Sunday, June 14, 2015

These Senior Cats

by Leann


Senior cats are wonderful. They are far more loving than their younger counterparts. But they also get sick, just like us old folks. Really sick. The immune system of a cat is very similar to a human's (and so are their brains.) They get what we get, only no Medicare for them. Pet insurance, at least the policies I looked at, don't really cover much that's serious.

I had a diabetic cat, Agatha Christie. Insulin is very pricey for a cat. When I had my precious Marlowe, who had seizures, he was taking phenobarbitol and the bottle I would get for a month cost more than $60. He also took a brand new antibiotic that was just as expensive. I had a tuxedo cat with FIV, named Archie Goodwin. That's the feline equivalent of HIV.
When he got sick, I would leave the vet with three or four bottles of medicine and a huge bill. I had a dog who developed ulcers on her cornea. She had to see a canine eye specialist and was on Restasis before it became a people medicine. That year I had several thousand dollars in vet bills.

Now, my daughter and her husband have been dealing with serious issues, even though their fur
friends are maybe a decade old or a little more--not really too old. One had a torn aorta and high blood pressure--that coming on the heels of some serious kidney stones. Kidney stones can kill a cat quickly--and so can a torn aorta! But he's a fighter and is doing well now. Their other cat, a pretty gray girl with gorgeous green eyes has been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Disease. Apparently that's pretty common in cats and also very hard to treat. It's quite complicated. There have been endoscopies and biopsies and numerous vet visits. It's also made worse by stress and of course going to the vet is stressful for all involved.

But we dole out the big bucks to take care of our pets because they are the ones who love us unconditionally. They are like our children. We adore them and would do anything for them. But I couldn't end this without mentioning that the $60 bottle of phenobarb for little Marlowe, come to find out near the end of his life, cost $12 at Walgreens. I do think there's a bit of problem with vets dispensing the medication if it can be bought instead at the local pharmacy with their prescription. I know some of the medicine is only for vet use but there is a big difference between $60 and $12!

If anyone has had a kitty with serious irritable bowel disease and you found something that really worked, I'd love to hear from you! My daughter is having a difficult time with her poor baby, who's been on every treatment you can think of. Thank you friends.

25 comments:

Tricia said...

Hi,
Not sure what the symptoms are for your daughter's cat, but I have a 12 year old that had diarrhoea on and off. I started mixing kibble (is that American for cat dry biscuits?) that was for Sensitive digestion in with her food. The diarrhoea has stopped, I think it helps.
Love your stories, I'm a Brit but live in France, I listen to your books from Audible while I'm driving to and from Choir practice, about an half hour drive. I also have 5 cats who 'live' indoors, and 2 that live outside
Tricia xx

ozone3 said...

I had a cat with IBS that had to be on Prednisone along with a special diet for the the last 2 years of her life. She had to eat a wet food that had a protein in it that wasn't the normal chicken/beef/fish. It's a food that either made from duck or venison. It worked really good at first, but unfortunately, she ended up developing Pancreatitis and that food was too fatty for her and I had to change to a different food.

She also had feline herpes which the prednisone didn't help, but that was better than the diarrhea and constant throwing up.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks so much Tricia! So glad you like the audio books. I've been an audio book fan for years!

Leann Sweeney said...

They just put my daughter's cat on prednisone since the diarrhea is so severe. I'm hoping it will give the poor kitty some relief. They did see lots of inflammation when they did the endoscopy. I told my daughter it should help. Thanks so much for sharing. When we know our kitties are sick, often it's because they have been sick for a long time and hiding it!

Anonymous said...

Hope they find the right treatment for daughter's kitty soon. You are so right, Leann, we will do anything we can for our fur-babies!

Kate Collins said...

My daughter's kitty had severe diarrhea from a bacteria in his intestines. Two rounds of antibiotics wouldn't cure him and he got weaker and weaker. I finally insisted she buy pet probiotics from a holistic vet. Within 3 days, the kitten's intestines were behaving normally and he began to recover. It was amazing. Now she will only go to a holistic vet. They treat much more than symptoms. They treat the root cause of the problem.

Leann Sweeney said...

So true Patricia! Wish they could talk!

Leann Sweeney said...

Yes, my daughter has to alternate probiotics and she is now going to an integrative vet who uses both holistic and traditional medicine.The endoscopy did show that the intestinal walls are thickened and this is very typical for irritable bowel disease in cats. Apparently it is pretty common and VERY difficult to treat. Right now they are hoping B12 shots will help. Keep your fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Years ago when Walmart started charging $4 for 30 pills and $10 for 90 pills on lots of prescriptions, one of the local big box stores followed its lead. Then they added animal prescriptions to that service. I took in a list of all Spats' meds and can get two of them at those cheap prices. That certainly helps as he takes more prescriptions than I do plus his food can only be bought thru the vet. I also figured out that my vet charges less for prescriptions than the animal cardiologist does. It certainly doesn't hurt to discuss cost with the vet, esp when trying to find anything that will work. Hope your daughter finds something to help her fur baby. Cordella

mary kennedy said...

So sorry about your daughter's cat, Leann. You're right, these fur babies can cost a fortune. Oliver GoodCat recently spent 2 nights in the vet ICU and the bill was $3,000. And of course, that was just the beginning, there were expensive tests, meds, etc etc, adding several thousands of dollars on top of that. But as you say, they are like our children and we will move heaven and earth to save them.

Georgette said...

So sad to read this Leann. My babies tend to crave comfort from me as they get older. My Bengal , Tiger Lewey now wants to be with me all the time when I am home..but at 14 he may need some dental work if they will still do that for him. I would ask the vet if you can get scrips filled(unfortunately they tend to make their money filling ) but also you might ask if you can get through Foster & Smith which is much less expensive.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Cordella. KItty has had a rough weekend and with my daughter not feeling well herself, it makes it that much worse. I'm a nurse and it wouldn't stress me out but she is not that type! I'm sure her stress goes right to the kitty's and back to her. A vicious cycle!

Leann Sweeney said...

So true Mary. My doggie with the eye ulcer had the eye removed as a last resort and then guess what? She developed on in her other eye--she'd never had one there. At that point I knew it was time to let her go. She was very old and the eye ulcers are extremely painful. Miss that little baby!

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Georgete. I mentioned that to my daughter. Right now they are doing compounding so the cats will take their meds easier but THAT'S expensive! I've had compounded meds myself and they were quite expensive.

Lynda Turpin said...

At Lapcats Feline Rescue we have a "Laps for Love" program where we match up seniors with senior kitties who would otherwise be put down (the kitties, not the seniors). We help the people out with food, expenses, and vet bills, and they provide each other with love and companionship.

I was very lucky with my Mittens, because she was healthy up to the day she had a stroke at almost 20 years old. Her eyesight and hearing were not great the last year, so she would have little panic attacks when I was out of sight. But she didn't have a lot of the problems that many senior kitties have.

Between the fosters, stray/feral cats, and our own kitties, the other fosters and I have to cut corners with meds as well. For instance, the Panacur for cats at a vet is really expensive and most kittens end up needing it to control parasites/diarrhea when they first come in off the streets, so we get a product at the feed store that's for goats, but is exactly the same as the cat product. When we need flea meds, we buy Large Dog Advantage or Revolution online. It is exactly the same product for dogs and cats, but you just measure out the appropriate amount for cats. We put it in a bottle and use a syringe to measure the amount for the cats (depending on their weight). We save hundreds of dollars a year just on flea meds. It also helps to have a vet that will support our getting certain meds online, so we can get it cheaper.

Linda Rima said...

My Cici was diagnosed with IBD. special diet, prednisone, & probiotics. Amazingly, I tried massage therapy for stress levels. They showed me how to massage her along spine and neck. It seemed to help a bit too. It is hard finding the right treatment combination for IBD in cats.

Katreader said...

My Alesiter is 16 years old and has been living with cancer for almost 2 years. He also has hyperthyroidism. My youngest cat also has issues though-he's on 2 meds (after 4 rounds of antibiotics) and now has special Rx food-though some people say that's bad and leads to diabetes. Little Mariusz is only 1! I do get many drugs for my animals from Walgreens, but sadly, not all are available. I've also had to give sub q fluids. The look I got from Mariusz broke my heart-and he was too squirmy-so we had to stop! Still, I will continue to do everything for them-and if I decide to adopt a dog again, he or she will certainly be a senior looking for a retirement home.

Rachelle21 said...

I just paid over $105 for a biopsy along with $200 bill for vet due to teeth problems and small gum tumor the vet removed. The cat is 10. My oldest is 17 and has problems getting to the litter sometime due to her age.

Leann Sweeney said...

That is wonderful information, Lynda. You do have to be resourceful, that's for sure!!
You sharing your infinite knowledge of cats has been so helpful to me and I am sure to others. Thanks so much!

Leann Sweeney said...

It is very hard. My daughter's cat is going through a round of prednisone right now. Pluse B12 shots. The poor kitty has had a rough go of it, that's fr sure. It is a complicated illness.

Leann Sweeney said...

That's great about sticking through the cancer for that long! I understand hyperthyroidism is pretty common in cats. I wish we had more answers for our babies!

Leann Sweeney said...

Ah, Rachelle. That's tough. I had two cats with dental issues--and they basically had a lot of teeth removed. They were at the vet at the same time and I nearly fell over when I saw the bill! YIKES! But they were worth it and did fine without most of their teeth!

Anonymous said...

When we adopted Mikie, he had severe stomatitis and a rump that had been shaved to treat a puncture wound. They were so excited we took him, they loaded us up with bags of his favorite dried food and waived the adoption fee. Within weeks we had spent a couple thousand to have his teeth removed after antibiotics didn't help.(No such thing as a "free" cat!) But 12 years later he is healthy and handsome! And not having teeth doesn't stop him from eating.No teeth, no problem! Best money we ever spent!

PS I went to Lemoyne, from '59-63, back when it was 3 brick buildings on a hill. Beautiful campus now.

Lisa M said...

Internet ate my first entry, so let's try again...

My cat Hillary Grace was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (equivalent to Irritable Bowel Syndrome in humans) about five years ago. Since her full-blooded brother Maverick had had it and it had morphed into lymphoma, which he died from (research apparently is finding a link between the two conditions, per my vet), we immediately started her on Probiocin, a refrigerated probiotic paste I smear in her mouth every three days. It has really helped to keep her condition under control for the most part. She recently had a flare up of colitis; she was given a Buprinex injection for pain, a one-time round of subq fluids, and about a 10-day supply of Metronidazole (sp?), an antibiotic/anti-inflammatory drug. Because she was diabetic for four months last fall before going into remission, I feed all of my cats (I have her mother and two remaining siblings) Purina DM as it is also good for kidneys, per new research, and two of my cats have issues with that. My cats are all 16-years-old. They get no edible treats whatsoever; we strictly adhere to their diet. My sister's late cat had IBD and lived until 17 or 18 when she developed cancer. They managed her IBD with Prednisone every other day for many years. I believe she also ate a special prescription food, but I think that was due to allergies. We have been blessed to have found a marvelous vet who will tell me when I can get something cheaper at the local pharmacy. When I had to give my (now late) cat Marigold subcutaneous fluids multiple times a week, he sold them to me at cost when I inquired if there was some reputable wholesale place I could buy them from. But, then again, he is AMAZING! Your daughter's furbaby will be in my prayers. It's so hard when our furbabies are ill as they can't tell us what hurts or helps.

Jane R said...

I'm so glad you mentioned that some of the medications our pets take are also for humans and can usually be purchased at a regular pharmacy for a lot less than what the vet will charge.
I discovered this when our wonderful Golden Retriever, D.J., was prescribed a number of medications for his arthritis and glaucoma (and later cataract surgery).
We have been patients with several different veterinarians and only one insisted that I take her prescriptions and have them filled at a regular pharmacy, where I could save a bundle of money. I've even had vet techs tell me that they dislike giving me the prescriptions for a pharmacy because I might not receive 'safe' medications. At that point I gently told them that I was going to use the same pharmacy that dispenses medications for my own family. That seemed to shock them into silence and I had little trouble after that.
All in all, it pays to be aware!