June 18, 2008

Stella’s vet check

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Week before last, Ambush had his vet checkup. We upped his insulin dose to three units twice per day and decided to change the kitty food to something with lower carbs and lower protein (for Stella). My vet suggested that I bring Stella in, especially after mentioning how hard the last few months had been on the itty-bitty-cuteness-kitty(tm).

DSCF0683.JPGStella is now 19. Up until these past few months, she never looked her age. People usually guessed that she was 8 or so. She always looked great and played like a kitten.

For four months, I lived with my stepmom, who was wonderfully generous to take me and my three kitties in when I moved from TN to NC for a new job. It’s an awful lot to ask three older cats to adjust to a move across state lines, change home spaces twice in five months, and deal with other critters.

Stella now looks her age. She is sleeping more. She has lost weight. She also decided she no longer likes the California Naturals dry cat food. Stella stays in the bathroom while I’m at work. She has her own little palace setup with two beds, steps to get into the bathroom or on the counter. Ambush often bullies Stella out of her food. Having Stella in the bathroom lets me put out a good bit of wet food that she can graze on during the day without Ambush interfering.

With Ambush’s change in foods, I tried to find something for both of them. Let me tell you, it’s hard. I found one that sounded great: Felidae. Lower carb, lower protein. Perfect. I also picked up a sampling of wet food, including several cans of Wellness no-grain wet cat food. Stella’s favorite wet food turned out to be the Purina prescription diabetic wet food, which she isn’t supposed to have.

One problem with Felidae: no one likes it. Ambush, who likes spaghetti sauce and Italian dressing, refused to eat Felidae. All of the kitties have dry food to nibble on during the day and get wet food in the morning and evening (mostly because Ambush gets wet food as a distration when he has his injections). With Felidae in her food bowl during the day, Stella ate all of the Wellness wet food.

Last Thursday evening, Stella had trouble with her hips. She has had arthritis for a while, so her careful movements are nothing new. This time she lost coordination with her hips and almost tipped over. Her hind end wobbled when she walked instead of following her front end in a straight line. I made a vet apointment the following morning for Tuesday (today).

At the vet appointment this afternoon, Stella weighed 4.1 pounds (down from ~6 pounds in December). The vet wanted to do a urinalysis and a full blood panel, including a CBC to check kidney function and provide a comparison point to the December tests.

I warned the vet that Stella is good for the first five minutes and then all hell breaks loose. Sure enough, five minutes after Stella was outside the room, I heard her distinctly nasal cat-screams. I felt sorry for Stella, but sorrier for the unsuspecting vet tech who must have been holding Stella. A few minutes later, they brought Stella back in the room and set her on the table. The vet was quiet leery of Stella. They were uanble to draw blood for the tests but were able to obtain some uring. Poor Stella came back in with a bandage on her back leg.

Stella must have *really* been bad. The vet wasn’t sure if she would be able to do a physical exam on Stella to check her eyes, ears, teeth, etc. I picked up Stella and held her. The vet kept saying she couldn’t get over how good Stella was. The vet examined the kitty’s eyes and ears while I held Stella. We set her on the table to check her teeth.

The good news? Stella’s eyes have the clarity of a cat half her age. Her teeth have very little tartar. The vet tech was shocked when I told her I have never had Stella’s teeth cleaned. (She had an apointment for that in December, but my old vet suggested avoiding it at Stella’s age.)

The bad news? Stella’s kidney disease has progressed. Even though no blood tests were performed, Stella’s physical deterioration gave plenty of hints. The vet gave me the talk about end-of-life concerns for Stella and how her kidney disease is fatal… and we’re managing her comfort. I will continue to do what I can.

I think I could both use a good cry tonight to let out the pent-up feelings. Things held close so I wouldn’t be upset, so I wouldn’t cry.

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