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Old 11-15-2012, 12:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Senior kitty letting go - when do I let go?

My boy is sick. Actually, he is starting to stop altogether and I am frozen with fear of losing him. He's 14 which my vet says is old but in my mind a cat should live to 18. Am I crazy? He has always been fit, a lover of the outdoors and my lap, very healthy - I just can't believe this could be it for him!

He has aged dramatically in the last year. All of a sudden he is full of white hairs, so noticable on his all-black body, he's dropped a little weight and his behavior is kind of kooky. Meowing at the walls and going to the bathroom wherever he happened to be standing. Repeated vet visits with bloodwork and exams showed nothing significant. A smallish heart with a small murmur was about it. Good appetite.

In the last 3-4 days I noticed his abdomen growing. I told hubby our boy was starting to look like a pregnant goat! So we took him in this morning. After xrays they determined he was full of fluid. Ascites. They drained about 2 cups worth. Could be due to heart or liver. We have left him for further testing today, but vet didn't seem terribly optimistic and said to expect maybe 6 months at this stage.

I am HORRIFIED at the thought of losing him. He is not just a cat, he is 1/3 cat, 1/3 dog and 1/3 human. He's one of those supernatural, freak of nature, 1 in a million type cats that is too cool to describe and he LOVES me. I am his person. I just......I can't even think about one day making that decision for him. But to selfishly hang on would be an awful thing to do.

I will know more from vet this afternoon but thought I'd throw it out there to everyone. I don't even know what I'm asking. What can I do if it's organ failure? Does it hurt? Can I responsibly prolong his life?

Reebok and Remy:




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Old 11-15-2012, 12:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't have much to say but *hugs* Whatever you decide I'm sure it'll be the right choice.
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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my old dear has had a lot of cats, cant remember 1 living to 18 although i have heard of it a few times. If im honest i would call 14-15 a good innings for a cat.

It doesnt surprise me at all that the cat is black, i seem to always remember the oldest cats of friends and family always being black. My aunt had a black tom called Amadeus he was huge and he lived to around 15, one of my friends had a black cat live a long time too.

Its tough but you have to weigh up whether the cat is still feeling comfortable and capable. Personally i would rather my animal went naturally where it wants to and it seems you may feel the same, but as i said and you have said its whether the cat is suffering and whether its worth prolonging if its something serious

tough one to answer
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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What kind of bloodwork did your vet run? Was a free T-4 part of it, or just a typical senior panel? What are his current kidney values (Bun/Crea)? I ask because the behaviours & symptoms you mention fit in with hyper-T, and his age is perfect for the disorder to crop up. Hyper-T and kidney issues also commonly go hand in hand.

He looks soooo much like my beloved Niko(GA), and the description fits my boy too!

Bottom line is that 14 is NOT that old for a cat, however there are a number of senior diseases which can show up quickly and cause major issues. Also, if your vet is not familiar with the care of a geriatric cat (and it sure sounds to me like they are NOT), then it is entirely possible that the needed bloodwork was not run- or they were unaware that thyroid "normal" levels change as your cat ages.

I have dealt with the gamut of geriatric feline diseases- asthma, diabetes, stomatitis, hyper-T, CRF, chylothorax, HCM and cancer. What I have learned is that quality of life is worth more than quantity, and that ECID (every cat is different). I had one who lived to be 15 with multiple concurrent diseases, and lost one within 2 wks who was perfectly normal/healthy prior. So, don't panic!

If your vet doesn't give you the full rundown of what tests have been done (and why), OR continues with the "it's an old cat...." crap- find a new vet. MANY vets these days are well versed in the care of our elderly loved ones.

Will be hoping for GOOD news on your Reebok
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Old 11-15-2012, 12:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The cats in my life have lived well beyond 14 with the exception of the one who was only 12 1/2 (chylothorax killed him). The others were 15, 17.5, & 18 and other family cats were 18 and 19 yrs old. My boy who looked like Reebok was 17.5, and had stomatitis and CRF which were dx around age 15- he died from oral squamous carcinoma, NOT the CRF.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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14 is not old for a cat. My current senior, Fuzzy, will be 18 this spring. My friend's cat, Tiger, made it to 22. I have to say I'd be put off by a vet who took an "oh well he's old" approach - if that is truly his attitude.

I'm also curious as to what specific blood tests were run and what the results were.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hugs to you!

We let go out of my childhood cat a few years ago and it still hurts. Like Reebok he was 1/3 cat, 1/3 dog, and 1/3 human - he was an amazing cat. His systems started failing him a few years before we let him go and we tried to prolong his life as much as we could because we couldn't stand the though of losing him. That being said, there was a point where it was incredibly obvious that his quality of life was not one that I would want to be living and it was at that point that we let him go. We could have kept prolonging his life but it would have been very much to our benefit, not his. I cried (and still do sometimes) when we finally let him go but I never doubted that it was the right thing to do.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Cats have always been amazing to me how they can recover illness quasi injuries in their older years. My wife has managed to get 20+ years out of two cats one is still going. There were many times when we were told they probably want make it thru this one but years seem to pass. Good luck!
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobermama View Post
The cats in my life have lived well beyond 14 with the exception of the one who was only 12 1/2 (chylothorax killed him). The others were 15, 17.5, & 18 and other family cats were 18 and 19 yrs old. My boy who looked like Reebok was 17.5, and had stomatitis and CRF which were dx around age 15- he died from oral squamous carcinoma, NOT the CRF.
Ok, see I'm so glad to hear this. I was starting to think *18* was some arbitrary number I came up with on my own and I was holding him to impossible or improbable standards. You have experienced so much longevity with your cats, I pray I can do the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lestat1978 View Post
14 is not old for a cat. My current senior, Fuzzy, will be 18 this spring. My friend's cat, Tiger, made it to 22. I have to say I'd be put off by a vet who took an "oh well he's old" approach - if that is truly his attitude.

I'm also curious as to what specific blood tests were run and what the results were.
I think the pain of unexpected bad news kept me from absorbing what the vet said they were doing. I will get the full report and post it this afternoon when I pick him up. I have already contacted a feline specialty hospital in town I will take him to for a second opinion regardless.

Quote:
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Hugs to you!

We let go out of my childhood cat a few years ago and it still hurts. Like Reebok he was 1/3 cat, 1/3 dog, and 1/3 human - he was an amazing cat. His systems started failing him a few years before we let him go and we tried to prolong his life as much as we could because we couldn't stand the though of losing him. That being said, there was a point where it was incredibly obvious that his quality of life was not one that I would want to be living and it was at that point that we let him go. We could have kept prolonging his life but it would have been very much to our benefit, not his. I cried (and still do sometimes) when we finally let him go but I never doubted that it was the right thing to do.
Losing any of our pets is difficult - but when they are special it is agony because you know it was lightening in a bottle! I know I will never have one like him again, they don't come around that often.

True story, Reebok was born in a no-kill shelter. Someone dumped his pregnant mom there. All kittens were adopted except for Reebs, I'm guessing because of superstitions with him being solid black. He was a legend there because he was the only cat that has ever escaped, somehow broke out and they couldn't figure out how he did it. Not only did he escape but he promptly returned there two days later on his own, begging to be let back in! Life was harder on the outside, he found out.

He was a year old when I volunteered there for a summer. One of the first things I asked the shelter director was who had been there the longest. Of the cats, that was Reebok. I took one look at this scrawny black cat tangling himself in my shoe laces and said "I want him!". And that was that. He has been super awesome in every way every day since.

I love him.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hilary I don't want to downplay your troubles but the rest of you give me some hope. I was told by "friends" that I'd be lucky to have my cat (who is my first cat and turning 7 soon) live to 8.

ETA: Based on their own experiences, not my cat's health or other specific issues.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:38 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I had a cat like yours. His name was Stanley, we called him Stan the Man. He even went on walks to the park with us. Stan was 17 when he passed. I have two kitties now who are getting up there at 11. They are sweet cats and I love them but Stan was special.

What I look for in putting an animal down is pain. I hope they are able to treat him and I'm very sorry for your sadness...(((Hugs)))
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:42 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I lvoe him, too, just hearing his story.

I'm so sorry he's ill and not himself.

I agree with what's already been posted--14 isn't that old, in terms of average cat life spans--however, the ECID thing is true, as well.

Jasmine kitty was one of those once-in-a-lifetime dogcats, too. She purred me to sleep for 17 years.

I was not able to let her go, when she was ready, so dragged her failing body around to several vets, put her thru lots of diagnostics, shoved food down her, which she reluctantly ate, because I wanted her to so badly.

She did all she could for me, including hanging on way too long. Her last couple months of life sucked, a lot, because *I* wasn't ready, when she was.

I was quite young then. I hope I am a different and stronger person now, because guess what?

I have another once-in-a-lifetime kitty now! Believe it or not. Thought there'd never be another one, but there is this orange&white Maine Coon type boy I picked up as a tiny bloody fluff of kitten scrap out of the highway, and he's another one who follows from room to room, comes when called, waits at the window for you to get home from work, fetches his toys as long as you will throw them, has funny quirks and is all-around awesome.

He's 13.5 now, and failing.

I'm sharing these stories so you can know that:

You're not alone.

You have understanding, about the specialness of certain kitties.

You absolutely should do all the reasonable diagnostics you can, and expect your vet to be realistically hopeful about senior kitties.

You will make the best decision you are capable of, with all love. And it will be okay, because Reebok will love you and trust you to do your best for him.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
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You will make the best decision you are capable of, with all love. And it will be okay, because Reebok will love you and trust you to do your best for him.
Thank you RFR. (racked with tears)
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hilary, I'm so sorry to hear about your kitty. Do you know if he's been tested for FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonits)? One of the symptoms of the "wet" form is fluid in the chest and abdomen.
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:11 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm so sorry that you're facing this, Hilary. The love for your boy comes through in your post, and I believe that you will know when the time has come. As for how long you can continue with maintenance...

I worked in veterinary medicine for six years, and I have seen a huge range in how cats respond to ongoing maintenance. Dogs seem to handle it somehow differently, their thresholds strike me as often more similar to a human's. Cats can be amazingly resilient, but it depends on so much. If the ascites is secondary to a heart issue - I've seen Lasix work actual miracles with that, buy comfortable years at times. If it's secondary to a liver issue, I've known several owners who brought their cat (or in one case, min pin) in to have the fluid drained on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand - I have seen this routine draining of fluid build-up buy a lot of time, along with other supportive therapy. Years, in some cases. I had a client who had a cat, a very cool old lady cat, who had developed ascites secondary to something (it escapes me what it was) at 14, and they brought it in for fluid draining every other week. At 21 years old, the cat was still coming in for draining. For such an invasive thing, the cat withstood it quite well. I don't know that I could really recommend this, but it's done, and sometimes it works.

Knowing how far to go is a delicate thing. So important that you listen to your boy. He will tell you when he's ready to go. If you begin regular fluid draining, ask if you can observe, if you aren't already. For some cats, it's almost no thing. For others, it truly and severely damages their quality of life. Watch the procedure, and you will know. For some cats, daily pills are misery. Others, you can hide it in some food and it's no biggie. There are so many variables, and that's what I'm getting at here - no one but your heart and you cat can tell you when it's time. If there are interventions that are available to you and you weigh it carefully, give it a try, and feel that quality of life is still there - go for it. For some cats, weekly draining, sub-qs, five pills a day...for some cats, those are small inconveniences, and it is clear that they are happy in the rest of their lives. For others, getting in the car once a month to go to the clinic for treatment is too much.

There are often ways to buy time. They are often effective. No one else can tell you where the line is. Listen to yourself. Listen to your boy.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:14 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I'm so sorry to hear your kitty is ill. Unless he suffers from pain or loses his appetite, if I were you I would make him whatever he wants. I would give him favorite foods and hold him as much as he wants. No restrictions but just offer the happy days.
My cat is 10 yrs old and was quite healthy until she had a tooth issue last month. It was the first scary time for me to think that I might lose her. Instead, she lost her canine tooth.
10 or 14 years together is a long period. It's just hard to think living without her/him. I hope he'll get better.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:40 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Reebok reminds me of my kitty(well, my mom's), Boo. She was a rescue as well and is about 12.5yrs. Reebok sounds like quite the character.

Making the decision to euthanize is never ever easy. When I was faced with the fact that my NINE year old cat had dcm, right then and there I promised him and myself that as soon as I felt he wasn't happy or enjoying life, I would let him go. He did get an upper resp infection shortly after which required abx and i had to force feed him for a couple of weeks. After that though, he was doing well, I did lasix injections because he HATED and was a monster to pill. After about 6 months, he was losing weight, i had to up the lasix frequency and amount, he hated getting needles as well and would hide from me. Then he started hiding in the basement again. I knew he was ready, he wasn't happy, he wasn't thriving.

I think deep down inside, you will know when his time is- as long as you listen to him. Every cat is different and maybe whatever is wrong with him is very treatable. A person on this board recently had her old cat knocking on death's door, due to organ failure. A couple of months later, you wouldn't know their cat was sick. She is on a special diet, and i think some medication, but she is doing so well!
Hopefully the vet has promising news! I am a "cat" person so completely understand the one of a kind cats.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:50 PM   #18 (permalink)
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im sorry...... get a second opinion, even a third if you need it. ask as many questions as you can and get the responses you need, not only the responses you want. You will do what is absolutely right by you and your wonderful kitty and he is lucky to have such a great mom. I currently have a 9 year old that is "that cat" that you describe, my heart cat. And honestly, I would transplant organs, I would place feeding tubes, chest tubes, pay for a permanent hospital bed for him if I had to. (& I am one of the most realistic, non-selfish pet owners you will find. I typically do only whats best and right by my kids as to lessen their suffering.) I wish you two the very best and I hope that his liver is repairable and you spend your days purring in love. hugz to you both
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:37 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Wow, I wish I could wrap up my incredible amount of appreciation and send it to each of you for your well wishes, priceless experience, advice and support. I knew it was wise to post his story, even if I didn't exactly know what to ask for.

I should dedicate this thread to all of us lucky enough to have/had a dogcat in our life. I feel so blessed.


A little update....


Picked up my Reebs and his xrays from vet yesterday. Vet said he was very dehydrated so they gave him fluids and did a heartworm test (neg). They had me take the films to a radiology/imaging center for interpretation. They are suspecting cardiomyopathy and were hoping the films could shed some light. Turns out they are inconclusive and I am being advised to have an ultrasound of his abdomen and testing on the fluid they removed.

In the meantime he has been laying really low. Pretty lethargic with little desire to eat or drink. I tempted him with tuna in a water pack last night and added a little extra water. He did take to it, but not voraciously and not enough.

So I don't know if he's puny because of the exams yesterday, because he's dehydrated, because he's sick, because he's in pain, because he's dying - or a combination of them all.

I have an appt. today with a feline specialist at another facility and have made copious notes from everyone's posts above. Hopefully fresh eyes will lead me in the right direction. He seems like in the last few days he has gotten so frail and delicate. I can feel his bones thru his thin skin and he's always been so fit and athletic. It's shocking to me the pace of his decline. I just can't make a decision unless I know for sure what I'm dealing with.


He stayed snuggled up with his mama all night.



So thank you all again. It helps to tell my story, I love hearing stories of your special ones and of course getting the medical advice is so needed because I'm feeling really overwhelmed.

Keep you posted . . .
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:43 AM   #20 (permalink)
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My senior cat doesn't eat anything voraciously anymore. Right now I'm free feeding her kibble and am leaving canned food out for her multiple times a day. (I have her separated from the other cats and dog to accomplish this.) She doesn't eat a lot at once, but just having food in front of her 24 x 7 has resulted in her gaining .4 lbs. I did buy a high calorie vitamin paste from PetSmart, which didn't impress my cat at all, but it might be worth trying.
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:57 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I'm so unbelievably sorry. I hope and pray that you can figure out what's going on and get him through this with minimal suffering.

I, too, have a special "dogcat" heart cat. Had her since she was a baby, she's 15 now. Sleeps with me just about every night, follows me around the house, sits at the front door when it's time for me to come home(and follows me to the door whenever I leave!).. She even sits in the bathroom with me every morning and night when I'm showering/getting ready. I went to Vegas for a few months and she even flew with me (under my seat of course) because being separated would be too hard on both of us. I absolutely DREAD the day her body starts to fail due to age. It brings tears to my eyes reading your posts. I can't imagine how you feel, and just want you to know that there are others with special cats like your sweet boy who are thinking of and praying for you guys.


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Old 11-16-2012, 11:20 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Hugs to you, I'm crying just reading this.

I had a kitty like yours, his name was Charcoal, he was black obviously. I got him when I was 5 and had to let him go when I was 24, so he was 19. I had never known life without him really. He was my doll when I was a little girl, I dressed him up in baby clothes, pushed him up and down the street in a doll stroller, he slept in a doll cradle.... you get the picture. That cat was always with me and he never once scratched me. Such a good soul.

About two months before I had to let him go, I noticed him dropping weight, he couldn't get around as well, he would be walking across the floor and just stop and start yowling at nothing. Then he developed fluid and his kidneys started failing. His quality of life wasn't the same so I knew it was time, despite the fact that I would Never be ready to let him go.

Its been 4 years since that and I still miss that cat.
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:38 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I was just checking in on your handsome boycat, H.

Will be anxious to hear the update, after you see the specialist.


Mojokitty would like Reebs to know he indulged in some special catnip, and a chanting and cat dancing session, all purely for the healing vibes for R, ya know

Embarrassing kitty porn pic, for ya:

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Old 11-16-2012, 01:29 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Just sending hugs and support. We lost our 13 year old kitty to an aggressive cancer just six months ago. It still hurts terribly. She was way more than just a cat. She was my husband's best friend.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:35 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Not to be stalkery, but, um, any news? You okay?
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