WEEPY GAVE APRIL A WONDBROTHER AFTER 4 LOSSES
We lost Weepy this morning, April 2, about 5 a.m. after he put up a great fight against the ‘double whammy of heart and kidney failure. He was about 17 years old. It had been quite a challenge as heart and kidney disease work against each other, but Weepy was able to stabilize and have his usual quality of life for another month and a half.
Weepy was extra special to me since I first became a ‘guardian’ (as I like to say) of cats after finding forlorn ‘Juicy’ left for no good along a country road along with a discarded mattress and sheets . After acquiring, first, ‘sister’ April in 1995, she lost four ‘brothers’ in a row within the span of a year-Juicy, Dorian, Victor and Mikey-to latent diseases that could not be diagnosed until 6 months or more later. Being a new cat guardian, at the time, I was unaware when acquiring these cats with dormant diseases from catteries of, apparently, questionable reputations . During the same period, I lost my mother and not long after that my sister and brother, so Weepy and April have been most important in my life as consolers, friends, companions. I’ve known them longer than most of my human friends.
APRIL LOSES FIRST FOUR BROTHERS IN TWO YEARS
So,sadly, after losing Juicy after 7 months to Cat Aids, then Dorian to FIP after only one day after diagnosis, and Vic, again to Aids and Mikey to sudden death syndrome (whatever that really is), I was gunshy about getting any more cats back around 1998. In fact, I was hesitant even before Mikey. But, April needed a borther and friend, so we gave it one more shot, acquiring Weepy from good friends in Redding, CA (even though they had just given me Mikee, who passed suddenly, really inexplicably, in my opinion, but no fault of theirs).
Even though I was told Weepy had a heart murmur not long after we got this rugged big black cat, brother for April, he seemed fine. April liked him and he liked April , enough to give her a ‘bad time’. Though, with Weepy’s eventual heart and kidney problems, April was able to run away from him – though mostly in play.
So, April, after losing four brothers in such a short span, was glad to have Weepy, and they were together a full 16 years. April is now 20 now, and good health after beating cancer a few years ago; a thyroid issue doesn’t seem to keep her down – she gets her daily pills and can eat pretty much whatever she wants as cats with thyroid issues don’t seem to gain weight; they lose it.
DISEASES ‘ SUDDEN ONSET
Weepy started showing sluggishness, more than usual due to his heart murmur, late June. I was always concerned that Weepy was a bit slower than most cats but now he would roll over and lay in the hall instead of jumping up on the couch. He just wasn’t himself, suddenly. I was worried and took him right into our top flight vet clinic late June. Dr N gave me the bad news that Weepy had not only kidney failure, which we have been treating him for, but full blown heart failure. They drained the fluids that had build up around his heart and gave me a couple meds (Lasix, to drain the fluid at home and Ben-) with the bad news. We would return in a few days for an update
6-20-13 BAD NEWS
We will speak in presence tense, now for awhile, as I took these notes that way, as we spoke, with plans to write this while Weepy was alive and , hopefully living an even more extended life; also to help others who might be going through similar plights.
Back to the vet with my dear 16 year old black tabby for an updated diagnosis – and things do not look good. Weepy has not only CHf (Congestive Heart Failure) but Kidney failure. I knew of both and was treating the kidneys by giving Weepy low protein special diet. An old heart murmer recently evolved into the full blown CHF. tHE two are especially hard to deal with at the same time, since the heart has more trouble pumping the excess fluid which the kidneys DO want. So, we have to limit the diruetics for the heart since the kidneys need water. Not much else can be done.
TIME TO REALLY SPOIL (within reason)
After a week of lethargy where Weepy stayed mostly in the dark , back closet, it was nice to see Weepy climb up on the bed today upon our return from the vet. He had his fluids drained, which probably made him feel better, for now anyway. I expect he’ll revert back. IN fact , it wasn’t long after I had to leave that Weepy went back to his closet.
I have been spoiling Weepy with rich food this week – anything to get him to eat. It has taken a toll on his kidneys , so I’m hoping he’ll go back to eating the kidney diet, which he did today. I am going out to get some other things to ‘spoil’ weepy including a high food dish , as he has a little trouble bending over. I will get him an extra bed in case he venturees back out into the living room again, a fan for the extra hot weather and whatever else they might recommend such as an appetite stimulant for a cat that doesn’t want to eat much.
7-3-13 Hooray! Weepy’s OUT OF THE CLOSET and Back On the Bed!
Just back from the Vet – visit # 3- and Weepy just jumped up on the bed(!) for the first time in two weeks since he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure to go along with his kidney disease This was the second follow-up after last week when Dr N pronounced ‘I don’t like the way that looks,’ referring to Weepy’s heavy breathing, nor his kidney and heart values. They would have to drain Weepy’s excess fluids from around his heart – and quite a bit of hit.
But this day, July 3, 2013 there was no draining needed! On top of that, Weepy’s kidney and heart values looked better, according to the doctor who was quite ‘surprised’ at Weepy’s turnaround. Just last week, Dr N gave us the bad news that the heart and kidneys work against each other, ie the kidneys want water that the heart doesn’t. The kidneys want low protein and the heart needs protein (this from some internet outside research). So, this couldn’t have been better news for Weepy , myself and the other Katz’. Bonus days! I’ve always said every day is a bonus – especially when you get to a certain stage of life – or after a serious illness.
It would have been easy to give up after seeing the vet two weeks ago and getting the bad news. Depression was rampant. Not only with myself but I could see it in little April, our 20 year old big (little) sister to Weepy, now 16. April has been with me about 18 years, a time when I lost not only my first four male cats to early , dormant diseases -brought on from cateries and just unlucky conditions I was prepared for as a new cat guardian – including Aids (twice), Peratonitis(sp) and and sudden cat death (whatever that means) – a time when I thought I’d never have another cat after the pain of losing four in a row. It was also a time during which my three-fifths of my family was wiped out : sister Joan, 50, in 1999 to breast cancer, Mom in 2001 to leukemia and brother Don, 46 , to brain cancer in 2004. My ninty year old Dad and I would tough it out for another seven years until he passed last year at 97, a good ripe age compared to the others, but my last link. I had also lost my sister’s wonderful older dogs, Pucky and Roscoe, who I cared for until they both passed at age 18 in the early 2000s. So, it was down to me and April , who’d been through all these sad losses together, and now, we were in serious danger of losing Weepy, who had suddenly slowed down to the point of laying on the rug in the same spot – at which time I knew I had to get him to the vet.. His kidney numbers were not bad, as he’d been on low kidney food the past couple years but the new news that a heart murmur had advanced to full blown CHF was devastating. I tried to prepare myself.
I didn’t really get much positive news from the vet, the only cardiac specialist for cats in the area. Basically, it was to continue giving Weepy the Lasix diuretic to help remove fluids, though we had to cut that back to a half tablet a day since it was working aginst the kidneys’ need for water. And, one other pill of less significance to guard against other problems. As for feeding and placing pills, it was pretty much my discovery, trial and error.
After the first visit to the vet and a struggle to get the pills to go down Weepy’s mouth – he doesn’t like pills at all – I developed my own method that has worked (using a water syringe to wash the pills down as soon as shove it in h is mouth. Now , it goes so fast –usually – it doesn’t bother him much. (Later, I would discover ‘liquid’ pills.” So, a week after the second visit and successful pill giving and increased eating by Weepy, we got the good news yesterday. I had read in my related research – one should always enhance their knowledge as much as possible as the vets can’t and don’t always cover everything , such as best foods to eat – that cats CAN ‘stablize’ after one gets things ‘right.’ This ‘stabilizing’ is what kept me going – searching for such – which meant getting just the right dosage of pills down Weepy, getting him to eat and drink and make sure he’s going to the bathroom.
I even had to remind Weepy , on occasion, where the water dish and toilet were. I did , soon after, move a n extra cat box and water dish to the back bedroom where Weepy likes to stau these days, just inside the opened, but dark closet. He only needs to walk out a few steps and there’s his water dish and another three feet beyond, his toilet –so he doesn’t have to venture down the long hallway, as before.
Though I do encourage him once or twice a day to go to the front of the house, where he used to – and still does – like to look outside and smell the outdoors through the screen door. Yes, it means carrying him, too, when he’s in the mood to be picked up. As research points out, one needs to be careful to do things in small doses so not to alienate the poor animal.
As for his food, I have relented to bring that to him – small meals every few others. I ‘lll bring a small can of something I hope he’ll like, snap the top and that’s Weepy’s ‘Pavlovian’ signal to eat. At first it didn’t work, but now, we’re doing better. I’m trying to get him to eat the low protein diet as much as possible; the vet initially said to just get him to eat anything, but I figured lower protein is better, though o ne article I read said the heart needs protein. The vet disagreed in last visit. Go figure. But, it’s worked the last week, so if Weepy’s not eating the other stuff much I KNOW he’ll eat the Trader Joe’s tuna and will go with that as necessary. So no giving up here. Animals I’ve been around have never given up. I’ve only lost my sister’s dogs to natural ,old age – and that only after keeping them going well beyond expectations (sub q fluids so wonders and gave Pucky another year of quality life ) . However, with the four young cats, there was pretty much nothing that could be done –not that I didn’t try; my vet, at the time had an associate who was into holistic health and I tried my best but Cat Aids and Peratonitis are pretty much death sentences once they get to the full blown stages But, it’s my obligation (and desire) to do whatever I can to help them get these furry favorite friends feeling better, if at all possible. So, what if it means opening ten cans of food before you could find one they’ll eat. I remember getting up early every morning and cooking a dish of rice mixed with egg and a little ground meat for Pucky, who wouldn’t eat anything but that. Weepy likes certain canned – and even kibbles – food, when he’s feeling better. They’ll find that one can (or maybe two) that’s agreeable to them.. and now, I’ve got it down pretty well… I hope… SEE WHAT TO LOOK FOR –Foods, below
TIPS TO OTHER CAT / PET GUARDIANS…Since I’ve been going through this I thought I could share tips with others who may be going through similar times with their pets. First, I know it’s hard but try to savor each day you still have your furry friend around. We’re all here a short time and each day is a bonus, we say. Don’t give up. We enjoyed another pretty good six weeks together. If it weren’t for the double whammy, cats can live with one or the other (heart OR kidney) disease quite a while – months to a year or more). We were excited and greatful to see Weepy make his ‘comeback’ after the doctor gave every indication that his days were about up six weeks ago.
– COMMUNICATING: Cats will tell you what they want. I know that sounds strange. But, Weepy and I really started Communicating well. If he was sitting up, looking at me , I knew he was ready for food. If he turned away, It’s time to ‘leave me alone.’ If he would come over by my next, it would mean to lift him up on the sunny desk spot to look out the window. Weepy was pretty self suffiencient. We set up a kitty bathroom near the back bedroom closet where he stayed and his water bowl was in between, so a few steps out of the closet for water and a few more for bathroom. At first, I had to remind him that the bathroom was there by nudging him but he quickly caught on. When he was ready to venture out of the bedroom and down the hall, as in the previous days –including yesterday – he would find more water bowls and bathrooms in their regular places. After awhile it was pretty much business as usual, just like before, which made me happy. Though he couldn’t quite jump up on the bed , he did indicate he wanted ot sleep with April and myself several occasions. – FOOD: This was tricky, at first, getting Weepy to eat. There was the kidney food (Royal Canin LP Renal) which we would eat a bit, but he needed more volume. I would usually have to open 2-3 cans per meal – and that was 4-5 times a day, as we learned that more, smaller meals were better – and more successful- than 2-3 big meals. It was a matter of finding the right food that not only Weepy would eat but was relatively low in protein for the kidneys (‘under 12%’ for canned food was what one of the pet store vets told us). We actually found several brands including Blue Buffalo, Weruva and Spots that had protein as low as 6%. The other challenge is to make sure there’s higher fat content, if possible. Weepy had trouble eating dense food with chewy meat , so gravies were the way to go for us – and probably for most older pets. Anything with the word ‘gravy’ or ‘sauce’ was worth a try and we came up with some favorites- though they could change from day to day – but generally the gravy foods were Weepy’s favorites. There’s no way he was going to want – or be able to- eat the dence Hill’s ‘Kd’ or even the Royal Canin Renal LP (large cans, which didn’t include the gravy). There’s another one we found just recently, Hi Tor, which is pretty soft, but Weepy didn’t care for that (I would have felt bad if he liked it as we only discovered it lately; however, April likes it, and she needs to start watching her kidney values, too, now). So, don’t worry about opening a lot of cans. Or taking them to the back bedroom if you have to…Just put out some newspapers. We also had good fortune that Weepy was often in his bed and we only needed to drop the small cans right now the ledge so he could eat right out of the can. Weepy would usually eat no more than have a can so we would try to make sure there was enough gravy left , or then substitute a new can. I know Weepy probably thought I was crazy, but I think he liked the variety. And, I was grateful that he was eating most of the foods- even if not always a lot. Back when I had the four young, sick cats, I had no luck getting them to eat. Spots was always one of the best back then but now there are several other low protein foods, as mentioned PILLS/ MEDs: Never had a lot of luck or enjoyed trying to force pills down pets. I think it even caused or promoted Weepy’s vomiting, at first. Mixing pills in food is tough as the pet often avoids the pill, even if crumbled. Nobody told us until we asked – which is often the case – but you can have pills ground up into a liquid fish emulsion – and that was most successful this past few weeks after discovering it and the associated lab that does the mixing (delivers it, too). We’re still using it for April WHAT TO LOOK FOR – OR NOT with heart failure: Breathing: Watch the stomach rise – should be about 20 per every 30 seconds (best checked when cats are sleeping). Weepy was breathing about 60 rises the first time he came in, according to doc. I will have go get better at measuring this. More Food: At first, we thought there was only ( first choice Friskie’s senior (chicken and tuna in gravy and/or lamb in gravy) –hard to find these days outside of Petsmart, and Royal Canin Renal small (3” cans) with gravy) – wet is preferred since it contains water which cats don’t get in kibbles) and second choice the richer, higher protein Tuna from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) and for dry it’s kibbles (Royal Canin ), which I usually mix with a little high octane Friskies kibbles of choice. Towards the end it was almost exclusively wet food for Weepy, which is actually recommended for the liquid content. And, lots of brands on the market. Few companies make a ‘senior’ wet food so one has to check the labels, primarily for protein (low) and fat (high) content. Hills makes a senior food in the 12 pack (chicken, beef and turkey) for ‘mature 7+’ and Royal Canin has ‘sliced turkey in gravy’ for ‘12+’ cats. Both come in small cans, which is the way to go as you cana feed the cat right out of the can if you wish; no they won’t cut themselves. You may want to drop the can up on another can or tray for cats that generally are larger or eat sitting up. 8-2 Today hasn’t been so easy , after putting Weepy down and now seeing April noticably at a loss. It’s also 14 years since the passing of Mom , August 1, 1999. It will be an adjustment. On the positive side, I’m glad that Weepy had pretty much his usual quality of life most of these past six weeks. He didn’t lose much weight and he ate pretty good – and got to try nearly every type of gourmet , albeit lower protein) canned food in the pet food stores (Tthe owners were getting to know me pretty well and my perhaps overly-caring questions. I think in some cases I knew more about the food content than the employees. It was also easier on both Weepy and myself, to go through this in the middle of the night, when things were quiet and we got good ’emergent’ attention , rather than in daylight hours with a lot of noise and people to deal with. Now, there’s still 28 pound Zack, a ‘foreclosure’ cat we took in a couple years ago, now taking up my full desk as I try to write this. I’m glad we have him now, as I hope April is, to help fill the void (not that anybody will replace Weepy.) Zack will probably now have the run of the house along with April, after geing semi-comnfined to a room. Zack is a friendly guy, about four times April’s weight (seven pounds) and forgets , sometimes , how big he is when he tries to jump on top of April. But, April is a good sport and was glad to finally have a brother for more than a short time – about 16 years to be exact.(All of April’s other brothers weren’t with her more than six months). And there’s also Ornji, a friendly, young organg e FIV outdoors cat that came around last year – best thing to happen to us that year – I will try to give a room in the house this winter or sooner.