June 6, 2011

The Story of Kipling

I always knew I wanted another cat.  Durst, the cat who became mine after my daughter left for England, needed company.  But after all, Durst was my daughter’s cat, she selected him.  I felt the urge to choose a kitten of my own. 
Because Durst is such a “cool” cat – very smart and adventuresome, and because my vet thought he had Siamese in him, I began the search for a Siamese kitten.  I did a little internet research, but couldn’t locate any Siamese in Alaska.  Lo and behold, in a want-ad in the Anchorage Daily News, I found my cat!  It was July 2008.  I telephoned the number advertised and arranged to purchase for $100 my first choice of the litter.  The owner had four kittens, one female and three males.  I wanted a boy.  The owner took a ferry from Seldovia, drove to Soldotna to drop her child off at Solid Rock Camp, and then continued on to Anchorage where I was to meet her at Costco at about 7 PM one Sunday evening.  By 9 PM I hadn’t received the promised call to rendezvous, so I made contact to find out the drop off location would be 10 miles further away, and that there was only one cat left.  Whatever!  I wanted that cat, but was a bit miffed.

But what a cutie!

Of course it was love at first sight, for both of us I dare say.  He was so tiny I held him in a ball cap for the drive home.  It took a few days for Durst to agree to let him into our lives.  I named him Kipling.  I’m not sure why, I just liked the sound of that name for a cat.  Kipling was a Siamese mix, some sort of lynxpoint and a beauty with large blue eyes and a silky, strong coat.

A cat really does improve the garden.

The summer evenings after work were a delight for me to be out in the garden, along with my two Pomeranians, Tassi  and Monti, and Durst and the new kitten.   While the pets explored and napped under the peonies, I’d be weeding or pruning or transplanting something. 
It was a glorious time.

There is no more intrepid explorer than a kitten. ~Jules Champfleury

By September, it was cooler and more time was spent inside than outside. Kipling was a climber, and I’d brought home a tall cat tree and placed it by the window where he could look out at the garden while inside.  My daughter Kim came for a visit, and met Kipling for the first time.  She told me she thought he was walking funny.  Maybe I’d noticed, but shoved it out of my mind.  I didn’t want my cat to walk funny, or have anything wrong.  However, within a few days of her observation, I did notice.  I noticed every day, and I noticed his gait was worsening.  So off to the vet we went.  This first vet had a horrible bedside manner, let me tell you.  An xray was taken, and upon showing me the picture, she said, “this is the kind of cat that people make those little carts for.  Nice.
I wrote that day, "My little kitten Kipling, who will be 4 months old on Tuesday, was seen by the vet today in Anchorage.  He has been having trouble walking for about two weeks now.  When Kim was here the last week of August, she noticed that he "waddled".  So I have been keeping an eye on him.  He hasn't been climbing up his cat tower or onto the bed lately.  He splays his legs out when he sits.  As cute as he is in the picture attached, it is hard to believe that he has a problem, but he does.  He has an extra vertebrae where the tail attaches to the spinal column.  I got him a prescription of steroids in case of any inflammation.  Maybe he'll just be a special cat, different and not able to jump or climb.  The worst that can happen is he will become paralyzed over time. 

Right now he is running around the house playing with his toys, and batting around an empty toilet paper tube.  I admit I've bought many toys for him to keep him stimulated.  He is a loving, quiet cat.  He's already captured my heart in the two months that I've had him.  If you have met him, you've seen just how adorable he is.  Kipling is the first kitten I've had for almost 20 years.  If you know me, you know how much I enjoy my pets.  I just wanted you all to have this update because it is pretty much all I can think of right now."
Next I went to another vet.  Dr. Priddy was the most kind, wonderful vet, and a specialist, to boot.  And more xrays, taken just a week later, showed a serious decline in the integrity of Kipling's bones.  A blood test wastaken and sent away, and in no time we had a diagnosis.  Kipling was diagnosed with Mucopolysaccharidosis VI.  This is a rare disease caused by an inherited deficiency of arylsulfatase B.  Cells are unable to metabolize certain enzymes so metabolism of connective tissue is affected and causes changes to the bones.  While rare, Siamese with white paws are typically the breed presenting these characteristics.  Affected Siamese cats show facial dysmorphia, corneal granulation of leukocytes, and posterior paresis.
That day I wrote and sent this photo, "Kipling is, as you can see, as cute as ever.He is not in pain. He cannot use his rear legs for walking. 

My dear friend Mary, who flew to Anchorage to pet-sit for me, affectionately calls Kipling “Scootch”. He is not yet 5 months old and weighs under 4 pounds. Seldovia to Homer, Homer to Soldotna, then Soldotna to Anchrage, he was the sole remaining 7 week old kitten.  He came into our home on Fred's and my 29th wedding anniversary. 

Maybe I was given this little kitten because I have the strength to care for such a special cat.  I have a great life, but inconveniences and disappointments seem to crop up like the weeds in my garden did this summer.  I am saddened when I think about what may be in store for Kipling’s future days.  I am saddened to love such a kitten only to have him leave me one day, much sooner than expected.

We have a great vet, Dr. Priddy, who studied this disease in graduate school.  He is doing some research and we will be seeing more of him.  In the meantime, Kip loves his toys:  feathers, stuffed animals with bells inside, a squeaky bird, his fleece tent, and the laser pointer my husband Fred bought him."

Merry Holidays from Kipling

Dinnertime! Kipling, Durst, Monti and Tassi

Dear little Kipling died in August, 2009.  He was just 15 months old.  What a wonderful life he and I had together!  He knows he was loved.  Spoiled?  Why, yes, of course.  Painful it was to lose him.  When I was used to carrying him up and down stairs, inside and out as his spine began to fuse and he could no longer walk, when I was so absorbed with feeding, bathing and making him comfortable, it was quite hard to silence the absence of his purring.  So, my garden, with all it's  beauty and inspiration and memories and hopes, became Kipling's Garden.  There is love and catnip growing there.

Kipling in the Garden

lovingly shared,


  1. I'm glad you shared the story behind the name of your blog and garden! I remember all the love and care you gave to Kipling and how much he meant to you. I know that he was placed in your home on purpose. You took wonderful care of him, loved him and gave him a wonderful life! Thanks for sharing a bit of your heart.

    Love, Joan

    P.S. He looks so tiny next to the strawberry plant in your last picture...or was that strawberry plant just HUGE??

  2. Awe, lil Kipling. He was very pretty... I wish I could have met him. I love that you named your garden after him because you loved him so.