I know what you’re thinking: cats and pharmacies aren’t usually synonymous, right? Well when it comes to compounding pharmacies they are a perfect match, and NW Remedies, a compounding pharmacy in Olympia, has tacitly changed and even saved the nine lives of not just cats but all pets in our area for decades.
Sparkle was keen to take her mother, Donna Dorris, out on daily walks in the morning. Photo credit: Donna Dorris
Sparkle was one of those lucky cats who lived a really long life. She was a black and white American shorthair woman who had a penchant for going for walks with her human companion, Donna Dorris. “She was such a treat,” says Donna. “She picked me up every morning and showed me around the house. No leash, we’d just go. “
Donna shares that she taught Sparkle to walk on a leash as a younger cat, and as she got a little older, Sparkle finally stopped chasing the birds and squirrels. “I trusted her and she just went around sniffing all the bushes,” says Donna. “She would see the birds and just wag her tail and move on. She was such a cute cat. “
Sparkle was a diabetic and had to inject insulin so she wasn’t unfamiliar with health problems. But when she was 17.5 years old, she got really sick. “The vet said she needed steroids that came in pill form,” recalls Donna. “I can’t pill our cat. I can barely open your teeth! “
When the vet found this wasn’t meowing for Donna’s ears, he suggested that Donna put the medicine together. Donna was already familiar with the work of NW Remedies Compounding Pharmacy, having used compound drugs herself.
The pharmacy has been putting together medicines for humans and animals since 2009. Pharmacist Kirk Barnett calls compound medicines niche or custom medicines. NW Remedies pharmacists can create unique dosage forms that contain the ideal dose of medication for any individual or animal in non-commercially available forms such as various liquid states, transdermal gels, lozenges, chewy candies, lollipops and more. Medicines can also be free of problem-causing ingredients such as colorings, sugar, lactose, or alcohol.
In Sparkle’s case, she needed a way to get her steroids in, not in pill form. (Have you ever tried pill a cat? It’s hard). NW agents suggested putting her medicine in a syringe but warned Donna that it would be bitter. “Well, that would never fly,” she says.
Next, the pharmacy offered that they could taste the drug so that it tasted like fish in order to make it more palatable for what is arguably the most picky animal in the world, the domestic cat.
Donna says 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 all out for Sparkle. Kirk shares that NW Remedies is part of a network, Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA), where they can call in consultants to help develop the remedies they have formulated. The PCCA reviews formulations, provides ideas, looks for dosage errors or calculations, all sorts of things.
Sparkle was keen to take her mother, Donna Dorris, out for daily walks in the morning. Photo credit: Donna Dorris
When it didn’t work for Sparkle, NW Remedies moved on to Plan B: a fish slurry. Donna remembers the pharmacy calling and saying, “We want you to try it.”
NW agents had taken real fish and mashed it, “and they wouldn’t tell me the recipe,” giggles Donna, “but it was such a gift from God.”
Sparkle found the new formula wonderful, and so much so that she began to look at her medicine as a reward. In the end, Donna bought some of the manure without the medication in it to do something good for Sparkle on the days when she didn’t need her medication. “I’m just so grateful to them that they made something that was so delicious for them. They put their heads together and did it and still use that formula to this day! “
Sparkle was 19 years old.
Oliver is a tumble of orange-white fur and is happiest spread over his parents’ furniture. Oliver is a cat from California, where he spent the first part of his rough life on the streets before he found his home.
Although Oliver works through his nine lives, his family are doing their best to save him. They say his pet insurance helped a ton! Photo credit: Kevin Ninkovich
“We think Oliver is around 10?” Kevin Ninkovich, his human companion, appreciates. Kevin and his wife recently received a transplant from California and moved to Olympia for work after both suffering pandemic job losses last summer.
The Ninkovichs have two cats, and it was their first time with a large train, shares Kevin. “On the first weekend after moving, Oliver woke up in the morning and found it difficult to walk,” he continues. “He fell on his side with his mouth open and his tongue hanging out. We had no idea what to do. “
It was a brand new town for the Ninkovichs, and amid these already intense challenges, they faced the ultimate: a critically ill cat. Kevin shares that Oliver eventually ended up with Olympia Veterinary Specialists. “They were able to stabilize him, but weren’t sure if he would make it,” he said.
Oliver may be a fighter and he made it through the night but now he needed three different drugs. They had to be given 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 they could make the drugs in five days.
Oliver enjoys a sunny place to sleep. His family says, “All in all, he’s fine.” Photo credit: Kevin Ninkovich
Oliver was diagnosed with heart failure and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy so he didn’t have to wait days. His life literally depended on being able to take these drugs, so Kevin began exploring other options. “When we got Oliver back, I went in and spoke to Kirk at NW Remedies and he understood the urgency of the situation,” says Kevin. “He was lightning fast. You just did it. “
“The prognosis based on where Oliver was was not very good,” he continues. “We could have lost him that day.”
Oliver was given a forecast of about six months based on his condition: “And here we are, over six months later, and we still have our little boy,” says Kevin. “They say cats have nine lives and Oliver has seven, probably eight of them. He’s a warrior and we do everything we can to help him live longer and happier lives. “
To learn more about the work of NW Remedies, read: “What is a Compounding Pharmacy? Kirk of NW Remedies explains. “or call or visit their website.
1851 State Ave NE, Suite 105, Olympia