Friday, July 24, 2009

My favorite birthday present

I had been typing some posts and back-dating them, but I got busy this week and could not keep up. I did, however, want to give you an update on Tigger's condition. Hopefully, it will be the last one until if/when we can remove her feeding tube. That's right, she's eating! Is that a great birthday present or what? Allow me to explain:

As mentioned in my previous post, Tigger had her feeding tube put in, and we picked her up on Saturday, July 18. The idea was to give her some food through her feeding tube, which would help her liver recover, which would help her start eating on her own. (Oh, and I think I forgot to mention that her second FIV test came back negative! Our one bit of good news.) We had a follow-up visit with the vet scheduled for Tuesday morning. Sunday, she did fine, though she wasn't eating much, maybe a tablespoon or so. Not to worry, she hadn't even been home for a day. By Monday, she was starting to slow down again, and she was back to not eating at all. When I took her in Tuesday morning, I was terrified that they would say there was nothing more they could do, and we would have a big decision to make. Yes, we could keep her alive by giving her all of her food through her tube, but if she clearly does not feel well, what is the point? I love my cat, I want her to stay with me for many more years, but not if she is in constant pain.

The vet was not at all happy with her progress. She said that she honestly believed that the feeding tube was the answer and that Tigger would be eating well at home by now (she had been eating okay before we picked her up Saturday, maybe 1/2 by mouth and 1/2 by tube). Tigger was once again getting worse, not better. She had lost more weight, and even the jaundice was worse. They took more blood to test her liver values again, and we were told to do everything we could to make sure we got the full amount of food into her (which meant feeding her at least every 2 hours). She again mentioned cancer as a possibility. Did we want to do the painful, invasive, expensive, and possibly dangerous test? DH and I had already discussed it and decided no. We were not going to treat her for cancer if she had it (she's 10 years old, and we felt we had put her though enough in the preceding 2 weeks), so no point in doing the liver aspiration.

Our last option was steroids. Steroids can interfere with the cancer testing, which is why they hadn't been tried to this point (plus everyone genuinely believed the feeding tube would be the fix). Steroids can encourage the body to heal, they can cause weight gain (often considered a negative side effect, but a plus for her right now), and they decrease inflammation, which should help whatever it is that is clearly hurting her stop hurting. Steroids don't treat the cancer, but they can make her feel better even if that is what she has. Steroids can have long term bad side effects, such as affecting the liver (though not nearly to the extent that she is affected now) and causing diabetes. Those are things we will have to balance in the long run. But right now, we just want to *get* to the long run! This was our last chance. Steroids are inexpensive and non-invasive (well, as non-invasive as pilling a cat can be). It was worth a try, so we went for it, though I had very little hope at this point.

I don't know what they put in those steroid pills, but as far as I am concerned, they are magic! After just one *half* of a pill, she started eating. Not a lot, but eating any at all was an improvement at this point. The first day, she ate 1-2 tablespoons. By Friday, she was eating nearly 1/2 a cup of dry food, all by mouth on her own. She only needs 3/4 of a cup per day. If she can get up to that rate and keep it up, they'll take out the feeding tube! I honestly believed when she was looking so bad on Tuesday that come today (Friday, July 24, my birthday), we would be taking her back to the vet in even poorer shape, and they would recommend euthanasia. Instead, she gave me the best birthday present I could ever have hoped for! She was chowing down on her food, and she even head-butted me and meowed at me because I was still in bed at 8 AM. She is also bathing and using her scratching post. It really is like a miracle. After all the disappointment, after so many tries and so many times of believing that "this will work" and it didn't, I really didn't think half a pill (of anything) taken twice a day would make any difference, but wow, am I a believer now!

I would not say that she is 100% yet. Maybe 80%. But that is so much better than she was, I am just blown away. I really hope that she will improve enough that we can have the tube taken out. I hope she can have a few more good years here with us. We know she can't stay with us forever, but 10 years doesn't seem like long enough. DH was there the day she was born. We have quite literally had her for her entire life. She's had a good one so far, I think. I hope it lasts a bit longer.

Currently feeling: so happy my kitty feels better!


  1. Yay Tigger! I hope that she continues to improve.

    Steroids are the ultimate pep shots for cats. We recently thought we were going to lose my parents 20 year old cat and one steroid shot later and she's a brand new cat.

  2. I'm so glad she is feeling better!

  3. Glad your kitty is doing better! Hope the steroids continue to help.


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