Why did you give her that name?
Would you consider changing it?
I couldn’t hold back these silly questions while writing down the cat’s name.
‘We chose that name for her when we brought her home as a companion for our first cat Light when we were living in China.’
Ok, I thought, a Chinese poetic name; why not after all? I wasn’t comfortable writing it down in the cat’s file, still, I was feeling silly since, after all, I wasn’t asked to like the cat’s name, only to treat her for her chronic asthmatic cough.
Darkness and her owners came for a homeopathic consultation after a round of veterinary clinics, a specialized consultation with a cardiologist and various laboratory tests. She had been coughing for several months and the symptoms were getting worse, more frequent and intense. It had started ten months earlier as rare fits of coughing and escalated into frequent and prolonged bouts of choking.
She was diagnosed as suffering from cat asthma – a severe, life-threatening condition which calls for lifelong conventional drug treatments with uncertain results and a doubtful prognosis. Darkness was already getting symptomatic medications for her cough that only added stressful struggles to the already tense state at her home.
When I first saw Darkness she was quiet, calm and a bit worried; she had gone through multiple medical visits in a short period of time. Her human caretakers were discouraged and confused. After going through her long and detailed medical history we went on to Darkness’s life story that started 2 years earlier, when she was bought as a four months old kitten from the shop in China. Her first month at home was a happy and playful one, with the other cat Light as companion.
One month later Light was taken to the local veterinary clinic for a spaying operation. Three days later they all awoke before dawn to Light’s moaning and found her lying on the floor bleeding to death from the reopened operation wound. She was rushed back to the veterinarian. Darkness was left home alone for many long hours, her friend’s blood all over the floor, while Light was fighting for her life at the clinic.
Light never returned home; she died a day later and Darkness was left alone for another week while her caretakers went on a consolation trip. When they returned they brought back with them a new kitten named Happiness.
Darkness and Happiness came back from China with their humans several months later and seemed to adjust happily to their new surroundings. Ten months later Darkness started coughing. She was then a year and a half old.
Looking at Darkness while listening to her human’s shocking story I couldn’t help but marvel at her calm acceptance of life and her brave choice to go on trusting them and all the veterinarians she was taken to, including myself.
She was given a homeopathic remedy – Spongia – for her asthmatic symptoms.
Her reaction to the treatment was quick and easy, her coughing patterns showing changes from the start. She was still coughing but less often, with shorter fits and she seemed less bothered by it. She became playful and cheerful again. Three months later her caretakers reported that she was rarely coughing and seemed to be her normal happy self again. They sounded confident and optimistic, as if some dark cloud had been lifted, letting light into their home again.
Darkness’s remedy – Spongia tosta – the sponge, is a remedy with a strong affinity towards respiratory and heart problems. It is suited for asthmatic conditions with a slow onset but dramatic symptoms of suffocation and cough accompanied by anxiety and terror. Alternating cheerfulness, irritability and sadness accompany a fear of heart disease in the description of the remedy. As for the coughing symptoms, a picturesque description is given: “dry, croupy, raspy, barking, like a handsaw sawing thin wood” with accompanying details such as “nostrils wide open with fanning movements”. Darkness seemed to have them all in her coughing fits. Even the symptom of “awakening in fright with a feeling of suffocation” matched the description of some of her attacks.
The decisive argument for choosing Spongia in this case came from a few lines in the remedy’s description that eerily echoed Darkness’s story: “Tormented by a frightful scene of some mournful event of the past… suffering from tormenting visions of horrible events of the past…waking with great fear after midnight”. She had gone through the shock of losing her friend in a traumatic and frightening way with apparent acceptance and calm but months later, after moving on to a new home and country, the shadows of trauma resurfaced as suffocating fits that had to be healed in order for her and her humans to come to terms with their loss of Light.