Kitty health update

Well, if you’ve been seeing my tweets or facebook status updates over the past few months, you know my cats are having health issues. Amazingly, they’re both currently still around. They’re both rescue cats, one from the shelter, one from the woods in the Catskills, and they’ve lived very long, happy (spoiled-rotten) lives in the lap of luxury here. Tai Gau is 13, Renki is ~15+
In fact, Tai Gau sure is doing well for a cat who was given 1-6 months to live six months ago and who almost did himself in eating a ball of string a few months back. His appetite is good even if his energy is low. He walks like an old man and has no interest in playing with toys, but still loves to be cuddled, carried around, and hugged. In his geriatric state, he has decided that just peeing kind of near the litter box is good enough and we’re combatting this behavior with puppy weewee pads.
He did get frisky enough the other day to tear open a hole in a bag of cat food so I’ve just left it there for him to eat out of. He thinks it’s great fun to eat by sticking his head into the hole in the bag, like he’s “sneaking” food, so we let him think that. Anything that keeps his appetite up is good.
Renki isn’t doing so well. The tumor on her leg has been in a cycle where the wound heals, then it swells up enormously, then “pops,” bleeds profusely and shrinks back down, heals… and starts all over again. The latest cycle she hasn’t bled for two weeks and her leg is clearly really bothering her. She can’t go up the stairs, though she sometimes comes down them and then cries to be carried back up.
The other major concern is basically that she hasn’t pooped in over a week. This cat has always been prone to constipation so I monitor it pretty carefully. The previous poop came after nearly a week of waiting for it, and the one before that 4-5 days. It doesn’t seem to be constipation like normal though, which would result in her puking up what she eats. There has been no puking at all. I’d suspect she’s just found some secret spot to poop but I’ve been searching to no avail.
Most of what she’s been eating is licking the layer of water and fiber off the top of wet cat food, with occasional bowls of the water from cans of tuna. If I leave her for a few hours with a bowl of wet food (a/d formula) mixed with water and fiber, she will ingest about half of it in the course of 4- hours. So *something* is getting in there. Last night she slurped down a teaspoon of cream and I thought maybe I had found a new hydration delivery system… but this morning she turned her nose up at more of it.
She’s clearly dehydrated at this point and it’s just a complete mystery what’s going on in her digestive tract. She just followed me all the way down to the kitchen where I was feeding the other cat, and meowed for food, and ate about a third of a bowl, but then had to be carried back up the stairs.
In addition to the swelled up tumorous leg, her lymph nodes are crazily enlarged in her abdomen.
She’s still very interested in attention, being petted, and sleeps all cuddled up with me. So she’s not acting like she does when she’s *sick* (hides under the bed). But we’re running out of things we can do to keep her comfortable. I don’t know if a trip to the vet for an enema or subcutaneous hydration will help her rally or only stave off the inevitable.

6 Comments

  1. when my plucked-off-the-streets rescue cat was on his way out, the sub-Q fluids made him far more comfortable without prolonging his suffering. and you can do them yourself if the vet shows you how – so i’d definitely suggest it for her if the vet thinks it’s a good idea.

    1. yeah, we have lots of friends who have done the fluids at home thing which is why I knew to bring it up. If she really won’t eat, though, no amount of water is going to keep her going.

  2. A friend of mine kept his cat alive and comfortable well past her 20th year by administering sub-Q fluids twice a day. I second @Amy’s motion.

    1. At this stage of her cancer I don’t see fluids really prolonging her lifespan, but maybe increasing the quality of what life she has left. if she refuses to eat, though, she’s saying “I’m done.”

  3. I’ve done the subcutaneous fluids treatment at home for three of my cats over the years. It’s not hard at all, if the cat doesn’t object vigorously. If they do, the quality of life improvement from the treatment may not be enough to balance the negative from wrestling with them.
    If you do that, and it seems likely to go on for more than a month or so, it’s well worth asking your vet if he will write you a prescription to purchase the fluids in bulk from a veterinary supply house. (KV Veterinary Supply is a good one). The difference between the price there, assuming I was willing to buy cases of 12, and from my vet was about a factor of 5.
    For giving the fluids, one trick we learned to make it more comfortable was to buy a heating pad and run the tube from the bag through it, so that the fluid was warm by the time it reached the needle. If you can get it to something more like body temperature they’re happier.
    I have an older kitty (17) who has a squammous cell carcinoma on his tongue, which causes him some chewing issues. I had good success getting him to eat with meat baby food before we switched to the A/D.

    1. She’s pretty docile, especially with me, so I think she’d tolerate it pretty well. We’ll see what the vet says. It’s now been 10 days since this cat last shat… yet I don’t feel anything in her belly. Where the heck is it going?

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