Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tigger Update: Not Eating Yet

I will apologize in advance for this being a bit rambly. I am so very tired.

I wanted to give another Tigger update, as much so I can remember what has happened to this point as anything. Dr. George called this afternoon. At that time, Tigger still wasn't interested in eating, but she had only been there 4-5 hours. He had dispatched one of the techs to the Publix across the street to buy some sliced turkey to tempt her appetite. I also recommended bacon bits (the real ones). When he said she could eat anything she wanted as long as she was willing to eat, he wasn't kidding. After we got off the phone, I realized that I should just make her favorite meal. If she won't eat chicken with dried beef, then she won't eat anything! So tonight, after Luke went to bed, I went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, then came home and made an entire batch of chicken with dried beef just for my cat. I hope it will be the magic bullet instead of her last meal, though it felt a little that way when I was making it. I also got her 2 different kinds of bacon bits and a small can of her favorite kind of chicken. I just hope something works. I'm not sure we'll ever get her to eat cat food again after this kind of spoiling, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Said bridge seems pretty far out on the horizon at the moment.

Anyway, back to the update. Reading between the lines from what he was saying, I think we are headed towards a feeding tube, but he is still confident that we can get her condition under control and then cleared. I trust Dr. George to indicate if he thinks she is not doing well or not going to make it. He's just that kind of guy and that kind of doctor. (My brother brings his dogs all the way to Atlanta to see Dr. George, even though J now lives 3+ hours away. So yeah, we trust him.) We've known him for years, and I can't tell you how relieved we were when he was the one who walked through the door this morning to handle our case (they just squeezed us in where they could, so it could have been one of 6 different docs).


Yes, there is a but, which is not at all what I wanted to hear. They ran several blood tests on her, most of which came back in the 30 minutes that we waited while we were there. One of the tests that takes some time is the FIV test, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, the cat form of HIV/AIDS. It is routine to run that test when a cat presents with certain unexplained symptoms, including liver failure. Tigger scored a very weak positive. They ran the test twice and got the same result, though whether they ran it on separate samples or two of the same sample (to make sure the test itself wasn't bad), I do not know. I was just too stunned to even think to ask such questions. I don't know that I could have been any more shocked if he's said she was pregnant (she was spayed at 6 months old). How on earth could she have been exposed to it? Bengal went out in the snow after we first moved into this house, but it was only for a few minutes, and he encountered no other cats. Tigger did escape once for several hours when we lived in the apartment, but we moved into this house in 2001, and she had an FIV test run in 2002 when we switched vets, and she came up negative then. Cleo lived "on the streets" until she was nearly a year old, but the adoption agency should have checked her for FIV and disclosed if she were positive before allowing my brother to adopt her in 2000. She had been indoor ever since, and we had her records forwarded to our vet, but we never had our own FIV test run on her since she came to live with us. (I have no idea if one was run when J first took her to the vet. Again, I didn't think of it at the time. I'll ask tomorrow.) So unless the adoption group did not do test her and/or disclose a positive result on Cleo, I have absolutely NO idea how Tigger could have gotten it.

Dr. George did say that for FIV to be the cause of her liver failure, she would have to have an extremely advanced case of it, and she would be showing much more than a weak positive FIV test. He doesn't think that it is related to her current symptoms, but once we get her back to normal from this liver thing, he wants to have all 3 of them tested by an outside independent lab. My brother, the one with the Ph.D. in infectious diseases, said that she can have the antibodies without having the actual virus, and he suspects that the in-house test they ran today at the vet's office was an antibody test. He said that if it works the same for cats as it does for humans, a positive antibody test (faster, cheaper, 99.5% accurate) will prompt a second test from a second sample (in case the first one was tainted somehow) that will look for the actual virus instead of just the antibodies (more sophisticated test, more expensive, so not run unless antibodies are indicated). But as Dr. George said, this is likely the least of our worries right now. Get her stable and get her liver functioning normally, and *then* we'll worry about the possibility of FIV. Still, it was just such a shock to hear him say that. I'm still reeling a little.

And then there was Luke. Per Dr. George, she should be able to come home this weekend, whether with a healthy appetite or with a feeding tube, so when we came home, we didn't bother putting up her carrier. We just left it sitting in the foyer. We didn't know whether to bring up Tigger ourselves or wait and see if he noticed she wasn't here and asked. We decided to wait, and then if he hadn't asked by tomorrow evening (when we'll know more), we would tell him then. But as he came down the stairs from changing into his pajamas, I hear from the landing, "Mommy, why the kitty cage out?" Oh boy, here we go.

Me: You know how we take the kitties to the doctor in the cage, since they don't have a special seat like you?
Luke: Yeah.
Me: Well, Tigger is very sick, and we had to take her to the hospital. [He understands that you go to the hospital if you are hurt or very very sick.] She has to stay there for a few nights.
Luke, very sad: But I love her!
Me, fighting back tears: I know, we all do! That's why we took her to the hospital, so she can get better.
Luke: Oh, she get a shot?
Me: Yes, she's had some shots, and she's getting lots of medicine to make her well. And if she gets well, she can come home.
Luke: Tomorrow?
Me: Well, I don't know about tomorrow, but we hope she can come home in a few days.
Luke: Okay.

End of conversation. I know he doesn't understand the nuances of me saying "if she gets well," instead of "when she gets well," but I don't want to get into what might happen until we know how likely it is that it might happen. Everything I said was true, and I don't think I was misleading, and if she isn't doing well tomorrow, then we'll discuss that she might not come home. But I'd rather wait and she how she's doing tomorrow before we go there. No need to burden him with any more than that right now. Today was a very long day, and I think tomorrow will be equally long. The fewer stressed out people, the better. Thank you all so much for your love, support, prayers, tweets, and Facebook comments, and for just being there to listen. It means so much to me.

And now we wait. I have the chicken with dried beef cooling on the counter right now, so I can package her up a bowl full for tomorrow. (Please please please let her eat some!) I'll drop it by after I take Luke to school. That assumes I am functional come morning. Did I mention that it is now after 11 PM on Thursday, and I have been awake since 8 AM Wednesday morning? That's 39 straight hours with no sleep. Wait, I take it back; I got a 15 minute power nap around 8 AM this morning, between getting back from taking Luke to school and leaving to take her to the vet that opened at 9. I've been running on caffeine and fear. I was really tired around 4 PM this afternoon, but once I pushed through that one, I've been doing quite well, other than being a bit grouchy, and that's as much emotional stress as lack of sleep. I'll probably be up another 30-60 minutes with the food. That would put me at forty straight hours awake. That's a nice round number, right? I just hope I can actually *sleep* once I go to bed. I've had so much caffeine today and been wound so tight, I think it will either be nearly instantaneous, or terribly elusive. Wish me luck! Wish us all luck, especially Tigger. We could certainly use it.

Currently feeling: bleary and hopeful


  1. Erin, you know you, your family and your furperson are in my thoughts and prayers...

    I'm pulling for Tigger (from one bouncy one to another...)

  2. Oh, Erin. I know--having done it myself--how very hard this is. Please do try to get *some* rest--you won't do Tigger, or anyone else, any good if you collapse.


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