GRAB A TISSUE BY DENISE LEBEAU
FORTHE L O V EOFCATS
a Senior Cat
With a Rare
It looked like Mango, an emaciated 12-year-old diabetic tabby
cat, had used up all nine of his lives.
The sweet, stripy orange-and-white
feline was picked up by Animal Care
Centers of NYC, where he was not
considered the greatest candidate
for adoption. Being a senior in need
of daily medical treatments made
the list of potential adopters short.
But there was a miracle in the making
for Mango. Members of an animal
welfare organization had their eyes
peeled for a diabetic cat in need
with an experienced and well-stocked foster home at the ready.
Some folks see a homeless ani-
mal and ask, “How can I help?” That’s
noble. Nobler still are the folks who
go out of their way to give medi-
cal cases a second chance. Heike
Klassmann and Sherri Bohlig are the
latter. They volunteer for Anjellicle
Cats Rescue, an animal welfare orga-
nization based in New York City and
offered to foster a diabetic
cat who would otherwise be
euthanized. Without this couple’s
commitment, Mango’s hopes of see-
ing his 13th birthday would be nil.
As foster parents, Heike and
Sherri have opened their home to
many homeless pets. When their
cat, Malachy, crossed over the rain-
bow bridge last year, they decided
to honor his legacy in a unique way.
Malachy was originally diagnosed
with diabetes, and Sherri became an
expert in the field. When Malachy
didn’t respond to traditional diabetic
treatments, further testing exposed
the real culprit: Doctors found a
small benign tumor in his pituitary
gland. It’s the nucleus for a condition called feline acromegaly, and it
mimics the symptoms of diabetes
by creating a resistance to insulin.
Feline acromegaly is considered
very rare, and while Heike and Sherri
didn’t think they’d have to face it
again, they quickly found out that
their latest foster cat would doubly
benefit from all of their research on
“With proper medical care, diabe-
tes can go into remission,” Sherri said.
As she began administering the twice
daily doses of insulin to treat Mango’s
diabetes, she noticed a red flag. He
wasn’t responding to the insulin.
Mango went back to the vet for more
testing. They found he had hyper-
thyroidism. They also found out he
had feline acromegaly. In addition to
preventing the absorption of insulin,
feline acromegaly causes vital organs
and bones to continue to grow —
wreaking havoc on the cat’s entire
body. Urgent treatment was required.
“There are only a handful of
facilities in the United States that
offer treatment options for acro-
megalic cats,” Sherri said. “Surgery
to remove the tumor is available in
only one place on the West Coast.
There are a few animal hospitals
offering stereotactic radiotherapy.
Heike and Sherri
Hamming it up for the camera