Hants County rescue kitty diagnosed with rare, fatal bone disease

Carole Morris-Underhill editor@hantsjournal.ca
Published on August 5, 2014

For Leesa White, every moment she shares with her most recent rescue cat is precious.

That’s because she just found out Ivy is living on borrowed time.

The one-year-old feline has been with Dan and Leesa White since she was rescued in December. The Whites initially had high hopes that they would be able to adopt her out to a loving home, but then Ivy began showing signs something was medically wrong.

Ivy was born to an abandoned, malnourished cat in June 2013. Initial testing revealed she was suffering from osteoporosis and severe arthritis, and was recovering from a broken pelvis and leg fractures.

“We never expected her pelvis to heal well.  (But), a lot of times the muscles will help stabilize it and cats will learn to adapt,” said White, cradling Ivy in her arms.

The Whites understood Ivy would always be physically disabled, and began modifying their home to accommodate her. They did what they could; adding ramps so Ivy could make it up to the bed, creating a low-sided litter box so she shouldn’t have to struggle getting in and out of it, and finding simple ways to make her comfortable while her bones healed.

In spite of their best efforts, however, Ivy didn’t appear to be on the mend.

“Ivy seemed to be getting worse and less able to walk, to the point where she could barely stand and we were holding her up in the litterbox,” said White.

In July, the couple took Ivy to an orthopedic specialist and received the bad news: Ivy’s condition is only going to deteriorate. Ivy was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, which is a very rare skeletal disorder.

“What it basically means is her bones are softening. She has spontaneous fractures,” explained White.

“She will continue to have fractures no matter how gentle we are with her. In fact, she has a fractured rib simply from me holding her in the litterbox — just the weight of her body caused her rib to fracture,” said White.

The couple are now thankful for what little time they have remaining with their feline friend.

“At this point, it’s just a matter of that delicate balance between pleasure and discomfort and once we tip over into more discomfort than pleasure than of course we will make the right decision and euthanize her,” said White, her voice raw with emotion.

If Ivy had been left outdoors to fend for herself, White said it would have been a painful existence.

“If we hadn’t taken her in, she would’ve suffered and died outside and probably starved to death simply because she was immobile and couldn’t get food on her own,” said White.

Ivy’s story, she said, serves as a prime example of why responsible pet ownership is so important.

“Her story is really important for people to understand that cats don’t do well on their own outside. We’ve domesticated them. They’re no longer wild animals and you can’t expect them to exist in the wild like a wild animal,” she said.

Through her Our Mother’s Keepers store on Water Street in Windsor, White fundraises to help abandoned and neglected felines. In June, she shaved her head after a successful 100 days for $1,000 campaign, in which she donated $1,500 to the SPCA and took in about $520 for her Street Rescue Fund/Ivy’s Fund.

Since its inception, the store’s rescue fund has funded the veterinarian care for 10 homeless cats, six of which were adopted out.

White plans to continue to raise funds in Ivy’s name for Hants County’s abandoned felines, however, she said she needs some time before taking in another rescue.

“Her life will not be in vain,” said White.

Updates on Ivy are posted regularly on a Facebook page entitled Ivy’s Story (www.facebook.com/IvysStory).