I know this isn't the kind of thing people online can answer for you, but I'm really struggling. This is my first time dealing with this issue.
My approximately 17 year old male cat seems like he's in a lot of pain, but other days he seems just fine. To begin with, he went through kidney failure about two years back as the result of a (very stupid) vet giving him Metacam. He’s since recovered about as best a cat can, and just has the side effects of frequent drinking and urination. We monitor his blood levels frequently, and these seem to be under control quite well. He hasn’t really been the same ever since, however.
This has also led to us having difficulty with his weight. He is about 18 pounds. While this is probably better than him losing weight like most senior cats, he has severe arthritis in his back and hips. I’ve always wanted him to lose weight, but it’s nearly impossible with the threat of kidney failure relapse. Losing weight requires upping protein levels, which he can’t handle now with his kidneys, or cutting calories, which we’ve tried but I’m not set on reducing his quality of life like that at this point. He very much looks forward to meal time, and I’d rather have him eating than not eating.
The arthritis in his back and hips is quite bad. He walks and can even trot when he’s mad enough, but gingerly—his hocks kind of sink. He can go down the stairs if he kind of bunny hops, but I generally carry him up the stairs because I know it’s painful for him. We can’t touch him at all on his back because it hurts, and we have to be careful picking him up. He gets monthly Adequan injections, however, and these seem to help immediately after the injection. He’s been known to jump up on the couch by himself. This shocked us after his injections because we hadn’t seen him jump anywhere in years. He was also on Buprenex for awhile for pain. I’d like to think this helped him, but he absolutely does not tolerate taking it and it makes him act a little weird—his eyes get big and he seems wide awake, like he’s on a high. The vet has told us we may wean him off of this because...
He’s also on Flovent (inhaled steroids) for his asthma. He’s been doing this for about a month since we recently discovered the problem. The vet says his breathing is better, but it still sounds pretty bad and he still breathes quickly. It is better than before, though. The inhaled steroids are also supposed to be better for his system overall, so they may help his back and hips.
He does strain to urinate, and is starting to have problems defecating. This morning, he was groaning so loud and although he did go inside the litterbox, he also ended up (I think unknowingly) also going outside the litterbox. I’m waiting for my vet to call me back about what to do to help him, but this is another pain issue. I’ll likely be giving him milk and adding fish oil back into his diet.
He’s an indoor/outdoor cat. I know the issues with him going outdoors and I’m uncomfortable when he’s out there, so I’m always watching him and he generally stays on our porch and sticks close to our house. He simply is NOT happy when we try to keep him just inside since he was born a stray.
There are also two kittens in the house that I desperately try to keep clear of him since they make him VERY angry. I know this is stressful to him.
Other than the above (which I know is a lot), he acts pretty normal. He sleeps a lot, but what older cat doesn’t? He can’t groom himself too well because of his weight and arthritis, but he gets by. He’s all there in the head, and his vision and hearing seem fine. He doesn’t play much anymore just because he gets tired easily, but he will bat around a mouse if you engage him. He eats Science Diet Mature Adult, which has a high water content, and I’ll sometimes mix in Science Diet K/D for his kidneys. His teeth are bad and past the point the help (unless someone has suggestions), so sometimes it hurts him to chew hard food.
What I’m struggling with is that he seems perfectly happy one day and in pain the next. I’ll be in tears thinking about life without him because he struggled to do something that morning and then he’ll roll over on his belly and look at me like “what’s wrong, Mom?” I just don’t want to keep him alive with medications, and I don’t want him to be in pain. He’s had a very long, happy life and as selfish as I want to be in keeping him around longer, I owe it to him to put him out of suffering when that time comes. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated. I’m so sorry for the long post, but I am STUCK. This cat is my world. =(