Sleek Cats Cattery / Bad Breeder
AVOID THIS SPHYNX CAT BREEDER
I am sharing my experience and Zeke's story in hopes that it may save someone else the heartache and pain myself and my family went through with the painful loss of baby Zeke.
I got Zeke at the end of November 2012, because I fell in love with my brother and his girlfriends' canadian sphynx, Normand. We were all roommates, and thought it would be great for Normand to have a buddy. Zeke was such a sweet little kitten. He was so lively and playful, and always wanted to be around us, he was so loving. Around the end of June 2013, we started noticing Zeke wasn't quite as lively as usual, he had lost some weight, and he felt like he was running a fever. I took him to the vet and they put him on antibiotics, in hopes that it would clear everything up. After about a week being on the antibiotics, Zeke hadn't shown much improvement, and in addition, his belly started to swell up as he continued to lose weight. When I called the vet with these updates, they suggested I bring him in for an ultrasound of his belly. I dropped him off at the vet and received a call later on saying they thought a blood test would be a better option than the ultrasound. After two days, the vet called and delivered the bad news. Zeke had FIP, Feline Infectious peritonitis, which is a mutation of the coronavirus. Cats could have the dormant coronavirus and never get sick, or it could mutate to FIP. Usually mutates to FIP in kittens and older cats because their immune system is weaker than other cats. She informed me that it is fatal and that there are no treatments. She couldn't give me a time frame for how much longer we had with him, she said worst case, 2 weeks, best a few months. The vet kept him on antibiotics to help his immune system fight off any opportunistic infections, since his body was fighting this horrible virus. He had the wet version of the disease, which means that all of his organs were going to fill with fluid and shut down. This news was so devastating. He was such a joy for all of us, and we were all beyond heartbroken that this was happening to him. The vet informed us that it is usually genetic or a result of bad breeding practices, and is most common in catteries. She advised that we inform the breeder immediately as other cats or kittens may be infected, and if this was the case the breeder should cease breeding these cats to avoid another situation like Zeke's.
Zeke came from Sleekats Cattery in Peabody MA, owned by Donna DiGiovanni. I did not buy Zeke directly from her, but I had previously been in contact with Donna, and my experience with her then was just as frustrating then. I wrote Donna an email, informing her what the vet had told me and how broken and upset we all were over this terrible news. Donna's response to my email was very upsetting on many different levels. Her first response to the original email was "I want you to take Zeke here and care for him, for I may be able to save his life" (keep in mind, no treatment, no cure, no progress in 20 years of research with this virus. Also highly contagious, and she wants me to bring him to her cattery) I responded with the information the vet provided about the virus, and asked her what she thought she could do for him that the vets wouldn't be able to. I also expressed that I wanted to spend every moment I could with him if he only had a short time left. We continued to email back and fourth, a total of 9 emails. She asked various questions about his condition and what I was feeding him. She used these correspondents as an opportunity to boast about what a great breeder she was, how knowledgeable she was and how vets and breeders all over the country call her for advice. She also insinuated that I poisoned him, by feeding him a diet with fish in it, as, according to her, cats absolutely can not eat fish. (I fed Zeke Orijen cat food, no grain, all natural, not outsourced, basically the best dry food you can buy) She also, in all 9 emails, did not ONCE say she was sorry, did not offer ONE comforting, or consoling word to me. I informed Donna the day I learned this bad news, July 5th 2013. After this series of emails, I did not hear from her ever again, to check in, to see how he was doing, to see if any of her suggestions worked. NOTHING, not ONE word.
In the following month and a half, I switched Zeke to a raw diet and he showed signs of improvement, his belly shrank down a little, he started to gain some weight back and he was more lively. It was short lived unfortunately, but we were grateful that even for a few weeks he could enjoy us as he used to before he was ill. In the weeks to follow, we watched Zeke deteriorate rapidly right before our eyes. It was the most heartbreaking experience I have ever had to go through. His belly swelled back up and he lost so much weight you could see every bone in his body. He didn't have much of an appetite and didn't really want to move around much. He was just a baby, and it is such a horrible virus and it just was not fair that he was taken from us. We love him so much and we are all so devastated.
Zeke was born on August 14, 2012. He was diagnosed with FIP July 5th 2013. The day after his first birthday, August 15th 2013, I had to have him put down, it broke my heart.
Donna also called and left me a voicemail in July, along with our exchange of emails. In which she was aloof and didn't seem to care at all. She informed me that this was the SECOND cat out of 113 litters to get FIP (The other one wasn't her fault either…) The general statistic for FIP is 1 in every 5, 000 cats, Donna's statistic however... if you average 4-6 kitten per litter, lets say 5. So 5 X 113 = 565 kittens average, in her career as a breeder. Out of 565 TWO have had full blown FIP. 1 in every 282 of Donna's cats has FIP, in comparison to 1 in 5, 000. WOW. I am writing this in hopes that no one else would every have to go through this horrible and painful experience. If this woman is breeding and selling FIP or coronavirus positive cats, she should be shut down. No one should have to experience what we went through with Zeke. Her cats could have the dormant version of the coronavirus, and when she breeds them, she's passing it down to the kittens, and Zeke's sad story could be a reality for someone else. Based on her behavior, it is quite clear, SHE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THESE CATS, AND DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO BUY THEM. The only thing she is concerned about is the money in her bank account.
We posted Zeke's story on sphynxlair.com and the response was overwhelming. We are so appreciative for all the prayers and support. We also got a lot of interesting responses with people expressing their frustrations with their dealings with Donna as well. Many complained she was pushy, rude, unprofessional, condescending, and bullied them if they had any disagreement with her. Based on my interactions with Donna, I would definitely agree with every one of these. I would strongly suggest if you are buying a sphynx kitten, DO NOT BUY FROM THIS BREEDER, DONNA DIGIOVANNI SKEEKATS CATTERY. If you do, you should be prepared for a potentially horrible outcome with your new kitten, and also be prepared for the headache of dealing with her. If you have already purchased a kitten from Sleekats Cattery, I would suggest you educate yourself on FIP. If anyone has any questions I would be more than happy to answer them, I would also be happy to provide all of the email and voicemail correspondents with Donna, or pictures of Zeke to show the horrible reality of what this disease does. I am opening up my life and Zeke's story, in hopes to deter even one person from purchasing a kitten from this breeder. If she is breeding cats with the coronavirus, she should be shut down, period. I would not wish what we went through on anyone.