Wednesday, December 31, 2008

the eekie saga

This all happened in March and April of this year. I wrote several blogs, but didn't post them. I kept wanting to finish them more -- a baaaaddd move considering how much I procrastinate. The dates of the original blogs are at the beginning of each new blog. So anyway, here it is...better late than never, right?

My little gray cat, Loki wasn't eating well at all so I took him to the vet. After losing MiloGuido to feline leukemia (that I didn't even know he had) just after Christmas (2007) I was totally stressed out about Loki. I had convinced myself he was also going to have to be put to sleep. But Loki also had really bad teeth, and upon examination it became clear they were even worse than before (Loki is very frightened about being confined in any way and so its hard for me to really examine him) and she thought that was most of his problem. So getting the problem teeth -- which would most likely be all of the few teeth he had left -- out would probably help him to feel much better. But because Loki is an old cat, they wanted to do some pre-operative testing to make sure he could handle the anaesthesia etc.

And so the saga begins...

a bit of a wild child


That's what one of the vet assistants said about Loki when I went to pick him up after a day of tests Friday. I had told them I thought he was semi feral and could be quite a challenge to do work on. He doesn't like to be picked up or held or anyway controlled or confined. (He does like to sleep next to me or draped over my arm though.) I also told them he'd gotten loose the first time I ever took him to the vet when he first came to me four years ago and they had to use a net to catch him. But when he was in Thursday for an initial checkup he was really very good and I was very proud of him. Then I took him in on Friday and from what they said for most of his workup he was quite good -- tight, nervous, and not at all happy, but nothing major.

However, when it came time for xrays and they had to put him on his back he was having none of it. He fought and he scratched and he bit and he really meant it! Luckily with the biting Loki has very bad teeth -- his canine's are broken off/worn down and missing/loose and several others are gone as well -- so even with him wanting to bite he couldn't do much damage. Plus they were wearing heavy gloves at the time, so all his biting efforts were thwarted. Still, he tried hard! Once he starts fighting he doesn't stop and he managed to get away and dove under the cages. They had to roll around on the floor and drag him out.

So I get a call from the vet telling me what happened and asking if I will authorise a tranquiliser for him (a bit of a risk because he's older, plus much of the testing is to help determine how he will handle the anaesthesia when he has his teeth done. It's not a big risk but it's still a risk). I say ok and a few hours later get the call to go to pick him up. The guy calling says he did fine with the tranquiliser and they got all the tests done. I get there and one of the techs says "He's a bit of a wild child!" and proceeds to tell me how he got the tranq and had some time to let it work, then they proceeded to try to get the xrays again. "It didn't make a bit of difference! He did the very same thing again!" He even dove under the same set of cages! I couldn't help but laugh. She told me he was so good at first that they were wondering why I was so insistent that he could be a problem, but when they tried for the xrays they suddenly understood.

So he goes in Tuesday to have his teeth worked on...well mostly removed I think. They are really bad now. They were bad when he first came -- several missing and many worn way down -- but until recently they didn't give him many problems. He's an old cat -- we decided on 13 for him, although he could be older, and most of that time was most likely spent as an outdoor cat on his own (that ages them faster) -- so any time you put them out it's a bigger risk than for a younger cat, but he has to have this done to be happy and healthy. I think he'll do just fine...he's a pretty tough little cat. Tough and pretty much toothless. But I love him anyway.

"What isn't wrong with Loki?"


Well Loki isn't going in to get his teeth worked on tomorrow, he's going to be checked out by a cat cardiologist next week. Most of the results from that whole battery of tests that were run on him came back and although he doesn't have heartworm or hyperthyroidism or feline leukemia or FIV, the tests and xrays indicate several potential problems. Apparently his liver is working fine, but several indicators of kidney function are abnormal, so they are not quite right, although they don't seem to be in the horrible stage yet. The bigger issue is potential heart problems. The vet detected a heart murmur, his blood pressure is high (not super high but still high), and his heart appears to be enlarged on the xrays (which weren't the best because he was not at all cooperative). Also, the person who read the xrays (they were sent out to a specialist) noted what looked like a mass in one of his lungs. This could be nothing at all and just a consequence of the rather poor quality and not quite right position of the xray, but it also could be several things, including an aggressive, fast growing cancer that could kill him within weeks.

When my vet called the cat cardiologist to see what anaesthesia would be best to use if we did go ahead with the teeth job tomorrow, she outlined the various test results for the specialist who said "wow, what isn't wrong with Loki?" I couldn't help but laugh when she told me that. It's just so typical of my cats -- when they do something, they do it full out. No half-ass sicknesses for my kitties. Sigh.

On the plus side, since he's been getting antibiotics, Loki is feeling much better and is eating up a storm -- even dry food -- and he's seems very happy. This improvement allows me to take him to the specialist instead of having to press on right now with the dental work (although unless he has something quickly terminal he will need it soon). With any luck getting a better handle on some of his other issues will allow the work on his teeth to be less risky for him.

So now he'll get to terrorise yet another vet clinic.

Mr. Loki's visit to the cardiologist


So Loki went to the cardiologist Wednesday and the results were pretty good. First of all he was an excellent kitty there -- they told me they had another kitty there who wasn't being a good kitty at all. I'm very proud of him for that because Loki tends to get very stressed when he's held or confined in any way.

Now he went to the cardiologist to find out how much risk putting him under to work on his teeth will be given the exam and testing by my regular vet turned up several indications of heart problems, and also because in one of three xrays taken at my regular vet there seems to be a mass in one of his lungs. So here were the findings:

1) my vet got a blood pressure reading of 200, but wed it was only 130 to 135 on repeated checks. That is good news.

2) he does have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (essentially thickening of the left ventricle) which can lead to congestive heart failure, sudden death, or blood clots. Loki's case is still mild however, and shouldn't make anaesthesia a whole lot more risky than normal to have his teeth worked on.

3) he does have mild renal disease which also complicates the anaesthesia somewhat, but the risk is still not terribly high. Of course the kidney disease is something that will have to be managed as it progresses, but for now it isn't a huge deal.

4) the possible lung mass or hiatal hernia which showed up on one of the xrays. Loki wasn't being at all cooperative when these were taken so they weren't great and it's possible there is nothing at all to be concerned about. It could be a sliding hernia in which case it's been there all his life and if it hasn't caused problems yet, it's not likely to now. It could be scarring from an old injury or infection. Or it could be lung cancer. The vet asked me about how he's eating (good since the antibiotics kicked in so his teeth don't hurt as much); and how his cough is (I mentioned he sometimes coughed to my vet when I first took him in a couple of weeks ago -- haven't heard him do it since). She was pleased with this and said it made it less likely to be lung cancer, although she couldn't say for sure with the tests we had done so far. They could take another xray and hope to get a better view, but it might also be inconclusive. Essentially it came down to if I really needed to know. I decided since I wouldn't have him operated on if it was cancer (he's old -- this vet thinks he could be even older than our best guess age of 13; he has several other health issues that could make recovery from surgery difficult; often with cancer cases the cancer has already spread making the surgery pretty much ineffective; and I really couldn't afford it anyway) that I really didn't need to know. So I still don't really know about that possible mass, but since he seems to be pretty happy and comfortable now, we'll do his teeth and hope for the best.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased.


So Loki was able to have his bad teeth removed -- all seven that remained (I told you his teeth were bad!). The vet said there was one that kind of looked ok, but when she touched it, it just fell out. But what's he going to do with one tooth anyway??? So that was ok.

He came home and he felt pretty good, except his gums hurt and he didn't want to eat. Not even tasty canned food. The special all-cats-love-this-stuff canned food from the vet didn't even do it for him. In fact, he sniffs it and positively recoils with this "that shit is DISGUSTING!!" look on his face. I joke that Loki is a low-rent kitty. It's as if he says "I don't want this crap (the vet food -- which costs $2 per can btw), I want GOOD food, dammit! I want Fancy Feast or Friskies!" Leave it to my cat to want the equivelent of McDonalds. But his not eating was a problem because cats can develop serious liver problems in a very short time if they don't eat. So I had to take him back to the vet to have him force fed. It did work...he came home, cleaned himself up, and started to eat small amounts of his favourite foods. That was quite a relief. However, Maddie was sick (vomiting, diarrhea and just very miserable), so she went to the vet too.

And the saga continues...

Maddie just died


About an hour ago. She went downhill so fast -- on Sunday she seemed fine, ate like a trooper and was pretty much like she always is, by Monday she was sick. I took her to the vet Tuesday, but she never really rallied and today (Wednesday) by late afternoon I had decided to take her to the emergency vet. She died while I was getting ready to go. At least she didn't suffer long and didn't have the stress of going to the vet. And she did have a good 13 years with me/us.

I'll miss the silly little girl.

(the vet thinks a blood clot killed her, and I imagine it was give how fast she went, but she wasn't getting any better from how sick she was either. She'd long had imune system problems, and ultimately I think her body just finally had enough.)

On with the tale...

Well Mitzi's still alive and kicking


Mitzi is my oldest cat. We got her on election day in 1989 or 1990 or 1991 -- I can't really remember right now... I'll have to check her records when I go to the vet. Anyway, she's an old cat and she has chronic respiratory problems and some kidney problems at the very least. She's very ratty looking mostly because she has long hair but really really really hates to be brushed, and hates even more to have mats removed and makes no bones about letting anyone and everyone know her feelings on the issue. She will bite and she's very quick and nasty with her claws. She earned the nickname Hell Cat Bitch!

Anyway, late last night she vomited and then wouldn't eat. Then she vomited up the water she drank and it was apparent she was becoming dehydrated. She was weak and just looked miserable. So I took her to the emergency vet.

They did a quick exam and then some tests and it turns out that for a 16 to 18 year old cat Mitzi is pretty damned healthy (and according to the vet she's also "pretty strong!" so I think she showed a bit of her HCB personality to them. Atta girl, Mitz!). Her kidney values are somewhat elevated which is from her kidney disease, but some of it could be from the dehydration. Her blood pressure is normal, her glucose levels are good, her heart sounds good, she doesn't have any infection -- overall she's a lot better off than I expected her to be. I knew she was a tough little cat, but Mitzi must have some seriously good cat genes.

So she got some fluids and a couple of shots to calm her stomach and got sent home. She slept for a while in front of the space heater and got a drink and has even eaten a little. She clearly feels better than she did just 3-4 hours ago. I need to get her in to see my regular vet in the next couple of days, but it looks as if Mitzi is going to live -- at least for a while yet.

I don't know


I don't know about Mitzi...she seemed to rally Sunday night and Monday morning, but now I don't think she's doing so well again. She doesn't seem as miserable as she did on Sunday and she is drinking and is interested in food (and not vomiting) although she isn't eating much, but she just looks tired out.

Over the years I've had more animals die/be put down than most people ever have and often at the end they have this "it's time" look. Mitzi does tend to look like death warmed over when she is sick -- she always has -- but at her age, and as much as she has slowed down over the past several months, I think it's very possible that "time" is here. She's fooled me before, and I hope she does this time also, but usually she shows continuous progress after treatment. This time she showed improvement, but now is getting weaker again. At least she doesn't look terribly uncomfortable, just very tired and weak.

Ah well, we'll see what morning brings.

Mitzi's vet visit


She's still alive. Took her to the vet on Wednesday morning where she got some fluids (subcu) and a couple of shots. She hadn't eaten since sometime Tuesday and was feeling mighty pitiful. Poor little cat weighed less than 6 lbs. After treatment she started feeling better pretty quickly, and actually started eating a tiny bit just an hour and a half after getting home. She's been eating on and off all day. It's not a huge amount, and she does best with the gravy in chunks and gravy style canned cat food than anything else (I've been getting a lot of different types of canned food lately in hopes of tempting her and Loki), but I figure it's a lot better than nothing. She also quite likes the food Max gets so I'm giving her some of that (it's high calorie and very soft and easy to eat), but it's not supposed to be great long-term for cats with kidney problems so if she gets eating other food better I'll stop giving her that.

She goes back this morning for some more fluids (chances are good I'll begin giving them to her at home -- she seems to be at the point where she needs them) and will also get the "lion trim" because her coat is so matted. She's a long haired cat and hates to be brushed (not that she showed that at the vet...she's really good for them! Damned little cat is determined to make a liar out of me!) so her coat is in awful shape. The "lion trim", in case you don't know, is where they clip off all the fur from the head on back. She'll be a naked little cat. Good thing summer is coming.

I'm not sure all this is really going to give her a whole lot more time, but she keeps responding to treatment so I figure as long as she does and seems to be able to enjoy her life it's worth doing. One other thing I found out at the vet -- Mitzi is older than I thought. I thought we might have gotten her as early as Nov of 1989 (election day -- I remember because the company I worked for then gave us that day off), but it turns out we got her the year before. This means Mitzi is 19 years and seven months old. I think that's pretty damned good!! Especially for a pitiful little 8 week old stray kitten no one wanted. I'm pretty sure she's the oldest cat I've ever had.



Yes, I'm pretty sure the ratty little gerbil car is toast.

It broke down in the middle of a main road (but not an interstate -- whew!) today as I stopped for a traffic light. As I applied the brakes I heard this squeal, then this horrible crunching sound, then it felt as if the driver's side wheel was being torn apart. And it pulled really hard to the left. Why it pulled to the left was apparent when I got out and looked -- the front wheel was angled out oddly (I don't know much about cars but that didn't look like a good sign to me).

The car wouldn't budge, so I'm sitting in the middle of a five lane road (two lanes on each side and a turning lane in the middle) just at the end of rush hour so it was pretty busy. Within just a minute or so though a couple of guys came over and said they would push the car out of the roadway but when they tried they could barely budge it. A couple other guys walking and biking along came over too and the four of them pushed the car across the intersection and over to the curb (I steered ). The car only weighs about 1600 lbs -- it's tiny and light. Hell I've even pushed it short distances by myself. So it was obvious to everyone that something was really wrong with it.

Anyway, after getting it moved to the side of the road I called AAA and my brother to pick me up and to help me decide what to do with the damned little thing. It appears the strut has torn away from the frame. That can't be good.

The car was cheap to begin with and really has lasted longer than I expected it to. I had a 100 mile a day commute at the time so racked up the miles pretty fast the first couple of years, but these last few years I haven't had to drive it all that much (and when I took road trips I would rent a car), so it has been ok. But it has definitely been showing it's age (14 years) a lot the last couple of years, and I think the ratty little gerbil car has finally reached the end of the road.

Of course it had to do it just after I had to spend boatloads at the vet and more than I expected with my taxes. I had been thinking just 5-10 minutes before it broke down that this would be a really bad time for it to break down. That's the problem -- I gotta stop thinking!


The ratty little gerbil car was indeed dead, so I had to find something else. No way in hell could I afford something new or even newish, so I searched Craigslist for something inexpensive (cheap!) and economical and fairly decent. And I found one that would actually work quite well, but it had a a blown cylinder head (same thing that finally did in Tibor). But overall the car was in good shape and my brother assured me he could replace the cylinder head inexpensively enough that the car would still be an excellent buy. And he did...eventually.

I bought the car towards the end of April and he finally got it fixed and running at the very end of June. This period was the worst possible time for me to be without a car too. I was getting the SK exhibit ready before June and then going to the gallery several times during it's run through June. Yellow Springs is a 120 mile round trip too, so I really needed a car! So I rented cars and spent loads more money that I really couldn't afford to spend. And then when he finally finished it at the end of June I was scheduled to work in the shop (coop where the SK exhibit was) the last day of June so I could take the show down at the end of the day. But during the wee morning hours of June 30 I came down with a nast stomach/intestinal bug. Now I know you all know what that does to a person, so I won't tell that part (besides I just noticed I already posted a blog on it in early June), but I couldn't go to the shop. But I did manage to go take down the exhibit a bit later in the week.

Anyway, the car has needed a few other repairs, but is pretty good and overall I'm happy with it. It sure is a heck of a lot better than the ratty little gerbil car. I just wish it hadn'y taken so long to get it fixed in the first place.

So there it is. The eekie saga.

The spring 2008 eekie saga at least.


Blogger General Catz said...

Jeez. That's a lot to deal with. But you didn't say what happened to Loki? Hope 2009 is better for you and your menagerie.

10:59 AM  
Blogger veleska1970 said...

yes, this was a lot to deal with. you had a very busy year. hope this year is better.

7:55 PM  
Blogger eek said...

Loki felt better right away, even before he started eating. Once he started eating he improved so much that I don't think I've ever seen him happier or healthier in the four and a half years I've had him. I still can't quite believe I took a cat to a cardiologist, but he's doing even better than I had hoped. :-)

6:23 PM  

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