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Kitty Star of the Week for February 22 - 28, 2004.

Our submitter writes,

"This is a photo of my cat Ziggy who is more than 15 years old now. He is very special for a lot of reasons. First of all, I have had Ziggy since before his eyes opened and he was only about 6 days old! The mother cat was a stray who got hit by a car in front of my aunt's house - and Ziggy and his brother Clao were found a few days later in a tire in my Aunt's outside garage in November. She brought the tiny kittens- both of which had tiny little tails (it wasn't until years later we learned they were Japanese Bobtails)- to my mom's house and we nursed them back to health.. after a few days, their eyes opened, but only one of Ziggy's eyes opened; we assumed the other must have gotten infected or something, but nobody is really certain exactly what happened to it. It's never bothered him at all. He's always had excellent eyesight and used to be a great "hunter" in his younger years. He even brought me a snake from the woods on two occasions many years ago- which was the first and only time to date that any of our cats ever did this... my mom told me all the cats she's ever known were afraid of snakes. So that was very unusual... I was sure afraid when I had to bring it back to the woods to set it free and get it off our porch! (And it was even playing dead -- until I dropped it off the stick and into the woods again- because it was still afraid of Ziggy!)

"For 14 years, Ziggy was a very healthy kitty with no illnesses whatsoever, not even so much as the sniffles! He and his brother Clao were the best cats anyone could ever ask for and they grew up thinking I was their mommy since I weaned them, so we were always especially close. They were instant purring machines anytime they got any kind of attention, a look, or a touch.

About 9 months after Clao passed away, Ziggy- who at the time was more than 14 1/2 years old- got a blood clot to the right front leg which essentially paralyzed it. We thought it was broken and rushed him to the emergency vet hospital. We quickly learned what happened however. Normally this is either fatal in cats or happens to both hind legs which is so debilitating that it results in the need for euthanasia. So I did feel somewhat lucky, however, Ziggy was in critical condition for a week in the hospital and the first few days he was on oxygen to help him breathe. Unfortunately, they couldn't do much to help him as far as the blood clot and the circulation never returned in the leg. A few weeks later at his follow-up visit, we almost chose to have the surgeon amputate the leg but when we learned he only had a 20% chance of even surviving the operation, we changed our minds. His prognosis at that point was up to a week to live. This was 7 months ago and Ziggy is showing us all that he has a lot more living left to do before it's his time to go!

"I have searched the net over for a cat in this situation and have not found any. Ziggy has his own website now called The Ziggy Page full of new photos and notes concerning his progress and current health status since the blood clot. If there is ever another cat in this situation, I am hoping Ziggy's website will give someone out there some hope or some additional knowledge to make the best decision on how to help their cat or what might happen in the months ahead. I really had no clue what to expect and would have never dreamed that he would be doing this well 7 months later. (He was "supposed" to have gotten very ill from his dead leg in a matter of days.)

"Ziggy is a special cat indeed. Every day he plays with his toys (or watches me play with them). I usually hide half of them so that he has a new selection and doesn't get tired of them. He occasionally gets new toys added to his collection, and he has never had so many toys before in all his life. He has his favorites which lately has been his crinkley bug and crinkley snake. When he turned 15 last November, he got a new cat bed, bringing the total number of catbeds and baskets around the house to five. We recently revived an old catbed by putting it on the daybed and making a "tent" over it with a sheet, and he likes it so much he has been sleeping there almost constantly for the past week. (see photo above) ...Ziggy loves being only cat in the house. Since his brother Clao passed away, for the first time in his life he is getting my full and undivided attention and maybe that is one of the reasons he is such a happy cat!

"He has short, supervised visits outside when the weather is good. When he wants to go out, he will come to me and then run to the door and look back at me to see if I am following him. So then I follow him downstairs, put his collar on, and go outside with him for a little while and he is happy. Of course, if I'm still in bed and he wants to go out in the morning, then he will wake me up by poking me with his paw.

"We are all amazed that Ziggy is not only still with us, but enjoying a wonderful cat life as any cat would, despite his "handicap" - Ziggy is a real inspiration to me, and I am so very proud of him!"

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