Professional Interviews

Timbit the Cat’s Recovery Journey with Assisi Loop Therapy

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Operation PAW is an all volunteer, non-profit animal welfare organization located in Miami, Florida. It is their mission to improve the lives of homeless animals throughout South Florida. Leisa Bowmaster is the Director at Operation PAW and the proud “forever foster” mom of Timbit the cat. We spoke with Leisa about her journey with Timbit and Assisi Loop therapy.

Assisi: Tell us a little about yourself and your history with animal adoption. How did you get involved with Operation PAW?

Leisa Bowmaster: I have always been an animal lover, and have been involved independently in kitty rescue for over a decade. I stumbled across a cat rescue group and soon began volunteering on a daily basis. That group was one half of an organization with dual locations, and when they divided and our location became Operation PAW in 2014 I continued to volunteer. I was invited to join their Board of Directors, and have been a team member for upwards of seven years, 4ish of those as a director.

Assisi: How did you meet Timbit?

LB: Timbit came to us as an emaciated, very sick little boy. He had a terrible limp and was non-weight-bearing on his left front leg, which turned out to be an untreated fracture of both his ulna and radius. He drank a ton of water and was reluctant to eat anything, and the foul odor of his breath was almost unbearable. He had been evaluated by our vet clinic and had his leg cast, and he was in such poor condition that I brought him home with me to give him a chance. For a month I syringe-fed him every few hours, ‘groomed’ him when he could not do it himself, and prayed he would make it through. At his checkup, his vet took one look at him and smelled his breath and knew his kidneys were involved. After extensive blood testing, he was shown to be in kidney failure with some of his values higher than the maximum the machine would read, and an anemia so severe that his red count wouldn’t register—they had to do a manual packed cell volume test (PCV) to measure his red blood cell count. 

His survival didn’t look good, But his vet promised me she would do everything she could to give him a chance, and she hospitalized him for 5 days on IV fluids and medication. His leg was the least of his worries at that point. Despite his terrible condition he fought hard, and I was able to bring him back home to care for him at the end of the 5 days. 

The next few years would be labor-intensive and emotional. He ate special food, took medication to support his remaining kidney function, and had bloodwork and urinalysis on a very regular basis to make sure he was on track. After a time, his vet determined that the kidney injury had been an acute one, and although he would never regain his lost function, his kidneys were not declining as would be seen with Chronic Kidney Disease. It was a blessing to hear that! He has been with me as a permanent ‘forever foster’ ever since.

Assisi: How did you first hear about the Assisi Loop® and what made you decide to try it out on Timbit?

LB: Due to Timbit’s untreated break, the connective tissues in his leg had shortened, rendering him unable to fully extend his elbow. I worked with him under our vet’s supervision and did daily physiotherapy, etc. but I could tell that he still had pain/discomfort and obviously limited mobility. We discussed options to make him more comfortable, and those options were incredibly limited due to his kidney damage. He could not take medication to ease his discomfort, so she mentioned both acupuncture at the clinic and the Assisi Loop at home. 

The impact of the therapy was pretty evident within a few days of initiating the Loop therapy. It was really a combination of his overall demeanor and his increased mobility. He was more active and mobile within a few days, and he seemed more inclined to play and interact. Before he had spent a lot of time sleeping, and now he was interactive and engaged. He is one of the most loving, personable, interactive cats I’ve ever met, so his personality really came through when he was feeling better!

Assisi: How were you able to get Timbit comfortable with using his Assisi Loop?

LB: Timbit loves to snuggle! At first I would hold him up against my chest in a rocking chair with the Loop in position and cover us both with a soft blanket. We would rock and cuddle while the Loop cycled through his treatment. Eventually it’s almost like he came to know that the therapy was making him feel better, because he would come and settle in on his own for treatment. Even now he is usually very calm during his treatment and often falls asleep in my lap while we do it. The funny thing is that I honestly feel he can tell when it cycles out—if I’m not paying close attention to the flashing lights I often don’t notice it has ended, but he will suddenly start to get restless and when I check the lights, it’s turned off. I swear, he can tell when it ends!

Assisi: For how long have you been using the Loop and how has Timbit’s therapy regimen changed over time?

LB: We have been using the Loop for several years now—I’ve started to lose track of time, but it must be 3ish. At first, with our vet’s supervision, he started out with treatments three times daily, then tapered down to twice, then once daily. At the moment we are maintaining his therapy at once a day, but if he has rough days, like when the weather changes, I will increase the frequency of his therapy to twice daily until he evens out, and then we return to once daily. We play it by ear and adjust as necessary – with the approval of his vet.

Assisi: What do you consider the main benefits of the Assisi Loop? 

LB: For cats, having access to a safe, non-drug therapy is key. Metacam is off-label for felines and can have life-threatening side effects if given to cats as it is given to dogs, so using the Loop to provide pain and inflammation relief is an incredible alternative. 

My goodness, the Loop has so many benefits and it has been a miracle for Timbit! Being able to give him therapy at home is a big one, and the fact that he can find relief from his discomfort/pain without resorting to medication (which he couldn’t have in his particular case anyway) is a blessing. The anti-inflammatory benefit of the Loop has been a game-changer for Timbit, and his mobility is improved greatly thanks to his daily therapy. Without the Loop, I honestly don’t think he would be able to get around as he does, and I feel that he would have deteriorated over time if he hadn’t been able to have this daily treatment. His sweet, bright personality and his love of running and playing despite his severe limp is a testament to the positive effect the Loop has had on his health, and his life. We are so grateful for the Assisi Loop!

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