Elderly Cat Issues

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from dkb6248. Show dkb6248's posts

    Elderly Cat Issues

    My cat is almost 16 years old.  She was diagnosed with hyperthyroid a little over 2 years ago and has been on medication ever since.  She would occasionally go to the bathroom outside her litter box, but it was random.  She has always been a very young at heart cat, very active and spry.

    About a month ago she was sick for a few days with diarrhea.  My vet prescribed some probiotics and she was fine after a day or two.  However, since then it seems like her age has suddenly caught up with her.  She is starting to look old, she isn't playful anymore, her appetite is diminishing and she is losing weight (already a small cat) to the point where she feels boney.  She has been throwing up massive hairballs on almost a daily basis, and she has stopped using the litter box and is going on the floor. 

    We just had her bloodwork done again to determine if her thyroid medicine needed to be changed, but her levels were normal and nothing else suspicious showed up in her bloodwork.  Next step vet wants to do an ultrasound to determine if there is cancer.  The problem is, we can't afford the ultrasound and if it is cancer, we already decided we would not put her through chemo at her age.

    What do you do if you can't afford the u/s, and how can we tell if she is suffering?
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    I'm so sorry you've seen such a sharp decline, and I know you love your cat dearly, but at 16 and in this condition, if it were my cat I'd put her down.  I'm so sorry.  16 is an elderly cat, and even if it is cancer and you could afford to diagnose and treat it, it wouldn't live a longer life filled with the happiness of her youth for your doing so.  

    Best wishes with a sad heart, 
    ~kar
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from dog-lady. Show dog-lady's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

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  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from dkb6248. Show dkb6248's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    That is exactly what we have been thinking, and she really isn't the same cat.  She is still affectionate, but that is about the only part of her old old personality that's still there.  The thing is, my vet hasn't brought up putting her down as an option.  So I wasn't sure if there was hope or not...and I really like him and don't want to think this, but I know its much less profitable for him for her to be put down, so maybe I should put it on the table.
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from dog-lady. Show dog-lady's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

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  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    I hate to think it, too, but yes, many people are spending thousands of dollars for their pets today, and maybe your vet is unscrupulously holding out that hope.  How awful to say that out loud, but I didn't want you to think, wrongly, that you are the only one with that thought.

    I think it was irresponsible, given all the circumstances you described, for him to not even discuss putting the cat down.  Again, I'm choked up to say all this, and I hate to.  But, at the same time, it sounds like all you needed was a little confirmation that your own thoughts were OK.  And, I think you're a loving pet owner who's thinking about doing the right thing.
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    I'd get a second opinion and get some additional tests run [w/in reason, cost-wise] before I'd consider putting her down.  If you can't afford any additional tests, at least get a second opinion.  Ask your current vet if there is any danger if you stop giving her the probiotics, and then see if there is any change after she stops taking them. I think it odd that you saw such a marked change in your cat 1 month after she started taking a particular medicine. 

    You will know when the cat is suffering. If she stops eating at all, sleeps all day and completely ignores you [hides all the time, refuses petting], you'll know that she is in pain.  Good luck. Hope you solve this problem soon.

    ETA: there is nothing inherently wrong w/ putting an old suffering pet down, but you will know when that time has come. If you still have doubts, explore other options.  My 16 yo labrador [yes, he was incredibly old for his breed] had an aneurysm one AM and crawled into my lap whining. I had that dog since the age of 7. I knew immediately that it was time to euthanize.  If you still have doubts, explore some options. You'll know when it's time to go the euthansia route. 

    16 is not really elderly for a cat.  They typically live 15-20 years, so she is w/in the age range, but she's not ancient.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from dkb6248. Show dkb6248's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    "Ask your current vet if there is any danger if you stop giving her the probiotics, and then see if there is any change after she stops taking them. I think it odd that you saw such a marked change in your cat 1 month after she started taking a particular medicine."

    Just wanted to clarify that she was only on the probiotics for 3 days when she had diarrhea, and she had taken them in the past so I don't think the decline was from them.  The only medication she takes regularly is the thyroid medicine, and we just had her thyroid levels checked again and they were normal.

    I am definitely torn and I do still have doubts.  She still eats, just not as much, she still snuggles and purrs.  In my heart I don't feel like its time to put her down.  Like Alf said, I haven't had that moment where I've felt she is telling me it's time, but I am feeling like we are heading in that direction.  I am going to make an appointment with another vet, let him do a physical exam and see what he thinks. 

    I definitely don't want to take extraordinary measures to keep her alive if it's her time.  Sometimes I think with the advances in animal medicine, we can prolong their lives but not necessarily improve the quality of their lives and end up robbing them of a natural death.

    I appreciate the responses...I am going to do a little more research, get another opinion and go from there.  Thanks again for the support!

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    Best wishes, dkb.  Our hearts are with you.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from spoogedog. Show spoogedog's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    Having lived with pets my whole life, I have seen the dignity and acceptance of their deaths. Your cat will know when it her time to go, however it will be your decision to let her go naturally or have her put down. If any of my pets were in pain for distress I would definitely take to route of putting him/her down. I have been at the sides of three of my dogs when they died, I hope knowing that I loved them and will forever miss them, but they picked their time and died in my arms, at home, not on a cold metal table. I hope when it’s my time, I can let go as naturally as they did.

     
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    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

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  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from AngellVet. Show AngellVet's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    Answer by Dr. Jean Duddy of Angell Animal Medical Center's Internal Medicine Service: 
    I hope your kitty is doing okay.  It sounds like you have done very well by her over the many years.  Right now if she is losing weight and her thyroid level is fine, I agree it is not likely the thyroid causing the weight loss.  And it sounds like her other organs (liver and kidneys) are doing well too.
      Often we look at our cat patients and find nothing on physical, nothing on blood tests and even sometimes nothing on imaging (x-rays and ultrasound).  I often come back to the GI tract (stomach and smallintestines) as the likely problem.  There are no tests telling us that the stomach or small intestines are working normally (digesting, absorbing nutrients).  So we consider things like inflammatory bowel disease and some cancers.    If someone cannot afford ultrasound, I talk to them about treating as if the kitty has inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Which may include diet changes, metronidazole - an antibiotic that changes bacteria in the gut to ones that are more beneficial and even steroids to decrease thickening of the bowel wall if needed.  IBD often has thickened intestines that are not absorbing food normally, can make an animal not feel well after they eat so the animal may not want to eat.  Both of these things can cause weight loss. The same treatment for IBD is part of the chemotherapy regimen used for GI diseases such as lymphoma.  It may make a kitty feel better for at least some time by slowing down the lymphoma.  Talk to your veterinarian and ask them if it may help your cat.
    For owners with financial concerns, there are many programs that provide assistance. At Angell Animal Medical Center we offer Care Credit which allows qualified applicants to spread payments out interest-free for a defined period of time. The MSPCA also provides low-cost spay/neuter services for low-income pet owners at www.mspca.org/snap">www.mspca.org/snap. Spaying or neutering your pet can save costs down the road since they will no longer face certain cancers.

    If you are in need of a veterinarian you may call Angell Animal Medical Center at (617) 524-5653 to schedule an appointment, or visit
    www.angell.org/generalmedicine">www.angell.org/generalmedicine for more information.
    AngellVets
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Elderly Cat Issues

    I think you will need to analyze your cat's life, and see if it has narrowed to such a degree that it's not really living well.  When I realized that my elderly cat's life had narrowed from using the whole house to staying mostly in the upstairs bedrooms (until I got home, then she'd come down to visit), then finally she only used one upstairs bedroom - and I'd already put a litter box in that room about 8 months earlier because I thought it was probable that she was having a hard time getting 2 flights down to the basement to use those litterboxes. And then she literally only spent time ON the bed - her food, water, bed and litter were on the bed platform (minus the mattress by this time). 

    During these 12 months leading up to this I'd been preparing myself, as you have been, that I would need to make the difficult decision to put her down. 

    My girl was 181/2 years old.  She had a heart murmer, high blood pressure and was hyperthyroid.  She'd been doing well on her meds, and eating and drinking well.  And then she stopped coming downstairs, even when I got home.  But if I visited her she enjoyed my visits, purred, snuggled me, etc.  And then she stopped eating well, and I evaluated her life - from an entire house to one little bedroom, and, really, just to the bed in that bedroom. 

    So I called the vet and she came to the house to put her down.  I believe that this is an incredible gift we can give to our animals - that I wish we could give to our human loved ones - but it was STILL an INCREDIBLY HARD DECISION.  Don't expect it to be easy for you, even though you have been preparing yourself mentally, you have watched her age, and you are someone who is comfortable with euthanasia.  It's still hard.  The vet and vet tech who came to the house had a hard time, and they didn't love her for 181/2 years like I did!   

    And in the last hour after I'd made the call to the vet, my cat ate some food!  And I said to my husband, wait, maybe this isn't the time - and he said "look at her life, see how small it's gotten?"  and I knew that while it was hard, but that it was time.  I needed him to be strong when I almost wavered.

    And, yes, I know what it's like to watch a cat who has been vibrant, healthy, friendly, cuddly, snuggly, etc. at 16 yrs old decline almost "in front of your eyes" - they will sometimes just begin to fade away and fast. 

    BUT if you don't think this is her time, let's figure out how to help her use a litter box, because she's surely embarrassed by that. Suggestions: 

    1. Get a much LOWER sided box - they have some with very low sides because she might have a hart time getting in/out of it now.

    2. I'd move a new litterbox close to (or on the same floor as) where she spends most of her time.  Esp. if they've been in the basement - I'd leave that one and put a 2nd one closer.   (2 days before she died, I found my old girl coming back out of the basement - she must have been in the mood to take a long walk!) 

    Cats are very fastidious, they don't like to make messes. 
     

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