Soleil Needs Our Help in Diagnosing What Might Be Going On!


Written by Michelle Kennedy (Soleil’s mom!) as an e-mail to me.  I asked her if I could post this as a blog post to get some insight from readers – please read on and offer any suggestions or prayers!

I’m not sure if Soleil is a Ragdoll or not.  I got her from the local SPCA and she was listed as a ragdoll/siamese cross.  I fell in love with her little face and took her home.  She’s a dead ringer for Wendy Knit’s Lucy, though.

I’ve been meaning to send you Soleil’s story, but I’ve been putting it off.  About 5 months ago now, she got really sick, and the vet thought she was going to die.


Did a bunch of tests and sent me home, and when she phoned me at home that night, was shocked, really shocked to hear that she’d been eating and drinking and using the litter box.  She came back from that, but then about 2 days before I was moving from the west coast back to the middle of the country, she was in bad shape again.  They wanted to refer her to a surgical referral centre for a transfusion, and exploratory surgery.  I wasn’t sure what to do, as I had 2 days left in my house, and a uhaul rented.   I didn’t know if it would be better to have surgery and recuperate on the way home, or get home, and then have surgery.  We decided that it would be better for her to have any drastic intervention at home.

I guess I should tell you home is the farm I grew up on, in Manitoba, Canada.  And the vet clinic is the one our horses, cattle, and my dogs and previous cats have gone to, that I absolutely love.

heat vent=true love
heat vent = true love

So, her red blood cell count was really low, but they didn’t know why.  The first time she got sick, they thought it was blood parasites.  But she shouldn’t have got sick again if that was the case.  My vet checked her count, and it was up from the last test in Vancouver about 3 days ago, so he decided to hold off on the transfusion.  Like most of us animal lovers, I do have some people around me that didn’t understand why I was so upset, and so determined to find a cure.  Look, she’s going outside, off by herself, she wants to die.  I was sobbing over that, and went to check on her.  She’d caught a squirrel, and eaten the whole thing, except the tail.   I figured that was a sign she wasn’t thinking about dying.

i BEG your pardon
i BEG your pardon

After that, she put on weight at a rapid amount, almost a pound a week, and her red blood cell count was going up.  My vet doesn’t understand why she was getting better, or even what was wrong with her.

She took another turn for the worse in the last week, after my parents thought she needed a “change and some exercise” and moved her from her safe place to out in the barnyard.  She made it back to the house, but utterly drained.  She’s now had a blood transfusion and is back on full dose steroids.  She’s stretched out on my bed at this very moment.  She’s not so sick that she doesn’t do that cranky twitchy tail thing when she thinks I’m pestering her, and to give me the big bunny kick shove, when I’m in her face too much.

I don’t know why, but I’ve been afraid to send you her story, just in case things got really bad, I guess.  I’ve decided to take things into my own hands, and I’m doing a bunch of research on foods high in iron and vitamin B, and I’m working on a diet to help.  Since I’ve moved back to be with my parents, she’s been eating dry cat food.

I'll get that jam for you
I'll get that jam for you

My parents think that’s a better choice.  Hill’s Diet from the vet, so not crap food, but I don’t believe it’s the best for her.  But, she did seem to prefer it, and when she’s sick like this, I don’t care what it is, as long as she eats.  I guess this is like cooking wonderful, healthy, delicious (in your eyes) food for your kids, and have them go crazy over McDonalds and rave about how delicious it is.

I’d sure appreciate any advice you have to give, or any prayers or positive thoughts.

on the farm
on the farm

I’ve got an assortment of Soleil pictures (I usually call her Leilei.  The majority of them were taken before she got sick, but the “on the farm” one was taken her on the farm, a month or so ago.  The other cat in the pictures is Sampson.  I adopted him from the SPCA at the same time I adopted Leilei.

She’s still drinking lots today, and NOT happy when I try to get the steroid pill down her.  I made the chicken stock, and then boiled liver chunks in some of the stock, and whirled the whole thing up in the food processor so it was a drinkable consistency.  I don’t think she’s had any yet on her own, but I’ve managed to get some into her with a syringe.  Not happy about that either.  It’s been above 80 degrees here today, and she’s been sleeping like a cat in the hot weather.  You

incredibly efficient paperweight
incredibly efficient paperweight

know, all stretched out, legs in all directions.  That always makes me feel better, because when she’s really feeling badly, she kind of looks like the loaf cats from I Can Haz Cheezberger.

I did read your pages about anemia in cats, and I’ve been googling.  I guess what makes this even scarier and more frustrating is my vet really can’t figure out what’s going on.

I have been thinking about an animal communicator.  I don’t want to sound too whackadoodle, but I do think there’s definitely a lot to be said for people with spiritual gifts.  But, that also being said, I know there’s a lot of unscrupulous people out there.

Thank you so much for your response.

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15 thoughts on “Soleil Needs Our Help in Diagnosing What Might Be Going On!

  1. Anne Snowball says:

    I would recommend you googling Cheryl Schwartz, DVM, one of the most famous holistic vets in the world today. She is in Alameda, CA, but worth the effort to ctc her. She would need this story for starters!! To call her, please: 510-523-4498. Google Cheryl Scwartz as well. She will supply you the info you need, I assure you.

  2. Alissa Pendorf says:


    Sending massive hugs to you and Soleil! I’m afraid I can’t advise as far as health issues go because I’ve never heard of anything like Soleil is experiencing, but I agree that you should try to get her to eat a better quality food. I believe the “veterinarian diets” are actually some of the worst out there as far as ingredients and quality. I am familiar with almost every cat food available and for Soleil I might recommend a Wysong product, particularly Archtype ( It is a dehydrated food to which you add water. If your cat doesn’t like the chunks you can blend it for a more “saucy” texture. Archtype is freeze-dried, which means it does not lose ANY nutrition in the process. It is very high in calories so if Soleil is underweight it should help her gain. Wysong is a small company and I believe it can be trusted. I have some extra Archtype if you would like to try it — email me at beautifulpromise2621 (at) yahoo (dot) com and I would be happy to send it to you.

    If water is a problem, try a cat fountain. Or the sink. My own Raina oddly prefers to drink water out of a super-shallow dish (almost a plate) on the countertop, even though she always has a fresh bowl at her food dish! A syringe (as you’ve tried) is also a possibility but the cats don’t love it.

    Wishing you all the best. If you need any help selecting food, please feel free to drop me a line.


  3. Angela V says:

    Has her kidney function been tested?
    Some types of kidney disease cause anemia.
    Glad she is feeling better.
    It does seem odd that after she went out into the barn, her symptoms returned.
    Does make you wonder if its something she has been exposed to outside.
    Prayers ans reiki sent that she continues to improve.

  4. Beth says:

    Soleil certainly looks like a Ragdoll to me and she is lovely! Two more things your vet might check for: pancreatitis or thyroid problems. I’ve learned about both with my kitties this past year. Good luck and love to you both!

  5. Michelle & Soleil says:

    Hi Everyone!

    Thank you SO MUCH for all the kind words and advice. I’ll have to dig up all her files to find all the tests that were run. Although I do remember FIV and Feline leukemia were ruled out. She was strictly a house cat before we moved to the farm.

    The good news is after I got some of the liver concoction into her, she drank quite a bit of it on her own. She is on prednasone. I was having trouble getting her to take the pills as she wasn’t interested in any of the food I usually hide them in. I had resorted to getting the pill into her mouth and down her throat as her vet suggested. By Monday, she was eating again, lots. I’ve been home with the flu since yesterday afternoon, she’s a million times better. Hopped up on her favourite chair to have a nap, up on my work table to see what I’ve got piled up there, and even curled up at my feet for a while today while I was sleeping. That made me happier than anything, as she hasn’t been very cuddly since she got sick.

    She drinks lots of water, which the vet says is probably from the prednasone, but she’s using the litter box, and everything in there looks normal.

    To me, she just hasn’t seemed to want to give up. She obviously has had some bad spells, but she soldiers on and comes out of them in really good spirits.

    I think I’m going back to bed, but I’ll hunt up all the reports I’ve got on her.

    So much gratitude,


  6. Sharon says:

    Hi Soleil and Michelle,

    Has your vet check Soleil bone marrow. My kitty also had very low red blood cells. After many blood test that where all negative my vet suggest to have her bone marrow tested. We did find out what is wrong with her that way. If I were you I would keep you Soleil indoors and away from other cats, until you find out what could be wrong with Soleil. I will pray for you and Soleil that your vets can find out what is making her sick and make her better.

    BTW my kitty is doing great now. Lots of purrs your way

  7. Suzanne says:

    This is just a possibility, so don’t take this as a diagnosis, merely a suggestion because you are stumped. Read up on it if curious.

    Did the vet mention dry form FIP (Feline infectous peritonitis?) (NOT FIV). It is an unusual response to the coronavirus, that can develop anytime, but usually in young cats under 3. Especially coming from a shelter, she was probably exposed, and there is NO vaccine.
    It’s very hard to diagnose, but weight loss is sometimes the first clue. Prednisone would make her improve, but if she went off it, or got worse, she would have worse symptoms.If she gets any fluid in her belly, that would mean the wet form of the disease, which is worse. Both are fatal. I lost a Siberian to this in March, after 3 mo. of experimental drugs, and after exploratory surgery. Yahoo has an FIP support forum.

  8. Michelle Spayde says:

    So sorry for your problems! More information would definitely be helpful, such as a chronological listing of tests performed (blood work, fecal exams, etc.).

    Keeping kitty inside (only) would definitely help the entire situation and eliminate exposure to additional infectious agents, parasites, and toxins. I can’t imagine that you haven’t already been told to do this.

    At a minimum,

    – Kitty should have a fecal, be kept indoors, and then wormed at regular intervals. We also treat for tapeworm, even if not seen on a fecal. I prefer Panacur to Strongid for general worming. Note: Keeping kitty indoors will also alert you to any possible potty problems as well. ALSO, a negative fecal just means that nothing showed up on that particular sample, not that your cat is parasite free.

    – Kitty should be combo tested with the SNAP FIV/FELV/HW (REPEAT TESTING if done previously)
    – We also use Science Diet AD for recovery, but along with that we give Lixotinic (vitamins with iron that help to rebuild systems, support, and improve appetite)
    – Consider testing for Bartonella, or simply ask your Vet to give you a script to try azithromycin.

    Without more info, that’s the best than I can do off the top of my head. Please head to a specialist before invasive exploratory surgery! Actually, I think that heading to a specialist with the detailed medical history is the best idea, and sooner rather than later.

  9. Lynn says:

    Hello! Soleil and Sampson are beautiful kitties! I have always had four cats in our family, we ow have six, and I have been through health issues with them too. I would strongly suggest you search for a HOLISTIC vet in your area! I have found when things are a mystery or traditional vets cannot solve things, going the Holistic route has solved them well for us! Also, canned food is always a good thing when their appetites are low so I would say feed her and Sampson a good quality NO GRAIN canned food like Innova, Felidae, Wellness, Merrick….They cost more, but do not have the garbage “by products” in them and our 22yr old elderly kitty, Jerry has kidney disease and has held his own in eating these wonderful foods! They taste great, dont’ smell bad, and they go less in the litterbox because these higher quality foods are absorbed much better.
    These organic brands also come in dry, but I would give her half canned in her diet to boost her immune system..Please search for a Holistic vet! I can help you with this if you give me your zip code or town, etc. I have many resources for this because I believe in holistic medicine for humans and animals!!
    Good luck to you… And, I would also warn that letting your kitties roam outside eating squirrels, mice etc is NOT a good option! These animals can carry diseases, parasites etc. Soleil could very well have an issue from eating rodents, birds? Have this checked out by a Holistic vet…
    Our kitties never go outside, I wouldn’t want to lose them with being hit by a car, harmed by dogs, people, disease, etc… It’s just not worth it…Please keep them indoors…. You can contact me by email if you need help finding a holistic vet!
    here is my email address: I’m a huge cat lover at heart and will try to help you if I can!!! I pray Soleil is healed….

  10. MeLinda Hughes says:

    Sorry about Soleil (what a lovely name). A/D is a good temporary food, but I would recommend a high protein diet (like Innova EVO or Feildae Grain Free). Keep in mind that I am not a vet or close to being a vet, but as a rescuer, we see a lot of different illnesses in our rescue cats. I can tell you that high-protein foods do help cats gain weight. Sometimes, though, they are not as palatable (think of quality food as a salad versus poor quality food as the hamburger we would all prefer). I also agree with the previous post about poisons and problems that can be caused by Soleil being outside. For example, we had a cat whose lung collapsed. He had some very odd, 1 million in 1 disease that he contracted from “West Texas dry dirt” (though we rescued him in Dallas).

    My best advice is not to give up. If your vet and you have determined that Soleil’s quality of life is comfortable, then stick with your treatment plan (Vitamins, good food; I’d also recommend Nutrical as a vitamin supplement) and give her lots of love. If her quality of life is such that she is uncomfortable, then it is time to make other choices. That is hard, but keep in mind that you need to do what is right for Soleil as much as you (I have made that choice, so please feel free to e-mail me privately if you need to talk).

    We at Merlin’s Hope Ragdoll Rescue will keep Soleil and you in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. GourmetPens says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that Soleil is not well. It’s so frustrating when you are desperate to help them but have no idea what’s the problem. I understand that feeling and have been there. I wish I could offer some guidance or suggestions for you. I definitely agree with Cindi – check for poison, especially since she’s been outdoors. I’ve read about cats that have eaten mice/critters that were poisoned and it took awhile for them to exhibit the effects of poisoning, so it’s not impossible. The only experience we’ve had with low rbc counts is from our kitten who we eventually found had FIP wet. Doesn’t sound like your case though thankfully! We also had some immune disorders panels done, as Cindi suggests, which I agree is a very good idea. It certainly could be Soleil’s own immunity attacking her red blood cells. Though I imagine the steroids would help reduce that – are they helping stabilize her symptoms? I assume your vet has checked for FeLeuk and FIV too? Is Soleil still eating? If you are concerned about her nutrients and weight, we have also fed our cats Science Diet a/d which is a critical care formula, very palatable for when kitties have low appetites, and chock full of nutrients. Please keep us updated and I hope we can help in some way. I come from Winnipeg so I’ll be sending you and Soleil some serious prairie warm wishes and prayers!!

    • Lynn says:

      I SOOO agree with you, Gourmet! Allowing our kitties to roam outdoors and eat wildlife is NOT a safe option! Who knows what they are carrying, if diseased, parasites, and like you mentioned– POISON… that would be so awful for Soleil! We need to protect them INDOORS for sure.. Our six never go outside, never will. And I also like to encourage others to look to a Holistic vet in these situations because they have other therapies and testing they utilize and in our experience have helped our kitties when traditional vets could not figure it out. This is a wonderful option and I would encourage everyone to remember this. You can search for one in your area using your zip code and/or town, state. I have websites that have listings of these, please email me anytime at:

  12. LauraC says:

    Hi Michelle, I’m afraid I don’t have any advice to offer but I understand how heartbreaking and frustrating it is when your pet is ill and you don’t know why. I’ll be keeping Soleil in my thoughts and prayers x

  13. Cindi Hartsell says:

    Soleil is gorgeous…I understand your concern & FEAR…I’m no vet, but one thing keeps nagging at me when I read your article…check for poison, I’d say fertilizer or something easily found where she goes outside. Have them check her for …Diabetes…if they’ve ruled it out, have them check it again with a check on immune panels for immune disorders. Please keep me posted! I promise to keep your precious Soleil in my prayers…and you as well. Your right, God does impart wisdom & gifts to others….to use in helping others…your NOT whackadoodle….. ♥

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