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My cat is trying to kill me!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Alternate title: My cat's heart condition is giving me one, too.

Yeah, I can smile about this now, because it's somewhat stablized, but OY! the past two weeks have been one helluva emotional rollercoaster.

My 18 year old cat, Sheba, was first diagnosed with kidney disease summer of 2005. Just early stages, so all we had to do was switch her food to Science Diet G/D. The first year, she stayed about the same, losing some more weight, sometimes having bad days where she wouldn't eat or was vomiting, but her numbers remained steady. As her appetite and weight dwindled, we started doing subq fluids first once a week, then twice a week. But overall, she was doing great. She played with catnip toys and was still the bully of the house, beating up her younger sisters who weigh twice as much as she does.

Two weeks ago, I started to try to work some of the tangles out of her fur, and noticed her breathing heavy. At first, it felt like she was purring - there seemed to be a rattle in her chest - but then I noticed she was opening her mouth just a teeny bit. Not panting, not gasping, but definately not breathing right. I work for a vet. I know that could be anything from asthma to a respiratory infection to heart and lung problems. So I rushed her to the 24 hour emergency clinic. Of course, once we were there, she was breathing just fine, so the official diagnosis seemed to be "Paranoid Mother." They offered to hospitalize her and do a full workup, but I felt more comfortable taking her into work with me, and being the one to hold her for bloodwork instead of some strangers.

The next day at work, we ran bloodwork and while her breathing wasn't very bad, it was a bit heavy. She now has full blown kidney failure, not early stage kidney disease. I've seen cats do well who were much worse off, so while it's saddening, it's something I know we could deal with. But she also has heart failure. She needs subqs for her kidneys, but she can collect fluid in her lungs. The medication for her heart puts a strain on her kidneys. So we have a delicate balancing act to keep her hydrated without putting any extra strain on her heart.

Twice over the past two weeks, I thought she was dying, most dramatically Monday night. I even called my husband upstairs to tell her goodbye. She was just laying in a very uncomfortable position, gasping for air. If I didn't think she'd die en route from the extra stress, I would have taken to the ER to be euthanized. But I did what I could for her (another dose of furosemide), and soothed and petted her until her breathing seemed a little better. I didn't know at the time if it was "better" or "slowing and eventually stopping." A few hours later, much to my surprise, who comes strolling into the bedroom, but Miss Sheba! She hopped up into bed with me (for the first time in weeks) and snuggled up next to me. I was overcome with emotions, from happy to see her up and about, to wondering if she was just coming to say her last goodbye, to feeling that despite all the poking and prodding and pilling I've done to her, she still loves her mommy, to the probably most realistic "it's kinda cold in the house, and you're a warm body."

The next day, she still seemed weak, and wouldn't eat. I gave her the appetite stimulant and her other medications, but she still wouldn't touch any food. Not even the disgusting Crab, Shrimp and Sardines Fancy Feast that no cat can ever resist. I took her to work with me, and her breathing and heart rate were good. She drank a little, and a full 8 hours after getting her appetite stimulant that's supposed to kick in after 45 minutes, she starts eating. And eating. And eating. And she still hasn't really stopped.

The vet mixed up an extra dose of vitamins (B-12 and B-complex) and dextrose to give with her fluids, and it's really seemed to perk her up. Now, she's not acting like a kitten or anything, but it just amazes me that this cat could go from what looked like dying one night, to eating and purring and headbutting the next.

She's a trooper, alright. Like I told my vet, I know she's very old. I know she's in very poor health. I'm not expecting her to really "get better" from this. But I just can't give up on her when she won't give up. Every time I think she's done, I tell her how much I love her and how we've had such a good life together and that it's ok if she wants to go, she just seems to say, "Screw you! I'm not going anywhere!"
post #2 of 11
What a story. I know how you feel. ChiChi, my childhood cat (she is 18 now) lives with my parents and has kidney failure. Not sure what stage its in but she was diagnosed 2 years ago and has been hanging in there since. She wont eat the special food but my parents give her subq fluids every other day. I've also convinced them to put Transfer Factor in her food ( a miracle substance if you ask me ) and she is doing very well. She had a scare a few months ago because her blood count was low (or something) and had to have medication for a while but we got it back up. CRF is definately a roller coaster. The vets also said they thought she had a slight heart murmur.. so I hope she will be able to hang in there longer. It is scary when you dont know if they're 'done' or not isnt it
post #3 of 11
I very much like the sounds of your Miss Sheba. Her spirit reminds me very much of my crf kitty Patrick, who I lost this past March, less than 2 months from his 19th birthday. He'd been diagnosed with his crf almost 4 years previously, plus had either lymphoma or severe IBD (I was not going to put him through anything invasive..we did an u/s and treated him "as if" it were IBD) where we were told he would have 2-3 more months...he lived another year and a half.
He just kept amazing my vet by healing or bouncing back enough to make it clear it wasn't time, and did so time and again.

His mother was the same way. Sounds like they were sprinkled with a similar "strength of spirit/will to live and love" dust
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses.

I'm still not convinced it's so much a will to live, as it is a will to outlive me.

She must be feeling better. I've ended up bleeding the past two nights will trying to medicate her. Bit last night, scratched tonight. And, you know, I wouldn't have it any other way. My grumpy girl is back.
post #5 of 11
Even though she is very ill, your description of your beloved Miss Sheba filled my heart with joy.
Bless you both as you continue this journey together.
post #6 of 11
It's so heartwarming to hear that she is keeping her spirits up even when she isn't feeling well. Cats have so much dignity, is it any wonder why we love them so much?
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Sheba is continuing to amaze me. She's starting to bully the younger cats around again. They're each easily twice her weight now, but she's still the Top Cat.

She's back to walking around with her poofy plume tail in the air, yelling at me for more food, coming to bed with me, purring, and even tried to run away at medicine-time this morning. She's starting to put up more of a struggle when I give her fluids, but I've found that if I put a dish of food in front of her, she'll eat thru the whole ordeal. She doesn't mind the fluids... she just doesn't like to be held in one place.
post #8 of 11
Sheba is one very special girl.
post #9 of 11
Aww, she sounds like such a special girl. Fingers crossed you have lots more time together.
post #10 of 11
Way to go Sheba!!
post #11 of 11
Sheba sounds like a remarkable girl, with quite a will. Is that her in your "cat portraits"?
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