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Author Topic: I can't cope (long)  (Read 177828 times)
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NedF
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« on: April 11, 2008, 08:24:47 PM »

My cat Thunder is having so many problems I just don't know what to do. She's 19 years old and has had ongoing mouth  problems & infections for several years, making it very difficult to get her to eat. I have tried every mouth related treatment there is  - brushing, chlorhexidine rinses, oravet gel, petzlife, maxiguard gel, antibiotics, dental cleanings, you name it I've tried it. Eventually my vet ends up just pulling the teeth and that solves the problem for a few months, then the infection starts up around another tooth.

On top of that Thunder has pretty bad arthritis in her spine and back legs. She gets buprenex for pain control and it works well.  She gimps around the house and can still get up in bed with me at night. Her back legs are very weak though and I often carry her if I think she'll get hurt trying to jump up or down on something.

In January 2007 she had a problem with her right eye - her inner eyelid was covering about half her eye and the pupil was smaller than her other eye. My vet looked at it and said it could be glaucoma or a tumor behind the eye so she referred me to a vet opthamologist. He checked her eyes thoroughly and said the problem was caused by loss of fat around the eye because of her old age. This caused her eye to sink in a little and her eyelashes to curl into her eye thus irritating it. He gave me some eye lubricant to put in her eye to lube the eyelashes so they would not scratch her eyeball. I thought "That's a relief - a simple fix."

It doesn't end there. Last year (April 07) Thunder got really sick with uti type symptoms(in and out of cat box, dribbling urine,  crying in the cat box), diarrhea and vomiting. Of course this around the time of the recall so I took her to the vet after reading that the food I was feeding her was recalled. Tests showed her creatinine and BUN were elevated from her last test (in January 07)  and she had some blood in her urine. So we put her on antibiotics and she recovered. Unfortunately the symptoms returned in October and again in December! It's horrible to see her so miserable.

The worst is yet to come. The straw that's breaking my back happened a couple weeks ago at 11am on March 26. I was sitting at my desk doing my usual internet stuff and Thunder was sitting next to me (she has a heating pad on top of some boxes next to my desk). I was eating a bag of doritos and the crinkling of the bag seemed to hurt her ears - she jerked her head a few times. I moved over to her to see if there was something in her ear and when the bag crinkled again her head started jerking and then the rest of her body started jerking in spasms. Her head arched back while she continued jerking, then her front paws started pawing the air and her back legs were kicking out violently. Her whole body was then fully involved and flopping and jerking around and the whole time she was screaming. She lost control of her bladder. This was all in a matter of 20-30 seconds. I realized she was having a seizure and although I was shocked and horrified I talked soothingly to her and gently moved her to the floor so she wouldn't get hurt falling off the boxes. She was still seizing and since it wasn't stopping I grabbed the phone and called the vet and said "I need to bring my cat in right now, she's having some kind of seizure." So I put her, still seizing, into her carrier and drove to the vet's office  - about 15 minutes away. She made no sound at all during the drive but she did start a wierd meowing when I pulled up to the vet.  They rushed her in and I just sat in the waiting area, stunned.

After a few minutes the vet came out and said that Thunder had stopped seizing and that she had a grand mal seizure. I asked why would she have that and the vet said given her other symptoms it's probably a brain tumor (meningioma) but they would do a full blood panel and urinalysis to see if there could be something else that caused the seizure. The vet talked to me about brain tumors, neurologists, mri and brain surgery but frankly I didn't register anything after "brain tumor." They kept her there the rest of the day under observation. I went home and cried most of the day and then picked her up at 6pm and the vet told me what to do if she had another seizure, and to call the next day to find out the test results.

I'm sure you can guess that the test results showed no other problems and looked really good for a 19 year old cat. So it's most likely a brain tumor. The vet prescribed phenobarbital to help prevent another seizure and to help control these jerking tics that Thunder now has.

Now, 2 weeks later, Thunder hasn't had another seizure but she is very unsteady on her feet, often losing her balance and falling over, especially when using her cat box. This doesn't seem to bother her but is of course heartbreaking to me. My vet has been on vacation so I haven't been able to talk to her about treatment etc. That's ok though because I needed time to research brain tumors and decide if I could put my 19 year old cat through brain surgery. I don't think that would be wise, but I love my cat and it is really hard to not do everything for her. I keep going back and forth - do everything for her/don't put her through traumatic surgery - it's a hard choice to make.

To top things off, today Thunder has been acting like she has another uti, and my vet won't be in until Monday. I'll take her to the emergency vet if I have to but I'm afraid the stress will cause another seizure.

Sorry for the long post. I don't think I'll ever eat doritos again.
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"It seems that some creatures have the capacity to fill spaces you never knew were empty."  - Jean-Luc Picard
3catkidneyfailure
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2008, 08:49:25 PM »

Ned, I am so sorry for what you are going through with your obviously loved Thunder.
There are quality of life issues in my house, too, at this time.
I don't think anyone but you can make this decision on behalf of Thunder, Ned, and I know
it is a difficult one. That's why I don't think people are jumping in to give you advice, and I'm
not either. Just know how much so many of us who have furkids can understand where you
are at. I know that doesn't help you to decide. But you will know what you have to do, Ned,
because you do love Thunder.
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NedF
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2008, 08:57:39 PM »

Klondike & 3cat,
   Just having you respond with kindness and understanding really helps immensely. More than I thought it would actually. I haven't told anyone about it except my mom. Good old mom!
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"It seems that some creatures have the capacity to fill spaces you never knew were empty."  - Jean-Luc Picard
Fizzy1
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2008, 08:59:00 PM »

 I have no words of wisdom, but you have my thoughts and support. 
« Last Edit: April 11, 2008, 09:59:24 PM by Fizzy1 » Logged

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mainecoonpeg
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2008, 09:03:33 PM »

NedF
This is truly very sad for you and for Thunder especially.  Sometimes long posts need to be long because you need to let it all out.

Please allow me to say that you are both in my prayers.

Please also allow me to give you some thoughts and ideas to run by the vet.

The mouth is the filthiest part of the body both in humans and animals.  I am an oral surgical assistant for more than 25 years.  The repeated oral infections in Thunder could have been the cause of the seizure too.  Doesn't take much for upper jaw (maxillary) infections in humans to create brain infections.  Bone is porous, much like a sponge.  Bacteria can thrive in the jaw bone which is a wonderful habitat and as the bacteria continue to proliferate, they spread through the jaw bones, almost like a domino effect.

Has the vet x-rayed her skull?  Something as simple as an x-ray can allow you to see infection.  Has the vet done any dental x-rays on Thunder?  Those too can show infections in both the tissue and the bones of the mouth.

Have any of the extracted teeth been sent for microscopic evaluation?  Have there been any scrapings of the gum tissue sent off for microscopic examination and culture?

Another thought I had is that Thunder's dose of phenobarb may be too high and her wobbly movements may be more from too high a dose, kind of like she's drunk.  It takes about 2 weeks of being on the phenobarb, before you actually see some results.  I say this because you also mention that she is on buprenex for arthritis pain control.  Could be something as simple as adjustment of dosages for each medication.

As far as the recurring UTI's go.......Because of her age and weakened immune system, as indicated by the mouth infections, the UTI's could be coming into play purely because the mouth bacteria are again out of control and this has resulted in a systemic spread of bacteria to her bladder.

Keep us posted please Ned.  You know we are all here for you and are all sending positive healing energy and prayers for Thunder.

« Last Edit: April 11, 2008, 09:06:18 PM by mainecoonpeg » Logged
Mandycat
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2008, 09:04:38 PM »

NedF -
     Your story is truly heartbreaking, and I hope that just posting it here at least served to allow you to get it out and relieve some of your stress.  There is another poster here who has a cat that had a brain tumor and had surgery for it.  Her cat was 15 and also had some other medical issues.  It might help for you to read her thread as part of your research to make a decision.  Her cat seems to have done pretty well following the surgery.  Only you and your vet together can make the ultimate decision as to what is best for your cat.  This is the thread to read about the other cat with the brain tumor:

       http://itchmoforums.com/help-with-my-sick-pet/my-cat-has-a-brain-tumor-t1699.0.html

     As for the UTI, you should probably try to see a vet over the weekend if symptoms are causing your cat distress.  As long as you are giving the phenobarbital as directed, the possibility of a seizure should be reduced and a visit to the vet may be possible without causing a problem.  Perhaps you could talk to a vet at the emergency ER and ask for advice on that issue.  Perhaps if you tell him that the cat has a history of UTI's and tell him what antibiotic seemed to help, he would give you a prescription for it without seeing the cat until you can take her to your regular vet on Monday.  Of course, he may also not want to give meds without blood tests, but it is worth a try.  If Thunder is really uncomfortable, though, it is probably best to let the vet see her.  
     I will keep you and Thunder in my prayers.  Keep us posted about how she is doing.    
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Sandi K
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 09:29:28 PM »

NedF, what a sad situation for you and Thunder, I can feel your love for this kitty in your writing.  I am no expert either but I do agree with what Peg wrote.  Teeth/gum and the related bacteria issues can really cause havoc thru the rest of the body and especially if they have been out of control for a long time.  Our Sophers is only barely one and she has juvenile gingivitis and has had it since we've had her, partly due to having coccidia and her immune system being affected when she was a kitten.  She has had diarrhea issues since we got her and also a couple of instances of UTI's also.  But what we have found in aggressively treating her gums is that the diahrrea is gradually getting better.  The dental vet we consulted with confirmed that bacteria in her mouth can affect her whole system including her gut and intestines, not to mention other areas also such as kidneys, etc.  I just wanted to share our experience with teeth/gum bacteria problems and how they can definately affect other areas of kitty especially if its been going on awhile as it sounds like it has in poor Thunder.  My heart goes out to you during this difficult time, we watched our prior kitty go thru a seizure pretty much sounding the same as you described, the stiff front paws and the screaming, it was awful, something you dont wish on anything.   Im wondering if it would be worthwhile to consult with a dental vet about Thunder?  But it definately would be worth running the things Peg brought up by your vet.  Please keep us posted OK?  Hang in there and scritches to Thunder.   
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catwoods
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2008, 09:44:43 PM »

NedF, my heart goes out to you and Thunder, and I can tell how much you love this kitty. I don't have insight into these conditions but I want you to know I am sending prayers and purrs for you both and keeping you in my thoughts.
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kaffe
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2008, 09:49:57 PM »

NedF:  My heart was squeezing in agony for you and Thunder as I read through your post.  I cannot add anything in the way of advice due to extreme inexperience... all I can offer are my deep deep concern and sympathies and oodles of fervent prayers.
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lesliek
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2008, 09:53:14 PM »

NedF- I think everyone has made good suggestions for things to ask about & check. Just wanted to send support your way for whatever you decide is the best thing for Thunder. Hoping and praying for a good outcome for you both.You may want to send pm asking about the details of the testing and surgery for the brain tumor.Being able to talk to someone who has gone through this with their cat may help.
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NedF
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2008, 10:04:55 PM »

Thanks Fizzy1! I appreciate it!

maincoonpeg:

Thank you for taking the time to write all that out! I will ask my vet about a skull x-ray. I think she mentioned it when she talked to me but she said you wouldn't be able to see a tumor.  She didn't say anything about an infection. There was nothing in the bloodwork to indicate an infection. I'll ask her about it. We have x-rayed Thunder's teeth in the past but I don't remember the result. Most of the teeth that were removed were healthy with no signs of decay. The vet was surprised by that. I can only remember one tooth that had a lesion and that was years ago. I don't think we ever tested any scrapings.

One note about her mouth infection: In another thread, kaffe had mentioned Biotene antiseptic gel. I decided this would be the last product I would try and I tell you, her infection is much less severe after using the Biotene for about 3 weeks. She is no longer having pain from her teeth. The gums are still a little red but not the oozing stinking mess they were a month ago. I also put a half capsule of coq10 mixed in her food. I don't know if that helped or not.

You are right about the Phenobarbital. I called and spoke to another vet at the same practice and she said just that. She said I could lower the dose to 1/4 pill if Thunder was too wobbly. I also changed the dosing schedule for the Buprenex and that helped. It's been 15 days now and Thunder is not falling down as much. I really don't want to lower the pheno because she is still having tic-like spasms.

The vet has also told me that the mouth infections and cystitis could be related. I just wish this wasn't such a big puzzle. I want one easy answer!

Again, thanks for your help!

Mandycat:
I have read through some of the thread you mentioned. It was the first thing I thought of when my vet said "brain tumor." I may read through it again tomorrow in between doing my taxes (more stress I don't need!).

I will indeed go to the ER vet if Thunder does not improve. Right now she's more relaxed and just ate a small meal a few minutes ago! She's having a snooze right now. I hope it was just a reaction to a new cat litter I tried. I had to switch from clumping to regular because she kept stepping in the fresh clumps and getting cement feet! I tried the silica gel kind and it was horrible! It had no dust but when Thunder would squat she couldn't always hold herself up and when she sat the pieces would stick to her naughty bits and I think that was very irritating to her.

Thank you so much for taking the time to offer your advice and support. It has really helped!
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"It seems that some creatures have the capacity to fill spaces you never knew were empty."  - Jean-Luc Picard
NedF
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2008, 10:38:00 PM »

Sandi K:
Thanks for your help and advice. I'm sorry about your young little kitty. I hope you can get those problems under control so Sophers has a long and happy life! Once I realized a lot of Thunder's problems stemmed from her mouth, I kept a close eye on those teeth and gums and once an infection started I was off to the vet to either get some antibiotics or have the tooth removed. I think I'll take her in next week and have the problem tooth checked just to be sure.

catwoods, kaffe & lesliek:
Thanks for your support and encouraging words, they help more than you know. And kaffe, Thunder loves your Quick Poultry Feast recipe. She yummed it up and she has never had home cooked before! This was in January. I wish I had known about homecooking years ago! Getting her to eat anything has always been a chore. I couldn't believe she actually ate it! I'm giving her some right now!

Newsflash: she just had a normal pee without any crying or fussing in the cat box. I hope this means no uti! Fingers crossed!
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"It seems that some creatures have the capacity to fill spaces you never knew were empty."  - Jean-Luc Picard
kaffe
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2008, 12:48:21 AM »

Oh NedF: You made me cry tears of gratitude.  Please keep us updated on how Thunder is doing.
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Carol
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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2008, 04:39:29 AM »

NedF-- I hope today brings a good day for Thunder---it sure does help some of us here to write and chat and ask for ideas---hopefully this will help you.  It is very likely that too much of a anti-seizure drug can cause symtomps like "drunkiness"--I have seen it firsthand  in people so I am sure it can happen in cats and it looks like the vet thought that too---so that is good news and also remember that a seizure is horrible to watch but as long as it stops--it tends to be worse for those watching it!  I currently have a 2 yr old golden who is quickly approaching the end of his journey due to cancer---treatment has allowed him to live 16 months past diagnosis....but at the oncologist office I heard every day from the people working there that the quality of life is the goal of treatment not just the quantity of life...this is true for our guys at any age---It was recommended to me that I keep a diary of good days and bad days and see it written down.  And sometimes we worry before we need too---just take one day at a time and enjoy Thunder---I hope you have many more happy days  Cry.  And so glad to hear Thunder is eating----sometimes that simple thing says so much!! Smiley
Carolx0x0
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JustMe
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2008, 05:38:41 AM »

Ned,

I'm sorry to hear about Thunder, but I, too, am so glad she is eating.

Just wanted to mention this.  It sounds like something basic vets do, but I would suggest your vet thoroughly examine Thunder's ears to rule out ear infection, if this has not already been done.

My 18-year-old had gum infections last spring.  He did have 4 back teeth removed, difficult removals.  Over the ensuing weeks while his mouth was healing, he started turning in cricles, losing his balance, and falling over. 

Vet at first thought he had a brain/neurological problem because of the circling and balance problems.  He had done a cursory exam with a scope, but after more thorough examination, it turned out he had 2 infected ears, deep down.  Later it was surmised that the dental infections and prolonged, difficult extractions, led to the inner ear problems.  Inner ear problems will cause vertigo in people and pets.  He didn't have seizures though.  It did take months to get his ear problems under control and he is hard of hearing now, but otherwise in great shape for his age.  Last year my vet had been encountering a lot of inner ear infections in cats, and he found it unusual to have so many of them occurring.

Sorry to be long winded, but the off balance made me think of a possible ear problem.

I wish you and Thunder the best.  {{hugs}}

« Last Edit: April 12, 2008, 06:12:20 AM by JustMe » Logged

Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
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