Adoring cats the way we do means we will always have furry family members at our side.  We have always enjoyed rescuing kittens in need of a loving home and giving them the best life possible when their start may not have been the best.  This has never been more true than how we came to end up adopting Jimmy Miew.  Along with siblings he was abandoned in a box  and left by the feed barn with his Mum in the freezing cold snow at our friend’s farm in Shropshire.  Hoo Farm has been a special place of ours for many years.  A member of staff found the box and went to get help immediately.  The Mum had sadly taken off with one, maybe 2 kittens and left 2 behind.  Our friends scooped them up, got them to safety and ensured they were fed, warm and did all they could for them as they were literally just weeks old.

Knowing how much we love cats a message appeared in my inbox off our friends basically saying “Aunty Karen would you like to adopt one of us?”

We already had 5 cats and being experienced owners, and with me working with cats every day and also having studied with international Cat Care I knew adopting one more would not be that much extra work.  We are fortunate to have a spacious home to have a cat room and lots of areas all over our home providing appropriate resources for all our cats.  We truly had an amazing feline family that all got on really well.  Having had the experience of hand rearing kittens we were both prepared for what happens and what is needed.  It was also important to choose the best kitten out of the two that would fit in with our existing cats.  Too shy and quiet may mean the kitten could easily be bullied and too confident and bolshie could cause aggression.  Our friends sent regular videos and pictures and our hearts were taken with the super spiky and fluffy kitten that had a confident walk and stomped around happily.  On 22nd December 2017 we made the 2 ½ hour journey to pick him up.  The name we chose suited his personality and with my husband buying me some Jimmy Choo shoes for Christmas that year that is why we named him Jimmy Miew.  Rescuing a kitten that had been dumped at our special place also meant a lot to us as well.

Jimmy Miew was approx. 7 weeks old when we brought him home.  We knew it was still early days for him but we both had all the time off over Christmas to get him fully weaned and settled.  As always we had a crate set up which would be his safe space overnight so he couldn’t hurt himself and it gives the other cats some quiet time without him.  It has always worked well for us in the past.  The initial introductions went perfectly and there genuinely was no upset or drama with him with the other cats.  However, his health took a turn, getting him to eat was an issue and he seemed unsure of the milk bottle he would have got used to.  Our friends did everything spot on for him and their vet checked him etc etc but as he was getting older, day by day, week by week, we knew something was wrong.  He had the runs, then he would be constipated.  He would eat and make progress then would lose interest.  Our vets were worried about him.  Those first 4 weeks with us were touch and go.  Our vet practice felt like our second home and we had many sleepless nights just staying up with him to watch him, keep him clean and encourage him to eat.  Our phone also felt like it had a direct hotline to Royal Canin as their incredible team of nutritionists helped us every step of the way to get his diet and eating issues resolved.  The only way we can describe it, is that Jimmy Miew just didn’t seem to be developing and growing how any other regular kitten would.  He had melted our hearts and we were at his side to get him over every hurdle we faced.  Our vets and the Royal Canin team were truly amazing and they helped us to give Jimmy Miew the best chance.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to one of our eldest kitties.  She had lived with a health condition we had managed for years with diet and meds but sadly that time came to let her go and even though she was the first cat to snuggle up with jimmy Miew when he arrived he didn’t really notice that she had gone whereas our other cats did.

In May 2018 I was sat having lunch and Jimmy Miew was asleep in the bay window.  He made a strange sound and started to run around with his head on one side, his tongue out and his back legs weren’t fully working.  I truly had no idea what was wrong.  I didn’t recognise it as a seizure as it wasn’t like any of the seizures I covered on my pet first aid course and other courses.  He made it up the stairs under our bed and was thrashing around.  We always have the cat carriers out for them to sleep in around the house so I grabbed one, rung our vets in tears and told them I was on my way with jimmy Miew and it is an emergency.  I rung Dave in work to tell him what had happened.  I got to our vets as quickly as I could.  I just handed him over and the disappeared into the back with him.

After what felt like hours to me, they came and reassured me he was ok.  None of his obs were off.  His heart rate was a little higher but that was it.  Our cats are house cats so they knew it wasn’t a head injury from maybe being hit by a car or from eating something poisonous.  They took me through to see him and there he was being a smooch floozy with everyone whilst I stood there crying with relief.  The hope was that it was a one off, like a convulsion type thing as it was an exceptionally hot day.  If it happened again though our vets assured us they would not mess around and would do a straight referral to the Neuro experts.  Sure enough it happened again a couple of weeks later.  Again in a deep sleep Jimmy Miew would urinate where he was sleeping, wake up totally out of it and would race around the room.  This would last approx. 2 – 2 ½ minutes.  He was put under the care of an amazing Neurospecialist who noticed that Jimmy Miew just didn’t seem as well developed physically or neurologically for a kitten of his age.  This only further confirmed what we already knew.  Thankfully all his tests were clear and his MRI scan showed there were no tumours or obvious issues with his brain.  We were advised to observe him and record all details of any seizures he has.  They don’t like to put animals straight onto epilepsy meds because when so young the hope is that it is a juvenile form of epilepsy and that young pets will grow out of it.  However if the seizures become more and more frequent then medication may be the only route.

After having seizures maybe once a week or once every two weeks we recorded his last one on 22nd July 2018.  We made it a good few weeks of being seizure free and were so relieved that the hope of it being a juvenile form of epilepsy was realistic.  That was until 13th October that same year.  He had two seizures close together.  I rung his Neurospecialist who assured me that can happen and he still didn’t want to risk medication.  It was the same seizure type as always.  Sadly he had a 3rd one a couple of days later and I was straight on to his Neurospecialist again.  His team reassured me that it had been a couple of days and that a cluster like this can happen.  They would let his Neurospecialist know and I asked what do we do if there is a 4th seizure.  They told me if that happens we take him in immediately.  When Jimmy Miew had a seizure and he was totally not present at all he would rip his claws out with the force that he would run around.  As all the seizures happened at night when he was sleeping in the cat room, apart from his first one, we removed the carpet and put a lino flooring down in their room.  We remained positive and hopeful that he would not have another seizure but the early hours of the next morning he had seizure number 4.  He ripped out every single claw and we were devastated and worried.  I rung the Neuro team and they got him in as an emergency and we went to their hospital.  One good thing about jimmy Miew is that he loves travelling in a car.  He was used to car journeys from being so young when we had the long journey to bring him home.  I was a mess but was trying to stay strong.  The Neurospecialist who was on call was truly incredible and he had actually written a paper on jimmy Miew’s type of epilepsy.  They wanted to keep him in which we were ok with.  I thought it was to clean up his paws.  We took all the claws with us to show them what happens and they had never seen this happen before.  I just clarified that we will be picking him up maybe later that day and they said no.  They were keeping him in to stabilise him and monitor him because if we brought him home and he had seizure number 5, well he may not make it.  That was it we were both in bits.  They were incredible and kept us updated and they didn’t mind me ringing for updates.  A few days later he was sent home as he was stable on epilepsy meds.  They put him onto the Keppra liquid medicine that he had to have 3 times a day at exactly 8 hourly intervals.  We worked out a good schedule and we would do whatever was needed for him.

Sadly the Keppra does have bad side effects and we were warned about them.  Jimmy Miew got constipated on them and needed an emergency enema doing at our vets.  Despite it taking months to sort his diet out I was back on the phone to the Royal Canin team, told you, I had a hotline to them!!!  They were amazing and got his diet sorted to make going to poop easier for him and our vet also suggested a paste we put on his food to help him keep regular.  We did everything advised but we noticed he was getting more anxious and would stomp around doing the funny defined stomp he had always done.  He would run off if he heard strange sounds and we had been warned that the Keppra may make him sensitive to sounds.  What we weren’t prepared for mid way through 2019 was the squirting of wee when he was anxious.  It started by us finding wee in the cat room up the wall or on a bed or up a scratching post.  We set up a camera and saw it was Jimmy Miew.  He hardly slept at night.  He paced around trying to wake the other cats up and just became more anxious.  It really felt like we were being tested with him.  We kept finding wee squirts around the house which was obviously him during the day when were at work.  We did urine tests with our vets, he had a cystocentesis as well and guess what…………… no problems, nothing, all his bladder work ups were fine.  It got to the point where almost every day we would find a wee squirt and as we were cleaning it we came across more.   We had plenty of litter trays throughout the house.  My knowledge was being tested too.  I was researching more and more.  His Neurospecialist said it is a behavioural problem that yes the Keppra may have had a hand in by making him feel anxious.  We had the video footage of him pacing at night, being agitated for no reason.  There was nothing for our vets to treat.  Dave looked to me for guidance but I reached a point where enough was enough.  I was exhausted.  Spending my time at home just cleaning up his wee squirts meant the other cats were neglected.  Dinners were not ready on time.  I was juggling running my own business and trying to look after our home but I was failing because Jimmy Miew was squirting everywhere.  I rang our vet in tears because we had to do something.  That day before I rang him I had sat cleaning up wee with Jimmy Miew at my side.  I turned to give him a fuss and a kiss and I saw a squit of wee up the lounge door.  I just cried out “why Jimmy why?”  I told our vet I felt like a bad cat Mum because I have nothing left and feel maybe he needs a new home or maybe we are missing something around his quality of life if things do not work properly if they are not fully developed etc.  Were we being cruel keeping Jimmy with us?  Is he in pain somewhere that we don’t know about?  I am not afraid to admit it………..I hit rock bottom with him.  Our vet spent time doing some research, looking at meds etc but he came back to me and said we need a Veterinary Behaviourist because Jimmy Miew is a very complex little kitty.  This was our final hope.  We knew there was a waiting list but I rung them, explained the situation to see if there is anything they can maybe recommend for Jimmy that our vets can try him on or any additional tools to help us whilst we wait for an appointment date.  Our appointment was booked, we had hope and I felt so bad for having had doubts about keeping Jimmy Miew because there is something really wrong with him.  Jimmy Miew’s meds  schedule for his epilepsy was strict so when we had days out or went away he would come with us.  He loves car journeys and travels so well.  We had a travel crate, a travel pen for hotel rooms, we had a special carrier for when out and about with him and he loved wearing his harness and lead.  My Mum always looks after our cats when we go away but she felt nervous looking after Jimmy Miew in case he had a seizure so we just took him with us and honestly it was incredible.  When he is with us he is never stressed or anxious and certainly doesn’t run round squirting wee.  Little did we know what else was about to be uncovered with his health journey………………………..

I got a call and the team at Behavioural Referrals had a cancellation in their diary and it was to be with Dr Sarah Heath herself.   First of all I tried not to pass out in shock because I had to clarify they really said the appointment was with Dr Sarah herself as I have books she has contributed to, I have referenced her work on my cat courses with International Cat Care, I have so much respect and admiration for what she does.  I also cried in relief because our Jimmy Miew was truly getting the gold standard of care even now with Behaviour Referrals just as he has had with every aspect of his health issues in his life already.  Having him insured with Petplan was a constant source of reassurance to us so we could just focus on him and not worry about any costs.  Petplan are so incredible as they work with vets and referral centres directly and that is a big help when you have vet bills in the thousands of pounds mark.

When Dr Sarah arrived I remember Dave telling me not to “fan girl” too much but I just had to get it out of my system and tell her what an honour it was for us to have her come to our home to treat our very special Jimmy Miew.  She was so lovely and put us at ease.  It was wonderful for me to watch her and listen to her and see her observe our feline family because the visit was for all of us, not just Jimmy Miew, not just for Dave and I but also to make sure our other cats were all ok with the situation as well because when one cat is squirting wee around the home that can be a recipe for disaster.  We started to feel quite calm not long into the visit.  A full tour of our home was done including looking at the rooms that the cats don’t go in like our spare guest room.  She mapped out our house and I felt really proud that she was happy with so much that we had in our home for our cats.  They certainly had sufficient resources and she was also super positive in that we have a very close feline family that do all get on even though they all aren’t related to each other.  As she went about her work she was observing every cat.  There were some potential areas where frustration could build but she explained exactly how we could deal with them.  She was very keen to ensure we knew we had done so well so far with Jimmy Miew but she had spotted a few things about him having been in our home for a good few hours.  She took on our frustrations and knew how upset we had both been when we felt we were getting it wrong for Jimmy Miew because there is maybe more going on………………………………………… and there was more going on!

Remember how I mentioned earlier about the stompy walk he had always done since being a kitten?  Well that wasn’t just a cute little quirk of his at all.  It turns out the brain signals to and from his legs really aren’t working that well at all.  She tested things on Jimmy Miew like lifting him up close to a windowsill or footstool to see how quick his reactions were because a normal cat would lift up their legs ready to put them down onto the firm surface………….. but not Jimmy Miew.  She felt all along his spine and everything seems fine so that was good news.  She observed feeding time as we did their dinners.  All the cats mill around in the kitchen meowing, rubbing up on Dave as he puts their food out.  I stood back with Sarah as she recorded this and she asked me what Jimmy Miew was doing.  I said he is getting ready for dinner and knows it is feeding time.  She told me to look again and then explained that actually Jimmy Miew has no idea what is going on.  He was literally just copying the other cats.  He never once looked up at Dave or paid attention to the food and as always Dave fussed him and put him by his bowl and then he knew it was time to eat.  He can easily be distracted and just walk away from his food and some of his frustration was also being hungry.  So instead of us feeding our cats twice a day we got some microchip feeders and now the cats can eat safely away from each other and graze when they want to.  This was a huge thing for Jimmy Miew because he is a grazer.  Our beautiful fluffy boy is actually in a world of his own which is why he doesn’t sleep well at night, he gets anxious because he doesn’t rest well and he is anxious because of what else is physically wrong with him in his brain signals to his legs.  Jimmy Miew feels secure in smaller areas like sleeping in a cat carrier or a really small gap between furniture.  His anxiety because of how his legs may feel and how he responds may annoy the other cats especially at night when they want to sleep.  We have seen so much video footage of him not sleeping at night and he must be exhausted.  We now have a crate in the cat room.  A large dog sized one with a litter tray in, a bed and also food and water, and this is where Jimmy Miew sleeps at night and settles.  He is getting full sleep now and he was like a different cat after sleeping through and not pacing around anxiously.  He often takes himself off into his crate even during the day to have a snooze.  He likes being in smaller spaces and this also explains why he is happy being away from home in his travel pen.

Some more meds were added to his routine.  Gabapentin to treat and help with the peripheral neuropathy which Sarah explained fully during her diagnosis and he also went onto a supplement called Yucalm to help him feel more confident.  Jimmy Miew doesn’t like change within the home, things like getting the Christmas tree out of the loft or when decorating and covering things with large sheets etc.  He gets really frightened easily so Dr Sarah helped us to work with Jimmy Miew and maybe pop him in his crate where he feels safe when things are changing in the home.  Sure enough the difference was amazing and once he was back with us after we had put the tree and lights up for Christmas I really don’t think he was even aware of it because he wasn’t anxious by seeing the preparation for the change happening.  It is weird though that he doesn’t like change at home but will travel well with us on holiday and adapt to new hotel rooms or a lodge wherever we stay.  Sarah explained that is because we are with him and he feels safe with us.  He may be a little bit dim, he may not have the best brain function and we know what he does have wrong with him now at a deeper level thanks to Sarah for being able to diagnose him.  Having her do this made us aware that we weren’t the problem and we weren’t not doing all we could, we absolutely were but Jimmy Miew had more going on inside him than we knew.  I hate the term the “runt” of the litter, I prefer to say the “special one” of the litter because it is kinder and because he is special and precious to us.  The brother he was left with is perfectly normal and healthy and one of the staff members at our friend’s farm adopted him.  Maybe the Mum cat took the strongest kitten(s) and left jimmy Miew because she knew he was weak and may not make it anyway.  We don’t know any of his family history as it was just the Mum dumped with him and his siblings.  Our friends tried to catch his Mum but she was too savvy and her focus was looking after the kitten(s) she took with her when she ran off.

Having additional meds to give Jimmy Miew was not a problem for us.  We just had to work out timings and schedules and once we knew what we were doing and had set reminders it all flowed beautifully.  Jimmy Miew started to well and truly live his best life.  The meds helped and even months later an additional supplement to help his brain was added by Sarah and the difference in him has been incredible.  He is more interested in toys and can play more with a good focus.  He doesn’t get as bored as quickly.  His seizures were stabilised with his Keppra but the aim was to slowly reduce it down and get him off it in the hope his epilepsy was juvenile.  His Neurospecialist has guided us through every step and he had his lost dose on 31st October 2020 – so far so good, he remains stable.  Last year of course the pandemic hit and Jimmy Miew struggled with both of us being home more.  He could hear strange voices on the computer upstairs as Dave held Zoom meetings.  This massive change and building an office really upset Jimmy Miew so his meds were reviewed by Sarah and tweaked.  We have been in this pandemic now for almost a year but not once did we feel anxious about not being able to see Sarah or anxious about Jimmy Miew as to how he reacts.  Blips are to be expected.  He has issues still when needing to poop.  Something probably feels uncomfortable, it may be affecting his legs but we will never know so we support him with supplements and when he gets the zoomies early evening and can’t bring his anxiety down and he begins to get a bit naughty with the other cats we simply pop him in his crate, watch him on the camera an within minutes he poops.  We let him out, he is super smooch and eats well.  He must be hungry yet full of poop but it all feels funny and he gets anxious.  We know what to look for and we know how to respond thanks to Sarah.  We are truly grateful to her for taking his case on as he likes to change the rules and keep us on our toes.  Seriously though he now has a better quality of life and so do we.  He is a huge part of our every day.  Our other cats love and adore him.  He can’t really scratch or wash himself, he prefers the other cats to do that for him!!!

We have an incredibly special kitty in our hearts that makes us laugh and smile every day and having the support, help, diagnosis and treatment from a Veterinary Behaviourist has been key to ensure the happy status quo of our home continues.  We have regular zoom calls/facetime appointments with Sarah and I email medication requests to her team.  Even during this pandemic we have had that constant care and support for Jimmy Miew and we truly do not know what we would have done if our vet hadn’t confirmed he could do no more and referred us to Dr Sarah.  We will be forever grateful to her!

Things can change very quickly with Jimmy Miew.  We have had the odd wee squirt when he has got overly anxious and we missed his signals but that is fine as we pop him in his crate and he poops and we then know why he squirted.  Having Veterinary experts in specialised fields is one of the most amazing things we are lucky to have as pet owners.  Behaviour is hard to manage, hard to adjust and hard to work with and this is no overnight fix for our Jimmy Miew.  He has things wrong with him and we need to adjust and tweak things as needed and we can do that because we have Dr Sarah Heath at our side every step of the way.  We have had follow ups and medication reviews all throughout this pandemic via what sap and facetime calls.  We send her pictures and videos so she can see what is happening.  When Sarah first came out to meet us and Jimmy Miew she took a huge weight off our shoulders.  She gave us hope and positivity back and most importantly she made a very important diagnosis of other things wrong with Jimmy Miew and has enabled us to treat him.  We are living our best life with him now and he sure is living his best life too thanks to Sarah.  She has a great team working with her.  We send updates, medication requests and everything is dealt with swiftly.  We are so grateful that there are people like Sarah who do the work they do because there are some animals who really need help and support when their behaviour is off and the owners need help and support too.  Sarah has done so much for Jimmy Miew and she has done so much for us too and we truly will be forever grateful to her and for the care she continues to give Jimmy Miew and us… and yes sometimes I do get off the call with her and have a huge smile on my face because I can’t believe how lucky we were for Sarah to have taken our precious Jimmy Miew on.