Harry's Story

or ''When Harry met Sally''



Harry is a very special cat, and this is his story.....


Harry was born normally, and grew to be a healthy, big kitten who was a little shyer than his littermates, but very playful, nonetheless.

He had his first checkup & vaccinations, no problems to report, he had his second checkup at 12 weeks & the vet heard a tiny, tiny, murmer, nothing unusual in kittens going to have their shots, nothing to worry about is the prognosis, it is quite common, and usually cannot be heard again & causes no problems, so Harry was homed as a pet.

Sadly, his new owner found she was allergic to Harry, & decided she could not live with streaming eyes, so we all agreed it best for Harry to return.


Harry found a new owner, a lady called Sally. Sally had a bad experience in the past, and had gone through a lot of illness with a Maine Coon she had bought 3 years ago, before losing her girl to two Greyhounds, a tragic end & an awful time for Sally.

She took the plunge with another coonie, this time a male, and we were delighted she found us & had Harry.

Harry was very shy & anxious in his second new home, he would not allow them to pick him up & for the first week it seemed that maybe it was not going to work out.

Sally was very patient with him, just giving him strokes, and not pushing him to be picked up, and after a week we think Harry realised that this was a nice place to be, and started to show his true character...

He turned into an affectionate, loving cat, who was always by Sally's computer with her, so affectionate and full of character, she said she never thought she would have another cat that had so much character like her girl did, but here he was....

All was well, until a few weeks later when Harry went for a check-up at the vets.

They heard a worrying heart murmer & were extremely concerned about this.

Harry needed a specialist and fast, so there was a wee anxious wait for Petplan to confirm they would cover the expense, and after a few days they came through, so Harry was booked into the specialist unit at St Albans.

He was seen the very next day, and Sally spent a whole day anxiously pacing, very tearful, just wanting to take her Harry home, while the poor boy was treated to intense scrutiny to find what the problem was. Sally went home with her baby wrapped in her arms, both totally exhausted.

It seems Harry has a condition so rare it is hardly ever seen, the odds of it hapenning are fantastically high, and they call it a 'throwback'

As the heart is formed, the parts of the heart are all formed individually, all surrounded by their own membrane, and as the chambers develop and the kitten grows in the womb, the membranes dissolve to form one whole heart.

In Harry's case, one of the membranes did not dissolve, and began to thicken & turn into muscle, blocking the flow of the blood around the heart, thereby causing the heart to be placed under enormous strain & having to work 5 times harder.

Under normal circumstances Sally would lose him within twelve to eighteen months as he would suffer heart failure.

The odds of this hapenning again are extremely high, you could do this mating many times and never see it, so we ask..why Harry? Such a loving boy, he doesn't deserve to go through this.

Harry has just one chance to live a normal life, one kitten born in America was given pioneering treament, that blasts this muscle wall allowing the blood to flow normally, this was successful thankfully, but has never been done since, and never in England.

Sally has been offered this pioneering operation for Harry, but she knows the odds are not good. She could lose him on the operating table if his heart cannot take the strain, it may simply not work this time, or it could work & Harry can live virtually a normal life to a ripe old age, it is a gamble.

We hope by taking this chance with Harry, it will greatly benefit others that may follow..

Harry must wait a while before he can have this operation, and we know he is in the best hands possible right now...Sally's, who will give him all the love and care he needs to get him through this

Many times I said to Sally, ''after all you went through with Mimby, I wish it had not been you who took Harry''... but I think I am wrong, I think she is exactly right for him, she cares so much, wheras others may have just given up on him, so no, I think it was his good fortune to find her.

We know Harry will have the best treatment he can get from the team at St Albans, and we hope to report on Harry's progress, and a successful outcome in the near future

Both Sue & ourselves are with you all the way Sally

fingers crossed pleased for our Harry...xx

*** Update on Harry Sept 2004 ***

Harry is nearly one year old now, it is a very difficult time for Sally.

In total now, stunningly, 7 animals have been diagnosed with this same condition since Harry. Two were desperately ill & have undergone the ballooning, one (dog) had the open heart surgery.

Tragically none survived.

At present Harry is doing well, his quality of life is great, but he will go back to South Mimms shortly to have extensive tests to see how he is really progressing.

Sally's choice ? To wait until Harry is very sick to have the treatment, with the outcome possibly inevitable, or let them do it while he is still possibly fit enough to survive it.

I dont think I could face that choice & know what to do for the best.

*** Update on Harry Oct 2004 ***

Harry has had his check up, and news was not good.

Although to look at you would not see anything is wrong with Harry, the blockage has doubled in thickness inside the heart. This is very bad news as it means Harry can no longer have the angioplasy.

The only option is open-heart surgery, and chances of survival are really not good. Sally has chosen not to put Harry through this whilst his quality of life is still so good, and it will only be a last resort once Harry becomes ill. She will take it day by day.

Please, if you have contacts in other countries, pass this story, we need to find somebody who has dealt with it before, whatever the outcome was or is. In the UK so little is known about it that they just dont know what is best to do.

*** Update on Harry August 4th 2005 ***

Today Harry is undergoing his life saving operation, without it he will surely die soon, with it he faces the same fate, but at least Harry has a chance.

Three cats have donated blood, his stablemate Brocstar Jacob, his mother Willow & his sister Chinook, without Maine coon blood it could not go ahead, we had offers of others cats to donate blood , thankyou for this, it was so appreciated.

All Sally can do is wait to know if her boy will be going home with her soon..

*** Update on Harry August 9th 2005 ***

Unbelievably Harry has amazed everybody, and not only has he come through the operation but he has recovered so rapidly that after just 5 days he has actually gone home !!

The operation was a complete success, and Harry will be a benchmark for any future cases, everything has been documented and the operation itself was filmed, he is the only animal to survive this operation anywhere in the world...

what an amazing feat this boy has acheived !!!!!

Well done Sally, we are so proud of you for keeping faith in Harry and never letting go, may he go from strength to strength


Harry looks pretty grim after his op we know, all shaved and blue dye on him, but it is lovely to see him alive and well so far, we will update his photo once his coat has grown back and he is looking gorgeous once again !

*** Update on January 2006 ***

Harry is doing amazingly well and has his beautiful coat back !

His story was shown on BBC 1 in a wonderful documentary and we hope all the information collected can at some point in the future be of great benefit to others.


What a fantastic team Harry had looking after him !

We say our thanks to Dan Brockman and all the staff at the RVC, and also to PETPLAN Insurance, who have covered the cost of all this from start to now, a remarkable story that shows miracles can happen :))

visit the RVC Website