Many of you may know my story, and most of us understand how we bond with that one special, extraordinary pet. For me that was Gimli, or Gimmie, as I affectionately called him. Gimmie was a show-quality cat who hated to show – so we gave that up. His personal quirks included an immense love to walk on the leash, ride anywhere at any time, and wake up his mom every morning, and tend to his pet fishes. He checked on his fishes each morning, helped his Dad feed them every evening and if asked, “How’s your fishes, Gimmie?” would jerk his head in their direction as if to say, “I don’t know. Let me see!”
For me, Gimli personified light, love, and laughter, and he poured all of those amazing qualities upon me. I miss him more than I dare say.
Gimli turned three years old on 07 April 2008 and died the next day during a routine dental cleaning by the vet we had trusted. The vet used the an-esthesia Ketamine, in combination with Valium, which – according to the necropsy - caused him to go into cardiac arrest. He died of congestive heart failure within minutes of the procedure.
The second part to Gimli’s story is that he had HCM – the only cat from his line to be diagnosed with the disease. While Gimli’s time was certainly limited, regardless of the anesthesia used that day – it was the Ketamine/Valium combination that caused his actual death and is duly and officially reported as such. Part of my journey to understand, come to grips with, and share this information, is due to the fact that Ket/Val can trigger an undiagnosed case of HCM to progress. But is that what really happened to Gimmie? I’ll never know for sure and I find that knowledge hard to bear.
What I have discovered over the past year about Ketamine has been startling, frustrating, and compelling. I am determined to gather information to aid other Sphynx owners, breeders, and most of all, veterinarians. Ketamine is the most common—and cheapest—anesthesia used by vets today.
In an online Q & A column renowned Virginia veterinarian, Mike Richards, writes,“Ketamine causes hyper-tension during anesthetic recovery and it is possible that the detrimental effects attributed to Ketamine may be due primarily to cases of undiagnosed cardio-myopathy in cats undergoing anesthetic procedures. These cats would be especially sensitive to hyperten-sion and the increase in blood pressure induced by Ketamine is supposed to be pretty significant in some cats.”
But for those who choose to err on the side of caution, take heart, for there are wonderful substitutions that may be an option for any procedure that your Sphynx might need. The bonus is that they do not have the side-effects found with injectible induction agents like Ketamine or its derivatives (Imalgen, Clorketam, Zoletil, Telazol, and Halothane gas).
Two options that I now adamantly request — read demand— are the gases Isoflourane or Sevoflurane. Our new vet now has a large sticker on all of our medical folders that clearly states WARNING - ALLERGIC REACTION. DO NOT ADMINISTER KETAMINE. USE ISO or SEVO INSTEAD.
If you are interested in following this story I would like to direct you to the home of my current Ketamine Blog – Gimmie’s Fishes – located at www.gimmiesfishes.org. Here you will find not only Gimli’s story, but a plethora of helpful articles, documents, website links, grief and loss help, and much more. Please note that my research – for what it is worth – is an ongoing project. My goal is to locate and gather documented cases or notations regarding Ketamine deaths or warnings. For those who have already vis-ited and been helped by the information there I want you to know that it makes me feel better. I do not wish for anyone to suf-fer the loss we did through a lack of knowl-edge or warning.
In the Owner’s section of the SBEN you are likely to find insightful owner-related resources, tips, articles, interviews, quips, and funny stories. As well, starting this month, there will be an In Memoriam sec-tion to commemorate and remember those special babies that we have loved and lost.
If you've experienced the loss of a Sphynx, or Devon, that you suspect or can confirm was due to Ketamine, please email me with your story. I am, again, trying to document cases in order to compile statistics within the Sphynx community. I need your help.
Tramping in the woods with Gimli at his favourite bridge - one month before his death.
Gimli taking us to his favorite tree stumps and trails
Laying memorial flowers at Gimli's bridge with a warning attached regarding Ketamine.