Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Another update on The Belly

In my last post I mentioned that Newman was doing better and getting stronger; well this update brings only more good news. We started out giving him I/V treatments twice a day, and are now down to once every two days. He seems to be handling them perfectly, and is eating and drinking enough on his own to supplement the treatments and keep his kidneys functioning.

However, and I say this with only the utmost love, Newman has become an even bigger pain in the ass than he was before! :-)

Let me explain; he's an amazing cat, and I've extoled his many virtues many times. He truly is special and we are so glad that he's doing better.

But he is also the "problem child" of the clan. He is the only one who pees inappropriately (vet says it's not behavioral, some cats just do that, and it's seasonal). He is the "shedder" of the group. Well, OK, he WAS the shedder of the group; our newest girl, Ashley, has taken that crown away from him. Of course that doesn't mean HE has stopped shedding, just that she takes it to a whole new level. And he has always been the puker of the group too; although that seems to have been alleviated by the Pepcid that he gets twice a day to settle his stomach. Yes, Pepcid. Prescribed by the vet. I wish I had known about that 10 years ago, we would have had to clean up a heck of a lot less kitty barf.

He was always a grazer.....many times Tracey and I have stood in the kitchen at evening meal time and watched him go to the wet food, take a bite or two, then move to the dry food, take a bite or two, then back to the wet, then dry, then's always been his own little kitty buffet.

So when we brought him home and were trying to get him to eat, we bought him some crappy Fancy Feast food to entice him. It's not nearly as good for him as the higher quality Medi-Cal food that he's been eating for years, but it tastes better. Obviously that worked, but now, unfortunately, he won't go near the old stuff. I can't blame him; now that I've been eating Filet Mignon for a while, there is zero chance I'm ever going back to Sirloin.

Of course, while you can put dry food down and they will eat it whenever they want, it's not that easy with wet food, which would get dry and inedible pretty quickly. We pretty much have to feed him every 10-15 minutes. Yes, put a plate down, he eats two bites, and walks away. Sometimes I take the same plate, turn it around and push it to another section of the floor, and he eats some more. I never said he was the sharpest knife in the drawer.

But my trickery only works occasionally, so most of the time I'm left picking up the plate and putting it in the fridge, just to bring it out again a little later. If I leave it down, it will get gobbled up by one of the other monsters in the residence. Particularly this one:

Sidra, aka the Feline Garbage Disposal. She'll eat anything. Luckily she will still eat the old food (although she's not happy about it) so I don't have to throw out the last couple cans we have in the cupboard.

All the other cats, even the ones who were always perfectly fine with the old healthy food, won't go near it it's Fancy Feast for five. Thanks, Newman. ;-)

When his kidneys finally fail completely and we have to put him to rest, it will actually make our lives quite a bit simpler; albeit much sadder, and much less loving. I sure hope that's not for months or years.

Pain in the ass.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Let's not call it a miracle quite yet....

....but Newman is showing unbelievable progress the last couple of days.

We are trying to stay grounded and not get ahead of ourselves, but he has become a different cat in the last two days. He's eating on his own; maybe not as much as we'd like, but probably enough considering how sick he was. He's drinking a little bit; definitely not enough, but we are supplementing it with his saline I/V treatment (just once a day, down from twice). He has responded to the point where we are almost in stunned amazement.

It had got to the point where we already had the day in mind - Wednesday - to put him down. We decided on Friday that if he hadn't made significant progress by Monday (tomorrow), we'd take him off the treatments and make an appointment for Wednesday to be euthanized. What a different 48 hours make.

Of course, there are still tough times ahead. His kidneys are still failing - nothing is going to fix that - but if he continues to respond to the treatment we are giving him and continues to improve, there is no telling how much time he might have. It could be days, weeks, months...even years, if all goes well.

In the next day or so, we will experiment with taking his saline treatments down to once every two days and see how it goes; hopefully to eventually take it down to once or twice a week. We have to keep weaning him down to see how his body responds to the change in treatment. I'll keep updating the blog with his progress of course, but it will be nice to be able to write about something other than a sick/dying cat for a change.

Thanks to everyone for the support we've received and I know we will continue to receive during this difficult process!

And just in case I hadn't already posted enough cute Newman pics, here is one more.

That is one adorable sonofabitch.

The cat is pretty cute too.

Thursday, 18 July 2013


Sorry to report that things are not looking good for our baby boy.

It's been a few days since my last blog update, and those days have, for the most part, not been good. He is just not responding to his treatment and medicine like we had hoped. We are back up to 2 I/V treatments daily, but it doesn't look like his broken down little body is making any progress.

He's clearly not the same cat he used to be. He has lost his sparkle; his energy; that "je ne sais quoi" that made him so special. What he hasn't lost is his sweetness, though. I take him into the bedroom and lock the door, away from the other cats, and spend some time with him, which he adores. He is so loving and appreciative of the extra attention. I spent about 15 minutes just rubbing his belly this afternoon and this seemed to be the happiest he has been in recent memory; even so, his eyes get heavy and he can barely lift his head to show me how much he loves it. He tries, though.

It's difficult for me to process the fact that this wonderful creature is not likely to make it to the relatively young age of 12. We haven't completely given up hope, we are going to continue the intensive treatments for a few more days and hope for a miracle, but it seems so unlikely at this point. We could keep him alive indefinitely, probably, doing what we are doing, but that's not fair to anyone. I think Tracey and I have both come to the realization that it's almost time for our special boy to rest. Unless something dramatically changes, I suspect that by this time next week, he will have left us. That will be a very, very hard day.

Keep him in your thoughts, if you don't mind. I'm not sure I'm the type to believe in the power of positive thinking, but at this point, it sure as Hell can't hurt.

Thanks all,

Monday, 15 July 2013

The ups and downs of pet ownership

Well it's been almost a week since Newman came home, and there have sure been some ups and downs.

We've been giving him fluids through an I/V every day....twice a day for the first few days, now down to once a day. We're monitoring his progress and are supposed to wean him down to less frequent instances soon.

He seems to be doing quite well for the most part. He's back to his old self in many ways, and most of the time has quite a bit of energy. If we didn't know he was sick, we wouldn't know he was sick; except for one small detail. He's not eating or drinking much, if at all.

We aren't panicking about the drinking too much yet; we know he is getting the fluids he needs through our injections, and he's been drinking a little on his own. It's the eating that is the big problem. He's called "the belly" for a reason; eating has never been much of a problem for him. Now he is eating a little bit on his own some days, and some days not at all. We even went to the store and bought him some crappy food (any time "meat by products" is high on the list of ingredients, you know you shouldn't be giving it to your pet), in the hopes that would entice him to eat. Usually the crappier a food is for a cat, the better it tastes, and he's more likely to eat it (just like humans, actually). He gobbled it up the first time we gave it to him, but only that once, and nothing since.

So to get some nutrition into him, we've been feeding him through a syringe as much as we can. As you can imagine, this is not a pleasant experience for him, so we are loathe to do it more than we need to; but he has to eat.

He makes it so easy on us; he is the most amazing patient. We are so fortunate. Even through all the trials and tribulations, the syringe feedings, having water shot into his mouth, and having an I/V needle inserted into him once or twice a day, he never complains. He has not scratched us once, not ONCE. He takes it like a champ; in fact during the I/V, he barely stops purring. What a special, special cat this is.

Of course if things don't change and he doesn't start eating and drinking on his own, we are going to have a tough decision to make. We can't go on like this forever, and it's certainly not fair to him to go to these extreme lengths for an extended period of time. It's so difficult though, because unless he regresses badly, how do we know when it's time? What's a reasonable length of time to keep doing this for him if he doesn't improve?

Since Tracey and I have been together, we've had to put down three cats. All heartbreaking and tragic in their own way, but none of them were difficult decisions.

First there was Kramer, who we only had for about four months. He was obviously very ill when we adopted him and just went downhill from there, to the point where he lacked the strength to climb into his litter box. The vet didn't know for sure what was wrong with him, but suspected it was leukemia. It was a pretty easy call to put him down, he was suffering badly and was not going to recover. It was sad, but we were glad he had spent the last four months of his young life with parents who loved and cared for him.

Four years ago, our baby girl Cleo had to go down. A heartbreaking day that took a long time to recover from..... but she was 18 years old, blind, deaf, and was starting to lose her bearings. She had taken to sleeping in her litter box. Her quality of life was starting to slip, she was never going to get any better, and it was time for her to go. A horrible day, but the right decision, and we never had any doubts.

And then there was Pepe, Tracey's companion of 17 years. This was the toughest decision of my lovely wife's life, no question about it, but there were still no doubts. Pepe had cancer, and the tumour on his head had grown to the size of a golf ball. Again there was no helping him; no chance his life was going to get any better, and he was going to suffer, if he wasn't already. No doubts.

It's going to be tough to know when the right time is for Newman, I suspect. Hopefully he'll find a way to let us know it's time, when his kidneys fail to the point that he's suffering or in pain. Hopefully that's not anytime soon, but if it is, we'll be ready.

It's the most important thing anyone can do for their pets. The ups and downs of pet ownership.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Newman's home!

...and the news looks good, sort of.

Ultimately, his kidneys are failing, and there isn't anything that can be done about that. They don't do kidney transplants for cats (someone should get on that), so that's that. It seems as if our baby boy isn't going to live as long as we'd like him to.

Having said that, the good news is that there's a decent chance we will get months, or maybe even 2-3 years, more with him. It's all going to depend on how he reacts to our efforts to keep him hydrated (or, how much he hydrates himself). All we know for sure at this point is that he reacted very well to fluids being given to him via I/V in the hospital. Of course, he can't live in the hospital and we certainly wouldn't subject him to a life on an I/V. So now we bring him home, and give him fluids via a needle and see how he reacts. At first we'll do that a couple of times a day, and the hope is to wean that down over time to once every few days; or not at all, if he does an excellent job of keeping himself hydrated.

It looks promising so far, the first thing he did once we got home is have a big drink of water; if he continues to drink a lot of water, we should be able to give him less and less fluid which is better for everyone.

Despite losing a lot of weight, he didn't lose his trademark belly! Thank goodness for that, or we'd have to find another nickname for him. He's been called "The Belly" for so long, that has pretty much become his name; we hardly ever actually call him "Newman" anymore.

I think Tracey and I were both resigned to the fact that we might have to put him down in the near future. Thankfully that seems much less likely now, although there are no guarantees at this point. From this day forward, I'm going to consider every day we get with him to be a bonus day, and quite a blessing.

Fingers crossed!!!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A long, long, long weekend.....

...and not in a good way.

Newman is ill again, and it doesn't look particularly good for him. Tests show severe renal failure; what the tests don't show is WHY his kidneys are failing.

Anyway, we took him into the hospital yesterday; he's going to be there for three days while they pump fluids into him through an I/V, in an effort to flush out whatever is wrong with his kidneys. Best case scenario, I suppose, is that it works enough to allow him to come home where we will likely have to give him fluids via a needle for the rest of his life. Worst case scenario, of course, is that we get to bring him home just long enough to say goodbye.

It's impossible to put into words how difficult this is for us. We love all our cats of course, and they are all special in their own way, but Newman is extra so.

This would be our third horrible loss in recent memory. After losing Cleo, as close to a perfect cat as ever existed, almost four years ago (how time flies!), and Pepe, Tracey's "number one" for 17 years in February of last year, losing Newman would be devastating. He was so sick in August of last year that I'm trying to stay positive and hope that he might pull through again.

This is the perils of pet ownership obviously. They get sick and they die long before you want them to. But when you put the heartbreak up against all the love and goodness they bring into our lives while we have them, I wouldn't trade any of it for anything.

C'mon, Newman, pull through for us again.

Tuesday can't come soon enough.