Friday, October 21, 2011

Is prayer worth it?

A month ago today, I was crying.

Crying is not even the word for what I was doing.  I was Bewailing. Blubbering. Bawling.

Was there a death in the family? Was a close friend no longer with us? Was I terribly injured?

No to all of the above.

So what was it all about?

A kitten.

A little, black 11 ounce kitten.

Here is his story.

Friday, September 16th began as Friday's ordinarily did. Work at 7:30 am, answer calls, act friendly. One call though got the whole day in motion.

"Place where I work, this is Sarah"

"Sarah, this is Carolyn." (She's the woman in charge of animal adoptions)

"There's an elderly man bringing in a kitten he found; we'll take care of all the charges."

Moments later, in walks a man, carrying a small closed box, no bigger than 2" by 4". He hands it to me, and thinking perhaps there is a dead creature inside, I open it and inside is an incredibly small kitten. I thank the man, and whisk the kitten away to the back to display him to the veterinarians. After checking him out, the estimated age was 3-4 weeks.

I spent the rest of the day with him and subsequently offered to take him home to foster him.

Friday night:  his first seizure.

Though at that point, I wasn't sure what it was. I mean, here he is, needing to be bottle fed, have his privates wiped down because he was too young to eliminate on his own and all he really wanted to do was sleep. I thought maybe he had been woken out of a deep sleep and was having a...moment.

But the seizures continued, increasing in duration. Otherwise, he appeared perfectly normal. Eager to eat every two hours, grasping at his bottle and syringe to eat whenever it was placed near his mouth.

Sunday, he had a seizure.
Then another one.
And another one a few hours later.

His pupils would dilate, his claws would outstretch, he would screech, he would meow, he would twitch uncontrollably. And then just like that, they'd stop. He'd then appear dazed, confused, and within fifteen minutes was back to sleeping or roaming the room.

However, Sunday evening, his seizure woke him out of a deep slumber, and the sounds he was making indicated to me that this was not normal. I timed his seizure. 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds. Still continuing. After 60 seconds it stopped.

I called the veterinarian and she said she'd like to observe him overnight at her house to see if he was having true seizures.

The next day, she brought him into work with the grim news. He was indeed having seizures and the causes of seizures in such a young animal was likely congenital. That, or he had gotten into a toxin that was slowly killing him. Or perhaps, he had feline distemper; a terrible virus causing severe illness and possible death.

Additionally, he had developed an upper respiratory infection and was terribly congested and having difficulty breathing.

He was hospitalized all day Monday and every few hours I'd hear him screaming from a seizure. At one point it was so terrible, I saw the head veterinarian run out of his office to see what was going on. In my line of work, seeing a doctor run out of their office means trouble.

A woman from a business next to the clinic stopped by and told me I need to euthanize the kitten, that I was causing him to suffer.

However, mid-afternoon, it was discovered that the kitten was running a fever and in a hopeful moment, I thought perhaps this could be the cause of his seizures, similar to febrile seizures in human infants.

The next day, Tuesday, he went a full 24 hours without a seizure.

But Wednesday at 2:30 am, he seized. And again at 7:45 Wednesday morning. And again in the parking lot of the veterinarian clinic where I was taking him because he seemed to be having difficulty breathing.

I rushed him into the clinic where he began repeatedly seizing. One after another after another. The veterinarian gave him Valium to stop the seizures and though it helped, it also knocked him almost unconscious.

After the full effect of the drug wore off, he began seizing again. The seizures were lasting longer than ever before. And being all of 11.8 ounces now, it was quickly taxing his system.

The call: Wednesday, September 21

I missed the phone call. I didn't listen to the voicemail. When I got the text stating "CALL ME" from one of the vet techs, well, you can imagine what I was feeling.

"We think he's suffering, Sarah. He's been having repeated seizures, he's not wanting to eat anymore. We all think it's time to put him down".

She then named off things she thought could be wrong with him including a nasal tumor and cuterebras (fly larvae) in his brain.

I flashed to preparing his kitten milk replacement, giving him three cc's at a time since that's all his stomach could hold. Feeding him every few hours, even in the middle of the night. Him grabbing the syringe, eager to eat every time. I thought about him wanting to sleep on my chest, cuddled in a tight ball. I recalled wrapping him in a blanket since he was too small to conserve his own body heat. He was so small, he easily fit into the palm of my hands.

And thinking about this and now the fact that I was losing him, I began to cry. There's no other graceful way to write it.

I drove to the vet clinic.

Inside his cage was my kitten, still recovering from his last seizure, disoriented, soiled, some drool on his little face.

I picked him up and wrapped him in a blanket. I carried him around, pacing, and crying. Co-workers kept coming up, hugging me, telling me that I had done so much for him.

The vet tech who had called me earlier kept asking if I was ready to say goodbye.

I was not.

Besides, the method by which they'd have to euthanize him wouldn't exactly be in the most humane manner. His veins were too small to easily hit for the sedation to be given intravenously.

I asked if I could spend some time alone with him and they let me go into the operating room. We sat there and I wept over him.

As we sat there for the next hour, he slept. He was so out of it. According to my co-workers, he was dying, and all they could say to me was "I'm so sorry".

After you've spent time in the veterinarian field, the death of an animal doesn't sting as much. Well, as long as it's not your animal.

But as I held him, counting his breathes, one every ten seconds, I prayed for wisdom. I also prayed that I wouldn't have to make the decision to end his life. I prayed that he would just slip away in his sleep.

And then, just like that, I knew it wasn't his time. Typically, my gut instinct is off. Like, way off. I don't often trust it. But this time, I did.

After making my decision that it was not his time to go, at least here in the clinic, I opted to take him home in the hopes that he could pass away there in a warm, loving environment.

Everyone told me that at the very least, I had provided him five days of love and that he would pass away warm and not afraid.

Some comfort.

Driving home, I had honestly never cried so hard nor had I ever prayed so earnestly before.

Once we got home, I laid him in the sunlight, praying once more for a peaceful passing in his sleep. And yet, he continued to breathe.

He seized twice more, the latter one lasting for one minute and thirty seconds. He then fell into a deep sleep on my chest for hours. I studied for school and intermittently prayed. My prayers were sort of a non stop "Heal him or let him die with me" plead.

At one point, starved, I got something to eat and he apparently smelt my food and actually lifted his head to see what I was eating, seemingly if you will, waking up from the trance that he had been in, the spell that had been making him so sick.

He got up. He walked around. He ate. He started acting like a kitten, but he had done that to me in the past, so I wasn't confident that he was miraculously better.

But as the days and weeks have passed, his seizures have stopped. His viral and bacterial infections began to clear. His nose became unclogged, his gait more steady. He began to play. He learned how to use the litter box (no easy feat training him). He figured out how to run, how to hiss, how to properly bathe, how to act according to his feline nature.

He got his first vaccines yesterday and was given a total clean bill of health, heralded as the miracle kitten. Oh, and he weighs a whopping two pounds now; right on track for his age.

So was it prayer? Does God heal animals from their afflictions?

You, of course, will come to your own conclusion, but let this be said:
  • He was very ill, with no hope of improving.
  • He had an overabundance of prayers said on his behalf.
  • He stopped seizing, with literally no explanation "why". I worked with four veterinarians on this case.
I introduce to you:

Jack Lazarus Spitz (he has an affinity for spitting at animate and inanimate objects, true to his feral nature).

Praise the Lord.

James 5:16 "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much"


  1. This is what life is about; well, it is at least a very important part of it. I am happy for you, and for Jack Spitz. Dale

  2. Oh Sarah what a great story! That poor little kitten! Button has kitty herpes and sneezes HUGE boogers (used to be blood) and I thought that was awful but man, way to go little Jack Lazarus Spitz!


  3. Awesome story! Yes, God heals animals when we pray! This is a true miraculous healing! You prayed fervently with love for him and God healed him. I must share your story, as others need to hear it too. Thanks for posting this as it's a true testament to the power of prayer. I've seen God heal many times and pets are no exception. James 5:16 is perfectly fitting too. Jack Lazarus Spitz is very thankful for your prayers, I'm sure! Blessings to you ♥

  4. Betty: Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog and offer words of encouragement. Praise God for His work!

  5. I'm really glad you posted this story!!! :) Glad to see your writing.