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. 🙂

Skip and the Vet’s Office

Skip is awesome to take to the vet.  Because he gets so hot in a cage, I simply place his break-away collar on him and use a leash.  Skip is pretty much in a good mood the whole time at the vet’s office.  The only thing he really doesn’t like is when they take his temperature from his hiney.  I mean who can blame the guy?  Personally, I wouldn’t like it either.

The vet’s and their assistants love to see Skip come in, because he is such a gentle giant.  If there aren’t any dogs around, he gets to wander the office on his leash checking things out and they just laugh at him because he acts like a dog.

BTW, the key to leash training a cat…do it when they are just little baby kittens.  Skip is fine on the leash, but you can’t lead him…he leads you.  My Missy cat that I had as a kid you could lead though.  We used to take her for walks around the yard and we used to let her play outside on her leash while we were working near by.

I think that Skip is so good at the vet’s office for three reasons: 1.) He has a good disposition, 2.) His first vet was awesome, and 3.) He knows he can trust me.

1.) He has a good disposition

Skip is a really large orange tabby cat that was really close to being a very rare male calico.  When I say he is really large, I mean large is in tall and long.  He is the same size as most medium size dogs, and is larger than some.

I’ve had Skip since he was 4 weeks old.  I know that is really young to take a kitten away from his mommy, but at 4 weeks, he was the size of a normal 6 week old kitten and his mommy couldn’t produce enough milk for all the kittens.  Plus they were all litter trained and eating kitten food.

I picked him out because he was really cute sitting on the foot stool with the hiccups that shook his whole body.  So, I became Skip’s adopted mommy that spoiled him to no end, but didn’t let him get away with anything.

The only person that Skip doesn’t really care for is unfortunately my dad.  My dad loves cats too.  We have a sweet picture of dad napping with Skip on the day I got him.  We have no idea why Skip doesn’t care for dad, but dad just takes it easy with Skip trying to get in his good graces.

Otherwise…people wise, Skip likes most people once he’s brave enough to come out for visitors.  I remember once with a little 2 years old; Skip let the kid pull his hair without a peep and even brushed up against the kid and knocked him over. Skip checked to make sure the kid was OK because he didn’t mean to knock the kid over; Skip is just a big cat.

2.) His first vet was awesome

Skip first vet was an older gentleman that had a great office staff.  When I would take Skip in as a kitten, they would play with him with their pens.  The vet would even play with him.  Skip just has a way about him that most people want to hold him or play with him.

Also, once when I took him to be fixed, they asked if they could play with him until the surgery.  I told them sure.  So, that whole morning, the assistant at the desk had him on her desk, playing with him.  She told me when I picked him up that he “helped” her with her paperwork.  She told me that she had an awesome morning with him. 🙂

It used to take me at least an hour and a half to get out of the vet’s office because everyone was playing with him.  I never minded though, and I never scheduled anything afterward.

Skip now has a new vet’s office that just loves him to death.  They know him by sight without me being there and Skip has a head bump for just about everyone there.

3.) He knows he can trust me

I learned with my Missy cat that cat’s can sense your feeling and if you are scared or upset.  If you are either, then they will be as well.  I make it point at the vet’s office to talk normally and try not to show any nervousness.  I got tested on this last year, but did OK.  Skip still knew I was worried about something.

I also became his protector at 5 weeks of age.  I brought him home to my other cat, Socks, who was just a few years old. Socks was, in general, mean to anyone that she met.  I spent a week of the standard let’s meet each other stuff and felt that Socks was ready to spend some time with Skip face-to-face with me there.  All was good until I turned my back to make dinner.  The next thing I knew, she had him down and was ripping his hair out.  I broke it up and rescued him.  He was terrified.

After a few more tries over a few months, I actually found Socks another home where she’d be the only kitty (I used to get Christmas cards from her owner), and I got another kitten to play with Skip.  They were fine for 3 years, and we had a happy home.  Then a neighbors’ outside cat visited and Mason beat up Skip pretty bad with what is called Transferred Aggression.  Basically, Mason couldn’t beat up the outside cat, so he beat up Skip instead.  Skip might be big, but he’s a lover, not a fighter.  I imagine leaving his mommy at such a young age caused this to a certain degree.

After spending a year trying to get the cats over it, my parents said that they would take Mason because Mason and their cat Oreo were the best of buds.  They didn’t like being separated any way.

Skip came to know that I would protect him as best I could.  Now when we visit somewhere new, he knows that Mommy won’t let anything happen to him and that he always gets to go home with Mommy.  There’s only been one time that I had to leave him over night at the vet’s and it about broke my heart.

All three of the above have contributed to Skip being a great cat to take to the vet.  I don’t have as many privileges at this new vet as they still need to get to know me, but I’m working on that.

The last time, I got to help hold Skip, so that they could take a sample from a mass that he had.  The vet was impressed that I wasn’t being a wimp about it and that Skip didn’t move a muscle even though I was barely holding his head.  I just told her that I know my cat, and I know what to do to distract him.  I think she was happy to not be bitten. 🙂

One thing that you can do with young kittens, so call your vet and just take them there for a visit.  This does two things: 1.) They get trained to ride in their cage in the car, and 2.) They know that the car ride and the vet’s office is not necessarily a bad thing.  I’m sure your vet would be happy to have you visit, but I would try to do it when they aren’t busy.  🙂