Confessions of a Veterinarian

Dwight And Cami

by Dr Stacey on May 16, 2017

Dwight came to the shelter when he was 9 weeks old.  A little brown marble tabby with a manta ray on the back of his neck.  He had a bad upper respiratory infection when he arrived.  Mucosy green disharge from his nose a chronic sneeze and watery eyes.  Despite his illness he always purred when petted and was the first to come to the cage door to be picked up. Dwight stayed sick, even while on multiple antibiotics for 4 months.  His growth was stunted and his legs were bowed, but his sweet personality never changed.  When I picked him up as I did on a daily basis, he would purr and purr and rub my face.  One day in December I decided that I had to get Dwight out of the shelter.  I knew he would never get better if he stayed there.  So I gave him a bath and took him home.  I put him in my laundry room to keep him away from Jake, who doesn’t know about cats.  All he wants to do is chase them and eat them.  Dwight slept in a little leopard print bed in the laundry room where I medicated him everyday. He slept quietly until I came in the room to wake him.  I noticed that when I entered the room, whether it was day or night, he never heard me come in.  I could bang around in there and until I nudged him, he wouldn’t rouse.  Over a few days, I realized that Dwight was deaf.  I attributed it to either the chronic upper respiratory infection and possible sinus blockage, to a bad reaction to one of the antibiotics.  It didn’t seem to bother him, that he couldn’t hear.  I’d come home from work and sit on the laundry room floor with him every evening.  He would rub me and purr and roll around in my lap.  So happy to be in a room without bars.  In the late evenings, I would lock Jake up in the bedroom and take Dwight into the living room with me and Stuart.  While we watched TV on the couch Dwight would run up and down the length of the room, flying over me on the couch as he liked.  One evening he pounced on my head and bit the inner aspect of my ear- I could feel the warm blood trickling down.  It hurt, but I couldn’t be angry with him-he’d never known such freedom or a room so big.  He had never run or jumped like that before. Over the course of a week he’s mucosy nose and eyes began to improve.  He still sneezed and had big thick mucous plugs, but they were less frequent.  He ate all his food wet and dry everyday and never missed the litter box.  It became apparent that Jake would never accept him in the house.  The few encounters that they had resulted in Jakes’ big wet muzzle trying to grab Dwights’ little body.  I had to find a better home for Dwight.  My daughter Cami wanted a kitty of her own.  She had just moved to Charleston to attend MUSC’s Nursing school and was in her new apartment.  She wanted companionship.  I knew Dwight would be perfect for her.  She agreed and the following weeekend I packed up Dwight and brought him to Charleston.  He didn’t make a peep in the car and when we got to her apartment, I opened the crate door and he walked out like he was supposed to be there.  Cami looked at him and right away she said “He’s Perfect!”.  She picked him up and he never looked back at me.  That weekend they bonded and I knew they were meant for each other.

Over the weeks and months Cami and Dwight developed their little routine.  He would sleep on her head at night and hide her toothbrushes by day while she was at school.  ” Mom” she said, “Dwight sleeps on my head every night, just like a hat”.  ”When I come home from school, my toothbrush is always gone from the bathroom counter. He hides them. I’ve had to buy 4 new toothbrushes and now I tape them to the counter”.  ”He follows me wherever I go, loves to come in the bathroom with me and he’s taken to sleeping in a frying pan during the day”.  ”Why don’t you get him a bowl of his own?” I said.  He would like that big red bowl, clean out the pine cones and set it on the table.” She did and she placed a multicolored blanket that she knitted for him inside.  He slept in that bowl on that blanket everyday-never went back to the frying pan.  I received daily updates on Dwight, pictures and videos.  It made me so happy to see how much love they were getting from each other.  Cami told me everyday that Dwight was the perfect kitty for her.  Then one day things began to change.  ”Dwights’ not playing as much Mom” she would say. “He sleeps all the time.” “I’m worried about him.”  ”Well, maybe he’s just growing up” I thought.  But in the back of my mind I was worried.  I knew his immune system was poor and he was susceptible to illness.  The next few weeks things began to get worse.  ”His breathing is funny, Mom- he’s breathing fast and sometimes I can hear it”.  She sent me a video and I got worried.  ”You’ve got to take him to be seen now” I said.  Cami first took Dwight to a local Vet who took xrays and ran some bloodwork. She thought he had a collapsed lung lobe and a slight Temperature.  His bloodwork seemed normal.  She sent him home on a special diet and I started him on a strong antibiotic.  The next day he was worse- Cami took him to the emergency room in Mt. Pleasant. A Specialty Veterinary Center.  They retook the xrays and ran bloodwork.  He still had a temperature.  They thought he had some fluids in his lungs.  They wanted to run tests for $5000.00.  As a Veterinarian, I knew that theses tests were not going to be helpful. I had seen many sick cats in the shelter with similar symptoms and I had a dreaded suspicion. Cami took Dwight home and we started him on Prednisolone and Interferon. I was very worried about a deadly virus that has no cure –  FIP.  The days went by and Dwight started to improve. Eating more and drinking, but still lethargic and still not sleeping on her head.  He didn’t follow her around anymore.  We were hopeful, but scared.  I researched and researched, until I found Dr. Niels Pederson, the expert on FIP.  I began to email him and he answered my emails promptly with knowledge and compassion.  He confirmed my biggest fear.  In his opinion, FIP was likely.  I explained to Cami the seriousness of this terrible illness and the possibility that Dwight would die.  She was devastated but determined to take care of him until the end.  to do all that she could to keep him comfortable and try to save him. She gave him fish oil daily and probiotics and fed him salmon and sardines ( even thought she hated the smell of sardines). She even pulled the little bones from the tiny fish, worried that Dwight might choke on them.  I emailed Niels almost every day, and gathered information from his studies on new treatments for FIP. Unfortunately his studies are ongoing and to date there is no treatment available to the public.  I found that his GC376  drug trial was successful in many cats, causing remission of the terrible virus.  Cats that would have died recovered.  Niels had no available GC376 to give me and couldn’t get Dwight in his new trial of a new drug, which might have been worse or better than the one they had previously tested. Couldn’t get him in on time anyway.  Dwight slowly deteriorated.  He slept more and more, he ate a little(but I knew it was the prednisone). One day last week Cami called. “Mom, he’s starting to get neurological”. My heart sank.  She asked me to come for the weekend , for Mother’s Day.  Dwight was weak and not himself, but he knew who I was.  We spent the weekend with him, loving him. He couldn’t walk well and was to weak to jump on the couch or the bed.  We had to lift him up.  That Saturday night he slept right next to Cami, not on her head, but close to her heart.  He cried for her and wanted to be near her all the time.  That Sunday Mother’s day morning Dwight passed away in Cami’s arms.  I was there to make sure that he did not suffer or feel any pain.  She held him and cried. It was one of the saddest days of my life.  We wrapped Dwight in his knitted blanket. I had brought him to her 5 months before and this day I took him away.  He was only 9 months old.  He had been a blessing.  Cami had giving him love and a home that he would have never known.  He would have died alone in the shelter.  Although she is heartbroken and misses him every day, she feels good about the time they did have together.

Visit for more information on FIP in cats.

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The Grand Canyon

by Dr Stacey on February 23, 2015

I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, that is until last week when Greg and I hiked down to the bottom and back out the next day. It was quite the adventure-unlike anything I’ve ever done before. We headed down the Bright Angel Trail on a sunny clear morning. My heart was beating fast and I could feel the adrenalin pumping- I told myself- just look straight ahead at the path- don’t look over the edge. I kept my eyes fixated on the rocky 6 foot wide path- following the mule poop down the steep trail. As we kept moving and I got warmer, the layers started coming off and I felt a sense of wonder and exhilaration. I began to look all around me up the canyon and down into it. My fear of heights disappeared and I felt alive and happy. It took us 7 and 1/2 hours to get to the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon, across the Colorado River. We stopped every hour or so to drink water and eat chia bars. We had a wonderful steak dinner at the main cantina and dining hall at the Phantom Ranch and then went to our designated male and female bunk houses. I slept on the top bunk in my smart wool long underwear. There were 8 other women in my bunk- 7 traveling together and one single woman hiker. The next morning we awoke at 6- put our gear back on, had a hearty bacon and eggs breakfast and headed out back up the canyon. We wanted to make it out before sunset- so we kept up a vigorous pace. 6 hours and 15 minutes later and we were at the top. My legs were sore and tired, but I felt great! It truly was a great adventure.



August 18, 2012

This is Lily.  Lily is a 6 year old Dachshund.  I went to see her, because she was lethargic and sneezing.  This is where I found her, under the blankets in the bed! Luckily Lily did not have a fever.  She probably had a viral infection or allergies.  Lily recovered well with symptomatic treatment and [...]

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August 18, 2012

This is Winston, my mom’s new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy.  Winston is a very sweet puppy, who is just learning his manners.  Stuart is helping me out.  He likes to copy everything Stuart does.  It’s good to have an older boy in the house. Here he is lying on the office floor.  Such a [...]

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Guinea Hen Dinner

May 22, 2012

The Levin family decided to meet in Charleston and have dinner at an acclaimed southern restaurant there called Husk.  After drinks at the Husk bar next door, and feeling pretty good, we all sauntered over to the restaurant and the outdoor porch for our meal.  We had fried chicken skins (or gribnitz in yiddish) with [...]

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Miss Connie And Bo

May 15, 2012

Bo is an 11 year old Welsh Corgi Terrier.  He moved here with his mommy Miss Connie from New Orleans in November.  Bo is having a little difficulty breathing in the humidity,  that we all know so well here in the south.  Other than that, he is doing great for his age. Bo has a [...]

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The Baby Owl

May 14, 2012

This beautiful baby owl fell out of it’s nest and was brought to Dr. Parker’s office in Bluffton.  I just had to go take a look at it.  I found it quietly sitting in the back of it’s cage.  There was a plate of cut up steak and a bowl of water near the front [...]

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It’s Snake Bite Season In The Lowcountry

May 8, 2012

Snake bite season starts in May when snakes forage for food and begin to mate and ends in October, when hibernation season starts.  Roughly 150,000 cats and dogs are the victims of venomous snake bites annually in the U. S.  Dogs may be particularly at risk, because dogs that haven’t seen snakes before tend to [...]

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Spring Break At The Farmer’s Market

May 7, 2012

I took Cami to the Bluffton farmer’s market when she was home for spring break.  It was a beautiful April day .  We strolled down Calhoun Street looking at all the beautiful local fruits and vegetables.  We made our way down to the Old Town Dispensary to find Cami’s favorite Gullah Ladies and their famous [...]

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The Baby Cows

March 19, 2012

I thought I’d give you an update on the baby cows.  I went to see them the other day and they are growing like crazy.  The pasture is growing thick and it will be even more lush as we head into spring.  They are grazing and eating their oats.  We estimate their weight to be [...]

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