I’m home again after spending another two hours at the vet this morning. I was tube-fed Thursday evening at the vet, and on Friday and Saturday at home. I was also trying to eat on my own and choking because the tube was gagging me. On Sunday Mommy stopped the tube-feeding since I was eating well enough by mouth. The tube is now out, and what have I been doing ever since I got home? I’ve been eating. I won’t show you the other side of my neck because it’s shaved bald, and I have a boo boo where the tube was. It’s good to be back.
I am not having fun. My kitty is sick. Chase got sick nine days ago and stopped eating. He was congested and wheezing and gurgling but not sneezing. He first went to the vet a week ago today.
He saw a different Doctor than the one we usually see. He diagnosed an upper respiratory infection and put him on doxycycline and said he’d probably be eating by that evening. When cats can’t breathe or smell, they won’t eat. He told us to call on Monday and he mentioned a magic number to worry about – 5-7 days without food and the cat’s body starts to shut down and they could die.
By Monday he still wasn’t eating so I called back. The vet told us to give it another day (like he would magically begin eating) and suggested I stop to pick up some special food and a probiotic he called “kitty crack”. He was sure he’d be eating by that evening.
I called on Tuesday, angry because he still wasn’t eating. I was asked by the receptionist, “do you want an appointment or something?” I might’ve gotten snarky with her and said, “well, I don’t want my cat to die” in a less than friendly tone. I was then asked if I had a doctor preference. I asked for our regular doctor and took the cat back in.
Our regular vet did blood work and tested his blood sugar because he’s a diabetic. She gave him an antibiotic injection, an anti-nausea medicine and an appetite stimulant. She was sure he’d eat.
We got home and he pawed at the cupboard, begging for food. I tried to feed him and he walked away. I offered him three different kinds of canned food and seven different kinds of dry food. Nothing.
I called the vet crying on the way to work on Wednesday. She said we could give it another day because the blood work showed his liver levels were still good. Then she called me Wednesday evening at home, wanting to talk about possibly inserting a feeding tube. Since the cat is only seven, my family wanted to proceed with the surgery.
I dropped him off Thursday morning and picked him up Friday afternoon. He now has a esophagotomy tube inserted in his throat, and we feed him liquefied cat food by tube. What a nightmare. It took me 40 minutes to mix up and make the food this morning. I think I will have to throw my blender out when we are finished with making cat milkshakes in it. The parts and pieces all have a greasy, fish-scented film on them. Once it’s mixed, it has to be strained through a gauze cloth to get any lumps out. That’s a joke, too, and not as easy to do as it sounds. Feeding him isn’t much fun either. You can’t just inject the 30 ml that they’ve started him out on. You have to do it slowly, and they told us to take 30 minutes to feed him the 30 ml. He doesn’t care much for the process, and frankly, we’re not excited about it either. It took two to help hold him during the first feeding. The second feeding went a bit better until he threw up on my bed. I have that liquefied cat food smell stuck in my nose.
He has to go back to the vet daily to have his bandaging changed. I took him back for the first time this morning. By the time we got there, the bandage was shredded because he’d been scratching at it, trying to get it off. He’s been trying to eat regular food – dry food, wet food and treats. When he bends and tries to eat, the bandage is tight enough that it made him gag and throw up. Today at the vet they took out the suture holding the tube in place, thinking that maybe that was pulling and making him scratch. They also loosened the bandage some. It appears that his gag reflex is pretty high, and he’s feeling the tube in his throat. I brought him back home again, and when he came out of the carrier, the tube (supposed to be sitting on his back) was hanging down in front of him, banging into his leg when he walked. I called the vet, and they said it should be okay, just try to keep putting it towards the back. While I was talking to them, the Telfa pad came loose and was hanging down on his chest. The Telfa pad was supposed to be underneath the outer bandage and supposed to be wrapped around the base of the feeding tube where it goes into his neck. So he went right back into the carrier and right back to the vet where they put the suture back in to hold the tube in place.
So we are hoping that this feeding tube experience is over with sooner rather than later. It is definitely not a fun process. I want my healthy kitty boy back.
Sadly, I now have two cats to medicate twice per day. I have been giving Chase his insulin shots twice a day for a few years now. He is the perfect patient. I have two Type 1 Diabetic sons so Diabetes, insulin, needles and shots are no big deal around my house. We learned all about this horrible disease when my youngest son was diagnosed at age 11. He’s 20 now. I learned how to give shots and not think twice about it.
When the cat was diagnosed, too, we took it in stride. It helps that Chase is patient and loving. He’s a big marshmallow who comes and asks for his shot twice a day because he knows he’s going to get love and treats. I can say the word “shot” and he heads for the treats counter.
Ginger is loving, but she’s not as trusting or as forgiving as Chase is. She’s also tiny – only 7.5 pounds on her best day. She’d lost weight recently so we headed for the vet and a series of tests. She was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She now needs medicine twice a day, too. The only problem is she doesn’t eat anything other than crunchy dry food so hiding a pill in food or compounding the medicine into a soft chew is not an option with her. She wouldn’t eat it. I also don’t want to force a pill down her throat twice a day. She’s so shy and timid and it was hard to earn her trust. I won’t do that to her. So we had a third option – transdermal medicine.
The theory is great. You dial up a dose and using a glove, you rub it into the inside of her ear, and it gets absorbed into her skin. The actual practice of it is not so easy. I watched videos online of how to do this. The cats in the videos were like Chase – placid, calm and accepting.
My first problem was when I dialed the medicine up. It squirted out of the syringe and onto my Mac keyboard. I wasted two doses and I had to carefully wipe it off the keyboard. It’s not supposed to get onto my skin or I could absorb the medicine. The second problem was getting it onto the cat. She was less than happy with the goo in her ear. She let me do it, but she didn’t want to talk to me for a good portion of the evening afterwards. The third problem was getting the glove back off. I did it the way the video said – turn it inside out and pull it off. Somehow some of the medicine got onto my ungloved hand.
I have to give her another dose in a few minutes as we start her second day on the medicine. Let’s just say I’m less than thrilled with the prospect. I’m not sure how or why I ended up with two cats to medicate. Maybe I should’ve been a nurse.