So I have been in sort of an overwhelming place. Work is a lot, but mostly the tiny old cat is a lot. He has health problems for a while, but we hit a new low in the past few weeks. Last weekend, I slept about 8 hours from Friday to Monday, simply because I didn’t want him to have to die alone. Eventually, we got into see our regular vet for what is called a quality of life check to figure out what are the best next steps that are in the cat’s best interest.
Though we get some more time together, we got some bad news. Happy (the cat) is in borderline congestive heart failure. We might have up a year left, but his heart might stop tomorrow. Having our vet finally take things seriously was a relief, but I was not thrilled at where we ended. Our current status is unclear and waiting. The only goal of Team Happy is to keep him as strong and as comfortable as possible. He is getting medication to reduce pain, reduce vomiting, increase appetite, and ease digestion on the back end. The medications aren’t too expensive and he genuinely seems to still have a lot of spirit and energy, when he is strong enough to use it.
We are essentially waiting for him to die, officially. We know he has less than a year left, that has been confirmed. We are just waiting for the shoe to drop. Standing on the edge waiting to go over. It is really hard process knowing the end is coming while having to make the judgement call on when the end comes.
So I have a an old cat and an anxious brain. However, because I have had my cat for so long (6 years old to now 25), I feel that I know what behaviors are normal and abnormal. I still call our primary vet every time something major happens to see if I should take him to the emergency room or not. This has started happening more and more though sometimes they tell me no it’s fine. When we get to the vet emergency room, you also have to justify your visit explain to the triage techs why you are there. Then Happy and I are admitted.
Due to the pandemic, I have to spend the visit out in the car in the parking lot and they will call if they have questions or to give updates. The ER vet then calls to tell me everything is fine. After preparing for the end of my cat’s life, checking with the tech’s and are home vet. They tell me “everything is fine/he’s super healthy/you have some options, but there isn’t a lot to take action on/etc.” It is making me feel nuts, it doesn’t seem possible in the maybe 20 minutes it took to drive there that everything is fixed. It makes me feel like I am overreacting when they don’t offer to let the cat stay for observation, run extra tests, or like even say I am sure it was scary but everything is fine now.
How do I make the vet that we don’t see regularly take my concerns more seriously or should I just be taking as face-value like there is nothing wrong?
We have a very old cat, but we are people who like exploring and like visiting family, especially over the holidays or long weekends. As the holiday season is approaching we planning to be gone for a little less than a week 2 months in a row. I thought I would share how we prepare our home and our cat for us to be gone.
- Water: We use a water bubbler pretty regularly, but we fill it up when we leave on vacation. It can hold and cycle about three days worth of water. We then fill up his regular water bowl and depending on if we are going to be gone more than 3 days an additional container of water and a Tupperware of ice. In summer they are both ice.
- Heat:: So we are really lucky in that heat is included in our admittedly high rent because we can leave the heat on to a more reasonable level versus a minimum level. We typically leave it around 71 when we leave in the winter. In the summer, we leave it at 80 but leave on fans and make a cool spot under are bed with a fan always going.
- Activity: Our primary activity is cuddling, but we do want to make sure he is able to use his mind and hunting skills when not sleeping. We typically hide treats around the apartment for him to sniff and pull out. Keep his toys in our catnip container for at least 24 hours before we leave. Then set up his scratching boards and window toys.
- Clean: Mostly we make sure there is no clothes or fabric on the floor and set up a second kitty litter tray is we are going to be gone more than half a week (it is actually our travel one).
- Food: We do a day of wet food for when we are leaving and then a half a cup dry food for everyday we will be gone including that first day.
So I have one pet. a cat, named Happy. He is named after the dwarf (my favorite) in Snow White and certainly not his mood. He recently turned 17 years old which in cat years puts him somewhere in his 80s. I personally got happy when he was about 6 months old when I was around 6 years old from a family friend. Happy is probably one of the best and most consistent things in my life transitioning with me from grade school to moving out after college. He is getting old though and we have had to make some changes for how we care for him.
Firstly and probably the most drastic change has been his food. In his sixteenth year we were having a lot of problems with his digestion and a puking problem. We have switched him to wet food, like a baby kitten. When we have to go away for a weekend or something we use grain-free dry food. It ha significantly reduced the times of cat vomit down to 0-1 times a week.
Secondly, Happy’s engagement or stimulation wahtever you want to call it has been harder. Mostly because he no longer finds chinese yoyo’s interesting and doesn’t fall for the laser pointer and can see who is holding the string. So most of his “toys” these days are hairbands. Which he LOVES! I cannot understate this he flings them and chases them all over our apartment and drowns them in his water. If you have any further ideas for stimulation for him please let me know.
Lastly, he’s become a real cuddle bug and more needy than before. He is always wanting laptime, more than just I am doing something else and wants attention but yells at me and my partner to sit down so he can sit. He lays behind me while I do the dishes. Happy actually sits either on the bathmat or in the linen closet while we are in the shower.
Mostly, though he is the same sweet, arrogant, little lion that I have loved for 70% of my life. Which makes it harder to admit how old he has gotten, as whenever I do people think he’s sickly or dying. For the moment, that is untrue but given his age and slight heart murmur there is nothing to stop that from being a day away. So anyway I have a really old cat for right now we are doing things that make it okay. Hopefully we can keep it up.