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Tortie has lost her ruff

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I adopted my cat, Annie, 3 years ago - she is a Tortie and is now 11 years old. She is an indoor cat. I have never known her to shed excessively but she has been for about the past 3 months. I think it has slowed down now. I zoom groom her twice a day. The thing is, she no longer has a ruff around her neck She still has fur, but it is way shorter than it used to be - no longer a ruff. There are no bald patches anywhere on her, and her tummy is as fluffy as it has always been and so are her pantaloons. Her top and sides look the same as before - it's just her neck that now looks skinny. She eats and drinks well - not the best of diets as I want her to eat mainly wet food and the only one she will touch is Fancy Feast (mainly Ocean Whitefish & Tuna, but to a lesser degree, chicken, and beef). She gets a selection of two or three dry foods, which keep changing - right now it is Healthwise and Purino One (doesn't particularly care for either - seems to like Hill Prescriptive K/D - which is NOT a good food so I would rather she didn't have it). I have tried a wide variety of premium wet foods, but she won't touch them - even after a month of mixing FF into them. She has lost weight, but I think a vet would be pleased (I like her a bit chubby, though). In July/Aug my daughter and her husband stayed with me for a month and Annie got used to a lot of attention. Since then she wants to play every waking hour - hardly naps at all, and little or no self-grooming . I have this wand thing for interactive play and all "my" relaxing time, starting with my first cuppa in the a.m. is spent waving this around so she can chase it. If I stop for too long, she will cry, paw and nip me until I give in. She goes to a corner of the room, then comes charging at the furry bit dangling on the end of the wand elastic. For the first three years I didn't really play with her, just gave her lots of companship, cuddles, and conversation. So all in all, don't know why she has been shedding so much - and why her neck hair is now short. Also, she doesn't seem to itch much. Anyone have any suggestions? N.B. She has never been a particularly pretty cat, and tbis hasn't done much for her looks. Love her to pieces, anyway!
post #2 of 13
Any unexpected weight loss in an older cat should result in a vet visit. The increased levels of activity and shedding may be a sign of hyperthyroidism. This can be determined with a blood test, and there are treatment options available if she does have the disease.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloud_shade View Post
Any unexpected weight loss in an older cat should result in a vet visit. The increased levels of activity and shedding may be a sign of hyperthyroidism. This can be determined with a blood test, and there are treatment options available if she does have the disease.
Now there's a thought! Should have her checked out anyway - but getting her in a pet carrier, then a taxi, is traumatic for both Annie and me. Will have to bite the bullet. Am doing some research online now. Many thanks for raising this possibility.
post #4 of 13
Here's a trick to getting her in the carrier too. Pick her up and wrap her in a towel. Then insert her head first, with her feet toward the sky, into the carrier. It gives you half a second or so to close the door while she flips over, and it will be much harder for her to struggle against you (or splay out her legs) if she's upside down.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloud_shade View Post
Here's a trick to getting her in the carrier too. Pick her up and wrap her in a towel. Then insert her head first, with her feet toward the sky, into the carrier. It gives you half a second or so to close the door while she flips over, and it will be much harder for her to struggle against you (or splay out her legs) if she's upside down.
Do you place the carrier on its end, so that the door is at the top and the cat is going in head down? Or is the carrier in its normal position and you slide the cat in head first?

Following your advice I took Annie in to the vet on the 27th. He said she had a Grade 1 heart problem (grades are 1 to 6) - I think he used the word "murmur", but not sure - and that she had a tooth that would have to come out, maybe in a couple of months. I was given antibiotics for this.

HOWEVER, it appears she does have hyperthyroidism! It is now Dec. 30 and I am STILLl waiting for the vet to call me to discuss the findings. It was the receptionist who gave me the diagnosis when I phoned and then dropped by on Dec. 28. She gave me a supply of Methhimazole to put on Annie's ear but I haven't started it yet as I am giving Annie the antibiotics for her tooth and don't want to freak her out with the gel as well. Also, I have been doing some research on radioiodine therapy and I think I would like to go that route - if she is a suitable candidate. That might mean another visit to the vet because when I took her in the vet was not able to draw urine (how does he do this?) because she had emptied her bladder just before the visit. Could he do a urinalysis from a urine clump from the litter box? I have been phoning the vet's office every day. I did ask for a copy of the report on the 28th but the receptionist said they didn't have it - the vet had taken it home with him! If he calls today I hope he has the report with him to refer to. Do cats get blase about Methhimazole eventually? I have a lovely relationship with Annie, and really don't want her to dread my coming near her. Also, I don't want to traumatize her by frequent visits to the vet.
post #6 of 13
I usually have the carrier on a flat surface. Heart murmurs are graded from 1 to 6, with 1 being the lowest (barely audible) level. Sometimes they can be induced by hyperthyroidism, so curing the hyperthyroidism *can* sometimes make the murmur go away.

The ear gel (usually called transdermal) tends to be easier to administer to the cat than giving pills. Spot was such a laid back cat that I never had a problem giving the pills. In fact, I found pills easier than liquid (which is another form that the medication comes). After a while, I could pop the pill in the back of Spot's mouth and tell him to swallow, and he would. Afterwards I always followed the pill with breakfast or dinner. Feeding helped in his case because it ensured that the pill made it into his stomach, but it also created a more positive experience because he really liked food.

With the transdermal, you'll want to switch ears each time and thoroughly clean the ears before applying the medication. Otherwise, the medication isn't absorbed properly. Also, you'll want to take care not to get the medicine on your fingers because you'll absorb it too. Some people use plastic wrap, or you can buy rubber "finger cots" to put over your finger, or thermometer covers.

The most common way to find out if she is a suitable candidate is to get her thyroid levels stablized on methimazole and then check her kidney values. The urinalysis is also important and is often required prior to the cat going in for treatment. The urinalysis is most accurate when done by cystocentesis (a very fine needle draws the urine from the bladder directly). Sometimes it can also be done by collecting it at home using a non-absorbant litter, but it is less accurate the longer the urine is out of the body.

Radioiodine treatment may mean a few more vet visits, but they will likely be fewer in number than choosing the medication route. The cats on medication often need frequent bloodwork done to verify that the levels are stable. Radioiodine/I-131 is usually a cure (Spot was one of the rare exceptions). While the cat would need to be away from home for several days (the length depends on your area's regulations), it's better than frequent blood tests.

When you talk to your vet, definitely ask for a copy of the bloodwork. I still have Spot's tests, even though he is no longer with me, and Willow's and Odo's as well. I have more time to devote to spotting trends than the vet does, and my vet always appreciates my bringing her new information.
post #7 of 13
I have managed to make medicine time for my cat REALLY enjoyable. I get the liquid and just put it on some soft cat food. She gobbles it up like there is no tomorrow. Now every morning AND evening she starts whining until I give her her medication. I dont know how well this would work since you said your cat could be rather picky.

There is also a surgery they do to remove the thyroid gland that is the problem. It is cheaper but not all cats are able to have it done. (it depends on if they can isolate which gland is defective)

Best wishes
post #8 of 13
The surgery is pretty risky. The surgeon has to be able to remove the thyroid glands without damaging the parathyroid glands (which regulate calcium in the body). Also, it is pretty common for both lobes of the thyroid to be affected, so if only one is removed, the problem often recurs. Cats who have the radioiodine treatment have the longest survival rate on average.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Heard from the vet this evening. Annie's results for HT are 135 - normal is 18-40. These are metric SI measurements. From what I can gather online, 135 is equivalent to 10.38 U.S. ug/dl. Vet says this is middlin' high and that some cats he has treated are 175! He certainly doesn't sound concerned! Perhaps he is not the greatest vet in the world?! Kidneys and glucose levels are fine - funny, because 3 years ago his receptionist told me Annie had kidney disease. I found out two years later - from the vet himself - that she had been borderline. He is not an easy person to get to talk to personally. He couldn't give me any info on radioiodine therapy because his clients choose the treatment option. I would prefer to have the radioiodine therapy, but need to think about it a bit more. He says because her kiidney results are good it will not be necessary to do a urinalysis prior to the I-133. He faxed me the results of the bloodwork after he hung up. I have the Methimazole gel but didn't want to give Annie that (in her ear) and the antibiotics for her decayed tooth at the same time. A double whammy! Antiobiotic should be used up in a couple of days. Annie also needs an ultrasound for her hearr - heartbeat is rapid; also, liver enzymes have to be watched. If I use the gel, can I squeeze the contents of the syringe on my gloved finger and then place it in Annie's ear? Wish I had known about the liquid before I got the gel. Thanks for your advice - a great help to me. I am so very sorry about your Spot, Cloud Shade. Always a tragic occurrence to lose a beloved pet.
post #10 of 13
It sounds like you may want to look for another vet. Perhaps you can find one that is better at communicating with you. I haven't used the transdermal, but I think that putting it on a latex or polyurethane (plastic) glove to transfer to her ear should be okay. I don't think there should be any problem with her taking both the antibiotic and methimazole at the same time. Spot didn't do well with most antibiotics (he had a reaction to anything penicillin related), but he did take Baytril a couple of times while on methimazole--I never noticed any issues. The liver enzymes may be high due to the hyperthyroidism, and the rapid heart rate may be related as well. Hyperthyroidism causes the metabolism to speed up, so all the organs work harder. Spot was a good boy. He came to me in a time I needed him the most, and he left me after 19 months and 1 day. He taught me a lot in his short time with me, and I do what I can to pass that along to others.

By the way, his highest level ever was 44 (normal range 0.8 to 4.0). We never found out why it spiked so much, but he was able to recover afterwards and lived for another 8 months. He had an underlying heart condition that I didn't realize was so serious, and that was what took him in the end.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Cloud Shade, when you say Spot's highest level spiked to 44, do you mean US measurements - not the SI ones I used?
post #12 of 13
Yep, US measurements it was 44 µg/dl.

In SI measurements, it would be 572.00 nmol/L. The spike happened after the radioiodine treatment failed--we still don't know why. He was a very unusual cat, medically speaking. He had an abscess that wouldn't heal for months despite two surgeries, but it suddenly went away on its own. Despite Spot's experience, I still think that radioiodine is the way to go in most cases. I've heard enough people's positive experiences with their cats being cured, for life, and living for several more years to have me convinced.
post #13 of 13
There's a facility in Vancouver that does Radioiodine treatment in cats. I don't know anything about it, but I found their website quite useful--especially their explanation of radioiodine treatment on cats who have been on methimazole/Tapazole for a long time. Spot was on methimazole for about 10 months prior to treatment, and we don't know how long he had been hyperthyroid before I found him.

http://www.t4cats.com/
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