My very old cat is dry heaving A LOT (sorry very long post)
Hello, I am writing here because of all the overwhelming support and response that Chi got for her cat Kitty back in November of 2005 and I really need some advice/opinions from concerned fellow cat lovers.
My cat Jelika is 18.5 years old. I got her for my 12th birthday present from my parents and I just had my 30th birthday. Needless to say that this cat means the world to me. She is my beating heart.
Her health history is fairly clean, with a few hurdles along the way. I would have to say that her first major hurdle happened back in January of '06. I came home one day and she could not get off the bed to come greet me at the door (as she has done practically her whole life). She also did not move all night or the next morning. She wouldn't even come for a bit of smoked turkey breast! So I examined her a little further and found that she could not walk! I immediately panicked and rushed her to the vet. He found that she had a torn ligament in one of her back legs and said that at her age (17 at the time) the prognosis was not good. We COULD put her through surgery but she would have to be put under anesthetics and she would not have a very good chance of recovery. I really debated about this because I love my cat so much. I didn't want to see her in so much pain and not be able to walk, but I also didn't want to put her through the surgery, and I also most certainly did not want to put her down. So I went back home and waited it out for a few weeks and she was actually starting to do a little better. I put down a litter box close to where I was isolating her but she insisted on hobbling all the way to the litter box 2 rooms over that she was used to using. She started trying to jump back up on the bed with me, and on the couch. I was so amazed that she seemed to be getting better. To make a long story short she seemed to miraculously recover from that incident and today she is walking and jumping like a spry 15 year old! I had read that some cats do spontaneously recover from this injury but that it is usually only temporary and then they go back to hobbling. My brave girl was the exception!
That was just a long pre-amble to my real question because I just want you to know what a fighter she is. But for the past week or so she has started to dry heave a LOT, but oddly enough only when she starts to purrrr. My vet said she has never heard about this before and it is very strange. However the vet didn't actually get to hear the dry heave because it is impossible to get my cat to start purring at the vet's office! (I am thinking of videotaping it at home and then bringing the video to the vet..) Basically she said it could be any number of things and that we should do a full blood panel and urinalysis to see if we could rule some things out. So I got the results and her blood work is actually quite good for a cat of her years except that her kidneys are in the process of failing (I'm not quite sure how far along she is though.. because I was aware that her kidneys were starting to fail back in January of '06 when i brought her in). Her urine is quite dilute which is also a sign of kidney failure and she has lost quite a lot of weight (She used to be 14 furry pounds and now she's down to 9.5) She lost 1.5 pounds in the last 6 months. She also seems to be dehydrated, but as far as I can tell she is drinking as normal. Also her use of the litter box is normal.
So my dilemna is, what can I do about the heaving, especially since I don't think it's a hairball because it only happens when she purrs.. her purr starts to become very rough and high pitched, and her mouth opens slightly, and then she retches but nothing comes out. Her breathing seems very laboured at this point. I know she is probably very uncomfortable, and she has always been a very big purrer.. so it is very difficult for her not to purr. (Also very difficult for me not to pet her to make her purr). She has also been extremely lethargic since we came home from the vet 5 days ago. She doesn't want to curl up on my lap or sleep with me anymore. She mostly spends her time alone in a cat bed in front of the fireplace. I am very worried about her but I don't want to even think about putting her down because except for the dry heaving, before that she was acting exactly as per normal. She seemed very happy and healthy. She is my baby.
The vet says we can do costly x-rays that probably won't show anything and then we can do an even costlier ultrasound that may or may not show anything. And I'm thinking, even if it DOES show something what can I do about it with an 18 and a half year old cat?
I love her to bits and pieces and only want the best for her. I do realize that at some point in the future I will have to come to terms with the fact that she won't live forever, but I don't want that time to come before it absolutely has to. If there can be a simple solution to this, so that she can go back to normal I would much rather try these things first, rather than resort to the drastic too soon.
I really appreciate all of you who made it to the bottom of this post and would really appreciate any answers you may be able to give me.
Thank you from me and Jelika (and oddly enough I also have a cat named Kitty) :)