"Choosing trust over doubt gets me burned once in a while, but I'd rather be singed than hardened." -Victoria Monfort

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

A "Healthy" Cat That Just Won't Eat, or In My Case, Cancer....

I'm writing this post in hopes that it finds others who have had the same struggle. Your cat has been tested for everything, examined, xrayed, ultrasounded, blood, urine, feces, thyroid.., only to find that it seems perfectly healthy...and it just won't eat anything. You've tried every type of cat food, treat, hard, soft, baby food, pureeing cat food, buying the most expensive fish, putting fish juice on food, ...but they just won't eat.

It starts with last year, I lost one of my cats, Fizzgig. She had kidney disease, which we treated, but ultimately after a couple years, she had heart failure, and I had to say goodbye to her.

Pretty Fizzgig

Fizzgig was the Mom of Fozzie and Pikachu, and they lived their entire lives together. 

Fozzie and Pikachu

A few months after Fizzgig passed, Pikachu started losing weight. He started having diarreah, and he felt really thin

At the vet, his CBC blood tests, perfect. Couldn't believe these were the results of a 14yo cat...nothing suspicious whatsoever!! Sent me home with an anti diarreah medicine. 

Then, he obviously quit eating. I tried everything. Every type of food, dry, canned, treats, baby food...pureed tuna, salmon...you name it. He would get the food in his mouth and spit it out. 

And, it's funny what you do when you have a sick cat, I had food stashed all over the house to "entice" him. I sometimes caught him eating on my night stand. 

Back to the vet for Xray...nothing. Ultrasound, nothing. His teeth, in good condition. They suspected IBS, or a type of bowel cancer/lymphoma (only detected by an endoscopy) the treatment for both was steroids, so I opted for that, and they gave him a shot. 

At this point he had gone in a few short months from 12lbs down to 5. 

The steroids worked for a bit, and he would crunch on hard kitten chow only, but still left remnants of the food, and only ate about 1/3 cup a day for a while, and was still losing weight. 

When he was down to 4lbs, and started to act like he was giving up, he lost his sparkle, and as much as it broke my heart, I had to let him go. The vet had no answers, and I couldn't watch him waste away anymore, He only wanted to be held, and cried as if it hurt him to be held. It was one of the hardest things to do...letting a seemingly healthy cat leave my life

Mother and son reunited in heaven!

Almost as soon as he passed, his sister Fozzie started acting almost the same way. I got her a brand new cat condo since she was the only cat, and placed it right in front of the window where I hung my window bird feeder. She happily spent most of her time there, watching birds, and seemed to feel better. 

But just the same, one day I noticed...she felt thin.  She didn't have diarreah, but something was wrong.

Having just gone through this with Pikachu, I opted for less testing, but the blood and xrays all showed she was a healthy 14yo cat!  The vet felt maybe she was depressed after losing her mother and sibling.

She got appetite stimulants, which made her interested in food, but she acted like it bothered her to eat. And then she gave up. She's acting normal. Still active...she just wont EAT!

There is a video of her doing this here, she takes food in, and moves her head around as if it bothers her to eat.

Back to the vet, to have a closer look at her mouth/throat thinking maybe something was preventing her from eating. She had lost another pound in just a week. Now, this once 14lb cat was 5lbs. and she can't lose more weight, yet, Nope. No answers. I left with prednisone tablets, and a referral to an internal specialist. 

Prednisone, he said would help if she were experiencing any pain we couldn't see, or if there were a psychological issue with her not eating. 

Two days after the prednisone (4 doses) she actually ate a half a tiny can of wet cat food. (still acting like it irked her to eat) Then, that same night, she ate the other half!!!!

The next morning, (5 doses) she woke me up crying for food. I had a small plate of kitten chow by the bed, maybe a tablespoon, that she had eaten during the night. She ate another half a tiny can of cat food. And, has been an eating machine ever since. 

Today, we saw the internal specialist. And, what an amazing vet! 30 years as a specialist, plus all her time as a vet, was well worth the $160 foot in the door/exam fee. She spent an hour with me, explaining all the test results she'd already had done at my vet.

She said in fact, her teeth were in poor condition, and she needs a dental and a tooth pulled but that had to wait until she put on weight.

An interesting fact she shared, my cat has eaten hard food for 14 years. Eating it hurt, so when she ate the canned food, and acted like it was weird, it is because cats are highly sensetive to texture. She thinks food should crunch, and it is just feels weird for her to eat different food.

She did an extensive exam. I've had many vets, but she just had a way with animals. Most vets are very clinical, and you could tell she was compassionate about her job. She answered a billion questions, and explained everything she told me in real people terms!

She's an active cat. She is seemingly healthy.

Diagnosis.....she has lymphoma. Intestinal cancer. It could be IBS, only way to tell was an endoscopy, but in all her years practicing 99% of cats over 12 it was cancer vs. IBS. She said it doesn't show on tests, and she could tell by her exam of her intestines, they were hardening.

It's not all sad news, because unlike my last cat, she is already responding to the medication they use to treat lymphoma. And she'd put on almost a pound in 5 days.

We have to monitor her, blood pressure, and kidney levels on the meds, but the goal is for her to live out the rest of her fabulous life, for as long as she is willing!

In the end, I feel a bit better about knowing what is wrong with her. And knowing that, we tried the same thing with Pikachu, but he didn't respond to treatment. (I felt a lot of guilt about that!)

Fozzie watching the birds on her "cat TV".

My advice for anyone going through this, which I would have known...is if there seems to be nothing medically wrong with your pet, seek out an internal specialist. Most vets are general practicioners, and you can save a lot of time, and MONEY, by going straight to the experts!

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