Bigger than her body gives her credit for

Friends For Life

Agatha was part of an out-of-time litter that we pulled from BARC. When little Agatha and her siblings arrived at FFL, no one was prepared for the journey Agatha had already begun. This tiny little creature made it clear that she was a super-sized personality. Curious, wide-eyed, certain of what she liked and vocal about what she didn't, Agatha won our hearts in a hurry. 

Agatha, ever the camera hog, in the tub with her sibs.

Her siblings thrived and were all adopted at 8 weeks of age. 

But Agatha struggled from the beginning.

She was not able to keep any food down and syringe-feeding risked aspiration into her tiny lungs. 

We weighed her multiple times a day on a gram scale. She was losing weight quickly, so our task was to find a way to safely get calories into her to keep her alive and stable long enough to diagnose her properly to see if she was treatable.
Tube-feeding was her only option. 

Here's how it works: Little Agatha had to be wrapped tightly in a towel, burrito-style, and a thin tube inserted through her mouth into her esophagus to slowly pump kitten formula directly into her stomach. This had to be done every few hours and adoptions manager/hero foster Pam Newton had to calendar her feedings to work them into her workday--every. single. day. AND night.
Though it was a stressful start for both of them, it worked! Agatha started gaining weight and acting more like a normal happy kitten. 

X-raying a VERY teeny being is tricky--but it got us a diagnosis

Agatha was x-rayed at less than 500 grams, which makes seeing what's going on inside a challenge, But even at that size, the vet could see that her esophagus was much larger than it should be. Dr. Kennedy suspected there was a stricture possibly caused by a rare developmental defect, cutting off most of the space for food to pass. This caused Agatha to regurgitate her food every time. However, corrective surgery is expensive and more importantly, would be extremely dangerous for tiny Agatha. She was a terrible surgical risk. But the specialist believed there was another way to save her. It would require precisely measuring her food and her feedings. It would take tremendous focus. It would take #FFLARMY kind of commitment.

So Pam and our FFL Army researched, experimented, and worked until they found just the right diet for Agatha. We tried over thirty foods to get the right mix and consistency. Finally, the right food was found and the tube-feeding was over. Though Agatha has to be fed small liquid portions multiple times per day to avoid regurgitation, she began eating on her own, growing every day and getting healthier!

A Few Instructions: A page from the "Agatha Workbook" when she was with us

Foster Mom Kirsten to the rescue! 

Volunteer manager/foster mom extraordinaire Kirsten was very careful to follow her feeding schedule, but with the help of an auto-feeder she refined the process further! We did all of Agatha's care with a view toward primarily what would be good for her and then tried to make sure that process was as streamlined as possible to make her the best possible adoption candidate we could. 

Agatha's 4 mini meals a day are all it takes! Agatha loved  to play with other cats and even lived quite happily with a dog at her foster mom's house. 

From Long Shot to Adopted! 

Agatha fought hard to teach us about this rare condition and with the #FFLARMY rallied around her, she found the most wonderful home. 

"I wanted to give you an update on Agatha, and Ivy too. They are both doing great!

Agatha took a few weeks to really settle in and get comfortable, but she gradually became the sweet, loving, and playful girl she truly is. Now she is happy and snuggly and funny. At mealtimes she can get hyper, but we have a good routine that works for everyone. For breakfast and dinner I feed her separately in my room for her first portion, then feed the other cats downstairs, then let Agatha downstairs to have her second portion from an automatic feeder (I got a new one which is programmable from my phone and gives me a lot of flexibility). I've added the Tiki Cat mousse food to her menu, and it is so smooth and moist that it's never a problem for her. For her mid-day meal I give her a food from Honest Kitchen called Prowl which is a dry mix which I add water to so that it is a smooth texture. She loves this too. I also have all her dishes raised up and I think this helps. She has only regurgitated maybe 3 times, probably because she ate too much too quickly, so I watch for this.

Agatha is good friends with Ivy. They follow each other around, play together, sleep near (but not next to) each other, and wrestle together. They are a good match in age, energy, and size. Ivy is a doll. She is more mature in personality, very tolerant, extremely loving, but also so playful. My family loves both girls! Agatha and Ivy are such a joy to watch and play with and snuggle with. We are so glad they are part of our family."

Extraordinary homes and amazing adopters like Agatha's are out there! Shelters must have faith in that and do our job:

Start with this basic premise: we owe life to every animal in our program. What comes after that is details of the best individual path for each one. Every Animal Matters even when it takes losing sleep and out of the box solutions to weird problems.

Someday I'll fly, someday I'll soar

Someday I'll be so damn much more

Cause I'm bigger than my body gives me credit for...