters cats for St. Francis in Tampa, FL told us this story, we HAD to share!
Jen recalls the tale:
“Bristol and her sister Brighton were found all alone at 1 week old. St Francis were contacted asking if we could take them. They went to one of our bottle feeding fosters, Cathy, who also fosters human children! Around 4-5 weeks they came to me for the next stage of fostering.
It quickly became apparent something was not right with Bristol. She wasn’t eating as much as the others in her group. She and her sister had been grouped with 5 others that were bottle babies at the same time.
She would take tiny bites of wet food and then shake her head. She would also regurgitate or vomit. And when I would pick her up from her middle, she would spit up food or stomach acid.
She went to the vet for X-rays and a barium test and was diagnosed with megaesophagus. The vet told us he recommended euthanizing her since she was having trouble keeping food down and gaining weight.
I remembered seeing a video of a dog with megaesophagus eating in a little chair that kept him vertical. So I knew it could be done and wanted to try that for Bristol!
My husband is pretty handy with building things, so I showed him the video of the dog using the Bailey chair. I asked if there was a way he could make something similar that would work to keep Bristol elevated while she ate.
In the meantime, we had begun elevated feeding with her front paws up on a little stool. She also saw a different vet who prescribed Metaclopramide and recommended giving her Pepcid daily.
She struggled back then, even in the elevated position and with the meds. Together we figured out that all that worked and stayed down was Gerber baby food and Clinicaire complete liquid nutrition for cats and dogs.
My husband built her high chair and she used that to eat. It made her esophagus as vertical as we could get it so that gravity would help the food get to her stomach.
She was finally able to eat and keep down canned kitten food at about 7 months of age! I had kept trying but she kept regurgitating or throwing up until that point. That was a big day for us! I scheduled her spay surgery (we were holding off because she was just so small for her age …and fragile) and officially put her up for adoption.
She is still on the same 2 medicines and now she can eat sitting at a little table which gets her esophagus pretty vertical. She still has incidents where she vomits (probably once every 2 weeks) but I’ve read that is normal with the condition. She is otherwise healthy, happy and spunky!
I foster for a rescue group and am continually bringing in new litters of foster kittens. They kept separate from her but she can smell them in the house. She has announced many times that she would prefer not to have to keep smelling new Kittens!
She does fine with my cat and she has been fine with other kittens many times (after they were vetted/tested and made available for adoption). This is of course after the initial week of hissing and growling. I know she would be fine in a home with another cat or 2 and she is fine with dogs (we have boxers).
Her favorite food is blue buffalo healthy gourmet chicken entree and she still enjoys her side of Gerber baby food
AMAZING job to Jen and her husband!
If you are interested in adopting adorable Bristol, visit her profile here and/or email Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org.