I’m telling you, this year has been one huge barrel of suck when it comes to medical shit. I was down for the first half of the year, and the past two months have been miserable for Moon kitty.
I’ve spoken before about accepting the fact that feral cats often come with medical issues. Moon was no exception, and they were generally manageable, until now. It seems as he gets older, his bouts with irritable bowel and the herpes virus get worse and worse. Each time the fight is harder and recovery takes longer.
Every fall he gets very stressy with the windows open and the smell of other cats. In the past we have been able to manage it with calming chews and prescription calming food so that he doesn’t spiral from mild cystitis and watery eyes to a full blown blockage coupled with kitty flu. Last year, the kitty flu almost killed him, and while we thought we had things under control, his issues took a turn in an unexpected direction this time.
When the vomiting started, we stopped giving him the calming treats, thinking one of the ingredients must be bothering him now. The vomiting continued. Partially digested food. Sometimes just foam, and instead of a couple of times a week, it got worse and worse. So we stopped feeding him the prescription food too and made a vet appointment.
We suspected a hairball, even though Moon had never been a hairball guy. Age changes things, so we couldn’t rule it out. I had the vet do x-rays, and it turned out Moon was constipated. Badly constipated. We knew the grain in the prescription food did this, but we thought we could mitigate it with extra canned food. It didn’t work, so we had to have the vet give him an enema.
He should have been feeling much better afterwards, but that night, every time he tried to eat, he just vomited and vomited and vomited. Next day, he stopped eating all together, so we admitted him to the emergency hospital.
His GI tract was so inflamed that he had developed pancreatitis and his liver and kidney values were way off due to the dehydration and whatever else was going on in there.
Constipation and food intolerance are very serious business. We knew this, which is why he’s been on special diets for years, but we had no idea how it could spiral into multiple organ issues so fast. Moon spent 4 days in the hospital so they could get him stabilized and eating again. We took him home with an appetite stimulant and a prescription for steroids that he would have to be on for a month to reduce the inflammation in his GI tract. Unfortunately, his second day home, his kitty flu kicked in from all the stress, so we couldn’t start the steroid straight away. That said, the appetite stimulant kept him eating and drinking so that he didn’t go flat out like he did the last time. He was recovered enough in about 2 weeks that we could start the steroid treatment.
He’s got one more week to go and then we go for a checkup. He went from 14 lbs to 10 lbs in a few weeks, which is a dangerous drop in weight and he felt like a bag of bones. He hasn’t gained much of the weight back yet, but he is starting to feel more muscular across his shoulders, so hopefully that will improve with time.
If it’s just his irritable bowel, we should be able to manage it with allergy meds and miralax along with hypoallergenic foods. If it has turned to small cell lymphoma, the steroids will help slow things and make him comfortable for a while. They didn’t see any obstruction or tumors in the x-rays or ultrasounds, so that’s something at least. they could do thousands of dollars worth of biopsies to confirm cancer, but at his age, it would be so stressful and chemo only buys them a few years anyway. I can’t torture him like that. Intermittent steroid treatments will net the same in the end.
He is brighter, eating better, and acting like his normal self, so we’ll just continue on and see what happens. As long as he’s happy and not throwing up, then we’ll take it one day of love at a time. Hopefully I’ll get some sleep too soon. On the steroids, he keeps me up all night begging for food and attention.
Note: It’s difficult to find food for a cat who is intolerant/allergic to just about everything. So right now, he’s still eating his Zero Carb LID diet from Young Again, and for canned food, we had to switch him to Purina Beyond because they are no grain, no by-products (beef makes him vomit violently), very low carb, and don’t use carrageenan (an intestinal irritant). All the foods have fish, flaxseed, and egg in them though, which makes him itch like crazy, but he loves fish and eating is good, so the steroids are keeping his allergies at bay at the moment. Once he goes of the steroid, we’ll have to see if Zyrtec will work long term. We’ve used Benadryl before, but it makes him so sleepy. Rupert has food issues as well and we are trying zyrtec for him now, so. We had to stop the Rayne Kangaroo food because they don’t want to eat it, and the carb load is too high for Moon right now. I need him pooping.