#ShelterSunday: Rare, But Treatable

Animal Ark, our #MonthlyMojo shelter for May, recently helped a special kitty back to health. This is her story, as shared by their staff. Little Kathy found her way into Animal Ark like so many other baby kittens. Born to a stray mother, she arrived at our door, just another cute kitten of a precious litter. As she was weaned from her mother’s milk to kitten food, the staff suddenly noticed that something was terribly wrong. Little Kathy stopped growing and developing, along with a host of other issues. Blood tests and subsequent ultrasounds revealed that Kathy had a rare but treatable anatomic liver defect, otherwise known as a portosystemic shunt.

A healthy and functioning liver is indispensable in the lives of cats (humans too!). The purpose of the liver is to metabolize and remove toxins from the blood before it reaches the heart and other major organs. In Kathy’s case, the portal vein leading from her intestines to the liver was missing. An abnormal vessel bypassed or “shunted” the blood around the liver and directly to the heart. Because the blood had not been properly detoxified by the liver, it carried toxins into the bloodstream, making Little Kathy extremely ill.


Kathy responded well to a low protein diet and medication, which gave us time to devise a plan of treatment and action. The University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the nation’s leading schools for animal medicine. They were confident in their ability to treat Kathy’s shunt, and even helped us obtain a grant that would cover a small portion of the surgery. For the rest we relied heavily on our donors, and they did not fail Kathy.

The surgery was a success!!! We are happy to report that she has recovered completely and is a normal adult cat. She is fortunate to be in the care of one of our most dedicated and loved foster mommies who has a small pack of other special needs kitties. Kathy is loving, playful and snuggly and very much adored by her mom and the other cats of the home. At Animal Ark, we believe all animals deserve a chance to live a normal life.