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My family had just recently completed a move from Colorado to Iowa. A terrifying train ride, the hassle of settling into a new place, trying to put down even the smallest of roots here...to put it bluntly, I was a mess. I was still mourning the fact that we were unable to take our cats with us when we moved; I can only remember a very few short times in my life there were no pets in the household. I didn't like it in the least.

Then one day, my parents came home, said "Here, have a cat," and placed the most beautiful ball of fur and fear in my lap.

Rika was perhaps two years old, skin and bones, matted so badly she could hardly move, terrified of everything, and obviously somewhat ill. An examination at the vet showed her to have polycystic kidney disease - and a condition called feline cutaneous asthenia, which basically meant her skin was so thin it could rip if she even groomed herself too hard. And it would just keep on ripping, as the two inch-long, stapled gashes on her elbows proved when we had her shaved completely down.

I wasn't going to give up. She didn't like to drink - I got her a fountain. She starved herself when I tried to change her to a good food - I persevered. She disliked grooming - I coaxed and cajoled.

Rika is now six. Her kidney function is normal. Her skin has improved immensely. She loves lap time, brushies and terrorizing the other cats. She takes prednisolone every few days for allergies and has improved 100 percent. She is my fluffy baby, my savior, and I'm so glad to have her.

Kai Lowell
Dubuque, IA

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