Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cat nurse

It may seem that I've abandoned this blog, but I havent. My life has been taken over by cats. Namely, sick cats. I had been planning on adding topics to this blog anyhow. There's only so much that I can write about beauty, especially since I don't go out that often and therefore I don't wear make-up that often.
So, here's a little advice if you have a cat, especially if you live in an area with stray cats.  Get your cat vaccinated every 4 years, at least.  And if your cat stops eating, get it to a good vet.  The emphasis on GOOD.  Also, if your cat gets sick, pay attention to every detail of their behavior.  Here's why I say this.
There are 4 cats where I live, 2 males, two females.  The males go outside every day, the females go out occasionally.  They're older and more mellow. There are also 2 strays that come every day for food and sometimes shelter. One of the strays has been coming for almost a year, and he has always looked pretty healthy. Just recently he decided that we weren't scary and he wanted us to pet him. He now LOVES to be petted.  He purrs and he rubs against you and is the sweetest boy.  (Unless you're another cat. In that case look out, because he'll chase you.). The other stray has only been coming around for a month or so, and he was pretty sickly looking for awhile. His coat was scraggly, he was very thin, and one of his eyes is usually closed.  We discovered him when he came in our cat door and helped himself to our cat's food.  He doesn't want to be touched or to get too close to anyone, but he has no problem helping himself to the other cat's food or bed.
So, three weeks ago our oldest male cat started drooling everywhere, out of the blue. My Mom took him to the vet and they said he had an abscessed tooth. They gave him a shot of antibiotics and said to bring him back in 2 weeks.  That same day, the other indoor/outdoor male (my 4 year old, Max), and my girl Scully stopped eating. Max slept and slept, not wanting to do anything else, which is very odd for him. After a 2nd day of this I took both of them to the vet.  First I took Scully. She is a little over 17, so I worry about any change in her eating.  The vet looked her over and said she was dehydrated and seemed to be tender around her stomach. They gave me a treatment estimate, the low end of which was 745.00.  I went ahead and had them give her an antibiotic shot, a B12 shot, an anti-nausea shot, blood tests, urine tests, and fluids for the dehydration. They sent me home with more fluids to give her daily (I am proficient at giving cats subcutaneous fluids, having had a cat with kidney disease).  Later that day, I took little Max in.  I could see that he wanted to eat, but he'd get to the bowl and just look at it. The vet pried open his mouth and we both noticed a dark red ulcer on the middle of his tongue.  That explained a lot!  For him I was given another bag of fluids, antibiotics, pain medicine, and some special high calorie food for sick kitties.  The next day he was back to eating and much more active and in 2 more days he was totally fine.
Scully seemed better the night after her vet appointment.  She ate and seemed alert.  But the next day she was back to not eating. Another day went by and she didn't get any better. She wouldn't eat anything.  She also started drooling.  She'd hover over the water bowl constantly, rarely drinking, just dipping her chin in the water.  Finally I couldn't stand the worrying anymore.  In the wee hours of the morning I took her to a 24 hour animal hospital 45 minutes away.  I told them that I thought there was something wrong with her mouth.  The vet looked in it and said there was some tooth decay and the beginning of an abscess.  He also mentioned the possibility of a virus called the Calicivirus which is spread among cats very easily. They gave me antibiotics, pain medicine, and an appetite stimulant for her, and suggested that I talk to my regular vet about her teeth.  I asked if she should have an IV for nutrition, and he said that they only did that when a cat hadn't eaten for several WEEKS. He said a few days was nothing.  So I went home and gave her the medicine along with the fluids.  Fast forward a few days and she STILL wasn't eating. The drooling had finally stopped, but she hadn't eaten anything for 6 days.  I had done a lot of research online and it seemed like the Calicivirus was what all 3 cats had.  The symptoms fit to a T.  So why hadn't the first vet even mentioned it?  Um, because they were stupid.  I had also found sites that advised feeding your cat with a syringe if they wouldn't eat on their own.  I called my local vet to ask for more of the special food so that I could start syringe feeding that day.  When I went in to get it, the Dr. Gave me a long spiel about how I should bring Scully in for hospitalization or else she might die.  Gee, thanks for a) stating the obvious, and b) trying to scare me into spending another couple of hundred dollars. Seriously, the estimate was another 740.00.  I said that I needed to think about it, got my food and syringes, and went home feeling sick. I didn't have that kind of money but I also hated the thought of losing my sweet girl.
I began the fun process of feeding Scully with a syringe (very messy and no fun, since Scully hated it), but at least I was getting food into her.  After 2 days Scully started showing some interest in eating on her own, but she seemed to have such a hard time actually eating and swallowing the food.  I called a few other local vets and found one that could get me in that day.  This one was SO much better than my regular one.  He looked in her mouth and saw ulcers all over her tongue. He said he highly suspected that it was the Calicivirus, and asked if we wanted to test for it (we did and it came back positive). They gave her another antibiotic shot, an anti-inflammatory shot, and an anti-nausea shot. He advised me to continue doing what I was doing at home - giving her Subcutaneous fluids and syringe-feeding her.  I liked this guy and felt like I had finally found a decent Dr. for my sweetheart.

So it's been a week and Scully will eat on her own again, as long as it's tuna.  At this point I'll give her anything she wants. Some days she eats good, other days not much. I'm still giving her fluids and some days still doing the syringe feeding, and this week I've had to help her clean herself "there".  She seems to be weak in her back legs, so some days the litter box has been hard for her to stand in. She tries to go to the bathroom and falls down in the box. That upset me immensely, as I've never seen her so weak before.  She has also lost a lot of weight and is so very thin right now. It has been very hard to see this, and I've been struggling with how long to keep up hope that she will recover. The vet seems skeptical given her age. Some days I feel the same, and other days I feel like she will pull through.  It's been exhausting and very depressing.  This little girl has been through a lot with me, she's even moved cross-country with me twice. No matter how uncertain my life was, she was always a constant.
Right now I'm doing what the vet suggested and taking it one day at a time.  When she's not hiding under the bed, I cover her with fluffy blankets and pet her a lot. I try to stay in the moment and appreciate the good times that I have with her. This is what I would have done with my Dad if I had known that he was going to die when he did.  It's what I think we should all do with people and pets we love as well as all of the good things in our lives, big or small.  Who knew that seeing my cat eat would become such a joyous occasion? Don't take anything for granted, you never know when it will be gone.

my little girl when she felt better