He's gone

Jan. 26th, 2009 10:11 am
eimarra: (Default)
Cloud died this morning, two months shy of 14 years.

When I adopted him from the rescue society in the East Bay (he had been a feral kitten), they told me his name was Ferris. Silly name for a cat. Sillier, still, I suppose, is the fact that I thought they said Ferrous, and my first reaction was that that was the wrong color.

Dancer was easy to name. She was tiny with these long, graceful legs.

Cloud, though? It took me a day or two. He was silver and gray with undertones almost of lavender, and wonderfully fluffy. Skittish, too. He would run if anyone approached him, though he was happy to curl up next to someone on the bed and go to sleep. I woke up in the morning to a semi-overcast sky, with all these different shades and the light shining through and making some glow. That's when I knew that Cloud was his name -- for the colors, for the fluffiness, for the fleeing nature.

Dancer was so affectionate, she was almost a dog. She loved laps, would climb up onto people's shoulders to get closer to them, and played fetch with the little fur-covered plastic mice.

Cloud would lie there and watch me playing with Dancer as though he wanted to join in, but he never did, even when I threw the mouse in his direction.

He gradually warmed to people -- first to me and the kids of the family I lived with, letting us approach and pet him. He always liked women and kids better than men; maybe he'd been frightened by men while wild. I don't know. Still, he spent more time hiding than visible when people came to visit, and some friends teasingly suggested I was just making up the second cat.

Introducing him to Jazz, the dog my husband had when we first met, was interesting. Jazz was eager to meet the cats, cornering them. Cloud didn't like that much, and Jazz got a scratch across his nose for his trouble. Once Jazz calmed down (after several more visits) and left the cats alone, Cloud calmed down a fair bit, too.

In fact, my mother-in-law came to visit us shortly after we got married, and she brought her dog with her. Rain was a beautiful dog who was a bit spacy. She played with invisible friends. When she came to our house, she walked by Cloud like he wasn't even there. This annoyed him, and he started following her, trying to get her to notice him.

Cloud lived with me in seven different places, apartments and houses. As he got older, he mellowed more. He didn't always run when my husband came near him. He shifted to sleeping with the 7yo when 7yo was about 2-1/2 or 3. He started coming out to greet visitors, and would even jump up on the couch and try to get them to pet him. He never was a lapcat, though.

Over the last year, he's slowly gone downhill, and I've made no secret of my worries about him. Yesterday, I knew his time had come. I sat down with him on my lap for a couple of hours and spent what time I could throughout the day. I did my best to keep him comfortable. He didn't move much, and I made a bed of towels for him in the kitchen to rest on.

When I got up this morning, my husband said Cloud was still with us. By the time I got out to the kitchen, though, he'd stopped breathing. He was a good cat, and he will be missed.
eimarra: (Default)
Told the 7yo last night to tell Cloud good-bye before going to school today. 7yo: "Isn't he coming home?" Tears, etc. Decision was easy compared to telling the kid.

Went upstairs to go to bed. Saw Cloud, stopped to pet him. He was all happy and purring, bumping up against me. Spent more than 20 minutes sitting on the floor with him, sobbing and petting him.

Decided to try just a little more. Bought a new litter box, put it closer to where he's been going (upstairs), showed him where it is. I'll take stock again next week.

I know he's never going to be all better, never the cat that he used to be. But he does still seem to have a joy in life, some quality worth holding on to. So . . . we'll see.
eimarra: (Default)
*sigh*

The cat's been going to the bathroom pretty much everywhere -- sometimes in his litter box, sometimes not. I've done everything I can to encourage him to use the litter box, including restricting access to the rest of the house, cleaning up anything soft I can on the floor, and making sure the litter box is always clean. But he has a flexible definition of "soft," evidently. Tonight, it was a couple of the baby's books sitting on a corner of the rug, over the hardwood floor.

Husband's hit his limit. He was throwing things around and yelling (not helpful when I'm trying to get kids to bed), and I went out and asked if there was anything I could do to help. He said, "Take the cat to a vet."

Yeah, and I don't think he means for more bloodwork.

Cloud's still getting sick, though less frequently. He's not looking any better. And now this. Husband might have a point.

So Monday, if they're open, I'm calling the vet. If not, I'll call Tuesday. Expect major meltdown from me next week.
eimarra: (Default)
Finally heard back from the vet on the blood work for Cloud. Diagnosis: pancreatitis, some inflammatory bowel. Not sure which is secondary to the other, but no further complications, such as auto-immune problems. Going to go with low-dose steroids once a day (prednisone) and B12 injections 2-3 times a week (which I can do myself, as it's in the same place as the subcutaneous fluid injections I've been doing). The diet he's currently on is the next best thing to a prescription hypoallergenic diet, so we'll stick with that for the time being.  And we'll see what happens.

The vet said that the primary goals are to make sure he's eating and drinking, to stop the vomiting, and to make him more comfortable. I'm a little concerned that weight regain isn't even on the table as a goal -- the vet says we can just hope to stop further loss -- as this tells me, once again, that this isn't something he's really expected to recover from. Indeed, the vet mentioned a feeding tube as an option if there are further problems in the diet.

For now, though, there's hope. I'll pick up the prescriptions a bit later, after the 7yo gets home from school. Further updates if anything changes.
eimarra: (Default)
We were up until 11 watching Iron Man, which wasn't terrible, though I would have preferred an earlier bedtime. (Especially after staying up late the night before to watch election returns.) Then baby wakes up at 2. While I'm comforting her, cat enters room and (ewwww!) has diarrhea and gets sick. I wind up taking baby back to bed with me so I can close the bedroom door (to keep the dog out) and deal with mess today.

Dog decides around 5:30 he wants to get up, and starts whining at our bedroom door to go out. By 6:30, I'm up. Can't figure out what to do about the rug the cat has soiled. Ask hubby's opinion. He says we'll have to trash the rug, which means he needs to move furniture--later. Crack open the window to deal with the smell and close the door.

I called the vet's office, told them that Cloud has taken a turn for the worse. Have an appointment at 2:20 this afternoon.

More updates as life progresses . . .
eimarra: (Default)
Vet called back with the results of the bloodwork that got sent out. The outside lab had a higher number on the hematocrit, but it's still below 20%. There is evidence of reticulocytes, so Cloud's body is trying to replace the loss. However, the level is low.

In other news, the erythropoietin is more expensive than he thought--about $400 per bottle, meaning a couple months of treatment is getting up to thousands. Which is scary. He doesn't really consider that an option at this point.

Options:

1) Pay for the Eponin, despite the cost. If his RBC's keep decreasing, Cloud won't have enough oxygen to stay alert. I think the decrease is already making him more tired than usual, and he's having some issues jumping up onto some things. (Granted, he's over 13, so it could be arthritis, but it seems rather pronounced. Or maybe it's just that I'm paying attention?) (Husband says, "What does he need energy for, anyway?" Me: "Getting up and down the stairs to the litter box?")

2) Get referral to specialist vet, who can do ultrasounds and bone marrow biopsies and the like.

3) Monitor how Cloud's doing, and if his quality of life decreases . . .

We're leaning to option 3 right now.

Damn this is hard.
eimarra: (Default)
So the packed cell volume is half the normal level, and Dr. Schindler said that when it gets into the teens, we've moved from moderate to severe. If it gets to low teens or single digits, about the only thing that can be done is marrow transplant.

He suggested erythropoietin to try to increase the level of red blood cells being created. This involves injections three times a week for at least 2 weeks. (He said it might be as many as 6 or 7). With the blood work needed to monitor progress, we're looking at probably several hundred dollars, though he doesn't think it'll go as high as a thousand. So did I want him to look into getting some, as they don't have it? I said yes. What was I going to do--say the cat's not worth that much to me?

We discussed possible causes for the drop in red blood cells. There might be a problem with the bone marrow, either cancer or fibrosis (which would cause it to lose its function). He could be making abnormal blood cells that are being destroyed by the body. He could be making *normal* blood cells that his body is attacking for whatever reason, but the vet said the blood work indicates that's rather unlikely. It is unlikely that he is bleeding anywhere--there is no evidence of internal bleeding. Dr. Schindler is going to see if there's enough blood from this morning's draw to send out and check for reticulocytes (RBC precursors) so we can at least find out whether Cloud's making them.

Given the symptoms and Cloud's age, Dr. Schindler feels that cancer is the most likely problem, but he can't be definitive without a biopsy. We're not doing that right now.

The vet's office will be giving me another call as soon as there's word on the erythropoietin.
eimarra: (Default)
Cloud has put on a little weight--0.4 lbs (up from 6.4 to 6.8).

On the down side, his anemia is worse--the PCV (packed cell volume) is down. The vet wants to prescribe some medicine, but they don't have any at that office. So after he gets out of surgery with his current patient, he's going to call around and see what he can do for finding it. I expect a call from him later today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Cloud's home, and we just keep on as we have been.
eimarra: (Default)
Vet called promptly at 2. Just got off the phone. Doing better, can come home. Blood work shows no sign of diabetes or thyroid problems. He's eating canned food there, so the vet recommends I switch to that here. May be a tooth problem, but nothing they can see obvious.

One concern is that when his hydration went up, his red blood cell count went down, so he's slightly anemic. They'll want me to come back and get that checked next week to see if it goes up, down, or what. With just the oddity in blood cell count, that may be indicative of cancer. If so, there's basically nothing that they can do about it, he said. So we'll hope for a better count next week, and meanwhile, I'm off to the vet to get him.
eimarra: (Default)
I called the vet at lunch time; they told me Cloud's still dehydrated, so they wanted to keep him an extra night for more IV fluids. They should call me tomorrow to talk to me about the blood work.
eimarra: (Default)
Just got back from dropping our remaining cat at the vet. I got Cloud at the same time as Dancer. He was always the shy one, the one who made other people ask, "Are you sure you have two cats?" Until the last few years, when he started coming out to check out visitors. I was shocked today when the vet put his hand down toward Cloud and Cloud butted his head against it to get petted.

He's lost a LOT of weight lately. I hadn't realized how much. He hasn't been eating this past week--I realized the other day I haven't had to refill his food bowl. And he's looking almost skeletal underneath his fluffy fur.

Now he's at the vet, getting an IV for fluids, having blood drawn for testing, maybe getting an X-ray if it seems warranted. We'll pick him up before they close this evening so he can spend the night at home. Just got a call from the vet, and they really want him to stay overnight for the extra fluids.

Possibilities broached include everything from bad teeth (making it too painful to eat) to hyperthyroidism to diabetes to cancer.

I'm just hoping this turns out better than last September with Dancer. . . .
eimarra: (Default)
A colleague of my husband's hosts solstice and equinox parties every year. Last night, we went to the party. As we were leaving, just before 11 p.m., the vet called my husband's cell phone. It wasn't urgent; she was the doctor on the new shift, and she wanted to talk about Dancer's condition. Dancer was clearly in pain and still having a lot of trouble breathing. My husband said it was clear the vet really wanted us to consider putting Dancer to sleep.

I'd been thinking about that, wondering if I was being selfish, inflicting pain on her unnecessarily. On the other paw, without knowing what was wrong, I didn't want to make an irreversible decision. What if she could be treated and go back to being her happy, healthy self?

Twenty minutes later, just as we were driving across the river, his cell rang again. We both knew it couldn't be good, and he pulled off on the next side street, parked, and talked.

Shortly after the first phone call, they saw liquid coming from Dancer's mouth and nose. They attempted a chest tap to draw off fluid. She went into arrest, and they couldn't get her back.

The fluid from the tap was dark and bloody, and the vet said it was the sort they usually see with cancer, from a tumor. So I guess when the lab results came back, we would've found that out.

I wish I'd had the chance to hold her one last time, to let her go knowing that she was loved, not feeling abandoned in a strange place surrounded by people she didn't know, caged off where she couldn't even be touched.

Thank you everyone for your warm wishes and thoughts. I do appreciate them.
eimarra: (Default)
Vet called a bit before 2, and suggested we consider transferring her to the other vet clinic now instead of waiting until this evening. They couldn't get as much fluid as they wanted out of her. It took them a few tries to actually draw any off. They got enough for the labwork, but they don't think they got enough to help her feel more comfortable. And they think maybe the vets at the other clinic might have better luck.

Honestly, I think I'm fine with the transfer. I'm just not sure I'm fine with the driving to and fro. Tears suck.

In general, Dancer's stable, not doing any better or worse than earlier. Blood work was all normal, slightly elevated blood sugar, but that could be stress rather than diabetes, and it's not worth worrying about at the moment.

I'm waiting to hear from my husband so I can see about him doing the necessary driving.

Oh, this is her:

eimarra: (elf)
Dancer (our little black and white cat) hasn't been acting like herself the past couple of days--hiding off in a corner, not being the lapcat we know and love, not even managing a purr when petted. It's also been obvious that she's had some difficulty breathing, so this morning I made an appointment at the vet for her. Just got back.

The nurse took one look at Dancer and whisked her into the back room. She said she wanted to make sure Dancer was stable before we proceeded. Came back a bit later and asked for permission to take an X-ray because Dancer's labored breathing made them think she had fluid in her lungs.

She does.

The doctor gave me a run-down on a list of possible causes. The top two, especially considering Dancer's age (a senior cat? Well, yeah, I've had her 12 years, but Dancer does *not* act like a senior!) are congestive heart failure and some form of cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

My choices were to let them tap the fluid to try to ease her pain or to think about a humane end for her. I went with tapping the fluid and running diagnostics on the fluid and on a blood sample. It's possible this is something treatable, and I'd really rather know.

They're keeping her for observation today, should give me a call this afternoon. They close at 5, so if they think she needs further observation, they'll let us know and, I think, suggest we take her to Valley Clinic. While she's there, they'll be giving her an IV (I told them I wasn't sure she'd been eating or drinking, and her X-rays only showed gas in her stomach and intestines--probably because she's been gulping air while trying to breathe.) and possibly some diuretics to try to help clear the lungs.

They gave her some oxygen after the X-ray, and that perked her up quite a bit, so I'm hoping that if the fluid can be cleared (and stay cleared!), she'll be up and about in no time.
eimarra: (Default)
I saw him eating the food I left out for him and went out to get him. He ducked under the neighbor's shed. I sat down and talked to him until he came out again.

He's now safely inside once more.

Overjoyed, elated, relieved!

Thanks for all the well wishes.
eimarra: (Default)
A lacuna.

In this case, our shy cat (referred to as "our invisible cat" because so few people ever see him) disappeared while we were gone. Our house sitter was concerned, and tried to find him. Right now, the possibilities are that he got outside (thankfully, it's been warm) or that he crawled inside the return duct from our bedroom which we hadn't gotten around to covering since we remodeled in there (not usually an issue because he's not allowed in there).

I hope we find him soon.

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