A Valentine That Goes Straight to Your Cat’s Heart

I’m sure plenty of kitties will be receiving heart-shaped treats and toys on Sunday, and of course they will be grateful for our enthusiastic generosity for their welfare.

But you might benefit your kitty, and many others, with another type of heart-shaped gift—a donation to the Winn Feline Foundation’s Ricky Fund which funds research into Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common heart ailment among cats, and a very common disease among cats in general. This research will potentially save thousands of feline lives by studying the genetics of the disease and prolong thousands more lives while providing realistic treatment for cats who have been diagnosed with this disease.

namir's bedroom eyes


Many of you have read my articles about Namir and his four-year struggle with, and ultimate death from, HCM in July 2009. Cats deal with illness and discomfort so well we might never know there was a health issue, and Namir had no time for any suffering, but behind our everyday activities was a lot of pain and discomfort on his part, and worry and watching on mine, not to mention four different medications twice a day, occasional trips to the emergency room when he developed congestive heart failure, watching him lose weight and muscle mass and ultimately know that he had no time left, and that I had to choose euthanasia rather than watch him suffer his last hours or days.

I was lucky to have Namir for years before the symptoms showed, and he lived to be 15. Others are not so lucky because it is not unusual for a cat to be diagnosed with HCM as a kitten and only live to the tender age of four or five. So it was with Steve Dale, nationally known and syndicated pet writer, radio show host and owner of Ricky, for whom the fund is named.

photo of steve dale and his cat Ricky

Steve and Ricky, compliments of Steve Dale

As Steve writes in one of his blog posts: “In 2002, I lost my best friend – a cat named Ricky. He was a unique dude. Long before Nora, he also played the piano (improvisations jazz). Being a social guy who didn’t relegate his musical skill to his own home – he performed ‘in concert’ at places like Petco and PETsMart. Ricky knew how to do as much as most dogs, the list included jumping through a Hoola Hoop, sitting on command, giving ‘high-fives’ and more. He helped to demonstrate cats can learn just as much as their canine cousins.”

Steve commented after a recent meeting of the Winn Feline Foundation’s board,

“I am gratified that in Ricky’s memory, we’ve actually raised over six figures for the Winn Feline Foundation Ricky Fund, and scientists have been able to prevent some cats from ever getting his horrible disease. But we still have a long ways to go to prevent all cats from ever being diagnosed. Or to find an effective drug to treat feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Right now, HCM is among the most common causes of death in middle aged indoor cats, perhaps the most common. That has to change.”

Read the rest of the above post, including more about Steve Dale and the Ricky Fund on Steve’s blog in Celebrate Valentine’s Day from Your Heart to Your Cat’s Heart and Ricky Fund for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Research, and on the Winn Feline Foundation website where you can also make a donation.

Ricky sounds as if he was a really unforgettable character, playing the piano and doing tricks and more. Read about Ricky on Steve’s website at Ricky Showed Us What A Cat Can Be (careful, it’s a real tear-jerker, but well worth the read!).

Visit the Winn Feline Foundation for thorough and reliable information on feline health and health studies, and sign up to receive regular updates on their research.

More cats are kept as pets, but cats get less veterinary care and fewer studies are done on behalf of feline health (Catalyst Council). Research needs funding, some of which comes from foundations and government sources, but some of which needs to come from individuals like you. Cat owners need to show support for research and treatment in order to change this.

2 Comments on “A Valentine That Goes Straight to Your Cat’s Heart”

  1. animalartist says:

    Thanks for writing! How painful to suddenly lose two cats when you had no idea they were ill. I hope your remaining cat lived a long time.

    I tried a number of naturopathics and supplements with Namir as well along with the medications, and he lived four years where they had given him six months. I couldn’t keep him out of congestive heart failure with anything but a diuretic, but the supplements supported the medications; I also fed him raw venison, not as a regular diet but as a supplement, and the enzymes and pure minerals in the meat strengthened his body.

    Namir was 11 by the time it was advanced enough to cause CHF, and the damage to his heart was already irreversible. The hope is to find a way to prevent it genetically, and from there to stop it from developing if a cat is born with it or develops it later in life.

    There is an HCM list on Yahoo where thousands of people exchange ideas, and CoQ10 is a big one along with E. There are a few holistic practitioners on the list, but it’s touchy to do it long-distance.

  2. Susan says:

    There are natural ways of stopping the progression of HCM and even reversing it. A friend of mine and I both had cats with HCM which we stabilized with nutritional supplements – a multi, plus coQ10, natural vit.E, taurine, L-carnatine,and the omega 3 fatty acids.

    My friend’s cat was on a couple of medications also as his case was very advanced: Their vet couldn’t figure out how he was still alive. Much to the vet’s amazement the cat’s cardiac function improved with the nutritional supplements.

    My cat was only four and I caught it earley when he was tested by a cardiologist after two of his letter mates died suddenly of the the disease. I had him on a small dose of atenalol and most of the supplements above. His condition improved to almost normal.

    There are many nutritional and herbal supplements that have helped cats with HCM, but you have to go to a skilled holistic who will work with you in this way.

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