More GI Woes

Shortly after our last vet visit with Orion, Prometheus began having really bad poop.  It began mushy and slowly progressed to liquid and mucus throughout the week.  By mid last week, Prometheus started vomiting each time after he ate.  It began Thursday morning and got worse by the afternoon.  Like, it smelled like something crawled up Prometheus’ butt and died.  I made an appointment at the vet for the following morning and kept a close eye on Prometheus.

Like any pet parent, I worried.  A lot.  I racked my mind with different possibilities.  The symptoms looked a lot like Castiel’s earlier in June, when it was discovered he had a food allergy.  However, the food that we were feeding Prometheus hadn’t changed and he never had a reaction to it before.  I thought it was highly unlikely he had a food allergy and something more serious was going on.

What pushed my worry over the edge into uncontrollable anxiety was by 3pm Prometheus red flakes of blood in his vomit and a little blood in his diarrhea.  Every time I see any cat have that, my mind automatically thinks back to Morpheus when he showed those symptoms and it turned out to be stomach/intestinal cancer.  So, monsters in my head screamed tumor or obstruction.  Needless to say, I couldn’t focus on anything but Prometheus.  I lifted his food for a few hours to give his GI tract a rest.  When Pro Pro and the other kitties demanded their food by 6pm, I watched Prometheus carefully.  He didn’t vomit after his last feeding for the evening.  While I took this as a good sign, I was still worried about our special cookie.

Friday morning, Prometheus took a trip to Edgewater to visit his friends at Animal General.  Everyone loves him there.  After a thorough examination, Dr. O thought it was an inflammation of his colon and small intestines.  She couldn’t feel any constipation or foreign bodies or tumors, which put my mind slightly at ease.  She gave us the option of taking an x-ray to be overly cautious.  With Ron leaving with family for the weekend, we didn’t want to take any chances that maybe there was something hiding in his intestines.  So, we had a few x-rays taken.  Dr. O confirmed that the x-rays were negative for foreign bodies, tumors, and anything else out of the ordinary.  Such a sign of relief.

She suggested putting Prometheus on a bland diet for a few days and prescribed him flagyl.  This way, his GI tract could have a few days of resting on the bland diet while the flagyl worked its magic.

Less than a week later, Prometheus has some poop that has shape.  A lot of it is still mushy, but it’s solidifying slowly.  If he doesn’t have completely solid waste by next week, I’ll bring in another fecal sample to check for parasites.  When we first adopted him, he had a difficult time getting rid of a nasty case of giardia.  Best to check just to make sure.

Because Prometheus has CH, I have to wait for him to use the litter box and clean his paws after he’s done.  Sometimes he has a hard time maintaining balance when he’s going and gets a little on his legs.  But that’s just one of the challenges I signed up for when adopting a CH cat.  No complaints here!  Just want his GI tract to function properly!

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Progress Within The Clowder

It has been awhile since I’ve posted about our kitties.  I’m terribly sorry for that.  Life has been a little crazy right now.  But without further ado –

Orion - comfy in his bed that Daddy bought him!

Orion – comfy in his bed that Daddy bought him!

Orion had another visit at the vet on August 2nd.  Dr. O requested more x-rays and blood work, hoping the imaging would show better once Orion put on weight.  We saw Dr. May (he’s so special, he has two doctors attending him!).

When we arrived in the exam room, the attending vet tech immediately weighed Orion.  I held my breath.  His last weigh-in was 6.9 lbs.  Well, we’re doing something right because Orion was 7.7 lbs!  Dr. May came in and commented on his weight first and about how happy she was he was putting weight on.  I was ecstatic!  Sometimes it’s difficult to tell by touch alone.  I thought his belly area felt a little fuller, but wasn’t really sure.  His back is still bony.  But, it wasn’t my imagination.  He really is slowly putting on the weight. 🙂  He’s got 2.3 lbs to go to reach his goal!

Orion’s physical exam revealed a slight heart murmur.  Dr. May said it was difficult to tell what was causing it at this point, without going through a series of different tests.  She suggested that focus on getting Orion’s weight to his goal first before we proceed.  However, if he started showing any signs that were not of his character to bring him in immediately.

He had another x-ray and blood work.  Unfortunately, the x-ray wasn’t clear like the first one taken.  Orion hadn’t put on enough weight yet.  Dr. May said that to perform an ultrasound at this point would be a waste because it would garner the same results.  And it would be a waste of money.  She suggested another follow-up visit in a month.  Other than the unclear x-rays and slight anemia (his blood work came back slightly anemic still), Orion received a clean bill of health!

We have been introducing Orion slowly to our other cats.  They get “supervised visits” for now.  So far introductions have been going as follows:

Orlox is curious about Orion, but when Orlox gets in Orion’s face, he hisses and swats at Orlox.  So far, Orlox hasn’t made a peep at Orion and backs off when Orion starts hissing.

Castiel is also curious, not so much about Orion, but more so regarding the room that has been closed off for the past month.  He walks around investigating everything.  When he finally sees Orion, he stares at him for a few minutes then leaves the room.  No hissing or swatting from either cats!

Boots just wants the window perch in Orion’s room.  That’s where he came out of his shell, and it’s Boots’ favorite place to nap.  Boots hissed at Orion when he tried smelling Boots’ tail.  Orion hid in the corner of the room until Boots left.  Orion didn’t make a peep.

Ishtar is curious.  When Boots, Prometheus, and Icarus were introduced, she was hissing the longest at them.  However, Orion is different.  She goes into the room with her tail high in the air, sniffs around, spots him, and stares at Orion for a little.  She gets within two feet from Orion, sits down, and stays there for a few minutes.  Then she leaves.  Orion hasn’t hissed at her.  His body language tells me his is comfortable when she is within two feet from him, but I have a feeling that he would be hissing if she came closer.  That’s okay.  It’s something we could work with!

Pandora was only interested in meeting Orion once.  And it involved treats.  She laid down  at the threshold of his room and just watched him go about his business.  Orion, in turn, ate and made himself comfy on one of his beds.  They watched each other for some time, their body language relaxed.  I was so proud of Pandora (she’s the cranky old lady of the house), that I awarded them with treats.

Prometheus wants to play with Orion.  But Orion has no interest in playing with anyone.  Prometheus makes his rounds in the room and runs up to Orion.  This kinda spooks Orion and he hides under the desk.  I think Orion is having a difficult time comprehending that Prometheus is a cat, because Prometheus doesn’t walk like a normal cat.  I was expecting this to happen, unless, of course, Orion grew up around CH cats.  When Prometheus was introduced, our kitties took a little longer to adjust to him and get used to the way he moved.  I’ll be putting special time aside to make Orion and Prometheus feel comfortable around each other.

And finally, Icarus – he is naturally mellow to begin with, so we started introductions with him.  Icarus is curious about Orion, but just loves hanging out in his room.  Orion doesn’t mind Icarus’ company unless Icarus decides to get within one foot of him.  The Orion hisses, but it’s soft hiss.  I think he feels most comfortable around Icarus so far.  Icarus visits Orion daily for lengthy periods and I’ve kept them in the same room together with the door shut without any problems.  Very promising, indeed!

I can’t believe tomorrow will be one month since Orion’s arrival.  It seems like he’s been here longer, and surprises me each day with the progress he makes.  I look forward to seeing what his weight will be in a month at his next exam!

Orion’s First Vet Visit

Ron and I took Orion to Animal General yesterday for his first geriatric check-up.  Everyone fell in love with him!  Dr. May tended to him and gave him a complete exam.  We had blood work and urinalysis done.  She was surprised (other than his weight) of how good he looked, especially his teeth!  🙂  Physically, everything looked like things where functioning correctly, but the tests would give her more information.

We waited up front for Dr. May and crew of vet techs to finish up with Orion.  She came into the lobby and said that everything was fine and blood and urine samples were taken.  Apparently, the vet techs were so in love with Orion and touched by his adoption story, he received the Wizard of Oz treatment – clipping of his hind claws and brushing of all his matted fur.  Mind you, I had brushed all the mats out of his back, but still had his legs, chest, and belly to conquer!

During this time, I spoke to Dr. May privately.  I told her in detail Orion’s adoption story.  She was emotionally overwhelmed and excused herself.  Before she left, she said, “What you did was a good thing.”

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.  The vet techs said it, friends at START II said it, and my friends on WP said it.  Yet, I don’t see it as a “good thing.”  I only see it as the “right thing” to do.  I certainly wasn’t going to let a mildly deformed looking senior cat sit in a shelter to die of FIP or euthanasia, when his only crime was being “old.”  Yeah.  That kinda outraged the public when Soylent Green came out.  How would people like it if their older parents or grandparents were euthanized because they were simply too old and a burden to take care of?  My point exactly.

Like I said, Ron and I promised to adopt mostly “special needs” cats.  And in the height of kitten season, a senior on death row goes beyond special; it’s more like urgent need.

So, I received a call before with Orion’s test results.

Dr. May said that everything check out – his kidneys and thyroid are functioning as they should.  However, his platelet count was a little low (23%, when the low normal is 29%), so that raised a flag.  Only because of his age though.  Because he’s malnourished, it could be that everything is thrown off.  But she suggested an x-ray just as a precaution.  If anything cancerous shows up, it would be early enough to treat with medications.  I kinda expected something like this to happen.

If our home needs to turn into a hospice for Orion at any time, than that’s what we will be.  We were prepared with the facts, that he was 16 yrs old and at any point his health could decline.  We refused to see him sit in a shelter and get worse, not provided the proper veterinary care he deserves.  We refused to let him sit in the city pound and die because he was too old.

We love Orion.  And we will do what is in his best interests.  Not ours.

So, we’re off to the vet next week for some x-rays!  Hopefully, they’ll come back clean!

Orion Post-Wizard of Oz Treatment.

Orion
Post-Wizard of Oz Treatment.

Food Intolerance and Fan Club

So, Castiel was back at the vet on Tuesday.  Since his last visit, he started puking every time he ate.  I started his diet the same evening, so his feeding schedule went something along the lines of:

6:30AM – nom-nom-nom; 7:00AM – barf meal he just ate.

This was happening 2-3 times a day (with three pukes per session).  Needless to say, I was worried and frustrated.

The vet said that there could be several things wrong, but an x-ray would show what she suspected… constipation or a lodged foreign body.  At first she thought he was doing a “scarf-n-barf” because he rapidly ate his food during meal times.  However, the only food he was puking was the Pro Plan Sensitive Stomach / Healthy Skin formula.  If he ate the regular Indoor Cat Chow, he was fine.

X-ray showed nothing of concern.  There was a small pocket of gas in his small intestine.  That was it.  And the pockets of gas show up now and then (according to the doc).  Dr. O also worried that maybe the giardia didn’t really go away because sometimes the fecal floatation can show up negative several times before a positive confirmation is made.  However, because he was keeping one food down and not another, she thought it was a food intolerance.

And this is weird… because he was eating a higher quality of food which caused vomiting.  But the low-end food he kept down.  Castiel was put on a special bland diet and flagyl.  I’ve ended up feeding all the cats the special GI health food I had to buy at the vet.  Castiel didn’t want to eat it from his bowl.  So, if everyone was eating it, he had to eat it.  Gotta say, no funky poops in the litter boxes now!

Before I left, all the vet-techs were sure to tell me how Castiel is so handsome and so well-behaved in the back room.  He got a complimentary mani-pedi and we were on our way home.  When I was leaving, two women stopped me just outside the vet’s office.  They asked to see Castiel.  So, I lifted the carrier a little higher so they could peek inside.

Castiel started talking to them, which made the women laugh.

“Oh my, he’s a big boy,” the older lady said.

“Yes, he is.”

“How much does he weigh?” the younger asked.

“18.4 pounds.  And the Doc says he wears it well.”

“That’s a big cat!  What’s his name?” Again, the older woman.

“Castiel.  Named after one of the angels on Supernatural.”

“What a beautiful name for such a beautiful cat!”

“Thank you!”  When my cat gets compliments, it’s better than me getting a compliment.

“Bless you, Castiel!” both women said.

And throughout this conversation, Castiel is talking away the entire time.

I was still laughing about it when I got home.  I told volunteers I work with about it and how he had his own little fan club.

Castiel’s Vet Visit

Friday, we took Castiel to the vet. He has been having some loose stools marked with blood.  This has been going on for about a week to two weeks. Initially, I switched to a better quality, sensitive stomach food.  Still, his digestional upset presisted.

Dr. M looked him over.  I held my breath for bad news.  After Morpheus exhibiting similar symptoms a few months before he became severely ill, I worried until the vet eased my mind.  Castiel immediately was put on a diet.  The sensitive stomach food that I started him on was fine.  But he needed to drop three pounds.

Castiel weighed in at 18lbs.  “And he wears it well,” said Dr. M. 

Honestly, I thought he weighed upward toward 20-25lbs.  Still, his weight issue is something I need to tackle now, while he’s young.  I really don’t want to see him become diabetic in a few years.

Dr. M suspects that Prometheus gave Castiel giardia in November.  She said that sometimes it doesn’t display symptoms right away.  The fecal flotations in November tested negative after Prometheus finished his meds.  That included a selection from our non-quarentined cats.

So, I’ve been following Castiel to the litter box nonstop for the past few days trying to get a stool sample.  He always manages to poop when I’m not around.  And with litter boxes shared by seven cats… Well, lets just its hard to differentiate between shape and size according to each cat.  By now his stool is probably normal looking, since he’s been on meds for a few days.

Wish Cas luck.  If his diet doesn’t work, he’s gotta go on prescription diet food!  We’re aiming for 15lbs right now, but Dr. M would feel comfortable if he were 13-14lbs.