Tuesday, November 15, 2011
And so we settled into a routine of extra feedings, medicines and IV treatments. The situation changed again when we caught Buddy looking at his litter box like he didn't know what it was for. He decided my hall closet was an ideal place to turn into a toilet and thankfully we caught him just before he relieved himself. A bit of ingenuity on our part solved the problem. By lining the floor of this small closet with newspapers and placing overlapping chucks (paper pads used to cover the bed sheets of those who are incontinent) which we taped to the wall and another thick layer of newspapers on top of that Buddy had the privacy he needed. Apparently cats can get peculiar about their toileting and look for dark corners to relieve themselves in.
We clean this area frequently to keep it odor-free and actually it's easier to maintain than the litter box. Just roll everything up and stuff it in an old shopping bag then discard. I never liked kitty litter anyway! It's also a good use for all the newspapers and paper ad circulars we collect.
Dr. Young cautioned us to remember that Buddy was sick regardless of appearances and to always keep in mind that our primary goal was to manage the disease and keep him as healthy and comfortable as possible.
To complicate matters, we had major flea problems during the summers of '09 and '10. I do not believe in flea collars or medicine added to my babies' fur which posed a problem in flea control. My brother and I combed Annie and Buddy several times a day. Any fleas caught by the flea comb were thrown in water and flushed away. I also added raw garlic to Annie's meals but not Buddy's because of his condition. Frequent washing of bedding and vacuuming of rugs and upholstery got the problem under control.
Buddy had a bout of tapeworm (because of the fleas) and that was cured by a pill. By now it was June 17, 2010 and we were closing in on Buddy's one-year anniversary. Off to the Doctor's we went for his 6-month visit. I was apprehensive, what would his blood work show? How sick was my little man after one year of controlling his renal failure? Dr. Young was amazed. The blood work showed that his values were holding and he actually put on a half of a pound.
Everything was going along fine for Buddy. We were looking forward to a calm end to 2010 and an uneventful holiday season with our beloved little man and our sweetheart of a girl. However, more medical issues were on the horizon.
November 8th came and Annie had streaks of blood in her urine. At first, her urine appeared darker than usual and I attributed that to not drinking enough water. Never a big fan of water, Annie has to be tricked into "drinking" by adding extra water to her food. By late in the day it was apparent that the 'dark urine' was actually urine streaked with blood. Off we went to the Doctor's and Annie started a round of antibiotics.
Thanksgiving passed, Buddy was doing fine, Annie's infection had cleared up and the fleas were a distant memory. Now we began to focus on the holidays. December 16th, Annie relieved herself and what immediately followed was a large amount of bright red blood and mucous. She was quite subdued. This frightened us. Since it was late at night, we took her to the 24 hour Veterinary Emergency. The diagnosis was gastritis but we did not have a definite cause. Could it be Annie ate something outside we weren't aware of? Was stress the cause?
This was by no means the end of Annie's medical issues.
Monday, November 7, 2011
First order of the day was for my brother and I to learn how to administer the IV. One of the Hope Vet Tech Reps demonstrated the procedure. Let me tell you it took a bit of doing. We were nervous at first but determined. Ultimately it took about a week to get used to doing this. Famotidine, which inhibits the production of gastric acid and, in Buddy's case, improved his appetite, also had to be administered by injection. We quickly learned to inject it into the IV line.
The next step was changing food. That did not go easily; all Buddy ever wanted to eat when he was well was Deli Cat. Reluctantly, we continued to feed Buddy Deli Cat since he continued to eat only a little bit of any of the prescription food we offered him. We tried all three kinds of canned renal food as well as a pouch version but Buddy's fascination with the new food wore off quickly.
During July 4th weekend 2009, Buddy ate only a little portion of rinsed tuna and some crumbled soft Pounce treats. He became very listless, disinterested and he stopped grooming. Doctor Young suggested an appetite stimulant. We also tried a prescription diet pouch food. Buddy decided the pouch food was more interesting than the canned versions and his eating habits improved.
An abdominal sonogram confirmed that Buddy didn't have any tumors. We set up a daily schedule for shots, IV, meds and feeding along with a weigh-in once or twice a week. With renal failure the key to good care is maintaining a good schedule and making sure the patient eats. That means keeping a variety of foods readily available to offer at all times. And the variety of foods can be pretty bizarre but we feed him whatever it takes to keep him eating.
Currently, some of Buddy's favorite foods are:
Low Sodium Tuna (rinsed)
Chopped Clams (rinsed) (I purchase Snow's Chopped Clams because they are MSG-free.)
Chicken - white, dark and organ meat
Milk and Yogurt (cats are lactose intolerant but constipation is a problem with renal failure; a small amount of milk or yogurt every day promotes regularity.)
Turkey (This is the big one! Buddy will run the New York Marathon for a piece of turkey.)
Chinese Roast Pork (Another favorite; we rinse it before giving it to him.)
Bok Choy (I can't figure this but Buddy will steal it out of your dish while you're eating.)
We spent the remainder of 2009 dealing with Buddy's eating habits as well as his temperament concerning his medicines.
At this point, Buddy was still eating commercial pet food and would continue to do so throughout most of 2010 until something happened with Annie that prompted me to consider cooking for them both! I will continue this narrative with my next post.
Friday, November 4, 2011
In this day and age, our pets have become members of our families. They bring us joy and give us grief and, sad to say, they also become ill and need our care.
May 31, 2009 was the first time we realized Buddy was pestering us for all kinds of food even though he had access to his favorite dry food all the time. A check of his weight revealed no major issues - he weighed in at 11 lbs. which was standard for him so we didn't think anything of it.
From that day in May to mid-June, Buddy hounded us for all kinds of food, which we provided, but even though he asked for different foods, he was being picky. He felt light so my brother checked his weight - 7 lbs! What a difference from less than a month before. We decided to visit the vet.
The tests turned up a slight heart murmur. Doctor Kristine Young of Hope Veterinary Clinic decided to do complete blood and thyroid panels to check for renal failure and thyroid issues. June 22, we received our answer, moderate chronic renal failure. The next step was to do a urine analysis - that was OK. Doctor Young went over all his values with us and explained where he was in the progress of the disease. Apparently we caught it earlier than most pet parents. If Buddy did not respond to treatment, he would have two to three months. If he responded to treatment, he would have up to two years and with a little bit of luck, he would have slightly more than two years.
Now began the task of learning how to administer saline solution by IV and injecting meds into the line. Have you ever given a cat a pill orally? Not. A. Fun. Experience. There also was a capsule that had to be opened and dumped on top of food. Thankfully, Buddy liked the taste of that one. Along with all of this came the trial and error of trying different Prescription Diet foods of which Buddy liked NONE after initially eating all three varieties with gusto thus creating a false hope in us that we might actually make a smooth transition from Buddy's favored food (Deli Cat) to his prescription diet.