Karl Strieby

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This little guy was our best Christmas present of 2003. He was found starving and shivering in the snow on a friend's rural acreage 20 minutes' drive outside of Winnipeg.

Kaspar cat(The old throw-pillow in this picture used to be one of Sophie's favourite sleeping places.)

Our friends already feed and house a bunch of dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep, so didn't feel they wanted to take in (and feed and pay vet bills for) yet another cat. But they brought this little waif into their barn where it was warm, and were hoping to find him a home amongst their friends.

When Martha went for a New-Year's Day visit, I figure she took something like a whole ten seconds to reach for her cell phone to call me to talk about this little guy. I could tell from her voice that he was coming home with her. After Martha got him home, we soon learned that he knows all about scratching posts, litter boxes, and mooching food from people.

Our educated guess is that he's no stray barn cat from our friend's neighbourhood. We figure some Grinch of a Winnipeg person "set him free in the country" so they wouldn't have to be responsible for him any more, now that he's no longer a super-cute little kitten. He wandered onto the right acreage, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Our vet pegged his age at between 1 and 1.5 years, so we declared his "birthday" (for the vet's records) as Boxing Day, 2002. Dr. LaMeg also found (and treated) a nasty ear-mite infestation, but otherwise pronounced him a healthy young cat. 

And then, to add insult to injury, a year later, Kaspar was informed he had to go on a diet! (At one point, he weighed more than a bowling ball, and made a thump like one when he jumped off a high place and hit the floor...) 

As is our tradition, this kitty has an Operatic name. "Amahl and the Night Visitors" has a funny Tenor character named Kaspar, who along with the other two Wise Men, Melchior and Balthazar, travel to bring gifts to the Manger in Bethlehem. They pause in their travels and knock at Amahl's door.

Kaspar is a superbly appropriate name, considering the season of his arrival to our household. He's lucky Martha quickly vetoed one of my early thoughts for his name, after Die Meistersinger's, "Sachs" -- or he would have been saddled with a horrible German-English pun for a name (for his white socks).

As it is, if you spell his name Kas-Purr, he has it almost as bad, pun-wise. Sorry, little guy!

(And yet another cat gets his own web page...such times we live in, eh?)

Early in 2012, his annual checkup detected high blood sugar due to what we then thought was feline diabetes. The blood sugar problems turned out to be very hard to control for some reason. At one point, we were giving him 55 units of insulin twice a day. A 14-pound cat was absorbing more insulin by a factor of 10 than many adult human diabetics!

Thanks to Dr. Fisk's e-mail campaign, some of the best feline veterinary minds in Canada looked at his case, and finally in mid-2013, arrived at a diagnosis: feline acromegaly. Kaspar was the first case of this that our vet had seen in his career.

Kaspar was as affectionate as ever, always hungry, always glad to be brushed or get other human attention. Poor little guy, we feel bad that we were unable to help him get better. His condition gradually manifested itself in his face with a jutting jaw, and enlarged paws, especially the front ones. The unchecked growth hormone in his system was the culprit, and affected his internal organs as well.

Early on the morning of Friday September 3rd, 2012 Kaspar awakened us with loud outcries of obvious distress. He was oviously feeling considerable pain (but not so much that he turned down his breakfast meal!). We called the vet's office as soon as it was open, and got the earliest available appointment for him to be checked over. The news we got about his condition was dire: catastrophic kidney failure. His kidneys and other internal organs had gradually become damaged by the acromegaly, and nothing practical could be done for him.

Other cats with Acromegaly have had far less than three years plus of life after diagnosis, so we feel lucky to have had that much time with our little buddy.

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