Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

Our little 17 year old sweetheart

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by ClareB, Sep 5, 2013.


  1. ClareB

    ClareB PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi everyone

    This is my first post on the site and unfortunately it is for a sad reason.

    Me and my family have a 17 year old (possibly Maine Coon mix) cat called Fluff. We got her as a kitten when I was 7 years old so you can just imagine how much a part of the family she is.

    Basically, since last year we noticed her weight dropping significantly and she had began to drink a lot more than usual. A lot more to the point where she had taken a drink from her fresh water indoors to going straight outside to drink from puddles and even our shower again. Her coat has become so badly knotted and matted that we began to shave these matts out but when we did it was then we realised how thin she was. Her ribs are visible and her spine has become so obvious when you pet her. She is still her same old self behaviour wise, maybe a bit more affectionate and always wanting company. She is still able to jump up onto a chair or a bed. She has went to the toilet a couple of times outside her litter box and in April of last year she was treated for having blood in her urine but was treated for that and it hasn't come back to our knowledge. She still loves to go on her little walks around our neighbours' gardens but always returns, no matter what, she sleeps indoors every night.

    I decided to take her to the vet 2 days ago for a check up just to see, I was worried that it might have been diabetes or an overactive thyroid. But what the vet told me was something I was not expecting. He was gently telling me that we would be best to start thinking about putting her to sleep, probably within the next week. My heart just broke when I heard him say those words. Especially without carrying out a blood test to determine what was wrong. He simply said that judging by her weight that it was something serious but he couldn't prove it. He has never seen a cat come in quite so thin. He checked her heart, temperature, felt her kidneys, liver and thyroid glands. And he couldn't feel any masses or lumps and her temperature and heart rate were fine. He believes he could be some form of cancer but again he didn't say this outright, I had to basically ask him if she could have cancer without him feeling anything and he simply said that she could certainly. The impression I got from him was that he was reluctant to carry out a blood test as he didn't want to go looking for trouble. He said that if there was something serious there then her weight loss would be a factor in not treating her as she basically no reserves left in terms of fat and muscle.

    We are definitely not putting her to sleep any time soon because of how happy she is. Has anyone got any advice on what we should do? Or have similar experiences?

    Thanks
    Clare
     
  2. gentoo1980

    gentoo1980 PetForums Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2013
    Messages:
    324
    Likes Received:
    3
    Hi Claire, welcome to the pet forums. So sorry to hear about your cat.

    Is this the first time she's been to the vets since you noticed last year that she's been loosing wight rapidly and drinking excessive amounts of water?
     
  3. denflo

    denflo PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Messages:
    860
    Likes Received:
    137
    Hi Claire, sorry to hear of your sad news. However, if it were me in this situation, I would be insisting on some blood tests to find out what is wrong, especially as you say other than her physical appearance, Fluff seems well in herself and I certainly would not even consider putting any cat to sleep who seemed to be so happy. You will know when that time comes and from what you say, it is not now. I would be anxious about thyroid problems, the symptoms you describe are typical of this, but you could also be looking at diabetes, if she has been like this for some time though, these conditions may have caused other problems, but you won't know until the vet starts doing some proper investigation. However, with the lack of any other problems, both of these conditions are manageable with medication.

    To say that he didn't want to go looking for trouble is a ridiculous thing to say, there clearly is 'trouble', his job is to find out what it is and this is the service we pay them for. Although she is undoubtedly an elderly lady, that is no reason to write her off so soon, I would be seriously considering changing my vet if that was the advice they offered me in a situation such as yours.
     
    #3 denflo, Sep 5, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  4. Charity

    Charity Endangered Species

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    22,722
    Likes Received:
    63,750
    I certainly wouldn't trust a vet who didn't even want to do tests. I would definitely go elsewhere for a second opinion and ask for blood tests to find out exactly what the problem is. If its something like a thyroid problem, that's treatable.
     
  5. MoggyBaby

    MoggyBaby PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    Messages:
    23,958
    Likes Received:
    5,531
    I would be demanding blood tests and I'd most likely be finding another vet to do them. I couldn't believe what I was reading..... I think that attitude is disgraceful!! :eek:

    I am sorry to read that your baby is now showing signs of her age but I'm afraid that happens with cats as well as us humans.

    May we ask what you are feeding her? We might be able to suggest some options to help put some weight back on her wee bones.

    Whilst your girl is chipper, however, cherish all your minutes with her and keep hope that you will have many more.
     
  6. Ems21

    Ems21 PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi Claire so sorry to hear your news, i would certainly get a second opinion from a different vet, and i would demand blood tests be done as well as urine tests, does she have dried food or wet, i recently had a problem with my girl, she lost weight and her fur looked dull, i took her to the vets where it was found she had urine retention, she had to be kept in and a catherter inserted to empty her bladder, they drained over 100ml, the vet told me that the dried food she was having was causing crystals to form in her bladder which in turn was causing retention, she only has wet food now, i hope you find out what is causing the problems.
     
  7. Jansheff

    Jansheff PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Messages:
    2,543
    Likes Received:
    531
    Wow - some vet! Can you imagine a human doctor advising a patient against tests as it would be looking for trouble? What's the point in becoming a vet to advise health problems are not investigated and animals are not treated? Find a new one.
     
  8. Anaphase

    Anaphase PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2013
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Clare, I'm sorry to hear about Fluff.

    In your situation I would be inclined to take Fluff to a completely different veterinary surgery and get a second opinion. If you had taken her to the vets and had said that you were not willing to pay for tests I could understand the vet's reaction as most vets would rather a pet be put to sleep peacefully rather than allowing them to suffer. BUT you are NOT willing to let her suffer would be happy to pay for tests and would like to know if she could be treated.

    If (and this is only an IF) the second vet gives the same diagnosis or tests reveal that she has an untreatable condition THEN you can decide how you would like to continue. Fluff certainly doesn't sound ready for Rainbow Bridge yet and a more sympathetic vet will be able to advise you on palliative care for her. You *will* know when the time is right.

    However, you don't know yet if this is even relevant. Get her seen again and see if there is anything that can be done. Good luck.
     
  9. Elizabeth and Bertie

    Elizabeth and Bertie PetForums Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2012
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    42
    Hi Clare,

    I'm sorry to hear about Fluff's weight loss.
    There are quite a few conditions that can case weight loss and increased thirst. Some are treatable, and some can be managed with time and care; diabetes for example.

    I absolutely agree with others here that - given that you feel Fluff still has quality of life - some tests should be done to try to establish what is wrong with her, especially if the vet is suggesting euthanasia.

    Regarding diabetes: Did your vet test your cat's blood glucose? Or check for sugar in her urine..?
    If Fluff uses a litter tray then you could test her pee for sugar yourself. You can get Diastix test strips from any pharmacy (should cost you about a fiver). You dip these into fresh pee (putting cling film in the litter tray can help to catch a sample) and then compare the colour of the test strip to the chart on the side of the tub.

    If the strip shows no sugar is present then it is unlikely she is diabetic. If it shows that sugar is present then diabetes is a distinct possibility.

    We're keeping fingers and paws crossed here that Fluff gets a firm diagnosis soon and that her condition is treatable.

    (((Hugs))) to you, and chin scratches to Fluff,

    Elizabeth
     
    #9 Elizabeth and Bertie, Sep 6, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  10. ClareB

    ClareB PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks everyone so much for the help and support with this troubling matter. Yes, this is the first time we have taken her. We thought it was part of old age and because of her long hair it disguised the weight loss a bit until we began to shave parts of her.

    Unfortunately, since writing my first post yesterday I have now noticed a blue-ish, grey lump pertruding from her side and it appears crusty at the bottom of it. We are in constant contact with her and the vet didn't even see this either on Tuesday and we are taking her back later today. I am so worried about this latest symptom and what it could be.
     
  11. denflo

    denflo PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Messages:
    860
    Likes Received:
    137
    Let us know how you get on. Don't be fobbed off by anyone trying to persuade you do to something you don't feel is right, you know your cat better than anyone else and if you feel that you want to know more then don't be afraid to be insistent. Even if this latest find is something nasty, whilst Fluff still has quality of life, don't feel that you have to make any decisions in a hurry. I hope that you start to get some answers and that things turn out not to be as bad as you think. Please keep us updated, I have been thinking about this all day, keeping everything crossed for you and Fluff x
     
  12. Iheartcats

    Iheartcats PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,015
    Likes Received:
    225
    I think you need to do what is right for Fluff. If you feel she still seems happy and content then enjoy your moments with her but if you feel that her life my be coming to an end and we all know on here how heartbreaking that is then it may be best to let her go but only you can make that decision.

    Some vets do seem to err on the doom and gloom side especially when cats get old. I have found that in the past too. I agree that maybe look at her diet and give her a more fattening diet even if its a specially prescribed diet.
     
  13. Ianthi

    Ianthi PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,208
    Likes Received:
    110
    :)
    Have you actually explained all of this to the vet though? If you haven't please do. You see, part of the vet's attitude may well have been fuelled by the fact you've permitted her to lose this unacceptable amount of weight without intervening. Animal welfare must take precedence in decision making and he may have felt you lack genuine commitment as an owner with the result she may suffer further. It's up to you to convince him otherwise because, if for instance something like diabetes is diagnosed this is a condition which will require a lot of time, dedication and money from the owner! Vet's do take this type of thing into consideration you know! :)

    Regarding the crusty lump, is it itchy by any chance? If you it might well be an oesinophilic plaque (benign) which some older cats tend to get, though you do need to have it examined by the vet to know for sure.
     
  14. jaycee05

    jaycee05 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Messages:
    3,893
    Likes Received:
    328
    Hi Claire, I am so sorry to hear about your cat, I had to put to sleep a 17 year old cat a few months ago, but I have a Siamese who has kidney failure, [in fact just written a pot about him] he suddenly looked very thin,but was lethargic too, my vet did a urine test by needle in his side, [he didn't feel it] and it was diagnosed as kidney failure, which is probably the most common reason for cats to go downhill in old age, so you ask about that
    He does exactly the same as yours, will drink and drink out of anything,if he gets chance,which is also one of the symptoms of Kidney failure
    I have no idea what the crusty lump coulkd be, it might not even be connected to her weight loss
    That test might be better at first than a blood test, but I would certainly discuss it with your vet,or as suggested take her to another vet
    I think my 17 year old might have been diabetic, but she wasn't tested for it until too late,when she wasn't fit to to be treated, she was too ill,
    Please keep us updated,i will be very interested to know bwhat conclusion your vet comes to, but I hope she will go on for longer than he has implied,
     
  15. maisiecat

    maisiecat PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3,371
    Likes Received:
    733
    I would be insisting on a blood test, as long as the blood can be taken without too much distress to her. You don't just put a cat to sleep because she is old and drinking a lot.

    If she is happy in herself she could have a good while left yet, with whatever treatment is needed.
     
  16. ClareB

    ClareB PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Everybody's kind words and support are so appreciated at this time - thank you all so very much.

    Well, we took Fluff back on Friday to the same practice but a different vet saw her this time and unfortunately she was agreeing with the previous vet from earlier in the week. Thankfully, I had my Mum with me this time.

    She, too, has not seen a cat so thin come in but rarely has seen one come in at her age. There are some good news and bad news to Fluff's story. Good news is that the lump was just tick which was removed but the bad news is that her blood test revealed she has liver failure. And the vet's suspicion is that it is caused by a possible tumour on the liver.

    This vet was saying (like the previous vet) that we need to start thinking about putting her to sleep but no matter how much we told her how happy she is at home with us and eating, drinking and going to the toilet all by herself, it didn't seem to make a difference. It was almost as if me and Mum were not being heard. She says that her body is just wasting away as a result of the liver failure and eventually her body will be breaking down her organs for energy, obviously at that point she will be in pain and then that's when we will definitely make the decision but that time simply has not come yet.

    Just to give you an idea of how 'weak' she is: it took FOUR members of staff to take blood from her. She's always been a fiesty wee scoot with strangers but does this not prove that she still has fight in her yet? To be fair she was exhausted when we got her home because of the struggle she put up but she is a fighter. And get this, the vet was actually going to leave the tick on her as she was so aggressive, but all it took was for my Mum to cuddle her in her arms for her to relax and let the vet remove the tick that way.

    What do you all think from this latest update?
     
  17. alixtaylor

    alixtaylor PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,357
    Likes Received:
    1,800
    I'm so sorry to hear about these results :(

    I had a rabbit that was diagnosed with liver cancer, she went downhill very quickly, within a few weeks. It was very difficult to watch and she was slowly starving to death despite still eating and became very very thin. It's completely your call to say whether you think it is time or not, the owner always knows this better than any vet. But I would say that if you aren't using any treatment for her then sooner rather than later might be kinder in this instance.

    Sounds like she's a proper little fighter!
     
  18. rose

    rose PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Messages:
    2,483
    Likes Received:
    26
    If you think she is in no pain and is peaceful, I dont think you need to make a decision today. But, she is slowly dying, she is not going to get better so ending her suffering has got to be discussed when the time comes. Enjoy her for the next few weeks but please dont let her suffer when you think her time has come. Never a nice thing to think about or do, but it will be the kindest thing in the end. Kind thoughts x
     
  19. Ianthi

    Ianthi PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    4,208
    Likes Received:
    110
    ClaireB - I'm not entirely surprised this second vet agreed with her colleague in the practice-they usually do in most circumstances, particularly if she is a junior! While a second opinion elsewhere may well have yielded the same prognosis, at least you have better guarantees of it being more impartial. Basically, I'd be happier had you gone elsewhere.

    While this entire situation is a bit of a minefield in terms of your next steps (basically depends on what's actually wrong and reliant on more tests etc for a more definitive diagnosis of the type of liver disease as some ie cancer are more serious than others and the weight-loss sounds a complicating factor) I do have a few niggles so far. Furthermore I haven't seen the blood tests so no idea of degree of elevations etc.

    Have you noticed an increased appetite over the last year or so? Any other symptoms apart from increased drinking etc? While this can also a symptom of liver disease, have they tested for hyperthyroidism as sometimes liver enzymes are raised with this? I'd ask about this today while, chances are they should have some blood left over.
     
  20. ClareB

    ClareB PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Alixtaylor, it's really reassuring to hear the words "owner knows best", thank you. The two vets just didn't make us feel like that.

    Rose, we believe in all honesty she's in no pain, from previous experience with her as a younger cat, she would have hidden away somewhere in our house if she was. And be rest assured when she does show signs of pain and discomfort, we will make sure she passes peacefully.

    Ianthi, thank you very much for your medical feedback with our situation. The second vet mentioned something about gauging cats by their weights from Stages 1 to 5 and she put her down as a 1. Even, when I took her the first time to see them and questioned about the possibility of hyperthyroidism or diabetes, it was as if they kind of ignored what I was saying and just went straight into the 'putting her to sleep' scenario, even without carrying out any form of concrete diagnosis. I feel if we ask them to check her bloods again, we will get the same "there's not much" response when asking for possible treatment. They couldn't feel any masses on her liver or kidneys so do you think liver cancer may still be present without feeling a growth?

    We would hate to bring her to any vet again, just for the fact she HATES going, even when she got her stitches taken out after being neutered all those years ago in 1998. Her appetite seems to be as normal, she has always been fussy eater but always did eat when chicken or salmon was offered as a last resource (I think she knew what she was up to!)
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice