So old-world and elegant...

I became suspicious when, over the Labor Day weekend, my angelic little girl ate less and less per day. On September 8, I took her to Chris Town Animal Hospital (located up the block) to have Dr. Girjit Sandhu, DVM perform a geriatric bloodwork. Based on the findings, Dr. Sandhu said that while Brandy's organs (liver, kidneys) were normal, her white blood cells were high, indicating a presence of infection. It is unknown where exactly the infection was or when it began, but I suspect it was likely in her sinus cavity or ear canal due to her craniofacial Persian cat shape and her scratching her ear. She previously had a cold-like symptom. He prescribed her a week's supply of amoxicillin antbiotics drops (Clavamox brand- for dogs & cats). Right after her infection cleared up and she felt better a week later, I thought she was safe. But, it was not to be.
I noticed her abdomen was swelling up almost like being pregnant. I thought maybe it was from the infection that needed draining via lancing. When Dr. Sandhu injected the needle in her abdomen (each side) to hopefully get the fluid out, he noticed it was only air. He next x-rayed her to be sure she did not have obstruction, mass, or tumor. It turned out she had all air entering her abdomen from her chest cavity, due to a herniated diaphragm. When Dr. Sandhu injected that needle in her abdomen to check for fluid presence, that injection helped release some air. Unfortunately, her abdomen began to swell up again as the holes eventually closed up. Sadly, there is no treatment or cure for this birth defect, except for a high risk very invasive surgery- whether young or old. Dr. Sandhu highly recommended a ($$$) consult with an internal specialist at a specialist hospital (if I wanted more details about her birth defect) and did not support the idea of surgery, because she would likely die. I told him I preferred to keep her at home in peace and to leave her be. She would be very sore after the surgery anyway and would likely not eat at all- if she did survive the surgery. He and I agreed it was a sound decision for her. I would rather she passed in her home enviroment rather than on the cold hard operating table. I know Brandy agreed, too. The only choice we had was just to keep her comfortable daily and to continue to provide hospice care such as hand-feeding twice a day. Each day, I continued to happily greet her, pet her, kiss her, and treat her like a star- just showering her with the same love I had for her whether perfect or not. Melody licked/kissed Brandy's head, which Brandy loved.
According on my research, I learned that Brandy had:

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia
which is a life-threatening birth defect that affects the heart she was born with (congenital -> not genetic). It occurs in older female Persians. Her diaphragm was eventually no longer working properly which is why she was getting air leaking into her abdomen from her lungs, and as more air entered, her heart became constricted- causing her to die of asphyxia (not getting enough airway towards her heart) that lead to her cardiac arrest. Dr. Sandhu said her previous infection was not related to her diaphragm issue. She died in my arms during the evening when she caught her last breath after her heart suddenly stopped functioning. She made it clear she did not wish to be held (to my chest) but to just pet her and stay with her to comfort her on the soft carpet. Fellow furkids Melody and Romeo were also present by her side. Since Dr. Sandhu had ironically closed for the day, I stored Brandy's body overnight in a spare freezer spot wrapped in a towel inside a plastic bag. The following mid-morning, I took her body to Chris Town to have Dr. Sandhu perform an autopsy. As I watched him cut a long long incision (in her belly from her abdomen up to her chest and showed me her heart that revealed a sign of asphyxia- noting it was not getting enough air and causing her cardiac arrest. He also pointed out her other organs- lungs, liver, kidneys were normal. After 30 minutes, he stitched her up. Dr. Sandhu and his staff were very sympathetic and apologized about Brandy- I was very devastated and crying. She was actually 'healthy' sans the birth defect. How could this happen to a delicate Persian in Brandy?? I was angry for her. She did not deserve this(!)
I requested that her cremains (ashes) be returned to me, where it will be stored in a shadowbox and placed on display with my previous Furkids Cleo, Rudy, and Beau's shadowboxes together. I also clipped her trademark creampoint areas of her beautiful coat, to keepsake along with her memorabilia such as her paw print imprints, her nail sheath, her whisker that fell off, her many photos and albums, her x-rays, etc. While I appreciated she lived to be 14-plus years, I feel if it weren't for her birth defect, it is possible she would live a little while longer. God must have let her live a full life after what I went through with Rudy, her predecessor who died of PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease -> genetic) that ultimately claimed his life at 4 years old. I even asked God for more time with Brandy. What a survivor and trouper Brandy was: starting out with being seized from an 'indoor kitty mill' hoarding where she spent her early years caged, later being adopted by me, putting up with Beau my first Shih Tzu dog, and adapting to newcomer Melody my tortie Persian cat. She is now free and is whole / new again and playing with fellow Furkids Cleo, Rudy, and Beau in Heaven with God. I can't wait to meet with her someday...I am so grateful to have adopted her into my life with no regrets, and I am sure she felt the same way. I missed grooming her beautiful coat, gazing into her beautiful big baby blue eyes, giving her back & tummy massages, her natural scent- like little girl pink bedroom, her Persian quirk, her flippance, and calling her pretty name. She was a wonderful pet and like a respectful daughter to me; never went outside her litterbox or scratched furniture- or even jumped onto it, and never got mad or scratched. We were the perfect match. I even could tell Dr. Sandhu liked her- she was a great patient and always wanted to get down from the exam table to explore around...
I am not without a Persian- I still have Melody, who is still with me and doing very well for an 11-year-old; there is Romeo, who is a very young 3-year-old Shih Tzu. They did notice she was gone (even when she was like a churchmouse = quietest member of my household); Melody peeked around. They are doing okay...

Love, hugs, and nosenuzzles back, Brandy. I miss you so much it hurts forever.

View my last photo and tribute, as well as other photos, of her on
Just find "Karen Catalioto" where you will find my present Profile posing with Romeo, my 2nd Shih Tzu dog.

~ Karen Catalioto, Owner ~
Phoenix, Arizona
September 28, 2011

A View From Rainbow Bridge

Death is nothing at all.
It is if we have slipped away into the next room.
We are here with you
and whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the same easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Play, smile and think of us.
Pray for us.
Let our names be ever the household word that they alway were. Let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should we be out of mind, because we are out of sight?
We are waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.
All is well.

Lisa Singer 1994

All about Brandy, click her name right below:

(my 1st cat ~ Jan. 23 '85 - Jan. 17 '01) link

(my 2nd cat ~ Oct. 21 '99 - May 17 '04) link

(my 1st dog ~ Sept. 1 '92 - Jan. 8 '07) link

© 2011 Karen Catalioto


From my Facebook profile:
Karen Catalioto -- R.I.P. Brandy
June 22, 1997? ~ September 26, 2011
I am very saddened to announce her recent passing here. It was unexpected and I am very devastated and miss her very much.
This is her last solo photo taken at home on Memorial Day weekend 2011 looking healthy and contented. To read all about her, please view her "Brandy Memoriam Page" that I created in memory of her:
Thank-you very much for your time.
Sep 28
Joy Marks - Sorry to hear of your loss. Prayers for comfort.
Sep 28
Karen Catalioto - Thanks, Joy.
Sep 29
Samantha Lynn Wilkerson - very sorry 2 hear this karen-i kno u luved her and wiss miss her dearly-brandy has gone 2 b wit cleo in kitty heaven.
Sep 30
Karen Catalioto - Thanks, Samantha. She had a long life and is now free. I miss her company very much. xo
Sep 30

From my great e-mail friend:
Subject: Re: Brandy went to Kitty Heaven
Oh Karen, I am so sorry to read this. She was such a beautiful kitty. Read your memoriam of Brandy and it made my eyes tear. She had a wonderful life with you after that horrible mill. She appreciates everything you did for her and will always remember you - as you will always remember her.
Grieve all you can; it's been a horrible year for us.  I still shed tears over Tango [Shih Tzu mill rescue] even after nearly three months. I pray that you will have the strength to cope with her loss. Romeo and Melody are trying to help you.
Take care now.
Subject: Brandy went to Kitty Heaven
She died in my arms on Monday evening of sudden cardiac arrest.  Melody and Romeo were at her side. I am very devastated and missing my little girl so much. I created "Brandy Memoriam Page" in memory of her:
Her last solo photo below was taken at home on Memorial Day weekend looking healthy and contented. She had a long life and is now free.

A special mention to Chris Town Animal Hospital, who sent me a sympathy card with their signatures that Brandy will be missed by the staff.