A Joyful Beginning
Sometime in April 2017 (Easter holidays) we found this long awaited creature (online classifieds) – a Scottish Fold in the extraordinary color BLUE. Normally these find a home quickly because they are simply beautiful and as sweet as sugar.
Breed: Scottish Fold
born: February 20, 2017
Color: Blue. From a Backyard Breeder (BYB) – without pedigree papers.
Parents: Supposedly a Fold to British Shorthair mating, but no pictures were shown and neither could be viewed when Ruby was picked up. 🚩
Since we’d just been to the east of Austria with my mom and had to drive back to Vorarlberg, way in the west of Austria, through Germany anyway, it was as if it were meant for us. At that time we were total cat dummies, because we just didn’t think about genetics and possible issues. Only… oooh look, how cute… completely naive. We already owned a wonderful farm cat, who was the picture of health.
We briefly discussed everything with the lady (who we now know was a Backyard Breeder) via WhatsApp and agreed on the approximate time for the pickup. On that day, we got into the car and entered her address in Augsburg, Germany into the navigation system. We remembered to ask if Ruby was up to date on her vaccinations, and received the information that she hadn’t had any (which honestly didn’t make any difference at that point). We went there anyway.
On 14 April 2017 at about 11:00 pm we got to hold this little creature in our arms for the first time and it was, as they say, “love at first sight”. Her soft fur, her beautiful eyes and those little ears!!! Absolutely a dream. The apartment was not luxurious or specially furnished – rather plain and rustic. We got a baggie of used cat litter from the litter box so that the kitten would recognize the smell and know where to go, a few cans of food – just a small starter package.
Of course, the price was a joke, at only $350.
Our joy was enormous. Still, we had about a 2-hour drive ahead of us and then at about 1.30 am, we finally arrived at home. A quite normal (for us, with no noticeable issues) cat with special ears and an unusual gait was now our new family member. It turns out she had been snatched away from her mother much too early, but we didn’t get to see her mom – apparently, she lives with the lady’s grandma and it was too late for her to meet us at that hour. Sounded plausible for us in this situation.
On 18 April 2017 we went straight to the vet and for an initial examination and vaccinations as well as a chip. Everything was fine according to our local vet. Today, I know that most veterinarians are not familiar with OCD.
The first problems appear
It was a wonderful but very short time of pure enjoyment. In June 2017 we were back at the vet’s, I noticed that our Ruby hadn’t defecated for 2 days. The vet feels her organs and she gets an enema… Ruby is slightly shaken and does not know exactly how to deal with it. On the way home, she poops all over herself… Anyway, I was just relieved. Unfortunately, this situation became the norm… so they called for an x-ray…
The shock… Ruby suffers from a megacolon and her hips are not quite in their sockets. Outgrowths of cartilage are visible on her hind legs. The veterinarian points out that we are in an endless cycle and that we should release our furry little girl from pain (July 2017). I brought a large package of enemas with me and started using them on her at home every day. I always apologized to her as I could hardly look her in the eye while I was giving her an enema.
I started researching and found out terrible things related to Scottish Folds. At that time it was still not clear to us that she was suffering from this genetic defect – for us, they were just sweet buckled ears. Her short tail only got thicker and did not grow with the rest of her.
What we also didn’t realize was that when we petted her, she pulled away from us more and more – as we realize today because it hurt.
The vet we first went to wanted to put Ruby to sleep when she was just over 6 months old and claimed that there was nothing we could do for her.
I simply could not accept the statement of this vet and wrote to all the veterinarians in the region. Only one veterinarian was ready to take us on and invited us to a preliminary appointment to get to know each other. I would like to say here that Dr. Karl Fürst is for me one of the most competent veterinarians I have ever met.
Karl and his dear colleague Lisa looked at the available x-rays together and made a treatment plan. Primarily hip and back pain therapy.
Ruby was operated on in December 2017:
- Suspended hip – removal of the femoral head
- Gold bead implants Read more here
I spent four nights with her on the living room floor after the surgery. She was screaming in pain, it tears your heart apart. I made her a little house out of a cardboard box. I didn’t want to make her wear a cone. We didn’t let her out of our sight for a moment and carried her to the litter box every 2 hours. It really took quite a long time until we were happy about the result. After about 4-5 months – she started walking, not perfectly, but that was never the goal and was absolutely out of the question. She loved to be petted. We were overjoyed…
The megacolon was still am issue, but we switched from laxatives, malt paste and enemas to natural remedies… Laxative salts were and still are the solution. As for painkillers we started with Loxicom, Metacam, Onsior,… and switched to Backmotion, Drynaria, Rejoint and various other naturopathic drugs. In between there were Traumeel, Zeel, etc… the list is endless. When it comes to medications, we have tried most of them at this point… At present, she gets 4 tablets in the morning and again in the evening, crushed…
Setbacks and an unexpected diagnosis
After about a month we saw that she was regressing… and were so sad… she was just 1½ years old and had already been through so much… I forgot to mention, every 3 weeks we have to get her claws clipped, because they grow back into her paws… So we are at the vet’s once a month anyway. Now we became aware of how bone growth on the hind paws had slowly been forming… It was not yet soo pronounced but visible and you could feel it.
Once again, she was X-rayed and the condition confirmed… I could cry just thinking about it. Her hind legs and her tail are affected – on one front paw you can already see a very slight change… The growths are spongy, they eat away the actual bone and render it partly useless… terrible… Our vet and us agree to start researching about various things and let each other know what we find out. Unfortunately, the information online is pretty sparse and my English is pretty crap. But here it was, the suspicion, definitely OCD… Meanwhile Ruby received cortisone (depot injections) every 4 weeks – when the painkiller was administered she would just lie around and sleep the whole day. She did not participate in life anymore – just terrible. The cortisone helped her, she walked up and down the stairs – not like a healthy cat, but still an amazing achievement for her. For hours we lay together in the sun in our yard and recharged our batteries, getting ready for the next steps.
On 11 March 2019, we agreed to do a biopsy of the additional growths. The taking of the sample took place on 18 March 2019 at 8:00 am – my poor baby. My partner and I took the day off, of course. We waited at her side until she woke up from her anaesthesia and petted her (with tears in our eyes). I couldn’t tell our daughter about all the mixed-up feelings I had – I cried on the way to the vet and back, every time.
On 25 March 2019 we got the result back and what do you know: OCD is completely unknown in our laboratories. Diagnosis: Feline Osteochondromatosis, but not typical for the breed? OK…
With this diagnosis and the shock we drove home – countless hours of googling later… I want to do something, I want to help… So I call Karl, he refuses to perform an operation because his small animal practice is not equipped for such a major surgery and I would probably kill him if she doesn’t survive. I understand his reasoning. So we start the search again… We wrote to all major animal hospitals from Hungary to France… hospitals in America, England, etc.
We got in contact with the university hospital in Bern, Switzerland – after several phone calls and mails I decided to pack Ruby into the car and drive to the Uni-Clinic. The clinic is a hospital, just huge and full of professionals. Ruby will be examined again and the doctors and nurses have prepared thoroughly for our visit. They explain the possibilities and tell me there’s 0% chance that she can be cured and want to make sure I understand that we can only delay the inevitable no matter what. Nevertheless I want to leave no stone unturned and decide to have the growths removed. Dr. Fürst advised me to inform the doctors that already the biopsy was accompanied by a lot blood loss and that this should be taken into account when choosing the method.
A cost estimate is handed to me and I am told to think about it for a few days, as this procedure may not be consistent with the desired result. All packed up, Ruby and I start the 4.5 hour trip home again instead of the 2 hour trip (including a stopover for Ruby’s pee break).
The decision for surgery
Already on the journey home I was aware that I had to help her somehow. Once I arrive home we hold a family meeting – everybody knows that my opinion counts the most – since I take care of everything. Instead of a family trip, we decide on a 4-day stay in Bern (which costs more than a 14-day beach vacation) in cooperation with the Fürst Veterinary Clinic and the University Clinic of Bern, which worked very closely together. As the Fürst Veterinary Clinic will take over for of all of the aftercare.
- 19 Aug. 2019 Arrival in Bern, bring Ruby to the University Hospital
- 20 Aug. 2019 Surgery 😔
- 21st or 22nd Departure, depending on how she’s doing
- 23 Aug. 2019 Aftercare at the Veterinary Clinic Fürst, Bregenz, Austria
The closer the time comes, the more nervous and tense we are… On the day of arrival in Bern, we are a bundle of nerves. Arriving at the university hospital, all of the doctors and nurses involved in the operation are introduced to us and the procedure is explained to us in detail.
It is agreed that:
Different pain and bleeding control measures will be taken during the surgery and depending on the course of the operation, 1 or 2 legs will be operated on.
I explain Ruby’s feeding plan to the nurses:
- Administer laxative salts with vitamin paste
- Mix linseeds which have been soaked for 24 hours with half a can of w/d Hills and warm slightly
She has been receiving the linseeds for a very long time as support because of the issues with her megacolon.
The 20th was a horror day, I was paralyzed with fear and could not force a smile. At 2 pm we got the life-saving call – Ruby is fine but only one leg was operated on, because the growth had already penetrated into the healthy tissue and it would have made no sense.
On 21 August 2019 we are allowed to take Ruby home, she looks totally exhausted and is happy to be with us again. Because of the pressure bandage we had the feeling that she is already walking better that day (today, 3 February 2020, her fur still hasn’t grown back completely). Once she arrived home she lies down to rest. Thank God we had 14 days of vacation left and could stay her every day.
The operated leg seemed to really help her to get around a little better in everyday life… After the discontinuation of the medication we received from the university hospital (Gabaliquid) we continued with the cortisone therapy.
Unfortunately no lasting success
This success did not last long either… We are currently back to where we started… the growth returned quickly… We are in the animal clinic twice a week for MLS laser therapy… every 20 days or so she receives cortisone… daily laxative salts, vitamin paste, CBD oil and linseeds… At the moment we are again on the lookout for a good painkiller that can be combined. Her front paws are getting thicker, her tail’s getting more crooked, her legs are getting higher. Small open wounds have formed, so-called pressure sores.
The current monthly costs are about $330 (+ another $120) – we have 3 other cats. I lost track of the costs we have had in the last 3 years quite a while ago. The Backyard Breeder blocked my phone number (I wrote her 2 longer messages – not bad ones) or even changed her number.
Still today we don’t go on vacation, because every moment could be her last. ❤️
Please be smarter and inform yourself in time – I had to increase the number of hours I work in order to cope financially with all of the added expenses. I will accompany her lovingly until her last breath and do my best.
Note from Barbara Lynne
I hadn’t heard Ruby’s story when I first started writing articles for this website in August 2019. But stories like hers are the entire reason why you are able to read this now: I wanted people to know about the risks of producing Scottish Fold cats without proper knowledge and testing.
It means real pain and suffering: for every poor defenseless creature, who never asked for any of this and who deserves better AND for their owner’s family. It’s an emotional and financial burden that could be avoided.
Please, please, please put and end to this tragic cycle:
Don’t buy your Scottish Fold kitten from a Backyard Breeder.
Get your Foldie spayed or neutered, if you haven’t already.
My tip: Find a good breeder – someone who is a member of a reputable association, someone who knows their stuff and is known on the cat show circuit. Or someone who is highly recommended in an online community, such as in a large Facebook group with hundreds of members. Because these are the breeders who have accountability for their actions. People know who they are and they have a reputation to lose. You should contact other members of the group privately who have bought kittens from them and get the real story.
Always ask to view both of your Foldie’s parents – in advance via video chat before you commit to buying your kitten. Your kitten should live with its mother and siblings until adoption day – at the age of at least 12 weeks, better 14 or 16 weeks. Look for that one parent has straight ears and that the mother and babies are not kept in a cage.
A lot of treatments for OCD or Osteochondrodysplasia are mentioned in Ruby’s Story. For a complete overview of all known therapies, please see My Scottish Fold has OCD – What can I do?