Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Cat - Salad and Tummy Troubles

This is Alex, the cat who loves salad greens, especially red leaf lettuce. He can smell lettuce in a plastic bag inside another plastic bag from across the room, and pick it out of all the other bags like a drug-sniffing dog. It looks more like the lettuce is leaving him here instead of going in, but salad is never a pretty sight when it's being eaten.

Alex has had trouble keeping the food in for many years. Lots of vets have seen him and recommended this or that, but the only thing that's ever kept him from the daily barf is getting a steroid shot which would hold him for about a month.

We've been doing that for about a year or so, stretching out the time with a steroid-laced ear gel (easier than a pill), and recently switching him to some foods for sensitive tummies, but he's been replacing his bulimia with anorexia, not going off food completely but just eating very little. He's lost 4 pounds since February. (I have been trying like hell to lose 4 pounds with mixed success... but poor Alex, that was a third of his body weight) The poor little guy is down to 7 pounds and is a little bag of bones.

Yesterday we got him an ultrasound, and the findings are pretty serious. He has one of two things: irritable bowel syndrome, or intestinal cancer. There is only one way to diagnose it definitely and that is with explorative surgery. It's a tough procedure that would keep him recovering at the vet for a couple of days, then for a week or so at home (and I should stress that he is already a very sick boy). If it turned out to be cancer, they would treat it with various things, including maybe chemo, and the doctor said he could live maybe another 2 years that way and be probably not die from cancer. I should point out that Alex will be 15 in January... geriatric, and would be very lucky to live 2 more years anyway.

Some info on pet cancer recovery:

On average about 65 - 75 percent of cats and 80 - 90 percent of dogs with lymphoma will respond to chemotherapy drugs. About 20 percent of treated cats will still be alive one year after diagnosis and about 20 percent of dogs will be alive two years after the diagnosis of lymphoma. Dogs and cats with lymphoma that are not treated live an average of 4 to 8 weeks.
We had some hard decisions to make, and have decided, at least for now, to treat his condition as if it's irritable bowel (the same steroids are given in either case), not put him through the surgery (the surgery was just for diagnosis, not treatment), and just try to keep food in him and meat on his old bones. I guess we will know soon enough, for better or worse. Sorry that this week is a downer, but our heads are spinning from this new dilemna. It's hard to process.

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Curiouser & Curiouser on Sunday - -



Anytime our fur babies aren't doing well it makes our world spin. Thoughts and kitty prayers for Alex. One thought which I hope is a goog one, if Alex has been having eating problems for years then possibly this is IBS. Have you tried feeling him baby food?

Blueberry said...

We haven't tried the baby food but might be able to do that when the steroids get him stabilized and tummy less sensitive. I am also thinking and of course hoping it's IBS because he has had this problem for so long (although it's gotten much worse lately). But then I'm not a vet and don't have any previous experience with either of these problems.

Jeen Lilly said...

aw. *sniffles*

First -- good grief. You've been going above and beyond for this fella (as I know you are the willing human servants of all your kitty boys) and considering his delicate constitution, it's amazing he's come along as long as he has.

I have to agree -- the surgery and the recovery time for a senior citizen just to find out if it's the worst case scenario seems a no-win all around.

If it's IBS then it's treatable and won't muck up his quality of life any more than the inevitable entropy into feline meatloaf (reference B. Kilban): a transformation all cats who are lucky enough to pass on at home morph into.

a candle for Alex and a prayer for easement of pain for the four and two leggers of your household.

Blueberry said...

He is really feeling MUCH better today, and since we have been giving him Hill's Prescription I/D canned food gooshied up with chicken broth (a truly yucky thing for vegetarians to prepare... meat soup made from cat food... we SO much prefer putting out the dry kernels), he is eating like three little pigs.

Hoping this is a good sign, and thanks for the good vibes. :-)

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping the best for Alex and his trials and tribulations. My two kitties, Harley and Tinker are pulling for him. Your last comment gives us all hope.

Ptelea said...

Please keep us posted on Alex. A little over a year ago, my kitty Wiskerz got sick. The first sign was a slow weight loss which was hard to notice, so he was very sick by the time I took him to the vet. It turned out to be a thyroid problem which is treatable by daily medication. He got worse at first until we figured out the proper dosage for him. He wouldn't eat so I bought him every kind of canned food available. I even fed him chopped shrimp which, bless his heart, he would eat! He finally got better and seems fine now. That is why he gets whatever food he wants whenever he wants. Now he is on a people food kick and wants to try little bites of our food. I am going to try your recipe for meat soup because as far as Wiskerz is concerned - there is never enough gravy in this world. We're hoping for the best for Alex - "eating like three little pigs" is definitely a good sign.

Blueberry said...

Alex has gained some weight in the past few days, up to a pound, but he's still VERY bony. I hope to heck he doesn't get tired of "cat-soup". I wish there was a way these other three Kliban meatloaves here could donate some extra kitty-weight. then everyone would be just the right size. :-)

Romeocat said...

Oh, I hope dear Alex feels better soon! I hope the kitty soup works.

My beloved purr, Romeo, went to Heaven 3 years ago now at 19 years old. The last couple years of his life I struggled with him getting fluids (was doing a sub-cutaneous IV for about a year, once a week) and getting his medicine twice a day. Finally, he was just getting so upset with it that I stopped and just loved him.

Did he beg at the table? He got it. Did he want canned food? He got it. Did he want loveis and snuggles? He got 'em. Anything he wanted, he got. He was always very polite and gracious about it, and for the last six months of his life, he was treated like a true kitty-god. He was a blessing to me each and every one of those days we had.

So, if kitty soup is what works for Alex - go for it. Give him whatever he wants and can keep down, give him lots of skritchies and snuggles, and you will never regret it.

But, I bet you know that already! ;-)

Give him a little snuggle from me, too.

-- R'cat
CatHouse Chat

Anonymous said...

I hope he will recover!

Dawn said...

Good luck! One of my cats was diagnosed with cancer this year too and it's always very distressing.

Blueberry said...

Purrrs and head bonks to all Alex's well-wishers!