My cat's health declining

LST863July 30, 2012

My 17 years old female persian cat, Frisky got sick after she had her annual vaccination on July 3rd. When I took her home from her annual vaccination, she wasn't feeling well and hasn't drink or eaten. I thought it could be from the vaccination. I waited for few more days to see if she can eat or drink. She hasn't eaten or drink for few days so I took her to the Vet on July 6th. The vet said she has anisocoria (unequal pupils in her eyes). She stayed at the hospital for few days for IV fluid therapy and tried taking Cyproheptadine medication increase her appetite. She still hasn't eating or drinking. I'm trying to ask my Vet to give her more tests. He didn't want to give her any tests and thinks nothing he can do. On that day, July 9th, I took her home. After I brought her home, I've noticed she walked like wobbly and had alot of fluid in her stomach and back legs. I wasn't too happy with the Vet anymore because he showed no concerned and he wouldn't do anything to help her. I transferred to a new Vet on July 12th, he seemed very nice. He was willing to give her alot of tests to investigate and trying to figure out why she doesn't eat or drink at all. I let my cat stayed at the hospital for few days so they can give her tests. They performed bloodtests, ultrasound, first and second radiograph and echocardiogram. On July 16th, I came to the vet to see how she is doing. He said he found out that she has anemia, congestive heart failure and kidney problems. He gave her Lasix oral and Benazepril oral medications. He was still trying to get her to eat many different kind of food. She's finally drinking alittle but still not eating at all! I took her home that day to see if she eats alittle. She still not eating, but drinking alittle. Few days later, I took her back to the vet so he can give her IV fluid. She stayed at the hospital over last weekend so the vet can try other appetite stimulants to see if she can eat again. No luck. Today, I went to the vet. I asked the vet about how to get her eating again and will she live? He said she is 17 years old, the medicines she's taking are not helping her, she's not getting any better and the vet thinks if she continues not eating until next week, she should put to sleep so she won't suffer of not eating. I was so upset and couldn't beleive what I hear. I know the vet is trying so hard to get her eating but it's so difficult. She doesn't look like she's dying. She seemed walking alittle, meowing sometimes and sleeps alot. It's so hard for me to make a decision to let her go sooner. I don't know what to do.

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Also, to let you know, everytime I send my cat to the vet to get her IV fluids or subcutaneous fluids, then when I took her home, on the first day, she was stronger and eats alittle and drinks alittle and she was walking around and acted normal and happy cat. Then the second or third day, she was getting more tired, not much eating, didn't walk around as much.
I thought if she takes IV fluid or subcutaneous fluid once a week is to keep her surviving, healing and helping her to live longer? I don't know why this is happening? Should I keep sending her for IV fluids every week to keep her strong? Why isn't she getting stronger lately?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 6:16AM
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Sadly, all animals have to die at some point. Your cat is 17 years old. That is a long and wonderful life for a cat. Things just happen naturally when they age.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:37AM
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I'm sorry your cat is going through this. I believe the reason she perks up after getting the fluids is that she's likely dehydrated & the iv or subq fluids are helping her temporarily. She may have a serious underlying illness, or she may be nearing the end of her life & no treatment is going to prolong it.

17 is pretty elderly for a cat.....

Hate to ask, but did you have her vaccinated every year of her life? Nowadays its less common to do that, generally after 3-5 yrs old a pet can get along with keeping rabies up to date and the 'booster' shots every 3 yrs or even less. We had 2 dogs that we dutifully vaccinated annually & the last couple yrs both reacted very poorly to their shots. The vaccine protocol has changed in recent yrs to less frequent shots, IF the owner is aware & communicates w/their vet. I attached a link showing the current recommended vax schedule. The vax may have set something off? Weakened her? (Shots in the dark).

When a cat of ours was sick the vet gave us a syringe w/o a needle & had us give her water w/it several times a day to keep her hydrated, maybe that would help. Cats get dehydrated easily & can really go downhill fast after that, they stop eating, etc & just keep getting worse.

But in realty, something is likely causing her to get dehydrated & unless you figure it out & see if it can be treated, she's not going to get much better. If 2 different vets are being vague, I suspect this is an issue of her age & they're not comfortable telling you that.

If a client wants to do everything for their pet, the vet is going to do that for financial & legal reasons, as well as to let you get ready metally for the end.

So sorry you're going through this, it's the hardest part of pet ownership for sure.

Here is a link that might be useful: pets-web md

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:59AM
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If she is doing better the day after she gets fluids, is it possible for you to try subcutaneous fluids at home? It is not all that hard once you learn how to do it, and it can truly improve the quality of life for an ailing cat. I did this for 6 years with one cat, and several weeks for her brother at the end.

Especially if she has kidney problems (and I'm guessing very few don't at 17), the daily fluids will help keep her hydrated, flush some of the excess toxins from her system, and generally make her feel a little better, maybe even more like eating.

How is her swelling right now? Did it go down at all? It sounded from your post like the Lasix didn't help? Leg swelling was one of the final things that happened to my kidney girl (the one who got fluids for 6 years). The vet said it looked like things had just progressed to a point where many systems had begun to shut down all at once. I'm so sorry if that is the point that you are at. It is never easy and my heart goes out to you. (((hugs)))

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 2:48PM
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The second vet said 'she has congestive heart failure and kidney problems'. Unfortunately those two conditions have all the symptoms you're seeing and you have to decide when enough is enough. I believe that is why the first vet said there's nothing more he can do and I don't think she's ever going to return to her old self.
The vet is probably seeing signs that you're missing and kidney failure can be a painful way to go. I don't think you want your cat to die that way, nor do you want her to starve to death.
It's difficult to let them go, but remember that she's depending on you during this last phase of her life.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 3:49PM
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My heart goes out to you. You've obviously taken care of your cat all these years to get her to be 17.

She needs you to give her peace and relief from the body that is now failing her. You can't stop the decline, but you can make sure she goes without pain or fear. Please don't wait till she looks like she's "dying." By then she will be in real physical distress, and you don't want that.

Best wishes to you.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:15PM
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I am so sorry that your old girl is having such problems. Unfortunately, it does sound like she is very near to the end. Her combination of diagnoses is very difficult, because strategies used to treat one issue can make another issue worse. For instance, the cornerstone of management for kidney disease is keeping the cat well hydrated with fluids. However, supplemental fluids can be very dangerous for a cat in congestive heart failure. Also, the Lasix that is being used to treat the congestive heart failure can also be very hard on the kidneys. So the treatments your cat is receiving have the potential to do both good and harm to your cat's overall condition. When a cat reaches the point where several major body systems are failing, as is the case with your girl, sometimes medicine ends up doing more harm than good.

Both anemia and kidney disease can cause a cat to lose her appetite. Anemia may be temporarily treatable, but kidney disease is progressive, as is congestive heart failure. If your girl is only walking a little and sleeping most of the time, the anemia and heart failure have probably weakened her substantially. Not eating is weakening her further. You could try bringing her home and assist feeding her (feeding her by mouth with a needleless syringe or eyedropper), but that wouldn't do anything to cure her underlying illnesses.

I am so sorry that you are in this position. I, too, have a cat in the last stage of life who I will need to be helping to pass on very soon. In fact, he's lying on the chair next to me, sleeping peacefully, but losing ground quickly. I, too, dread making that final decision, but I know it is my last responsibility to him. Imminent heartbreak is never an easy thing to accept.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:03AM
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Yknow, I'm going to say - just play it by ear. You will know when it's time. Some people say you shouldnt wait, others (like me) want to err on the side of giving our animals the autonomy to live and die on their own terms and will wait till there is obvious distress. I will say neither rush into euthanasia prematurely, but then on the other hand be ready for it when/if the time comes. (Line up a vet who c an come to your home.)
Also know that no matter WHAT you (and your cat) decide- you will be second guessing yourself afterwards - you should have done this, you should have done that - but know that this is just part of the grieving process so dont beat yourself up with it...Having had a diabetic cat once and involved in an online diabetic cat group for a while I can tell you that no matter what the circumstances were, people were always second guessing themselves.... before eventually finding peace. It's just part of the process of coming to terms with it.

I have a 21 year old myself - and I guarantee you that when the time comes I will be grieving like crazy. They just don't live long enough! You dont live that closely and intimately with any living being for that length of time without forming some really strong bonds. My heartfelt sympathies - take comfort in the fact that your kitty has had a good well-lived life.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 11:31AM
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PS - just wanted to add,you didnt mention one way or another about how you feel about your vet but it's entirely appropriate to see someone else for these geriatric or end of life issues. A vet might be perfectly good for the routine things, but you want a special person now who understands that he/she is there to help YOU the grieving human as much as the feline patient. You want someone who you can ask questions and offer suggestions. If your vet or anyone is trying to browbeat or pressure you out of their own emotional needs and not really hearing or supporting you.... that's not very helpful!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 11:42AM
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I'm so sorry we all have been in your shoes at some point in our lives. Your kitty has had a very long life. Soon you will need to make a decision and it won't be easy. Hugs for you.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 2:15PM
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