Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy / Hypothyroidism / Allergies – 08/12/2010 – 09/06/2011

It is time for a full Skip update.  This last appointment has been trying for us, but mostly Skip.  Oddly enough, it was a combination of things and not just HCM that got us.

Since I last left you it’s been a year and 3 cardiologist appointments.  The first two appointments had no changes and therefore, I didn’t feel the need to write anything.  Skip’s labs were fine, meds stayed the same, and he acted perfectly normal.

This last appointment was a bit of a downer, but only slightly.  Basically, it has been 2 years since Skip was first diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and I feel lucky for every moment that I spend with him.  HCM can be a killer because it is usually found so late.  We were lucky.

This last cardiologist appointment started like the rest.  I took Skip to his regular vet for his yearly regular checkup and labs for the cardiologist.  Skip’s furry uncles (Oreo and Mason) were visiting at the time.

At his regular vet, the vet noticed that his tartar build up on his teeth was getting bad again (My boy absolutely hates to have his teeth cleaned at home).  It needed to be removed.  I told them, that I would schedule an appointment after getting approval from the cardiologist.

You see, getting Skip’s teeth cleaned isn’t as easy as it is for a normal cat.  With HCM, putting Skip under is more risky. The regular vet is awesome about being aware of Skip’s HCM and she does her best to make sure that he isn’t under any longer than he needs to be.

A couple of weeks later, I took Skip to his scheduled cardiologist appointment.  After they spent a couple of hours looking him over, I got the news I had been dreading since learning about HCM.  Skip had a teeny tiny amount of fluid in his lungs.  This is the first sign of congestive heart failure (CHF).

She said what was happening is that the heart is working harder than it needs to.  The capillaries are under stress and they leak fluid into the lungs for relief of the pressure.

The cardiologist said that it wasn’t enough for Skip to notice, but that she needed to make some changes in Skip’s meds.  She increased the evening enalpril to 3/4 of a tablet and added 1/4 tablet of furosemide.  The enalpril will help Skip’s heart to not work as hard and the furosemide will help remove the fluid from Skip’s lungs.

She needed to see him back in a couple of weeks to make sure that the fluid was gone from his lungs and do some labs to make sure that everything looks good with the addition of the new medicine.  Until the recheck, the teeth cleaning was not approved.  His lungs needed to be clear first.

I was disappointed.  I didn’t want to hear that the HCM had progressed at all.  But…as the cardiologist told me, this is just a little blip.  We’ve been lucky for 2 years and since we are on top of it, we were able to catch the CHF early.

I made up two weeks of Skippy pills.  I use the #3 pill capsules, and added the furosemide to the evening pill since I actually have room in that one.  The morning pill is very full.

Shortly after the cardiologist appointment, Skippy’s furry uncles returned for a longer visit.  It’s always a fun week when they visit.  While I think Skip gets a bit more stressed when they visit, I do think he enjoys having them around some of the time.  I figured that this would be a good test of the furosemide.

Once the two weeks were up, I took Skip back to the cardiologist.  They took a look at his heart and lungs plus took the labs.  The good news is that the fluid in his lungs was gone.  After getting the labs back, they said that Skip’s potassium was low.  The cardiologist was expecting this.  I guess the potassium is expelled along with the fluid, so they wanted to put him on half a 550 mg potassium tablet.  They want to see him again in 4 months to make sure that he is stabilized and the HCM has not progressed further. He was approved for his teeth cleaning as well.

Whew!  I was relieved.  It’s never a good thing to hear about fluid in anyone’s lungs let alone your beloved pet.  I called the regular vet and made his teeth cleaning appointment.  I made it such that we would be able to watch him over the 3-day Labor Day holiday weekend.  My other thought on doing it so soon was that as of right now is we know where his heart and lungs are at.

So, two days later, I loaded Skip up and took him to his regular vet for his teeth cleaning.  Poor guy had two vet appointments in one week. His vet did the teeth cleaning and called me once he was done.  They said he had a lot of tartar build up, but they got it all and he was doing just fine.  Because they only had him under for the minimum amount of time, I got to pick him up early.  This was nice because it gets him out of a stressful situation.  I guess he really didn’t like the dog that was next to him. 😉

Now Skip plus anesthesia is a funny thing when he gets home.  He gets ravenous while still loopy, he can’t walk a straight line, and he won’t lay still.  His poppa and I kept a close eye on him on Thursday.  I kept feeding him a little bit of canned food at a time and kept the hard food from him for a day.  His teeth/gums were tender on that first day, so I wanted him to just eat the canned food.  No sense in having the big chicken become afraid of hard food. LOL

On Friday, we gave him his hard food, but kept up with feeding him the canned food.  All day long.  Morning, noon, evening, and night.  Skip was in heaven. 🙂  So, everything goes normal on Friday, and Skip and I head to bed.

Saturday we get up at 7:30 am for Skip’s heart meds.  I put him on the counter and what do I see while still groggy?  Skip with a swollen right eye that he is keeping closed.  Well, swelling this time of year is nothing.  Skip has allergies and allergies can equal swelling.  So, I gave him 1/2 a tablet of antihistamine, but made a note to check him later on in the morning.

Well, I lost track of time, and at noon ran in to check him.  Yep, I still had a one-eyed bandit.  I had a decision to make…this was a holiday weekend which means if it’s something serious and I don’t take him in, we may be taking a trip to the emergency clinic which equals more cost.  But what if it’s not something serious? Am I a helicopter mom with my kitty?

I made a quick decision.  Something was wrong and I knew it in my gut.  Mommy’s know their babies best and should always trust their gut.  I called the vet and they said to bring him up.  It’s a good thing I did.  Skip had a scratch that was pretty big on his eye.  They gave us some antibiotics and eye pain meds to take home.  Plus his regular vet wanted to see him again on Tuesday to make sure his eye healed correctly.

I have to say it was nice to see the other doctor in the practice.  She’s the one who initially found the HCM and to whom I will always be indebted to.  We always see the other vet because of the urine sample.

Skip was miserable on Saturday.  Between his teeth and his eye, he just wasn’t feeling good.  I did cut back on the canned food on Saturday as well which probably added to his discomfort.  He needed to start eating his hard food again whether he wanted to or not.  He would go into the kitchen and eat apiece of hard food. Then would come out and look at me with only one eye open.  It was like he was saying, “Please mother feel sorry for me and give me the canned food.”  I didn’t relent and he went back to eating the hard food.

Skip was better on Sunday.  There was drainage from both eyes which we thought was odd.  And then on Monday Skip was playing with his toys again and acting normal.

On Tuesday, much to Skip’s protests we headed back up to his regular vet.  Hooray!  Skip’s eye was healed.  We were to continue the antibiotics in both eyes for the rest of the week, but Skip didn’t need eye surgery to fix his scratch.  The reason for the antibiotics in both eyes was just in case his allergies were starting an infection in the other eye.

During this whole week, I spent my evenings making up 428 pill capsules which will get us to December.  428!  That is a lot of pill capsules!  The problem is that the potassium pills are HUGE.  I have to cut the pill into eighths.  I called the cardiologist and asked if I could give him a quarter in the morning and a quarter in the evening.  She said that it would be fine to split it.

So the makeup of the pill capsules is as follows:

Morning Pill #1:
– 1/4 Plavix
– 1/2 Thyroid tablet
– 3/4 Enalpril

Morning Pill #2:
– 2/8 of a Potassium pill (It is actually cut into eighths)

Evening Pill #1
– 1/2 Thyroid tablet
– 3/4 Enalpril
– 1/4 Furosemide

Evening Pill #2:
– 2/8 of a Potassium pill (It is actually cut into eighths)

Once Sunday gets here, we’ll be down to two pill capsules in the morning and two pill capsules in the evening.  It’ll be nice to be back to normal. 🙂

To sum it up, after two years Skip’s HCM progressed a bit and we countered with upping one med and adding two new ones.  Here’s hoping for two more years of the same-o, same-o. 🙂

Herrow? Plus a Quick Skip Update

Boyfriend several years back moved into my condo with Skip and me.  The condo is a bi-level and one of those where when you walk in you decide to go up or down immediately.

One day boyfriend walked in and yelled “Hello!”  I replied with “Hello!” This became our Marco-Polo game when we came home.  It was our way of determining where the other was when walking in the door.

Well, little did we know Skip was listening and learning.  He figured out what we were doing by calling out to each other.  He is a smart cat when he wants to be.

One night boyfriend and I headed to bed and we forgot to make sure Skip was with us.  A little while later we hear “Herrow!” from downstairs.  We both looked at each other and at the same time called back “HELLO!”

Skip came running up the stairs and jumped on the bed with a look of “It worked!”  Of course we praised him to let him know that we were pleased.  Then we all fell fast asleep with one of us purring.

Thinking back on it, maybe encouraging him to call out wasn’t a great idea.  Skip however liked the game and would play it quite often even in the middle of the night after heading down for food.

Skip will even use it when we leave him with his grandparents when we travel.  I had told mom about it and she knew to call back “Hello!”  Mom said that Dad was surprised to hear “Herrow” from Skip and even asked if Skip was trying to say “Hello”.  But hey even Dad knew what he was saying, so it’s not like we parents are making up what it sounds like Skip says.

So, if you ever visit our house or my parents house when you are in town and hear “Herrow!” please reply with “Hello!” and you will have a kitty probably come running to you. 🙂

Just a quick update on my little nutcase (That’s just one nickname for him): Skip is doing awesome!  We are a year and half after the first diagnosis of HCM and you’d never know he has a HCM or hypothyroidism.  I can’t say the same for food allergies because ice cream is a weakness of ours.  He loves it so much that it is hard to tell him no, but he is allergic to milk.

While on vacation, Skip stayed with his grandparents.  I got a report from mom that Skip didn’t like her timing on giving him his pills.  You see at home, Skip gets his pills before I do my hair.  Mom was trying to do it afterwards.

Mom said that he would come and sit outside her bathroom and stare at her.  She asked him for just a bit more time, and he would leave.  She said that he was serious the second time around though.  If she didn’t comply, he would just go and lay down somewhere thinking he wasn’t getting his medicine.  Then she’d have to go find him to give him his pills.

The next day on his second time around the house, she dropped what she was doing and followed him to the kitchen.  He was more than happy to take his pills.  Skip had his grandma in training. 😉

Skip is doing great and it looks like he has gained a bit of weight back since Thanksgiving which is a good thing.  He looks healthy and happy which is saying a lot.  He still willingly takes his pills while sitting on the kitchen counter which he jumps up on.  I hope that this will always be the case.

A full update on Skip will be available once he goes to his next cardiologist appointment in February.  I truly hope that other pet owners are as lucky as we were with our vet finding the HCM in its early stages.  This is just another reason to get your pets checked regularly by a vet.

Missy and the Spider

Missy unlike Skip was always up to catch bugs, mice, spiders, etc. You name it and she probably wanted to kill it.  One night this playfulness could have cost her life.  I’m stretching it a bit, but a Brown Recluse spider bite is serious in humans and even more serious in cats.  This incident happened when Missy was fairly young.

I was an avid reader growing up.  I used to use my extra allowance to buy books plus my parents and grandparents used to buy books for me.  It was nothing for me to buy 4 to 5 teen books on Friday and have them read by Monday.  Then the whole week, I would read and reread the books until I could get new ones.  If for some reason I was out of allowance or we didn’t make it to the store, I would just reread the books I had.  Once I turned sixteen, my Grandma started sneaking me adult romance novels to help me out with books.  Grandma gave me some of the less explicit romance novels. 😉  At sixteen, I now had to pay for gas for my car, so I had less money to go towards books even if dad did add $10 a week for gas (Oh how times have changed).

Since we were generally busy on Saturdays, cleaning or working outside, I read in the evening or late at night.  Plus Sundays was our day of relaxation, so I would spend my time reading.  Homework?  I did that at school.  I rarely brought homework home.  Math and English papers were the primary items that I brought home, but my math teacher took pity on us and rarely assigned homework on Fridays.  Fridays were our test days over the material we studied for that week.  In general over the weekend, I had no homework to do.

One Saturday late at night, after a successful book run that weekend, I was in bed reading a particularly good book, and it occurred to me that Missy wasn’t curled up next to me like usual.  I always read with the door shut due to the light and it was like 2 AM, and I knew Missy was in the room.  I looked around and she was on the floor playing with something.  I didn’t think anything of it; I just figured that she found one of her rabbit’s feet that she loved to play with.

I settled back down into the nice warm waterbed and my book.  Suddenly, I got startled out of my reading to see Missy jumping straight up and down at the foot of the bed.  It was spooky because she was literally jumping straight up and as soon as she landed, she’d jump again.

I got up and told Missy she was scaring me.  I knew something was wrong, but when I ran over to her, I saw nothing around that would cause her to jump up and down.  When she landed, I wrapped my hand under her to pick her up and instantly felt pain like someone stabbed me with a pin.  I kind of tossed her into my other hand and caught her while shaking my hand that was injured.

Missy was no longer freaking out and I still saw nothing on the floor.  I looked down at my hand and I saw two marks right next to my middle finger knuckle.  It had to be a spider, but I didn’t see the spider around.  I kept Missy in my left arm; she was perfectly happy there.  For some reason, I picked up a jacket on the back of a chair and went to hang it up.  My room used to be a mess, so I guess I decided to clean up to try and find the spider.

That’s when I noticed that my right hand was going numb; it wasn’t completely numb, but it was getting there as I had limited feeling.  I immediately headed with Missy to the bathroom.  I ran my right hand under cold water for several minutes.  I then opened my parents’ bedroom door and went to mom.  Now my mom sleeps pretty sound and doesn’t wake up very well, but she’s in the medical field, so she is the one I needed.  I shook her while saying “Mom, mom, come on mom wake up!”

Finally, she awoke and asked what was wrong in a very sleepy voice.  I told her I was bitten by a spider.  In her grogginess, she said “Get a baggy fill it with ice and ice it.”  And she promptly fell back asleep.  I said “Ok”, and with Missy still in my left arm (at least Missy was young at the time and very light), I headed to the kitchen.  I got a baggy out and filled it with ice.  I could have done it faster with Missy on the floor, but I was worried about her running back to the room and trying to kill the spider.  I didn’t want her hurt.  I grabbed a kitchen towel and headed back to the danger zone as the spider was still somewhere in my bedroom.

After about 30 minutes, I think mom in her sleep, realized that the bite must have been pretty serious for me to wake her.  I rarely complained about bug bites, so for me to actually wake her, told her that something more serious was going on.  Eventually, her brain kicked in and woke her up.  The next thing I know, my door is flying open.  She looked at me, and all lights were on in my room, Missy was still in my arms, an ice pack on my hand, and tears coming down my face.  I was spooked.  I’m not sure if I have ever been more spooked.

She sat down and asked to see my hand.  It was starting to swell up, and I told her I couldn’t’ feel it.  She went out and grabbed her evil tool kit that she uses to get splinters out.  Yes, it is evil, and if you have ever had her dig a splinter out of your hand, you would know just how evil it is.

She said, “This might hurt a bit.” And then lanced the bite open.  I didn’t feel a thing.  When she lanced it, liquid came out that had a rainbow shine to it from the light.  Mom immediately started sucking out the poison.  Once she got blood to come out, she stopped.  She then put alcohol on it and dressed it.  She told me to keep the ice on it.   Then she had me hold Missy, so that she could see if there were any bites on her.  Other than ticking Missy off, Missy was fine.  She never was bitten.

The next day, my hand was swollen again, so mom reopened it and did the same thing.  I also found and killed the spider the next morning.  It appears to have been a Brown Recluse.  I know people say the bite shouldn’t hurt when it first occurs, but I have a low tolerance for pain, so I felt every bit of the fangs breaking my skin.  Plus the bite was on my hand which was extra sensitive since earlier in the year I was hospitalized for dehydration and pneumonia.  They stuck my right hand three times for the IV, so my hand was extra sensitive.

What had happened was the spider was at the foot of the bed.  Missy at some point decided to kill it, but instead, the spider jumped on her mid section right where her heart was.  I have no idea how Missy knew that this was bad, but she did.  She started jumping to try and dislodge the spider.  The vet said that Brown Recluse spider bites can be very dangerous to a young cat especially if bit right where the heart is.  The vet said she was a lucky cat.

It took several months before the venom was completely gone from my hand.  If I hit my knuckle on anything, it would swell up and mom would relance it.  We’d see the venom come out.  Mom would keep extracting it until we saw blood come out.  I think the initial steps that we took that night were what kept me from having a severe issue like the Brown Recluse spider bite pictures you see out on websites.  Plus I was on antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids for chronic bronchitis at the time which was probably a tremendous help.

The interesting thing that I noticed after this incident was that mosquitoes avoided me.  They only attacked me when there was no one else around and were desperate.  Spiders were however attracted to me.  I got numerous bites from non-venomous spiders.  While those were felt, they did not even come close tot he bite I felt that night.  The location of where I was bit probably has something to do with how much the brown recluse spider bite hurt.  This could all be coincidence, but you just never know.

Btw, dad had an exterminator come out and treat our house; just in case the guy who bit me had any friends.  Missy…she was fine.  She still attacked spiders and everything else that moved.  She wasn’t fazed in the least.  I figure that I saved her life that night by taking the bite for her, and I’d do it again if I needed to because our bodies are a lot larger and can dilute the venom over a much larger space.

To this day, I can’t stand spiders and I am afraid of them.   I still have the scars today from the bite.  They are a lot fainter now, but I know where they are and can pick out the dots.  I can at least kill spider, but I do have to take a deep breath before doing so.  I imagine that my reaction to spiders is probably what has Skip scared of spiders.

Missy and I declared war on spiders.  I used to have no issue with them, but they drew first blood, so I really don’t care how much good they do.  If they come around me, they are dead no if and or buts.  Well, actually most are.  I won’t kill Daddy Long Legs.  While Daddy Long Legs are extremely poisonous, they can’t bite through our skin. I know that so, I will move them out of my way.  However, Missy just likes to kill bugs, and really doesn’t care what type they are. 🙂

And that is the story about Missy and the spider.

Morning Sanctuary

As I posted previously, every year my family would make the drive down to Tennessee to visit with family. For most of the trip, we stayed at my great aunts house that had at least a window air conditioner in the kitchen. Since we always went to visit at the beginning of August, it was always hot and sticky down there and the window air conditioner gave a tad bit of relief from the heat. I am also a lover of animals as you may have figured out by now and would do anything for my own pets.

My great aunt (Nanny) and great uncle (Papaw) had a dog and a whole lot of cats living on her farm. The cats on the farm were all strays that somehow found their way to Nanny and Papaw’s house. They had a building that Papaw cut a corner off of a door, so that the cats could get in and be safe from any wild dogs running around. Nanny put a plate of food and a bowl of water in the building for the cats to eat something if they needed to. Every day Nanny went out to put out fresh food and water for the cats, and when we visited; I got the job along with gathering eggs and feeding the chickens.

Nanny always named every single cat that came to live on their farm; no matter how long it stayed. Sometimes, the cats stayed for just a couple of days and sometimes they stayed for years, but they always had a name and she knew them on sight. Sometimes they would leave and return a month or two later, but she always knew which cat was which.

One cat that stayed for years was named Tom-Tom. He was a beautiful yellow and white cat, but could be really mean. Tom defended his territory and was good at it. Tom wasn’t the type of cat that you just reach down and pet. Doing that would get your hand swiped at, and he had sharp claws. 🙂 He was always around, but resisted petting. He’d even take swipes at Nanny and Papaw. Papaw would just tell him “To git on out of here”.

I mentioned a dog, and while I don’t know how they came to have Bo-Bo, I know that they had him for many years. I believe Bo-Bo was a large shepherd dog. Not German though.

Bo-Bo was kid friendly and would protect any kids to the best of his ability. When I was outside, Bo-Bo was right there. If I stood still, Bo-Bo would sit in front of me. Of course to get there, when he sat down he’d knock into you and just about put you on the ground if you weren’t ready for it. I remember going to Nanny’s and being excited to get out of the car because Bo-Bo was right there to greet you. Basically, the whole time I was at Nanny’s, I had a shadow. 🙂 I miss Bo-Bo.

At Nanny’s there weren’t any air conditioners in the bedrooms, so you slept with the windows open. During the night, the fog would settle between the mountains and cool it off outside. Every morning the sun was up in the sky way too early for summer vacation. Of course as soon as the sun would come up, the rooster would start crowing. The rooster woke me up everyday. I have no idea how mom could sleep through it.

One summer when we were there, I would actually get up when the rooster crowed. My dad was already up and chatting with Nanny and Papaw and mom was still snoozing. I can’t remember how old I was (probably 10-12 if I had to guess), but I did this for a few years until first Bo-Bo and then Tom-Tom died. I asked my dad if I could go outside knowing that he was very likely to allow me to do so. He always said I could. He probably thought I was playing in the yard, but I couldn’t do that or I would risk the wrath of my mother who liked her sleep.

The first time, I did this; I had no destination in mind, but just kind of wandered out into the field. I had two companions: Bo-Bo and Tom-Tom. They simply joined me. Bo-Bo was in the lead and Tom-Tom was following me. We walked out to the edge of the property where you could see the other mountain and I realized that the fog was still in the valley. I sat down in the tall grass to watch the fog rise.

Bo-Bo was lying right behind me, so that I could lean on him and pet his head. In his older years, I didn’t lean, but simply petted. Tom-Tom the first couple of days simply laid next to me. I would chat with the two of them asking questions like what was their plan for the day and just talking in soothing tones. On the third day, Tom-Tom crawled into my lap and took a snooze. This was so out of character for him, but I figured he needed the sleep and felt safe in my arms. It was probably one of the few times that he didn’t feel the need to be on alert. I could pet him to my heart’s content during this time. He even let me rub his belly which was a sign of full trust.

We would sit in our morning sanctuary and watch the fog rise out of the valley. It was very peaceful out where we were. The only sounds we heard were the sound of the land. There were no people around, and if anyone had come close to where we were, I knew that Bo-Bo would let me know. The fog would slowly rise leaving behind the beautiful trees and farmland that was just waking up when the sun finally made it through the thick fog.

Once it fully lifted, I would tell my companions that our time was up and that we should check back in. Tom-Tom would rise up and stretch and get off my lap. Bo-Bo would yawn a sleepy yawn that said lets stay a little longer. We would start our trip back to the house. Once we got close, I would ask if they wanted to race. They would happily agree. Tom-Tom always won, and I came in second. Bo-Bo was always more interested in staying back with me than in winning the race. As soon as we were back at the house, I had to be careful to not overstep my bounds with Tom-Tom. Once Nanny caught me petting him and said “You better be careful! That cat will bite you!” Tom-Tom and I just looked at each other and I swear his eyes twinkled at me like we have a secret.

I enjoyed my peaceful mornings with Bo-Bo and Tom-Tom. I like to believe that they remembered me from year to year because the following year I did the same thing and had the same companions. Tom-Tom never hesitated after that to crawl in my lap and Bo-Bo always came along. In his older years, Bo-Bo was stiff in the mornings and our walk took more time, but he always came on his own. It was always his choice as I never said “Come on! Let’s go for a walk.” I think that is what made it so special. We were three beings who wanted to be together.

Now my dad knows where I went on those mornings. 🙂 And even more importantly mom knows that I was out in the field alone with two protectors. Dad will be in trouble…sorry dad. 🙂 I bet you don’t even remember those mornings. And to mom…you know Bo-Bo would have protected me with his life and plus out there…nothing can happen to you! 😉

Transferred Aggression (feline)

As you may have gathered from previous posts, I used to have two cats: Skippy and Mason.  I still have Skip and my parents have Mason.  So, what happened?  Why is Mason living with my parents?  Well, it all started 11 years ago…

I had two cats: Missy and Socks.  Missy had to be put to sleep due to cancer and I was left with Socks who was fairly young.  Socks was always a very independent and mean cat, but hey she lived with a part Siamese cat which gives her an excuse.  I loved having two cats.  It gives them someone to play with while I work and usually one of them will want to spend time with me when I get home.

While at my parents’ house, I found an ad for free kittens, so dad drove me out to see them.  I fell in love with the only male kitten left.  He was so cute sitting on the ottoman with hiccups that shook his whole body.  The lady said that the kittens were 4 weeks old, but that they were all weaned and used the litter box.  When I saw a half-brother I saw why…he was huge!  This is how I found Skip.

I took both Socks and Skip home and did the introduce-the-new-kitten routine to Socks.  Everything was going great or so I thought.  One day Socks was headed upstairs and Skip started to follow her.  I was getting ready to head up and grab him; since it seemed a little early to allow them together without me.  The next thing I knew, Socks whipped around so fast and had Skip down.  Skip went immediately into a submissive position, but she started ripping his fur out anyway.  I was up the stairs in a flash to break it up.  Skip is still missing fur from that encounter.

After that happened, there was a no go on the introductions.  I tried splitting them apart for a few months alternating who was in a room and who wasn’t.  I gave Socks attention first, but she was having nothing of Skip.

I had a decision to make…do I find a new home for Skip or for Socks.  Socks was the cat that I had, but wasn’t really close to.  Plus she hated my parents and all of their animals.  Skip was the new kitten that was going to have a lot of vet bills due to the neutering and shots etc.  I chose Skip because I really wanted a multiple cat household.  I told Socks she had a home until the right people that I felt would take wonderful care of her came around.  I put an ad in the paper and a really nice lady whose cat just past away answered the ad.  She didn’t want a kitten due to all the vet costs.  I was honest and said Socks wants to be the only cat.  She said that she would take her.  I received a Christmas card each year from her for many years with a picture of Socks.

Now I was left to find another kitten.  While home visiting my parents, my mom and I went to Petsmart.  While there, I did what one who loves cats shouldn’t do…I looked at the kittens. There was one sitting at the front of the cage staring at us.  When we looked at him, he mewed.  It was a mew that said, “Please take me home, I’ll be forever grateful.”  He looked orange and that matched Skip, so I asked to hold him.  As soon as I held him, I knew he was the one.  He started cuddling, purring and held on to say he wasn’t going to be put back.  He was only one month younger than Skip which was perfect.   This was Mason who was actually a yellow kitten after a bath. Yes, he was that dirty.  I guess the kittens were found in a garbage bag on the side of the road in a puddle of oil.  At least, that’s what we were told.

I took both boys home and they were like true brothers.  They ate, slept and yes, they used the litter box together.  I have photo proof because I had never seen it before.  If one was on me, so was the other.  My mom got a kitten shortly afterwards named Oreo.  When I went back to visit, the three boys were inseparable.  Oreo loved Mason.  As soon as the cage was opened (both my boys shared a big cage), Oreo would wrap one arm around Mason and walk on three legs with Mason.  It was so cute.  All three boys had a blast knocking over mom’s fake tree and just playing like kittens do.

All was well for about 3 years.  Our house was very happy and the boys were inseparable.  Then it happened.  At first I didn’t understand what was going on, but I knew things had changed.  New neighbors moved in and with them, two friendly orange tabby’s.  This made all the difference because for some reason these two cats loved my patio.

I came home from work one day and I only saw Mason.  There was no Skippy.  This was very, very unusual.  Skip always greeted me.  I went looking expecting to find out my worst fear.  Mason followed.  At the time, I did not know what was up, so I had no problem with his following me.  I found Skip in the laundry room (where the litter box is) on top of the dryer in a trance.  His eyes were highly dilated and he looked and smelled horrible.  He was extremely afraid of something.

As soon as he saw Mason, Skip freaked and Mason went to attack.  I took on Mason and got him locked in another room.  Then I had to calm Skip down in order to move him and clean up the mess.  Nothing was working, so I got out the big cage and grabbed a big towel to protect myself.  I threw the towel over Skip and swooped him up and into the cage.  After shutting the cage, I surveyed the damage.  Urine was everywhere.  Skip was so scared that he wet himself as he was fleeing, and then he was too scared to get off the dryer to go potty.  This is the only time he has not used the litter box.

I checked and there was a trail of urine from where the attack started to where it ended on the dryer.  I imagine Skip could probably protect himself up there.  Mason wasn’t a great jumper and Skip was bigger, so he could probably have kept Mason from getting up there.  I went into cleanup mode which was a huge task.  I must have done an awesome job because you’d never know that there was once urine on the carpet…in other words there is no residual smell.

Now I had to clean up Skip.  Mason was still locked up, so I checked Skip to see if he was amendable to being touched yet.  He was, so I promptly gave him a bath.  For the record, he does not mind water, so this isn’t as bad as you might think.  I think he was happy to be clean because when I say he was a mess…I mean he was a MESS!

Everything was cleaned up.  A second litter box and food bowls were set up in the bedroom.  Skip was placed in there to shorten his world and make him feel safe.  I let Mason out who investigated everything.  He seemed fine.  I still had no idea what happened to the perfect world my boys lived in.  I thought about it all night and the next day all while keeping the boys separated.

I decided I needed to reintroduce them to each other because something major happened.  So, I started the switching of who was locked up.  During the switch, nobody was allowed to see anybody else.  I put a ribbon under the door, so they could play with each other.  The one locked up always cried horribly.

After a couple of weeks, I let them under strict supervision to see each other.  All was fine, but I didn’t push it and slowly increased their time together.  Since I didn’t know the trigger, I didn’t want to just let them alone, but it was tough to keep an eye on them constantly.  For example, to go to the bathroom, one had to come with me.  Since Skip wouldn’t let me out of his sight, it was Skip.

Finally, one Saturday a couple of months later we were spending the day out.  They were lying down together and then it happened.  Everything fell back apart and I finally knew the cause, but I didn’t know why.  The neighbors’ illegal outside cats (against HOA rules) came to visit.  Mason threw a fit!  He attacked Skip who got scared and went running with Mason in chase and me following to break it up.  I knew I had to stop it fast.  I got Mason in a room and Skip was terrified again, but I got a hold of him safely and put him in his safe room.

Now what do I do?  I was perplexed, so I called my awesome vet to ask.  The vet and I were pretty good friends after Missy.  He knew I took good care of my cats and that what I was saying was not blown out of proportion, but what really happened.  He said the term “Transferred Aggression”.  I asked what it meant and what do I do for it.

Basically, Transferred Aggression is where one cat sees another cat that they cannot access, so they attack the next nearest cat.  In my house, Mason saw the outside cat, but couldn’t attack it, so he instead attacked Skip.  Skip has residual issues from the attack of Socks when he was sooooo young that it really affected him.

The vet said to reintroduce them to each other and block off sight to the outside cat.  I went out and bought some poster board and taped it up on the patio doors.  My hope was that this would discourage the outside cats from visiting.  I never acknowledged them out there, but I think they knew Skip and Mason had a good life.

I just lost two months of hard work to get these two back together.  Now I get to start over.  I started from the beginning again.  It is hard work each night to give each one the amount of attention that they want when you are doing this by yourself.  During the weekday I was at work, so I could split my evenings by spending time with the cat I wasn’t sleeping with and then the nighttime with the one I was. Weekends were really tough because the one locked up knew I was there and cried for Mommy to let them out.

Slowly, I tried to get them back together, but to no avail.  The vet then gave me some spray to put on each cat which was to calm them down.  I tried that for a month and Skip was having nothing to do with Mason.  Outside, I started spraying some stuff down to try and discourage the neighbors’ cats from visiting.  It just went away after a rain and they came back.  I tried saying something to the neighbors about cats outside and how they were bothering my inside cats.  I got the answer of “What do you want us to do?  Put them on a leash?”  Well, you know it is a busy neighborhood with a lot of cars around; maybe they would be better off inside.  These were country folk who believe cats belong outside which is fine in the country, but in the city chances are they will get hit by a car.  There was no reasoning with them.

That backfired and now my neighbors thought I was nuts.  I probably looked it considering I was at my wits end with how to get these two back together.  After eight months, I finally gave up.  I had to make a decision because for me, I could not live this way any longer.  I had tried and failed.  Skip was too hurt by Mason’s actions to try again and chances are it would have happened again because short of moving I couldn’t get the outside cats to stay away.  My two babies were in a pattern and Skip was too much of a lover to fight back.  What’s funny about it is, Skip has the size advantage and could have taken Mason, but at the time he wouldn’t protect himself.  It was probably because I protected him too much with Socks after she attacked him.

After spending some time crying and holding Mason, I made the tearful call to my mom to let her know my decision.  I knew mom and dad adored both boys, and would be upset.  I told her that I was choosing to find Mason a new home.  Don’t get me wrong, Mason is an awesome cat, but I thought he would deal better in a new environment than Skip would.  Skip was too messed up to have to move to a new house.  Mom didn’t hesitate a bit when she said “We’ll take him.”  She told me that Oreo loved having Mason around and with their other cat Mechant getting up in years, it would give Oreo someone to grow old with.  Plus I would get to see Mason when I visited.

I feeling of relief came over me.  I would still get to see Mason!  Mason didn’t have to adjust to a new environment because he was used to going there anyway.  Cranky Mechant (everyone gets cranky when they get older) even liked Mason because he was always warm to lie against.  Mason became dad’s cat.  He already had Mechant (she was first mom’s cat), but the three worked on positioning so that all were happy.

To this day, Mason loves his daddy.  The only negative thing that happened was my poor father could no longer eat cereal at a table.  Mason loves cereal and wants you to share.  I used to flick out Cheerios to him, but forgot to tell dad.  Dad started eating the cereal standing up, but Mason just wrapped around him and begged for some cereal.  Finally, dad just gave up cereal as it wasn’t worth it.

As for Skip, the first few visits to mom and dad’s were tenuous.  Skip wasn’t alpha there, so he took it and just played with Oreo, but stayed away from Mason.  When mom and dad visited me, we split them up when we weren’t there.  After eight years, both Skip and Mason can be trusted around each other without incident.  They still aren’t the best friends that they were and at this point will never be.  Skip tolerates Mason and Mason knows it’s Skip’s house now.

Unfortunately for me, I no longer have the two cats I wanted and with Skip, I will never have multiple cats.  So, I just replaced Mason with Boyfriend.  Boyfriend isn’t nearly as talkative as Mason, but I’m OK with that!  😉

Three Cats and Leftover Chicken

We had the pleasure of watching my furry brothers (cats) for a week while my parents were on vacation.  My mom won’t entrust their care to anyone else, but myself and boyfriend.  She knows that we will take care of them just as she would.

One of my brothers is named Oreo, and is by far the biggest trouble maker of the bunch.  Oreo loves to come and visit his sister because we have special food (canned) twice a day and we pull out the catnip.  Plus he gets a different view of the outside world and gets to destroy…oops I mean be curious in a new house.

Oreo can jump like no other cat I have seen before; from a sitting position or while running.  Oreo is fast!  He loves to play and he will play with anything…string, ball, feather, hair scrunchies, your hand, anyone else’s tail, and well his own tail too.  I think you get the point.  He loves to play.

My other brother is Mason and is the complete opposite of Oreo.  Mason would rather lay on you than play.  Mason second favorite thing to do is eat.  Even though Skip is the oldest (by 2 months on the youngest) and the largest of the boys, Mason weighs the most. Mason is part Ragdoll, so when you pick him up; you can feel how much an 18 pound cat really does weigh because Mason goes completely limp.

Mason is a talker.  If you talk to him, he answers back.  It at least gives you the feeling that he is listening to you.  Mason loves to be touched and prefers both hands to be used.  Boyfriend likes having Mason visit because he has a buddy for the week.  If Boyfriend sits, Mason is there.  Mason is also odd in that he prefers to be covered most of the time.  Once Boyfriend finally gets Mason to lie down next to him and then puts covers over most of Mason.

For the sake of Mason, it is better that Boyfriend be the primary holder.  Skip is very jealous of Mason, so Mommy has to be careful with how much I pet or hold Mason.  Mason used to be my son and since I live in Kentucky it’s ok that he’s now my brother. 😉  Back when Mason lived with me, we had some transferred aggression occur where Mason was the aggressor and Skip was the victim.  Skip has never forgotten and therefore could do without Mason.

But, the boys all get along well enough with Oreo being the glue that holds them together.  Skip will play with Oreo and Oreo will…hmmm…try to play with Mason?  Mason will just go and find the humans to lie on which leaves Oreo and Skip to play.  This is a huge treat for Skip and why he deals with Mason.

The boys immediately got catnip once my parents left the house after dropping the boys off.  This kind of sets the stage for a week without their parents.  PARTY TIME FOR THE KITTIES!!  Given that all 3 boys are 11 years old, they all promptly sacked out after the catnip.  Mason was of course near Boyfriend.

The week goes by and nothing really major happens other than Oreo acting out when he wasn’t allowed canned food due to his nervous stomach.  He just can’t handle it twice a day.  Oh, and by acting out, I mean knocking things over or off of a table.  He does that when he’s mad and our house has not been Oreo proofed.  My brother is a big brat…see I admit it, but of course my mom won’t. 😉  Parents never listen to the child that sees the truth. 🙂

The night before mom and dad are to come back through and pick up their kids, boyfriend had to work late.  He called me and said that he was almost on his way home which take 45 minutes on a good day.  So, I went through the cabinets and decided on a junk food night.  I could have chosen the leftover KFC, but I looked around me and there were 3 cats.  Umm…No, I’m not going there.

Well, boyfriend comes home and asks what I had to see if there were any leftovers.  I said, nope, I went the junk food route.  He went into the kitchen and started to scrounge for food as well, and he came across the leftover KFC.  Boyfriend politely asked if I had plans for it, and I said no, it’s all yours.  I was all smiles.  [Please insert an evil sounding laugh in your head here.]

Boyfriend grabs the chicken and coleslaw and heads to the couch followed by Oreo and Mason.  Skip was lagging a bit (not that he’s allowed any table food which might account for the lag).  Boyfriend sets his coleslaw down on the table and pops open the container with the chicken.

Here was his first mistake; he looked away for a second to answer a question I asked. Did I ask purposely, is the question?  The answer is that I really wanted to know if he wanted to watch Big Brother.  Well, in the split second he turned away, Oreo hit from behind the couch and was up on the table in a flash.

Boyfriend exclaims in a deep primitive voice, “Get away from my coleslaw.” Coleslaw from KFC is Boyfriends favorite. He then proceeds to knock Oreo off the table.  Oreo in a flash is in the front of the couch attacking.  Mason decides on the high route of the back of the couch at the same time.  Boyfriend was literally waving both arms…one in front and one behind to hold off the attack.

Me you ask?  I’m laughing my a** off.  Oreo not to be defeated runs back around to the back of the couch while Mason tries again from the back of the couch.  Oreo jumps towards the table and boyfriend gets him in mid air with the back of hand while exclaiming, “Back off, it’s my chicken.”  Boyfriend has yet to eat a bite.  I’m telling you people, it…was…funny!

So, I see Oreo heading around my side of the couch and feeling sorry for boyfriend; I snatch up Oreo and proceed to hold him.  Boyfriend with a sigh of “Thanks” starts to take a bite with Mason’s head right next to his.  Mason figured that you just never know…Boyfriend might miss his mouth and instead feed Mason.  Boyfriend waves his arm in the air to get Mason Back.

Cue the Skip-ster.  Skippy seeing that Oreo was subdued and Mason was losing the fight, decided to help out.  Skip took the couch seat route, and in laying claim that it’s his Papa proceeds to place to paws on boyfriend leg leaning in to see if he can have some.  Boyfriend is handling these two quite well, and Oreo can’t have that.  In a quick move, he gets away from me.

Ok I admit it; I wasn’t holding him very well.  I want him to remember the fun and not the bad times, so I couldn’t be mean.  I know…Poor Boyfriend.  Oreo taking the floor route heads right into the fray.  Boyfriend is growling like I imagine a bear would when defending his food, but is actually getting food into his mouth.  The boys backed down a level.

Picture if you will, boyfriend leaned over his chicken container with elbows out to prevent an unwanted helper with Oreo sitting on several books on the floor, but right where he can grab if needed, Skip standing with two paws on boyfriends legs leaning in to see if Papa will share, and Mason sitting on the back of the couch hoping for a piece to make its way up there.

Thank the heavens boyfriend didn’t actually share or pandemonium would have erupted.  Our rule in our house (before Skip’s food allergies) were if you don’t push, but sit politely we will share.  If you push, we don’t share.  It’s our way of teaching manners to the cats.

I sent my parents a text message with a picture of Boyfriend trying to eat KFC chicken with three cats.   Mom said that dad couldn’t stop laughing.  And dad’s reply was, “Our boys like chicken!”

And that my friend is the story of Boyfriend trying to eat chicken with 3 cats in the house.  For the record, Boyfriend did indeed finish his chicken and as soon as he got to the coleslaw, the boys slowly left as they realized that chicken was not in the cards for them this night.

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy / Hypothyroidism / Allergies – 07/15/2010 – 08/12/2010

The saga continues. 🙂  This episode will contain Skip’s latest vet appointment plus his latest cardiologist appointment.  We are now at a little over a year from when he was first diagnosed with Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).

It was getting close to Skip’s cardiologist appointment, so I made an appointment to get his lab tests done as well as his regular yearly checkup.  I finally remembered to close off the area where his litter box is, so that he’d have a full bladder for the urine sample. 🙂

At the appointment, nothing new was found.  His teeth looked good and everything else was fine.  He was his usual happy go lucky self during the appointment.  He was a little mad at mommy once we got home due to the drawing of the blood and urine, but he quickly got over that.

The vet’s office called the following Monday and the lab tests came back just peachy. 🙂  His Thyroid T4 was at 1.5, so no worries there. We are all set for his August 3rd appointment…or are we?

On July 26th, I received a voicemail message stating that Skip’s cardiologist was no longer with the practice and Skip’s appointment was cancelled.  Huh? What?  You’re kidding?  Where’d she go? These were just a few of the questions that went through my head.

I immediately called the Care Center.  When I talked with the front desk, they stated that the cardiologist was still with the practice.  Huh?  What?  I told her what was in the voicemail that I received and she said she’d check to see if the appointment was still there.  It wasn’t.  She was confused, but sent me to cardiology voicemail.

I left a message asking where they were referring people.  I received no response, so I called again the next day asking the same question.  I had also been doing some research and had decided that if I couldn’t find his cardiologist that going back to my old stomping grounds while taking Skip to the Purdue Vet Clinic would work.  I left a message including Purdue’s information and my phone number, but there was still no response.

During this time, I had been in contact with Skip’s regular vet.  I told them what was going on to which they responded with…What?  Since I was receiving no response from the Care Center, I asked if the regular vet would mind referring Skip over to the Purdue Vet Clinic.  They said that they would take care of faxing all of the information over to Purdue.

Meanwhile, I called the Care Center and asked for 3 copies of Skip’s records and what the cost was for them.  Luckily, they provide them at no cost, so I e-mailed boyfriend and asked if he’d pick them up on his way home from work.  I have to say, when they provide records, they provide them all.  I even received cds with the results of tests like ultrasounds and echos.  I was impressed that it was all for free.  Of course I guess that’s the high cost of paying so much for the tests.

A little while later that day, I received a call from Skip’s regular vet that they had found Skip’s cardiologist and that she was still in the area; just with a different practice.  I found out later that the cardiologist had just received the fax from Skip’s primary vet with the lab tests prior to giving her notice.  She remembered it when she walked out the door and made a point to call them and let them know where she was going.  Just as an FYI, it was the Care Center that would not allow her to give a two weeks notice like she wanted.

I told my primary vet that I would call over to the new location and see what’s up.  The new place said that they would begin scheduling appointments later on in the week for the following week and took down my name and number.  They were really nice on the phone and did call me back.  I made the appointment for the first appointment of the following Thursday.

I’d like to get up on a soap box and say that the Care Center handled the whole process of the cardiologist leaving poorly.  There were some extenuating circumstances that I won’t go into that seem to have made some hard feelings.  When I called, they had not even informed their front desk that the cardiologist had left.  I also found out later that the Care Center is referring people to a cardiologist in Columbus instead of Skip’s cardiologist.  I guess there were some hard feelings when notice was given by the cardiologist.  It tells me that the Care Center was not interested in Skip getting the needed care, but rather the money from that care.  If they cared about the pets, they would have put aside their differences and given me the needed information.  Skip’s cardiologist is the only one in Cincinnati, so it’s not like the Care Center could provide me with an alternative solution.  So, my impression of the Care Center has gone down a notch. I am climbing down off my soap box now.

So, whew! There for a week, I was stressing as to how to get my baby checked out.  HCM is already a stressful condition whenever you have to go in for a checkup, so the added stress was not needed.

The day of Skip’s appointment arrived, and I drove up to the cardiologist’s new location which is a lot closer.  I will not currently comment on the new vet’s office as they are starting the process to remodel and were clearly getting everything put into place at their new location.  I will however say that the staff thus far has been extremely nice and willing to work with us parents who have furry kids with a disease of some type.

It took awhile to get called back to the room due to computer issues.  Once we got back there, I found a familiar face.  One of the cardiologists’ techs came with her.  She told me that she was switching over to Oncology, but was helping out on Thursdays to get used to the new building.

I handed over all of the records that I got from the Care Center along with the disks…oh and Skip too.  We went through the sheet I was supposed to fill out, but the front desk forgot to give me…remember a new location and department for them, so no biggie.

One thing I had noticed was that expelling air when purring looked like it took effort.  She noted that and I said that’s all I’ve got.  She went through the cost sheet.  I just told her that as long as they do what is needed to check Skip out and the price is roughly the same, I’m good.  It’s all expensive, so what’s a difference of $20?  I don’t remember what the difference was, but it was inline with what I expected, so I was ok.

Then the waiting…it takes them roughly a couple of hours to check him out.  I worked while I waited a nice perk from work.  The vet tech came out and asked for Skip’s carrier.  I gave it to her and asked if she just wanted to bring him out.  She said he was a little cranky and might be happier in the carrier. 🙂 I think actually as soon as he saw Mommy that he would have been fine.

I was called back to talk with the cardiologist.  It was really nice to see her.  She said Skip’s HCM is unchanged!!!  Woohoo!!  That’s good news in my world.  She said the left ventricle is still a tad enlarged, but unchanged from our last visit and that we were going to continue the same treatment as before.

The cardiologist told me that she saw no fluid in the lungs and his echo was fine.  She said that most cats give a lot of effort to expel air when purring and that is perfectly normal.  Skip has lost a little weight, so that probably contributed to me actually noticing it.  Plus when ever we get near his checkup, I get nervous and more observant.

I asked about the grumpiness I heard about, and she said that she can do anything with him she wants except take an x-ray of his chest.  She has to lay him on his side to do so, and he fights her on it.  I told her that only Mommy is allowed to put him on his side, so I wasn’t surprised.  I told her that I do that all the time at home without any argument from Skip.  That’s because he fully trusts me though.

Poppa says there is a double standard in our house.  Poppa can’t hardly move Skip one iota when holding him unless he wants to hear from Skip whereas I move Skip however I want him without much complaint.  🙂  I just tell Poppa that I have 6 extra years with Skip.

I asked if he growled and hissed.  She said yeah and he was going to take a nip from her.  I laughed (probably shouldn’t have but hey my calm boy was sticking up for himself), and said that the command is “Skip! No Bite, Be Nice” in an extremely serious tone that says I’m not happy with your behavior right now. She kind of gave me a look like “You’re kidding right? How often does this happen?”  I said that sometimes Skip shows his displeasure by using his teeth, but never breaks the skin.  Then she saw I was perfectly serious and said that she would keep that in mind the next time and to remind them.

Skip and I checked out and headed home.  We’ll go back in 6 months and do it all again as this is our life now.  I’m just happy that Skip is getting to live a full life. 🙂  If anything significant happens before 6 months I’ll post an update; otherwise the next update will be in 6 months.

I pondered about this part over and over, but I have to help the others in Cincinnati who need to take their pets to a cardiologist and there is no sense in driving all the way to Columbus.  So, here’s the info: Dr. Kathy Wright (I don’t know all the acronyms after her name) is now with MedVet which is off the Red Bank Expressway in Cincinnati.  The MedVet website is http://www.medvet-cves.com/ .  They haven’t updated the website, but trust me she is at the Cincinnati location.

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy / Hypothyroidism / Allergies – 8/31/09 – 07/15/2010

So far, Skip has been put on medicine for Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and he has been treated for Feline Hyperthyroidism. Now we are just waiting for October to come, so that we can find out how fast the HCM is progressing and find out if he can get his teeth cleaned or not.

We are in a daily routine of 3 pills in the morning and 1 pill in the evening.  Skip is doing pretty well with taking his pills.  I only have trouble when I miss the target for the Plavix.  All I can say is it must be real bitter pill to swallow. 😉

Leading up to September 2009, I noticed that Skip started to get a whistle when he breathed.  He wasn’t in distress, but breathing in caused a whistle.  Of course I thought that this was a bad sign.  I was just thinking of fluid filled lungs.  I took Skip to the appointment to get the blood work completed prior to his appointment with the cardiologist.  Skip’s Vet is awesome.  They get the blood work returned and fax it to the cardiologist, so that she can evaluate the numbers prior to Skip’s appointment.

In early October 2009, I took off work and hauled Skip up to see the Cardiologist at the Care Center.  I feel really lucky that I live in an area where the Cardiologist is fairly close.  There were people from New Jersey in that day to see her.  You may ask how I remember this; let’s just say these days are carved into my memory.

I asked again if I could go back into the back with him, but again I was denied.  I really don’t understand why they don’t allow it.  Skip does really well when Mommy is there and I feel it would keep his heart rate down and keep him from being stressed.

Once the cardiologist finished, I got to talk with her.  She gave me GOOD NEWS!!  Skip’s heart had barely changed and she could barely see any change in the thickness of his heart walls.  I took a sigh of relief. 🙂  It felt great!  She did want to tweak his medicine to get rid of the whistle while he breathed, but other than that she said he should have a fairly long outlook. 🙂

The cardiologist said that it was ok for Skip to get his teeth cleaned and that she needed to see him again in early February to check the thickness of the heart wall.  I was off with new prescriptions and extremely happy.  I can’t explain the relief that was felt when I heard the news.

BTW, it is a real pain to cut these pills up.  Skip takes a 1/4 Plavix and 3/4 and a 1/2 of Enalpril.  It takes what seems like forever to cut them.  Boyfriend tried once on the cheaper of the two (Enalpril) and gave up after he butchered what he thought was too many of them.  He wouldn’t even try on the really expensive ones.  I have since found an awesome pharmacy that will cut the pills for me.  I even offered to pay them more for the service; that is how much of a pain cutting these pills are.

I made Skip’s teeth cleaning appointment and they had to remove two of his teeth.  I think he felt much better once the gums healed.  The whistle while breathing went away after a week or two of the medicine adjustment.

Time flew by and in early January I noticed my baby didn’t have as much energy.  He still looked fine and was breathing fine; he just started sleeping a lot.  Since we were close to his next cardiologist appointment I started the steps to get his next checkup.

When I scheduled his blood work to be done, I also scheduled an appointment for him to be checked by the vet.  He had a lump behind his ear and his head would get red from time to time.  His doctor said that the redness in his head were more than likely allergies.  Since it was January, those allergies were more than likely caused by food.

The doctor took a sample from his lump behind his ear.  I got to help by holding his head.  They seemed real impressed that he didn’t even flinch when she took the sample.  I kept telling them that he does better when mommy helps hold him because he trusts me.  I think I made some head way in this area.

Skip’s doctor put him on some special diet food that does not have any additives and told us that he was to get no table scraps at all and only this food.  The goal is to isolate him to one type of food and see if the redness in his head improves after 6-8 weeks.

A funny thing happened while they were getting all the food collected.  I was out in the lobby letting Skip walk around on his leash.  It gives him something to do and actually keeps him calmer when the door opened and there was a big dog.  I just asked the person to hold for a second.  She gave a command to the dog who promptly sat.  I picked up Skip and said we’re good.  Then I realized that it was the other vet in the practice.  🙂 She was the original vet who found the heart murmur and she was happy to see Skip wandering around.

She is the one who called me on Monday with the biopsy results which wound up being an enlarged polyp due to the food allergy.  The vet said that she was very impressed with how well I have handled everything and how well Skip is doing.  She was very nice about letting me know I was doing a good job.  I was elated to hear it.  Sometimes it is just nice to get that kudos to let you know you are doing well.

She also gave me news that Skip’s Thyroid numbers were a tad low and was probably the cause of the lethargy.  The vet wanted to wait until Skip visited the Cardiologist before treating to ensure that the HCM wasn’t the cause of the lethargy.

In February, I took Skip up to the Care Center to see his cardiologist.  I was a little ticked off for a bit there.  The cardiologist changed her schedule to where all of the cats are dropped off at the same time and then picked up around the same time.  Since I drive 45 minutes to get there, I really don’t want to turn around and head home and then do it again in the afternoon.  It is a royal inconvenience for out-of-towners I would imagine.

But since that is the game, I will play it.  I would think the cardiologist would want to take the pets one at a time, so that their owners can get them out of the high stress environment as soon as possible.  We are talking about pets that have a heart condition after all.

I digress. Luckily I had taken my laptop up there, so I could work while waiting.  It is really distracting to try and work there plus I was wondering what my baby was thinking and doing.

Finally, I get called back for the results.  Everything is the same.  There was very little change in the thickness of the heart wall.  My baby was fine once again.  Woohoo!

I asked her about the thyroid results and the cardiologist said that he needs to be placed on a thyroid medicine to increase the numbers.  She said that around 10% of cats that have the I-Cat treatment done go the opposite direction, but that it is better to supplement the thyroid than have it produce too much.

The cardiologist asked about how the pills were going.  I told her that Skip really didn’t like the Plavix.  She said it is real bitter and to put it in a pill capsule which you can buy from a pharmacy.

I was speechless.  My first thought was that I wished I had known about pill capsules sooner.  I have an awesome pharmacy now that cuts the pills up and provides me with pill capsules. All that I have to do is put all the pills into the capsules.

We have two containers.  One is labeled morning pills and consists of 1/4 tablet of Plavix, 1/2 tablet hypothyroidism medicine, 1/2 tablet of Enalpril and 1/4 tablet of Enalpril which are all crammed into the smallest pill capsule available.

The second is labeled evening pills and consists of 1/2 tablet hypothyroidism medicine and 1/2 tablet of Enalpril.  This pill capsule is extremely easy to fill.

That is the current status of Skip.  He still has HCM, but we caught it early, so he should have a long outlook.  The hyperthyroidism has turned into hypothyroidism which is better for a cat with HCM and can be easily treated with pills.  Of course we had the I-Cat treatment to avoid more pills, but what can I say? Other than I’d rather it be Hypo- than Hyper- because Hyper- is bad for the heart.  Skip is still on “special-buy-it” from the vet only food for his food allergies.  The lump has gone away and his head only gets irritated when he gets into something he shouldn’t.

Our future is filled with twice a year blood tests and ultrasounds to keep on top of the HCM, but my baby’s outlook is filled with plenty of years of loving his parents and keeping us laughing at things like his fear of spiders and his inability to control his tail. 🙂

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy / Hyperthyroidism – 7/9/09 – 8/31/09

We pick up where we left off in the previous post on HCM.  I was waiting for the blood test results to return to see if Skip had Hyperthyroidism which can be a cause of HCM.

Skip had two pills to take in the morning and one in the evening.  Luckily he is fairly easy to pill, but the problem we had was that one of the pills in the morning was very bitter.  If I missed, he would taste it and then wouldn’t want to take any more pills.

I made it a point though to give Skip his pills at the same time every morning and within a 2 hour window in the evenings.  The key to any medicine is consistency.  Plus like most cats, Skip loves routine.  The more you stick with a routine, the more willing he is to participate.  Now Skip wakes me at 5:30 am to remind me that it is about time for the morning routine to start.  In the afternoons he starts around 5:30 pm (sometimes earlier) to let us know that it is about time for his afternoon routine.  The morning wake up call can be a pain, but you know I’d rather he do that than I over sleep and had forgotten to set the alarm.

After a weekend of holding my baby constantly, Monday finally came.  I received a call from the I-Cat vet who gave me the results of the tests.  The reason the I-Cat vet was calling me personally instead of an assistant was that Skip’s primary Thyroid level was still within the normal levels, but his Free T4 was not.  They cannot diagnose Hyperthyroidism based just on the Free-T4 number, and need clinical signs as well.

The I-Cat vet asked me some questions about Skip’s behavior.  Basically, for the past 6 months boyfriend and I noticed that Skip had started hollering at nighttime.  Usually, Skip is the kind of cat to go to bed with you and be real quiet.  Plus Skip would have these bursts of energy and go running through the house.  Trust me Skip used to be the calm kind of cat, so running through the house was unusual.  Skip had also been chowing down on the food.

The I-Cat vet said that’s enough for him to make the diagnosis and that Skip was indeed a candidate for the I-Cat therapy.  He explained there were 3 treatments: pills, surgery, or I-Cat treatment.  My thinking was that Skip takes enough pills now and that we don’t need any more.  With surgery, there could be complications and more recovery time and there was no guarantee they’d get it all.  Plus it was expensive.  If I spent just a bit more, Skip would not have to be opened up and would just receive a shot which in most cases gets rid of the tumor.  To me it was a no brainer to go with the I-Cat Treatment.  I was then contacted by his assistant and got Skip in for the next I-Cat date July 31st.

You’re probably wondering what in the world an I-Cat Treatment is.  Here is a link to their website: http://www.i-cat.info/index.html . Basically, most of the time Hyperthyroidism is caused by a tumor in the Thyroid.  I-Cat vets inject radioactive I-131 into the cat (this is also a treatment for humans) which only attacks the tumor in the Thyroid and eradicates it which brings the Thyroid levels back to normal.

I felt that we had caught the hyperthyroidism fairly early.  Only about 6 months had gone by since the first clinical symptoms.  Granted, this was plenty of time for damage to be done to Skip’s heart, but my mind said we caught it early enough for Skip to live for many years.

Skip had to stay the night at the Care Center and then we could pick him up the next day in the afternoon. I worried about him stressing out overnight because he’s never stayed any where other than Grandma’s house on the off chance I go out of town without him.

It was a real long night and a real long day waiting for the phone call to come that his I-131 levels were low enough for him to come home. Once the call came, we headed to PetSmart to get the required kitty litter and off to pick him up.

It was funny at the Care Center a guy came out with Skip in a box. We couldn’t see him in the box, so I asked if we could open the top; just so that I could make sure it was my baby in there.  I knew due to the radioactivity that they would not want him to expose everyone there.  I just wanted to see him.  It would really stink if we drove 45 minutes home to find out they gave us the wrong cat. 🙂

It was Skip, and so we packed him up and headed home.  They give you all kinds of literature saying what you can do and what you can’t do due to the I-131 radioactivity.  One thing you have to change to is using flushable kitty litter.  Let me just say…gross, but safer for you, so that you do not have radioactivity sitting in your trash can.  They also say to limit petting to 5 minutes and wash your hands right afterward.

Plus I was to not get his saliva on my hands.  Let me ask…how in the world do you pill a cat without getting saliva on your hands?  He needed his heart medicine.  I made sure I thoroughly washed my hands afterwards.  At the time, I was down due to knee surgery, so boyfriend was doing the cooking.  We did also make sure Skip stayed off kitchen counters.  That was tough.

The one that got me was the no sleeping with Skip until a couple of weeks had passed. This was the one rule I ignored.  My baby had just been traumatized overnight and they wanted to tell him he couldn’t be held for hours on end or sleep with him.  His feelings would have been hurt.  I know he’s just a cat, but cats have feelings too.

My background is that I worked at a company that determined if cancer was caused by exposure to radionuclides, so I was willing to risk that I-131 wasn’t going to hurt me at the level it was given.  Higher levels would have caused more concern.  I don’t recommend everyone doing this.  I’m simply explaining a tiny bit of my thought process for ignoring the last directive.

Since I was working from home due to my knee surgery, it helped me to keep an eye on Skip.  He seemed calmer.  He got to where he really liked having mommy at home.

One concern that came up was where they shaved Skip’s back; he could just reach the shaved portion with his tongue which is really rough.  He licked it so much he caused a core to appear.  I called the Care Center and they said to go out and buy baby t-shirts and put on him.

Not that was fun.  How do you know what size a cat wears?  Skip is a rather long and tall cat.  We found that the 12 and 18 months old t-shirts were what fit best.  Skip was rotten though, he figured out how to step on the end and then walk straight out of the t-shirt.  We actually watched him do it.  It took him around two minutes to get it off the last time. 🙂  The little brat.

All that you have to do is make sure that the t-shirt is long enough to cover the shaved patch (plus an inch) and cut the bottom off.  Once we did that, he couldn’t walk out of it.  I have to say Skip was stylin’ in his t-shirts.  He didn’t really care for him, but he looked real good in the red t-shirt.  While I would never make my pet wear clothes without a good reason, I can to a certain small degree see why people dress their pets up.

After 3 weeks, I had to take Skip to my vet to get a blood test to see if his Thyroid levels were back to normal.  On Monday August 31, 2009 his results returned and his Thyroid levels were fine.

Hooray! Now all we needed was to get the next ultrasound results in October to find out how fast his HCM was progressing.  I imagine a lot of people might ask why I would spend so much money on I-Cat treatment when you had no idea about the HCM.

My response is that I believed that the Hyperthyroidism was causing the heart condition to progressively get worse.  Yes, I could have done pills until October, but that’s not an exact science and Skip already had to be conditioned to taking his heart meds and I didn’t want to add another one.

This is another good place to stop.  I will write the next part soon and it will probably cover up until today.

Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy – 06/27/09 – 07/09/09

I said I would tell you why Skip has to take so many pills, well the title says it all.  He has Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).  HCM is a very serious heart condition.

Last year, I noticed that Skip’s breath smelled and I knew that he needed his teeth cleaned and probably a couple pulled.  So, I scheduled Skip an appointment with his vet to get a checkup, so that they could determine if he needed to get his teeth cleaned.

I was standing there chatting with the vet tech while the vet was listening to Skip’s heart.  Usually the vet only listens for a bit, but she kept listening and listening. I stopped talking to the vet tech because I knew something was wrong.

The vet stopped and looked at me and said I hear a heart murmur.  At first, I was like, a heart murmur? No problem.  Both my mom and my grandpa have a heart murmur and they are just fine.  I said, “OK, so what does that mean.  Will he be ok?”

She gave me the gravest of looks and said that at this moment she did not know.  Skip’s vet said that cats are great at hiding a heart murmur and usually by the time that they can hear it; it is too late and that many cats will pass away within months of the diagnosis.  She said, “One thing you need to know is that you may come home from work to find he passed away during the day without any warning, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.  We first need to do an x-ray to see how bad it is.”  I looked at Skip and other than his teeth, Skip seemed perfectly normal to me which is the problem with this disease.

I immediately approved the x-ray.  After what seemed like agonizing minutes of waiting for the x-ray to be taken and developed, the vet came in with the x-ray and was happy there was no fluid in his lungs.  She also made note that the heart itself did not look bad.  She told me that she hoped she was wrong, but that I needed to go and see a feline cardiologist.

She also said that Skip needed his teeth cleaned and probably two pulled, but that she could not operate until we knew the situation with his heart.  She then wished me good luck.  I was devastated.  I held it together in the vet office, but once I got home, I lost it.

For me, Skip is my kid.  I’ve been with him since he was 4 weeks old and to hear that he might have a disease that could take him in the next few months…whew! That is tough to hear.  That was a lot to take when I thought all we needed was a teeth cleaning.

For the two weeks until the appointment with the cardiologist, I held Skip every chance I got.  I babied him and made him feel special.  My heart just wanted him to be OK and the only way I could keep an eye on him was to keep him in sight at all times.  It wasn’t too hard because he usually follows us around anyway.  What he didn’t expect was to constantly be picked up by boyfriend or myself when ever we saw him sitting alone.

Skip and I went up to the specialty clinic to see the cardiologist.  They took my poor baby in the back and shaved his chest for an ultrasound and an echo-cardiogram.  The cardiologist returned and told me that she sees a thickening of the heart wall and that he has HCM, but that currently the electrocardiogram looks fine.  I had no idea what HCM was, so I asked what it was and what it means for Skip.  Basically, the heart wall thickens until the blood flow slows and blood clots form.  Those blood clots can dislodge and block the flow of blood.  When the heart is no longer able to pump the blood or if a blood clot blocks the blood from flowing, the body will no longer function.

Here is a link to a pretty good document regarding HCM:

The cardiologist also said that she felt that Skip’s thyroid was enlarged and that he could have hyperthyroidism.  Hyperthyroidism can be a cause for the thickening of the heart walls because the heart is working overtime.  She took some blood from Skip to determine the thyroid levels, but we had to wait for the results.  The cardiologist put Skip on the medicines enalpril and plavix.  She said that based on what she sees that we need to use plavix as a beta blocker.  She explained it all out as to why Skip was on each medicine.

Let me just say for those who cats are diagnosed with HCM, your pocketbook is going to take a hit.  From the tests to the medicines, everything is expensive.  For me, I don’t really care about money.  I just want my baby to get well.

I then asked what his outlook was, and she said that she needed to see us back in October and that she would answer that question then because she said some cats pass away within months and that she has a couple that are 5 years past their diagnosis.  Basically, what she will do is compare ultrasounds to see how much worse the heart walls thickened and then she can make a short term prognosis.  She said no matter what, we have to keep on top of disease and work in six month increments.  I could see in her eyes that she was worried about Skip and that this was very serious.

She also told me that he needs to stay calm and to keep him out of stressful situations until we know more.  Basically, she did not want his heart being overworked any more than it needed to be.  Then she also said no table food at all and no treats.  We are OK with no table food.  He rarely received table scraps, and he rarely asked for them.  However, no treats?  Wow!  Skip is in for a lifestyle change.  She said that the treats for cats are filled with salt to make them taste good.  Too much salt is bad for the heart and we do not need anything contributing to make his condition worse.

The cardiologist said that if Skip started having trouble breathing or if he had numbness in his back legs, to go straight to the vet.  Either Skip’s own vet or to drive up to their emergency clinic would be fine, but that either condition needed attention immediately.

I left with a couple of prescriptions, a cat that was exhausted from his ordeal, a paper print out that the cardiologist makes for every client explaining every thing she just explained, and myself mentally tired.  I took Skip home and went up to the pharmacy and got his scripts filled.

Now I had to wait for the results of the thyroid test which were going straight to the I-Cat vet to discuss my options regarding the thyroid.

I hate waiting for the results of tests…so dear reader even though this happened months’ ago, you must wait as well because this is a good stopping point. 🙂