When do you know if it’s time to let go? Aslan, the king of our sanctuary
Aslan the male lion has always been strong and impressive. This past winter, Asha, a mate of Aslan, successfully went through emergency surgery. But, we never expected we would be facing a similar fate with Aslan so soon. It has been a long month for both Aslan and his team of caretakers, but it has all been worth it to see this magnificent guy on the mend.
We don’t take any chances when cats like Aslan show signs of illness, especially at 18 years of age. As soon as this proud king of the jungle appeared ill, we immobilized him and took him to the University of Minnesota for an exam. He had blood work completed and a full Cat Scan to make sure we received as much information as possible. Several specialists also consulted with us.
The best scenario was that there was an infection that supportive care would help. We were also being cautious that this could be early signs of organ failure due to his age. After consulting with the vets and our staff, we made the decision to bring Aslan back to the Sanctuary in hopes of seeing positive results from the supportive care. We knew he would be more comfortable in his own space, too.
The following week was difficult for both Aslan and the staff. He did not like the confinement in his room that the treatment required. For his safety, we had to watch him around the clock. We had several late night discussions and heart breaking conversations deciding if treatment was the right path for Aslan. We did all we could to make him comfortable. And who would have guessed that a simple fan would make such a huge difference for him! The fan sound was soothing to Aslan and he took to it right away. He would lay in front of the fan, as close as he could, and let his mane just blow in the wind. This bought us the time and patience from him to see if the treatment could indeed work.
We did see progress, but not what we had hoped for. We decided to make another trip to the University of Minnesota for surgery and to make a hard, final decision for Aslan if we could not reunite him with his pride. Final test results confirmed a severe liver condition and the biopsy would not be back for a week. We had another pain staking decision to make. One more treatment or saying good-bye?
These are decisions we do not take lightly. It is with tears, heart-ache and much contemplation, but we know we have to make the best decision for each individual cat in our care. After much soul searching and consulting with the vets, we chose to bring Aslan home a second time. Now, he was comfortable in his smaller space and we could begin a treatment while we waited for the final results of the biopsy. We knew his fan would be waiting for him and that would make him comfortable.
Within a few days of treatment, we saw HUGE results!!! Great results!!! Aslan got his appetite back, he began vocalizing to Asha and Shanti outside his room, he even presented himself in front of his fan for his three daily treatments and meals.
The best news was that he got his energy back enough that he was reunited with his pride! The girls welcomed him excitedly and rubbed all over him. He seemed a little annoyed when Asha stepped on his tail, he snarled, but she was too interested in his new smell to notice. Soon, they were all lying under their landing together and, within a few days, Aslan was roaring at the food cart again.
His biopsy came back as hepatitis of the liver. Hepatis in felines is often caused by chronic inflammation in the pancreas and GI tract. It is a serious condition but he has a good prognosis, especially with his initial response to the treatment. It is never easy to make these decisions because it is a lot for an animal like Aslan to go through, if it doesn’t come out positive. But given how healthy Aslan was prior to this illness, we knew he deserved a chance at life.
I am so thankful and impressed by the team who surrounded Aslan. Our board approved the veterinary expense of several thousands of dollars to get him the specialty care he deserved. Our Sanctuary Manager and Animal Caretakers spent countless hours caring for him around the clock and are continuing to do so. Our on-site veterinarian continues to monitor his progress. All of this has been done as we continue with our day-to-day responsibilities here at the Sanctuary for so many others, too.
But most of all, we thank YOU!!! Without your support, helping Aslan would not be possible. Thank you!!
We hope to continue with positive updates about Aslan for weeks, months and years to come. But for now, we celebrate that Aslan is feeling better, is back to himself and, most importantly, is back with this his pride.