This is a story of my 5-year old Ragdoll Jax. His home is in Northern part of New Jersey.
Just recently I came across to floppycats.com and after reading the story of Ragdoll of the week “Jannie“ that touched me very much and reflected my own similar experience with one of my cats (not a Ragdoll) then I decided to share the story about how i came to a decision to have a Ragdoll cat.
Brief story about Milo sickness was described in Chester story. After the shock of losing my Milo to Feline Aortic Thromboembolism (FATE). I’ve been reading a lot of info about this disease and found out that it comes from genetic problems and to my surprise happens a lot more often in regular cats vs purebreds.
Purebred cats usually would get heart problems from irresponsible breading like in Jannie’s case, and if you do your homework correctly and find good breeder then you can eliminate this type of heartbreak again.
As my Milo was just a regular cat that I adopted and usually no-one is doing any genetic testing to street cats that’s why the occurrence of FATE in street cats is a lot higher.
In fact, around the time I lost my Milo, my friend’s regular domestic cat was diagnosed with HCM and she also lost him to FATE just a few weeks after the HCM diagnosis.
All of that just make me thinking that just to eliminate another heartbreak like this I wanted to get a purebred cat as a companion to my Chester. I started to check into different breeds deciding what I want and first was thinking to get a Birman cat for their beauty and very puppy like personality.
I wanted to have 2 cats with opposite personalities. I contacted a few Birman breeders in my area but all of them only were expecting kittens within few months and the soonest they will be available to take home was 4-5 months.
I didn’t lock with any of them and continued my research, and the Ragdoll breed popped out that really got my attention as they’re very similar to Birmans with some differentials that I in fact liked even better.
So new search started for Ragdoll breeders that in closer proximity. I didn’t feel comfortable and didn’t consider any breeder that would have to fly kitten and wanted to find a breeder that i could drive to pick up a kitten.
I came across Willetragdol in Massachusetts, and got in contact with Bette and was informed that their wait-list for a kitten is between 6-8 months and it could be a year before I could take a kitten home.
She sounded like very good and reputable breeder and answered lots of questions I had. But I didn’t want to wait that long and still continued the search for kitten to take home sooner, and got very lucky finding a seal point kitten like I wanted at Pam’s Dollhouse in Northern New York state.
He was born on January 25 2015 and was about 7-8 weeks old at the time. He would’ve been ready to go home in about a month at 12 weeks of age. I left a deposit to reserve the kitten, and immediately requested from Pam the proof of all genetic tests for kitten’s parents to be provided to me.
She was assuring me that all her breeder cats she buys from very reputable cattery and they come out tested and clean of genetic defects but she didn’t actually have her own genetic tests done.
It really wasn’t good enough for me and I insisted to see test with my own eyes. Pam was very cooperative and agreed to immediately send all of her breeder cats for DNA tests for HCM, PKD and even informed me of other possible genetic mutation that I didn’t even know that Ragdolls could have is Mucopolysaccharidosis VI (MPSVI).
Most breeders don’t even test for this mutation. After sending all her breeder cats for tests, she provided me with results. Turned out that both parents of my kitten were clean for HCM and PKD mutations but turned out that both of them had one copy of MPSVIm (mild form) and in fact were carriers.
Even though it’s not terrible disease in its mild form, I still wanted to test a kitten as it was 25% chance that he could have inherit both of mutated genes from parents. So, Pam tested a kitten and he turned out to only have 1 copy of the gene and was fine.
She explained that if any cat has 1 copy of MPSVI gene it’s still could be bread just have to avoid to breed 2 cats that have one mutated MPSVI gene each.From that point she said that she will only breed those 2 cats with other cats with no mutated genes and not to each other.
I believe it’s good for anyone that thinking of buying any purebred cat is to find a reputable breeder and always request to see all the genetic tests done for specific breeds. And if breeder refuses to show any of the tests, you’d have to look elsewhere and find another breeder.
Unfortunately, I learned it a hard way after losing a cat to FATE where most likely HCM was to blame, and had to go thru that kind of heartbreak and see what bad genetics could do.
When I bought my Bengal Chester I didn’t request any proof of DNA tests and just trusted the word of the breeder that all her cats get screened.
On April 19 2015 we drove about 5 hours to pick up Jax. We named him before we even came to picked him up, as with my husband and myself were already attached to him while waiting for him to come home. Pam was nice to send us photos of him growing up while we’re waiting.
I consider myself extremely lucky that I could find such a nice kitten like Jax and only had to wait 1 month to bring him home. He’s nicest cat you can ever ask for.
He’s so friendly and just like true Ragdoll likes to be around people and he’s true lap cat.
When we drove him home for 5 hours and at first, he was crying in his carrier, then I decided to take him out and as soon as I held him on my lap, he immediately calmed down and was very quiet and purring the whole way on my lap.
My then 2-year old Chester really didn’t like Jax at first: he never showed any aggression toward him but just didn’t want to come near his little brother and would always run away if Jax came closer.
On one of the photos it was when Jax was about 3 months together with Chester he made another attempt to come and lie down next to Chester, and, to my surprise, for the first time Chester didn’t run away from him like he was always doing before.
Now they have pretty good relationship but still not as good friends as Chester was with Milo, but they coexist together fine. Sometimes Jax get into trouble: he likes to chew on things like plastic bags or cardboard, so I have to always make sure not to let him to chew plastic and keep it away from him.
When he was a kitten somehow, he chewed up a rope or a string and swallowed it. I only find out that something was wrong when he got very sick one evening. I decided to take him to the vet next day, but in the morning luckily, he passed that string out. I only knew that he swallowed it after I pulled it out of him and it was pretty long. I still don’t know how he managed to eat it.
Opposite to Chester he’s not a big talker, you very rarely would hear him meow and the meow comes out very soft and sounds like a little squeak. Jax also loves to play with laser:
Another thing he likes is to go into every box or bag and would sit there for hours.
I used to let both of my cats to go outside on the leash and walk around in the back yard with my supervision, but it turned out to be bad idea as around 4 months ago Jax suddenly become very ill and started to have respiratory problems with very labored breathing and swallowing.
Also, he’s always a very picky eater and doesn’t eat enough but I noticed that he was even skinnier than usual as I could feel every bone. Visit to the vet was necessary on which Dr. found 2 huge lumps in his throat. His weight was approximately 2 pounds under what his normal wait should be. He weighed only 9.7 pounds as his normal weight should be around 11.5 pounds.
After extensive tests and a few days of worries while waiting for biopsy tests to come in, doctor finally called me with diagnosis: it’s Cryptococcosis, fungal disease that the cat could’ve only picked up outside by sniffing fungal spores from the ground.
This disease is super rare for our area on the East coast. In fact, the vet hadn’t seen any cases of this disease here since 1990, and yet Jax managed to pick it up from just few supervised visits in the back yard.
It's very difficult to get rid of this fungus and to cure it will take many months and possibly a year. I now already giving him anti-fungal pills twice a day for almost 4 months and even though most of clinical symptoms are almost gone, and Jax is acting normal, I still can’t stop giving pills till his blood levels Cryptococcus Antigen by Latex Agglutination would get to zero.
At this point I took him for blood test about a month ago after almost 3 months on Flucanazole and his levels didn’t even drop to measurable levels yet and still were at highest measurable level of GREATER THAN OR EQUAL TO 1:32768.
The good thing was that he gained some weight: about a pound, it came with joined effort as I was giving him high calorie supplement by “miracle vet” with the syringe after each dose of Flucanazole pill.
So now I'm continuing medication and will have to take him for a blood test in about 2 months again to see if the Cryptococcosis levels would hopefully will at least drop to measurable level. I feel at least lucky that in spite long recovery time it’s still a curable disease and also lucky that Jax is such an easy cat to give a pill to on routine bases.
He never resists it and just sit patiently every day in the morning and evening while I put a pill in his mouth. Even in my vet clinic everyone always amazed of him, how they're doing all kinds of manipulations on him: from drawing blood to taking samples from the lumps in his throat and he didn’t resist at all.
Now I’ve learned the outside is not a good place for cats even with supervision, as you never know what kind of diseases are out there that could affect your cat. Lucky for our cats they still have pretty good life in our house as they’re super loved and spoiled.
My husband also loves them a lot and he made all kinds of features for them in the house: from various cat shelfs on walls and windows, towers and even outside cat enclosure/balcony (we call it catio) that can go out thru special kitty door in the window. There they can enjoy safely of being outside without dangers to themselves or other outdoor creatures.
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