My (Feline) Nursing Sideline

Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina has not been herself lately. For the last year and a half she has become pickier and pickier about her food. But it has gotten so bad in the last few weeks that for the most part all she will eat is a tiny bit of shredded chicken, a tiny bit of fried ground beef, and/or Temptations treats in seafood or tuna flavor. When she’s had enough appetite stimulant and this Pepto-Bismol type stuff for cats to coat her tummy, she might eat the tiniest amount of Friskies chicken or Weruva Lamb Burgini.

So I brought her to the doctor last week who took her from me at curbside (tears shed from both Tiger and me!) and did blood and pee tests, as well as a physical exam. When the lab results came back, the vet recommended an abdominal ultrasound. I said yes. Tiger is sixteen, but then she is only sixteen. Her sister Pear is twenty, and Tiger seems so healthy in general. The vet even said she appears healthy. Except for her mild to moderate kidney disease.

Next stop was the specialist to do the ultrasound. While I waited in my car (more tears shed at letting Tiger go through it all alone), the specialist called me and said nothing showed up on the ultrasound. She explained her theories and suggested a chest xray and a biopsy of her intestines (going through her esophagus). I approved the chest xray, but not the biopsy.

Tiger is my smallest cat, and coupled with her age, I don’t want them doing something so invasive. And to what end? To find out she has lymphoma? Then what?

The chest xray turned up nothing, so it’s possible that she either has some irritable bowel something or other going on or has lymphoma. That’s when I got the purple medicine that is like Pepto-Bismol–it coats the stomach. We also got Cerenia for nausea. The thought is that Tiger must have a tummy ache that makes her not want to eat.

The only other treatment we can try is steroids, which I am reluctant to do because of her kidney disease. I will see if we need to do that. I am focused on trying to get food in her every day.


Tiger on the warm laundry in the basket

In the evening, I lie on the couch with a book or my Kindle, and Pear Blossom is at my side and Tiger lies just below her, also at my side. Pear is twenty, so she’s Tiger’s big sister. Sometimes Perry lies on the back of the couch because he’s a jealous boy and wants to be on the couch with Mama, too. But he’s starting to realize he needs to not annoy the two old ladies.



Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

70 responses to “My (Feline) Nursing Sideline

  1. I wish her well

  2. This all sounds so familiar. Don’t do steroids. I am convinced that 6 months of steroids pushed my Mollie into Cushings (yes, unusual for a cat but they still can get it), which really screwed things up. Wouldn’t the ultrasound have shown lymphoma? What was the pepto-bismal like stuff? At the end (when it was too late) the prescribed carafate but Mollie didn’t take liquids well and it was too traumatic so I only gave her one dose. There is a part of my that is convinced my cat had a bad case of GERD which may have caused an ulcer or abrasion either high in the stomach or at the bottom of the esophagus. Vet care during this time (at least here where you can’t be with them) is weird. I was not impressed with the pricey specialist I was referred to. It’s so much harder being their advocate on the phone than in person. At least that’s how I felt. Hugs for Tiger!

    • That is awful about the Cushings. Poor Mollie. She had it so hard. We used to have two dogs. They both ended up on steroids. Then they developed Cushings and one of them ended up with awful seizures. So I told both the regular vet and the specialist that I was reluctant about steroids. This medicine is called Sucralfate. It prevents ulcers. Did they ever try that with Mollie? I have a call into the vet because I want to see if they can make it at the compounding pharmacy. I’m willing to pay more for that because I have to take a pill, crush it, mix it with water and feed it to her. This sounds simple, but I have not been able to do it correctly even once. It defies the possibility of doing it correctly! I would like it presented to me as a liquid haha.
      And, yes, communication is really slipping with this covid stuff. Now it’s affected our human family–the cousin’s son is very very ill, and only his wife can be there and talk to the doctors in person. My cousin is going nuts. After all, his wife has been his wife for a few years, but he’s been her son for 32 years.
      Thank you–I will give Tiger a hug from you. She is very very very clingy now.

      • Sucralfate is what they gave Mollie in liquid form that she wouldn’t take. So yes, they come in a liquid form which you shouldn’t have to have compounded except maybe for flavor. I wish they would have given it to her 6 months earlier without the steroids. I had Hazel on steroids for over a year and it didn’t go well for her either. Unless it’s for a 5 day dose, I’m not putting any cat on them. Three months is considered long term use and Mollie was on them for 6 and Hazel for over a year.

        • Oh, my heart breaks hearing about the steroids. Those poor kitties. I agree with you. It sounds so similar to what happened with my dogs. And we know cats are very sensitive about medications anyway! Interesting that it comes in liquid form. Well, how dumb is that? i’ve called the specialist about my difficulty. Why didn’t they offer liquid then? Very good to know. Thank you,

  3. This is so compelling. Bless you and Tiger!

  4. Amy

    Poor kitty. I ache inside when I hear of a sick animal, especially cats, but any animal. I hope she feels better soon. It’s so tough when they get older. Keep us posted.

    • I wouldn’t even know her tummy eats if it wasn’t for the not-eating and for the clinginess. She acts fairly normal otherwise, but then cats do tend to do that. I find it so hard to watch them all get older and begin to have health problems, but when I think of either adopting or fostering at some point in the future I usually think of the seniors because I see them come into the shelter and feel SO bad for them.

      • Amy

        It truly breaks my heart. Our oldest is 12 and just had his second anal sac abscess. He just wasn’t acting himself, so I looked at his butt. Diagnosed it myself. I wish they could talk!

        • Oh, poor baby. What a painful and humiliating condition! If they could talk would they tell us more and try to be stoic anyway? They try to be so tough. Did you take him to the vet?

          • Amy

            Of course! He felt better once they drained it. He was on antibiotics for a week. We took him for a re-check last week, and all was fine. They really don’t have to talk, do they? We know when they’re just not acting right. Hope your baby is feeling better tonight.

    • Such a lovely kitty. I hope she feels better soon.

  5. I am sorry to hear your cat is suffering. I swear sometimes, it’s what they put in their food. I found next to nothing that my dog could eat long term. She was so sensitive from day one but at 11 made her exit. You never stop missing them so I have never had another. I’ll keep good thoughts for them all.

    • I do think the food might account at least in part for the ridiculous amount of kidney disease in cats. Different people have ideas on how to remedy that, but I am not sure. I was so worried about feeding only meat to Tiger because of cat needs for taurine, etc. the vet said it’s fine, but is that because they think she’s old and sick? I ordered supplement for the meat, but it never came.
      I’m so sorry about your dog. Did she have irritable bowel disease? I know that 2 of my other cats have it because they can only eat hypoallergenic type food, so I imagine dogs can get that condition, too. it’s so hard to watch animals with health problems struggle. They don’t really understand what is going on or that you’re trying your best to help them though they may be very trusting.

      • I think they know, Luanne. I can almost guarantee they know you are trying to help. I know my dog knew what was happening and tried hard to lead me there. Never underestimate them. My Schatzie had cancer all through her body when she walked me to the emergency vets place over and over. I could tell you stories about animals that know. Your babies know you love them and are doing your best. Never doubt it.

  6. One of the hardest things is to know when to let our pets go. I may have mentioned before that I’m guilty (twice) of keeping my pets longer than I should have because, selfishly, I couldn’t let them go, and they suffered longer for it. I regret that now. It’s so hard!

    • It’s very hard. Thanks, Anneli. Tiger isn’t ready yet or Pear either, but I know that when they decline like that it tends to happen fast–or what seems fast.

  7. oh it’s so hard when pets get older…my thoughts are with you on this one Luanne. I don’t have a cat right now as I live in a place that doesn’t allow them, but I have had several and they do pull at the heartstrings without mercy!

  8. I have been in your shoes and wish you both well.

  9. I hope Tiger gets better so she can enjoy her food again. It’s good to hear that Perry is learning how to be a good member of the family 🙂

    • Thank you, Andrea. She doesn’t seem to have any kind of consistency in why she won’t eat. Perry tries so hard to be good. Sometimes he forgets ;).

  10. I do hope Tiger gets better. Yes, 16 is still fairly young for cats these days, in my humble opinion. A couple of my cats (Elodea (RIP) and Luisa (RIP)) had lymphoma which was discoverable by ultrasound. So maybe it is an irritation within her stomach, something that time and purple stuff can fix, I hope. Hugs to you and your feline brood!

  11. I’m sorry to hear that Tiger isn’t well. I know you’re keeping her comfortable with lots of love and care.

  12. Wishing Tiger to feel better. I hope you can find a suitable treatment. It’s tough when our lovable animal companions reach their seniority so much quicker than we do.

    • Thank you, Eilene. It is really tough. And it becomes so difficult to treat/care for most of them when their bodies start to be overtaken with illnesses.

  13. I hope Tiger feels better soon. God bless.

  14. It is so hard when our pets are hurting and we do not know what to do to help them. Wishing you luck with your kitty!

    • Thank you, Linda. It was a hard day today because she refused everything I gave her to eat. But yesterday was good. I hope tomorrow will be good, too!

  15. I feel for you, Luanne. I really do.
    As our dogs got older, I often told Pretty I felt like we were running a senior citizens center – and then ultimately hospice care. We get through it, though, because they are our loved ones – and deserve our best.
    We will be thinking of you and the Gardener, too.

    • I keep saying I’m running a nursing home!!! I’m sorry that you understand that experience! But they are so worth it, aren’t they?! Thanks, Sheila.

  16. Such a lovely cat. I hope she feels better soon.

  17. Oh, Luanne, that photo of Tiger wrapped in warm laundry is precious. She seems to be saying, thank you for taking care of me. You are such a good Mama, Luanne. xxx

    • Aw, shucks, Carol. I try. Tiger was a difficult one today, not wanting to eat anything I gave her. But she is so darn cute. She likes to lie on my throat haha.

  18. Good luck with Tiger, Luanne, both of you will be in my thoughts and prayers. I have cared for cats with CKD before, and know what you are going through.

    • I do wonder if that is truly what is wrong with Tiger. After all, one of her kidneys is too small and one is enlarged, but her labwork isn’t much above mild–maybe moderate. But if it’s what is affecting her eating or lack thereof, maybe the kidney disease is more advanced than they realize. Thank you, Lavinia.

  19. So sorry to hear of your poor cat’s illness and am thinking of you both… Such a rough time for it to happen.

  20. Healing Pawkisses for Tiger. Hope she feels better soon💗💗💗

  21. Sending big hugs and prayers for your cuddly Princess 💕🤗♥️

  22. Oh Luanne, I know how this feels! I’m going through similar things with two of my kitties. I do not like curbside vet care, although I understand and am grateful they are seeing pets at all. How is Tiger feeling now after the new meds?

    • Oh, I am a wreck from trying to get her to eat. Then today she ate lots of chicken, a little bit of ground beef with tiny bacon grease on it, and a teapoonful of Friskies. WOW. So I don’t know. This is driving me crazy. And now KANA keeps throwing up hairballs! Every other day!!!! Ready to pull my fur, um hair, out! I’m so sorry you are going through this stuff with yours!!! xo

      • At least she’s eating now. Hope that continues. And hope Kana’s hairballs discontinue. Pulling my fur out, too. xo

        • Oh, I’m so sorry, Cheryl. If you are having eating problems, have you tried Catsip. It was recommended to me, and at first Tiger wanted nothing to do with it. Then I crumbled a couple or a few of those Chewy and Stella dehyrated chicken balls in it. Yum. But she really can’t eat much at once. Or she throws up. So I am feeding her tiny bits ALL. DAY.LONG.

  23. Poor you, and poor Tiger <3

  24. I’m sorry. I hope she feels better soon. It’s so hard to make choices about medicine for ourselves, and such a worry to make them for our pets. Poor dears can’t even discuss options with us. Best of luck to you both.

    • All the cats seem to be feeling well right now (knock on wood)! I am just trying to figureout how to cut a very thick cat nail on the 20 year old and how to get rid of this new migraine aura symptom I have! Hope YOU are well, Ms. anniversary person.

      • Thanks, Luanne. Congratulations on reaching your publishing goal this year 🙂
        I don’t know how I would go about the nail cutting. Do you have a dremel?
        The migraine, well, I don’t have them much anymore, so generally I take one Tylenol and one Motrin and lie down to pray, LOL! YMMV
        I hope YOU feel better soon!

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