Such a short life for this serene ingenue...

My sweet-natured little boy was healthy & spunky- and I was so proud. But, that was not to be. At approximately 10 PM, I had to send Rudy my precious Persian kitty to the Rainbow Bridge via euthanasia, at the Emergency Animal Clinic. I requested a post-mortem (necropsy- animal autopsy) by Dr. Bernard Mangone, the attending veterinarian, to find out why Rudy was suddenly lethargic and labor-breathing earlier that evening. Rudy had:

Congenital Renal Disease / Failure [exact autopsy readings]
("PKD"=Polycystic Kidney Disease)
which is an irreversible fatal genetic disease passed on via lineage that has hit the majority of Persian cats since published reports began in 1967. A non-invasive abdominal ultrasound imagery test [7.5-10 mHz (megaHertz) radiology (98% effective after 10 months of age). No DNA is currently available.] would reveal whether the parents (one or both) were carriers and also whether a borne cat was positive or negative. There is currently no known cure or treatment to control the growing cysts (with the exception of a risky and expensive kidney transplant done at a University, and provided the disease was caught early on). I discussed the disease and symptoms with Faith, the attending veterinary technician/nurse. She later gave me information about the local pet grief support hotline. I requested a lock of Rudy's red/white hair, which was shaved and handed to me. Lee, the receptionist, later mailed me a Rainbow Bridge sympathy card on behalf of the sympathetic staff. Dr. Mangone took digital pictures of Rudy's kidneys for me to have. Rudy's kidneys were sent to the local lab for further research. I later requested that their board of directors donate proceeds of my money to fund a variety of researches to find a cure or medication to control the genetic cysts. What a long way that would be, being that this disease has been around for decades.

Before the euthanasia was inserted into Rudy's I V, I kissed his cheek and sang to him how much I loved him and what a wonderful boy he was. He was practically unresponsive and comatose by then...I feel as though he had heard my voice. Although I was very weepy throughout the evening, I kept my emotions in check for Rudy's sake as not to over-stress him- until after the euthansia was when the staff left me alone for 10 minutes to grieve. Beforehand, Dr. Mangone assured me I made the right choice. I hope to never have to use any emergency animal clinic again.*

The unexpected news of this finding has devastated me, especially since Rudy was only 4. PKD is new to me. It would've been easier if Rudy was older. I do not mind imperfection or special needs, provided that I know beforehand to be better prepared psychologically. Throughout those short years, Rudy didn't display the classic signs of a deteriorating kidney; he didn't drink or urinate excessively. He even played "catch" the bread twister with me recently. I guess his kidneys were shutting down so fast at the last moment. Even while examining Rudy, Dr. Mangone couldn't know what was wrong with him until the autopsy findings; he thought maybe it might be the liver. I did, however, notice the very gradual narrowing of his lower back starting a couple months prior, which I attributed to possibly not eating enough due to needing dental work, which was done at Chris-Town Animal Hospital a week and a half prior to his untimely passing, by Dr. Louis Ziegler. The work was donated mainly by the AzSPCA. Then, I thought all went well. I later inquired Dr. Ziegler why the defected kidneys didn't show in the pre-anesthetic dental bloodwork, and he said the kidney defect had to be at least 60 percent in order to be detectable. The big clue is anytime an animal begins to lose weight at any age, be on the alert. Jenni, Rudy's breeder, is currently doing more testing of her cattery to prevent the spread of this disease; I inquired about Rudy's parents and siblings. She lost some of her Persians, too. She agreed Rudy looked like a healthy boy. They both expressed sorrow on hearing the unexpected news about Rudy.

On the following Wednesday morning May 26, I went to the Alternatve Animal Rites crematory for Rudy's 'funeral'. I wanted to be there, because Rudy left our earth too soon. At the hospital, I had requested 'special (individual) cremation' to bring his ashes (cremains) home. A very nice gentleman, Zack, showed me how the process of cremation was done inside the incinerator. While viewing Rudy's peaceful body, I said a teary prayer to him and promised him that we'll meet again. Zack later decided to personally deliver Rudy's cremains and certificate to my door on the following Friday, rather than ship via FedEx. The little black urn now sits in a decorated shadowbox.

I loved Rudy, no matter what. I am angry only at this unfair and shameful cruel disease and know it's not God's doing- it's the act of a breeding error and nature. I truly thought Rudy was spared. I was looking forward to many more years with Rudy. Although I had him for only 3 years, I remind myself to cherish those special years and treasure the fact that I was able to fulfill the many things we do for granted- such as lots of photographs, videotapes, 2 studio portraits, 3 Christmases, etc. all happening within 3 years. Rudy led a very charmed life, and I am blessed to have had to bask in that memory whenever I think about him. I always took care of him in a smoke-free environment as a normal healthy cat- with high-quality cat food, fresh water daily, and a clean litter box. With that, I like to believe that's what extended his life span a bit. I know he's at peace in Heaven and is no longer uncomfortable living with his failing kidneys. Still, my heart will always be broken beyond words. I miss Rudy sitting by my magazines as I read with my tea. I miss him sleeping on my bed and later reminding me about his breakfast. I miss playing with his fiery red hair & gazing in his big copper eyes. I miss his velvety voice. I miss kissing & nuzzling him daily. The list goes on. Beau, my 11-year-old Shih Tzu dog, & I are coping well together. His trademark sunny disposition helps keep me pillar of strength. Interestingly, one morning while I was still dozing, I felt something like a small lightweight animal leaning on my chest; when I awoke, it lifted away. I'd like to think it was Rudy's spirit revisiting me to soothe the heavy pain in my heart...I later felt a tremendous ease. It's a good sign that Rudy truly wanted to live; Persians are unlike other cat breeds/mixes in that they love their owners deeply enough to want to stay.

If and when I feel ready, like Dr. Ziegler told me, I hope to open up my heart to another innocent soul to adopt. He said he's aware how much I was attached to Rudy. Adoption will be a long time to happen- Rudy was too great my flawless best friend who never once caused any trouble. I'd have to feel ready to get used to a new personality & new name. My heart is still very sore. I learned my lesson about PKD and was not aware of this widespread wrath. When a new kitty enters my life, I will be sure to update and introduce to you all...

I am very loyal to the Persian breed and will not let this disease turn me away. I am more aware of the disease to be better prepared. Although I'm not color-specific and like either Peke-faced or traditional doll-faced, I'd like a sweet one just like Rudy was. I look forward to adopting another adult Persian (or even Himalayan) someday. I'm leaning towards a boy. If you are a breeder, please do not breed the positives and if you are a potential adopter, please be aware of the disease and no matter the result, love your Persian as you would any other healthy animal. Persians are a delicate breed and should be extra cared for in all aspects...
'til we meet again someday, Rudy, my dear little boy...

(My thanks to my neighbor, LaToya, for that much-needed hug and dropping/picking me up at the's much safer than driving myself.)

~ Karen Catalioto, Owner ~
Phoenix, Arizona
May 29, 2004

Loss of a Cat

If you've ever known the welcome
Of a Cat around your feet,
Or listened to contented purrs-
There's nothing quite so sweet.

If you've ever had a loving friend
To share a tear or two,
Or maybe just a whiskered smile
To lift you when you're blue.

If you've ever felt the wrenching pain
That only death can send-

Then you have lost,
Not just a Cat-
You've truly lost a friend.

But God is good and treasures love
And there at Heaven's gate-
A sweet surprise will welcome you-

Your precious Cat awaits.


The life & times with RUDY link

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

Dear lover of cats, I just want to tell you how sorry i am about the loss of your cat. Please know my thoughts are with you and Cleo. Vance

link to Companion Animal Association of Arizona, Inc. (CAAA) / pet grief support hotline counseling and meeting information

link to

link to Pet Euthanasia article

link to Internationally-listed PKD Clinics (tests average $35 per cat / your own veterinarian can offer a test...this list is a good general overview of what to expect about the test procedures.)

link to PKD-tested Catteries

link to

Here's a link for pictures of PKDs, as well as a Memorial of other Persians (& some other mixed cats) affected by PKD...

...and also another informative link w/ more pictures and an ultrasound image from the Cat Fanciers Association article, published in 1998, on PKD:

"Polycystic disease is a disease that shows up later in life (late onset) with enlarged kidneys and kidney dysfunction occurring between three and 10 years of age (on average at seven years of age). The condition is inherited and cysts are present from birth, but are smaller in younger animals. Cyst size can vary from less than 1 mm to greater than 1 cm in size, with older animals having larger and more numerous cysts. Problems occur when these cysts start to grow and progressively enlarge the kidney, reducing the kidney's ability to function properly. The ultimate end is kidney failure. Some of the clinical signs are depression, lack of or reduced appetite, excessive thirst, excessive urination and weight loss. There is a marked difference in when and how quickly individual cats succumb, with the possibility of this developing late enough in life that the cat can die of other causes before kidney failure. However, kidney failure is certain when the cysts can grow and cause problems. Rarely, cysts are also seen in other organs such as the liver and uterus.

PKD is most easily diagnosed by ultrasound. Ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging technique that can identify the disease very early in its course. All that is required is a mid-ventral abdominal area hair clip and a short time period for imaging to detect the presence of cysts. With the proper equipment and experienced personnel, this can be done as early as eight weeks of age. Usually, the older the cat the larger the cysts and the easier to detect. Ultrasound diagnosis is 98% accurate after approximately 10 months of age.

PKD is not a contagious disease. Dr. David Biller of Kansas State University has recently completed studies and published results showing PKD to be an Autosomal Dominant inherited trait. Published results are in the Journal of Heredity. 1996:87:1-5. As a quick review of genetics, an autosomal dominant gene is one which shows itself if it is present, even if inherited only from one parent. This means that a PKD free cat is also genetically PKD free. If a cat is PKD positive, then it must be either heterozygous (inherited the gene from one parent) OR homozygous (inherited the gene from both parents).

There is no specific treatment for this disease. Treatment is similar to treatment of chronic kidney failure of any cause. This treatment includes moderate dietary protein restriction using high biological value protein, dietary phosphorus restriction, providing fresh drinking water at all times, use of phosphate binders, and treatment of the anemia if necessary. Much more work needs to be done on polycystic kidney disease in cats to understand its underlying causes and devise effective treatment strategies."

© 2004 Karen Catalioto


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My Rudy Memorial shadowbox where his ashes are kept and displayed on the shelf (with my Cleo Memorial shadowbox next to it) in my bedroom. R.I.P.

Wonderful condolences...

(from my good e-mail friend):

• I was totally shocked to read this.  What a terrible loss and it was so sudden which makes it even more of a tragedy. I am certain the great care you gave Rudy postponed his going to the Rainbow Bridge earlier.  Just can't believe your beautiful Persian who still looked like a kitten is gone.  How devastating it must be for you.  You have many wonderful memories of him and they will never be taken away from you. My sincere sympathy Karen!



(from my Shih Tzu Forum bulletin):

Karen & Beau


Sun May 30, 2004

I had to send Beau's kitty brother Rudy to the Rainbow Bridge on May 17. He had genetic kidney disease/failure. It was so sudden and unexpected. He was only 4. I made a memorial page for him:

"Rudy Memoriam Page"

My heart is forever broken. Thanks in advance for your support.

• Judy and Maddie

so sorry for your loss

• Wendy in NC

my condolences

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. It's so hard when we lose them!

• Sunlite

Karen, I'm very sorry about Rudy. I am so shocked as he was so young and it was unexpected. Your memorial is beautiful and I'm sure Rudy appreciates it as well as all the love you've given him during his short stay with you. Hugs to you! Sunlite

• Lucy

Karen, So sorry to hear about Rudy's passing. I pray that you will find peace and comfort knowing that he's at a better place with no sickness and no pain. The memorial page is very special. Hugs for you and Beau from Marble and me.

• Sally & Trudy

Karen, My heart aches for you. I am truly sorry about Rudy's illness and passing. No words can say how we feel. We all know the terrible pain of losing our little pets. Prayers your way. Sally

• Alli

Oh gosh, this is horrible! And he passed on my b-day as well. That will spark a moment for me to remember his cute little face! I know you are very sad as I could always tell how much you cared for him in your posts. You bragged about your kitty as much as you did Beau which was wonderful! Hugs to you and I'll say a prayer that the pain eases soon for you! Alli

• murphys mom

Karen, I have been away for a few days. I am so sorry to hear of your loss and Rudy's passing. I know how terribley hard that is and that you are broken hearted. Please take care and know that we are all hear for you.

• Pam & Sedona

Oh no, Karen! :(( I'm so sorry to hear of this sad news. Your Memorial to Rudy is very beautiful. He had a wonderful, caring Mommy, and I know that his memories will be with you always. Hugs to you, Pam & Sedona

• Nicki

I am so sorry for your loss. I know how you are feeling right now :( I had to put my kitty Purr-Key down, it has been about a month now and it still hurts so much. I know time will heal but it is so hard. My thoughts are with you. Our kitties are together now in a peaceful place.

• michelle

Karen, I am so sorrry to read that you lost your beloved Rudy. The memorial was beautiful and had me in tears. I know how the loss feels. I lost my beloved Vivian or vivy in 1997 and still cry once in a while thinging of her. I miss her so very much still. She was not a persian, but just a domestic long hair I rescued as a very young kitten. Like you and Rudy, she and I were friends and very deeply bonded. She knew how much I loved her and she loved me back. She was always with me , sitting by the computer, on my lap when I was reading or watching tv. She always slept by me or on me. She understood a lot of words, and to me was so much more than a pet, she was my friend. I miss all the thing we did together and sometimes I dream about her and reach to pet her when I wake up and then I remember she is gone. I would love to have another cat friend like that, but didnt know if there could ever be another like Vivy. I feel as if I could accept a new friend now, but just dont know how to find the right one. I will always love her and miss her. I just wanted to tell you a little about her because I know the grief and pain you feel . I am so sorry about Rudy. Thanks for letting us know their is a genetic kidney disease in the Persian cat. I never knew that. It sounds kind of like the RD in our Tzu. I have seen too many Tzu suffer and die so young from RD. I hope one day we will have DNA tests that can tell us there is a problem before we breed and I hope some of the kidney diseases may be treated some day. Take care, Hugs to you, Michelle
Karen, It is a wonderful memorial page. Rudy was a very much loved friend I can tell. The time you had together was a gift. It sounds like this disease is very similar in many ways to the Rd in our Tzu. Not all show classic symtoms either and can just have had bloodwork and it came out fine. Then they just crash and its so hard to believe it because they had seemed so healthy and they are usually young too. Most I have known were 6 months to 3 years of age. I never knew Persians had a kidney disease too until reading about Rudy. I loved the poem you have on there, Loss of a cat. They are very special friends when you have been lucky enough to find the right one. Michelle

• Micheal and Austin

Karen, I am very sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how you feel after losing him so fast. I read your memorial page and it was very touching... Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is not only a disease that is found in the animal world, but is the most common kidney disease in humans. Part of my lab works on the genetic reason for the disease. It is estimated that 1 in 1000 people are affected by this disease and only about 5% are treated with kidney transplants and dialysis. This is a devistating disease in it's most severe form, causing children to passaway very early in life if they even servive birth. Most patients are a late life onset of the disease where they are past 40 or older. It is an inherited disease as in animal, and it does not affect evey individual. As a matter of fact my wife's family is affect by PKD. Her uncle recieved a kidney transplant from his brother (my wifes father) about 7 years ago. And as in animals there is no real treatment other than transplantation. Just thought you might want to know...


(from board):

Rudy's memorial

Karen Catalioto [private reply][view profile]2004-06-01 01:44:07

I first posted at last '01 when I adopted Rudy and introduced him via his very own "Rudy" website... I'm very sad to announce that I had to send him to the Rainbow Bridge on May 17 due to PKD. He was only 4. It was so sudden and unexpected. My heart is forever broken.

Here's my "Rudy Memoriam Page" that I made for him (which has my link to "Rudy" website), which details my feelings about PKD, his life, etc.:

Thanks in advance for your support.

Karen a.k.a. Rudygirl

• Jean Robinson   [private reply]   [view profile]2004-06-01 04:42:02Hi Karen I am soo sorry that you lost your dear friend Rudy. I have just finished viewing your memorial website through teary eyes. Wow what an amazing tribute!! Thanks for sharing.

• Catherine P   [private reply]   [view profile]2004-06-01 07:05:58I'm so sorry for your loss- and what a beautiful tribute. Sympathies Catherine

• Tonya Alexander   [private reply]   [view profile]2004-06-01 10:09:27Hi Karen, I just viewed your memorial to Rudy and it broke my heart. I'm so sorry for your loss. It brought back memories of years ago when I lost my best friend and bicycling buddy, Black Jack, my old dog. God Bless You, and take care, Tonya

(from individual message):

• Date:2004-06-01 15:36:06To:RudygirlFrom:Angel8   [Add to my address book]Subject:Kidney Disease and Lung Cancer Hello Karen: I just wanted to let you know that I read Rudy's Memoriam and it was beautiful. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us. I myself have lost 3 spayed females between the period of 3/16/1998 and 9/18/2001. The first one was a solid black DLH/Maine Coon Mix that was PTS for Chronic Renal Failure and she was truly my soul mate. I loved her so much She was 19 1/2 years old when PTS. I literally lost my composure twice in the vets office. I just could not stop crying. Her name was Tina Marie and had the most beautiful dark green emerald eyes I have ever seen in a cat and others had noticed her beautiful eyes too. I was truly blessed to have such a gorgeous girl. I adopted an odd-eyed solid White Persian and she was PTS at the tender age of 2 years old due to lung cancer (adenocarcinoma). Just out of the baby stage. It just rips my heart out at such precious little furbabies dying so early. Chloe Michelle was her name. I also adopted from the local Humane Society a truly beautiful DMH/Maine Coon Mix and she was PTS for Chronic Renal Failure just as Tina Marie was and she was only 3 years old. This is one cat that I think about just about every day. She had lighter green eyes than Tina Marie but was still a stunning young cat. Her name was Jasmine Janelle. All three cats have their pictures and memorial written about them at God Bless You. For I know what you are going through. The pain never goes away. Edna(Angel8) P.S. I had all three furgirls privately cremated and have all their ashes in their own individual little urns in my china cabinet.

• Date:2004-06-02 15:54:28To:RudygirlFrom:kikitoo   [Add to my address book]Subject:Rudy Karen, I'm so sorry about your beautiful Rudy. I wish I could say something that would make the pain go away but I know that there is nothing. It is nice to have friends around you that understand how you feel and what you are going through. I found those friends on the internet and I'm still having to go to them and get help. What you wrote about Rudy was so touching I sat here crying for you see I lost my KiKi on Mother's Day. She was almost 14 years old and I can tell you it is not easy losing them at any age. I like you miss her on my lap, waiting for me in the morning to get up so we could go to the kitchen and on and on. We just miss our furbabies so much people who don't have a love like that just don't understand. Karen I hope things will get better for you and for me. Everyone says get another cat but I'm like you, right now it is out of the question. I will say a prayer for you before I go to bed tonight.So you take care and just know that you are not alone. Edith

• Date:2004-06-04 05:29:39To:RudygirlFrom:Pranesvari   [Add to my address book]Subject:Rudy Dear Karen Please accept my sincere condolences over the loss of your beloved Rudy. May he be enjoying sweet kitty dreams. You are in my thoughts. Love Pranesvari


June 17, 2004 -- Update:

*After struggling with the difficult staff (various receptionists) and enlisting the assistance of Dr. Gerald Jenkins, DVM (whose late daughter I was acquainted with in late 1980s), I finally received the picture CD of Rudy's kidney autopsy from Dr. Mangone as promised. Dr. Jenkins, who owns his own veterinary hospital, served on Board of Directors for the 4 Emergency Animal Clinics throughout Phoenix in the past, was a big influence and I'd like to thank him here for his effort. (It certainly helps to have a network of community friends, doesn't it?) After much thought, I decided to share the photos with you HERE . Please be forewarned of the graphic content and the rules. Thanks again for your support and for your respect. Be in touch...

June 30, 2004 --

I adopted a new adult Persian! I brought her home on Thursday June 24, after officially adopting her on June 22, so that she could go through the necessary tests such as bloodwook chemistry (to be sure she's healthy) and ultrasound (to be sure she's negative for PKD) and to be bathed/groomed. She passed with flying colors. Here's my new Page all about her...come meet my new adorable little girl named BRANDY !

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