5 years ago, my gruff, “tough guy” uncle had a beloved pet named Isis. Isis was a 12 year old Egyptian Mau cat, who had borne 2 litters of 2 kittens each. My uncle was so attached to these little animals that he had difficulty giving them away to the homes to which they were promised…which essentially ended his interest in breeding his pet. She was fixed after the second litter was placed and she enjoyed a life filled with many of the pleasures allotted to the felines who live among us–plenty of cat toys, the best home-made foods for her diet, warm fire places to lie near and sleeping beds placed close to the special humans in her life, plus a great big yard and garden, populated by songbirds and mice to keep her busy when things got boring indoors. My uncle doted on this pet, and except for the few visits she made to the vet which my uncle called “totally unnecessary”, and a limp she acquired from “jumping up after a bird”, she was a sprightly, affectionate and fun loving cat who ate just a little too much now and again.
I often visited and stayed with my uncle during the year in which I was planning my wedding, and had many opportunities to visit Isis during my stays. On one visit in particular, I found my uncle very upset and anxious because Isis wasn’t responding to his calls for her, she wouldn’t eat when she was fed, and she had been found hiding in spaces she had never been found in before. I knew from my own experience with cats that this is the kind of behaviour they exhibit when they are in the process of dying, so when I told my uncle this he became distressed. I promised him I would take a look at Isis to see if I could find what was wrong, then take her to the vet immediately.
Other than appearing to be completely unresponsive to touch, or food, or any other stimuli, she crouched and stared out, occasionally meowing in pain when she was picked up or moved. She did not strike out or bite, but her breath did have a “metallic”, coppery scent. and she did seem to find touch on the left side of her body to be a little painful (she would flinch and meow when it was touched). I found no bites or cuts or other marks on her, but I did notice that her colouring seemed “a bit off”, especially in her eyes and in her ears. I did notice that If stroked her head, this would allow Isis the ability to close her eyes; it was small comfort. My cousin, who is trained as a Shiatsu masseuse, affirmed that Isis’ favourite thing whenever she had pain was a massage. She enjoyed them so much, she would often approach my cousin for a “massage” even if nothing was wrong with her. It was part of their interaction with each other.
When we got to the vet’s office, and I gave the vet my uncle’s name and address, he exclaimed, “I know this cat…I’ve seen her before!” He showed me the cat’s computer record, which had 3 different entries marking previous visits during which the cat was given steroid shots for asthma. Isis had a history of difficulty breathing, and on three previous occasions she was rushed into the vet’s office for this shot. The vet had actually argued with my uncle before, as my uncle had insisted the shot be given, while the vet insisted that the cat’s asthma required more intensified treatment measures. The Doctor’s impatience with my uncle was clear, he had a hard time understanding my uncle’s urgency about his cat. He actually warned my uncle in the past that his insistence on these shots would lead to the cat’s premature death! With a good deal of anger in his words, he told me he would examine the cat to see what was wrong “this time” and tell me what he found.
When he returned with Isis, his diagnosis was cancer of the liver. He told me it was cruel to allow Isis to continue to suffer, as she was in a great deal of pain and needed to be put down. I asked him to explain why he believed this, and he demonstrated to me how he came to his conclusion. First, the cat was suffering from Jaundice–the usual gold colour of her eyes looked “off” to me because what would normally be the white sclera had turned yellow. Her gums, paws, and insides of her ears, normally a pink colour, had also turned yellow. Isis lay still and unresponsive as he pressed and prodded at her sides, until she began to whine to be let go. He told me his diagnosis was based on just the physical exam–but he could be more thorough and take some tests if I wanted him to take the time to do this for her. I agreed this was a good idea, as it would give me the opportunity to tell my uncle about the diagnosis.
I asked him to tell me a bit more about her history of asthma, and he said all he could say was that she was rushed in in the past, and he had to deal with my uncle’s insistence on the steroid shots, as well as my uncle’s displeasure at their cost. I could tell I was dealing with a Vet who was not very happy with my uncle — and I worried if his insistence that the cat be destroyed now wasn’t partly related to his sustained anger. I told him I was a student of homeopathy, and I wanted to administer a remedy to the cat, just in case it might have some effect. His response was to tell me to “dose away, do whatever I wanted to do”…but warned me to consider the amount of pain the cat was in, and remember that she could not, at this point, be helped. I left the cat with him for further examination, and went off to consult my books to find a remedy, feeling like I was up against some pretty big odds if she really did have an advanced liver cancer.
That diagnosis was quite intimidating, I have to admit. I had no idea how I would organise the information I had about Isis, or where to start looking in the repertory for her trouble. Nothing seemed to stand out as “characteristic”…and since the “cancer” was already progressed enough to bring about her instinctual dying behaviour, I didn’t feel I could find anything characteristic about her case. I decided I didn’t know, for certain, that she did have cancer at all: but I did know with certainty that she had –
1)asthma in the past;
2)steroid treatment, which would have compromised the liver
3)jaundice–indicating liver dysfunction and blood problems
4)a limp on her left hind leg, which my uncle believes came from a climbing/jumping injury that must have injured the bone, but which may have been some referred pain from internal organ damage.
5)a love of massage, or being physically stroked or touched. It was the one stimulus which brought a minor response: what our repertories refer to as “desire to be magnetized”.
Looking up jaundice in the repertory gave me a moderately sized rubric (Skin, discolouration, yellow, jaundice, icterus;)…and further along, a rubric for jaundice as a concommitant symptom, showing only one remedy: phosphorus. Since the jaundice was accompanied by cancer, I could consider this small rubric. Phosphorus is also listed under the rubrics Respiration, asthmatic (quite a large rubric) as well as Respiration, difficult. I asked my uncle when Isis’s breathing difficulties would come up, and he recalled that they always started when he and my aunt would come home from work–usually when they were preparing or eating dinner, or shortly afterward. That would be in the early evening–before 9pm or so, a time modality which also fit in well with the remedy.
There was little to go on for a mental emotional state, though I did know that much of the instinctual dying behaviour of cats is precipitated by fear and self-protection: they are afraid of predators, afraid of being attacked while vulnerable–and this motivates their instinct to hide, make themselves small in stature, stop eating and drinking (so they leave no feces or urine traces around for other animals to detect them) and stop responding to stimuli around them. Its a very fearful state. I decided on the phosphorus because it is often used in euthanasia, particularly when this state is present. I felt that if I couldn’t help Isis get better, death by phosphorus would be far less jarring than death by injection at the hands of the vet. So I went back to the vet’s and had him bring Isis out. In front of him, I gave Isis a dose of Phosphorus 30c, as it was the one vial of phosphorus available in my uncle’s neighbourhood! The vet assured me that he would continue his tests and call me later on that evening to discuss her cancer, and putting her down. I decided I would just bring her home, if that was all right with him; I told him I knew she may not get better and that I would be returning to him to put her down, if it was requried.
Later than night, I was supposed to meet with the vet to pick up Isis’s test results, and he didn’t show up for his appointment! Just as well, I thought, as my uncle was devastated to learn about the vet’s intentions to put Isis down. I went home and asked my uncle to give me a call the next day to let me know if there were any changes.
Isis got better.
The next day, her appetite returned and the clarity had returned to her eyes and skin. After two days, Isis used the litter box again and had begun to want to go outside to run around. She was observant and alert while outdoors, preferring to walk around and sit in the shade or follow my uncle around as he tended his garden…and it was in watching her moving that he noticed her long-standing “limp” had disappeared. She did, however, have a funny new habit of licking the paving stones on the patio–something we all thought strange. She clearly needed the nutrients she was getting from the clay and sand she was eating! I thought about Pica remedies, and thought about redosing with the phosphorus, but the behaviour didn’t last very long and then, once again, her picture changed.
About a week later, my uncle and aunt called to tell me that Isis was like a totally different cat–energetic, bouncy, affectionate again. But, they noted, she was developing a strange swelling under her lower jaw–did I know anything about what that was? They described her symptoms over the next few days as “strange and bizarre”, as Isis developed what looked like a huge blister under her chin, which discharged a watery, whitish fluid tinged slightly with blood. I told my uncle I would look for another remedy, but when I asked him about Isis’s pain from her symptoms, he said she wasn’t experiencing any–she just had this unsightly bulge under there, some of the hairs were falling off on the skin covering the bulge, but she was not really bothered by it and ate and played with much more vigour than she had in a long time. I considered “waiting it out” to see what happened, and I never did give another remedy. Whatever it was that was happening came and went over the course of a week. As long as they kept her chin clean, and left her to her own devices, Isis was “putting up with” the new symptom well. It resolved in a few days and she was as good as she always was.
Early this past summer, at the age of 17, Isis passed away of old age. She lived for 5 years after her “terminal” cancer was diagnosed, and never suffered another asthma attack or limp as a result of her adventures again; nor was she ever seen licking the patio stones or suffering from the skin ailment which developed after the phosphorus was given. I never did have to give her another dose of the phos 30c, or of any other remedy–and now, looking back on the case, I can see that any intervention to “deal with” the symptoms she exhibited after that dose would probably have complicated the case!