I know what you’re thinking: cats and pharmacies usually aren’t synonymous, right? Well, when it comes to compounding pharmacies, they are a purrfect match, and NW Remedies, a compounding pharmacy in Olympia, has been quietly transforming and even saving the nine lives of not only cats, but all pets, in our area for decades.
Sparkle was one of those lucky cats that lived a really long life. She was a black and white American shorthair who had a penchant for walking her human companion, Donna Dorris. “She was such a treat,” Donna says. “She would get me up every morning and would walk me around outside the house. No leash, we’d just walk.”
Donna shares that she had taught Sparkle to walk on a leash when she was a younger feline, and then when she got a little older, Sparkle eventually stopped sprinting after the birds and squirrels. “I trusted her, and she would just walk around and sniff all the bushes,” Donna says. “She’d see the birds and just wag her tail and go on. She was such a sweet cat.”
Sparkle was diabetic and had to take insulin shots, so she was no stranger to health challenges. But when she was 17.5-years-old, she got really sick. “The vet said she’d need steroids that came in pill form,” Donna recalls. “I can’t pill our cat. I can barely open her teeth!”
Realizing that this was not meowsic to Donna’s ears, the vet suggested that Donna try getting the medicine compounded. Donna was already familiar with the work that NW Remedies Compounding Pharmacy does, having used compounded medicines herself.
The pharmacy has been compounding medicines for humans and animals since 2009. Compounded medicines are what pharmacist Kirk Barnett calls niche or customized medicines. The pharmacists at NW Remedies can prepare unique dosage forms containing the ideal dose of medication for each individual or animal in forms that are not commercially available such as various liquid states, transdermal gels, troches, chewies, lollipops and more. Medications can also be free of problem-causing ingredients like dyes, sugar, lactose or alcohol.
In Sparkle’s case, she needed a way to get her steroids in, and not in pill form. (Have you ever tried to pill a cat? It’s hard). NW remedies suggested putting her medicine in a syringe, but warned Donna that it would be bitter. “Well, that was never gonna fly,” she says.
Next, the pharmacy offered that they could flavor the medicine to taste like fish, to make it more palatable to what could arguably be one of the pickiest animals on the planet, the housecat.
Donna says that when she picked up the medicine, the pharmacy team said, “If this doesn’t work, bring it back, and we will work with you.”
“I tried it on her,” says Donna, “and she thought it was nasty.”
That’s when NW Remedies went above and beyond for Sparkle. Kirk shares that NW Remedies is part of a network, Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA), where they can call on consultants to aid in the creation of any remedy they formulate. The PCCA reviews formulations, provides ideas, looks for dosing errors or calculations, all manner of things.
When it wasn’t working for Sparkle, NW Remedies moved on to Plan B: a fish slurry. Donna recalls the pharmacy calling and saying, “We have something we’d like you to try.”
NW remedies had taken real fish and pureed it, “and they wouldn’t tell me the recipe,” Donna chuckles, “but it was such a Godsend.”
Sparkle found the new formula to be pawsitively wonderful, and so much so that she started to see her medicine as a treat. Donna ended up purchasing some of the slurry without the medicine infused in it to be able to give Sparkle a treat on the days she didn’t need her meds. “I am just so grateful to them to make something that was so yummy for her. They put their heads together and did it, and are still using that formula to this day!”
Sparkle lived to be 19-years-old.
Oliver is a tumble of orange and white fur and is happiest stretched out all over his parent’s furniture. Oliver is a cat from California, where he lived the first part of his rough and tumble life on the streets before he found his furever home.
“We think Oliver is about 10?” his human companion, Kevin Ninkovich guesstimates. Kevin and his wife are recent transplants from California and they moved to Olympia for work after they both suffered pandemic-related job losses this past summer.
The Ninkovich’s have two cats, and it was their very first time with a huge move, Kevin shares. “That first weekend after the move, Oliver woke up in the morning and was struggling to walk,” he continues. “He was kind of flopped over on his side with his mouth hanging open and his tongue hanging out. We had no idea what to do.”
It was a brand-new city for the Ninkovich’s and amidst those already intense challenges they were facing the ultimate one: a gravely ill cat. Kevin shares that Oliver eventually ended up at Olympia Veterinary Specialists. “They were able to stabilize him, but weren’t sure if he was going to make it,” he shares.
Oliver is a fighter though, and he made it through the night but now needed a regimen of three different medications. They had to be administered every day. “Oliver has some outdoor instincts, and can get a little aggressive at times,” says Kevin. “Giving him pills is pretty difficult and I knew it was going to be a problem.”
The veterinary clinic told Kevin to try a compounding pharmacy, and the first one he contacted said sure, they could make the medicines, in five days.
Oliver was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy so he didn’t have days to wait. His life literally depended on being able to take these medicines and so Kevin began to explore other options. “When we got Oliver back, I went in and talked to Kirk at NW Remedies and he understood the urgency of the situation,” says Kevin. “He was lightning fast. They just made it happen.”
“The prognosis based on where Oliver was at was not very good,” he continues, “We could have lost him that day.”
Oliver was given a projection of roughly six months to live, based on his condition, “And here we are, over six months later, and we still have our little boy,” Kevin says. “They say cats have nine lives, and Oliver’s used seven, probably eight of them. He’s a warrior, and we’re just doing what we can to help him live an even longer, happier life.”
To learn more about the work that NW Remedies does, check out: “What is a Compounding Pharmacy? Kirk From NW Remedies Explains.” or call or visit their website.
1851 State Ave NE, Suite 105, Olympia