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Old 12-22-2012, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Connecticut
17 posts, read 41,060 times
Reputation: 36

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Katie has been with us since she was a kitten and is now 14 years old. In the past 6 months, she has increasingly shown signs of aging. She is very special to us, as she was born on the day that my brother died. While he was a dog person and probably would object to the circle of life in the form of a cat, the emotional ties to Katie are complex.

I read through the thread //www.city-data.com/forum/cats/1669993-do-you-keep-spending-when-do-3.html

Many different opinions were voiced in this thread regarding vet care and money spent vs. quality of life for the pet. My personal beliefs on death is that it is an inevitable part of life, and that extra-ordinary measures or continual medical treatment which does not result in an increased quality of life is more for the emotional needs of the living than the well-being of the afflicted.

Humans have the ability to make the decisions in terms of their care, say for instance whether to pursue treatment for incurable diseases with a low survival rate shortly after diagnosis. Our pets must rely on us to make the decisions for them.

I guess my post has at its heart the question of how will I know that Katie has declined to a point where euthanasia should be considered? I am recently disabled and thus am home almost 24/7 to be able to observe her behavior.

  • She sleeps so much more now and sticks to me like glue. She likes to sit in "my chair", wherever it might be (especially when it is still warm and full of my scent?) and does not want to move even with some firm prodding. I have decided to just let her be.
  • Appetite seems normal, yet she is definitely drinking more water and shows new behavior when drinking; its almost as if she is trying to call my attention to her drinking habits. She moves the water bowl at times, will grip the floor around the bowl and laps her water audibly. There are no changes with her litter box habits (she is an indoor cat and always has been) and she uses her box without a problem.

    She has had several bouts of feline cystitis when she was younger and would always let me know by urinating in the bathtub...what a great cat! Nothing of that nature is happening now.
  • She is definitely more vocal. Our routine is that at my normal bedtime, she heads up to bed and curls up next to me. Now sometimes, she wanders downstairs, yowling. Sometimes she will come when I call her and other times she continues to yowl. In the morning when I get up, she "mrows"close to me, asking for attention and I am constantly petting her.
  • I notice a change in the way that she handles going down stairs now. Her litter box is in the basement, plus we have a second floor (where I sleep and she joins me) to the house. Now when she goes down the stairs, she takes them with short hops using first her two forelegs and then her two hind legs. Before she would go down steps using each leg independently. She does not give any indication of pain.
  • Her grooming habits are still the same. She's sitting next to me cleaning herself right now. I have always been fascinated by the way cats are able to groom themselves and keep white fur pristine white!
  • It is noticeable that she does not like to be picked up and held as much as she used to when she was younger.
  • She snores now and I hear a lot more noises from her while she sleeps. Sometimes it appears as if she is dreaming.
  • Noises catch her attention more now than before. She does react to noises on the TV as well as other noises in the house (wind, creaking, etc.)
If she starts not using the litter box, I will move it so that she does not have to deal with the stairs. What other things should I be looking for in terms of her aging?
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:27 AM
 
2,274 posts, read 4,006,499 times
Reputation: 1830
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audrey_M View Post
Katie has been with us since she was a kitten and is now 14 years old. In the past 6 months, she has increasingly shown signs of aging. She is very special to us, as she was born on the day that my brother died. While he was a dog person and probably would object to the circle of life in the form of a cat, the emotional ties to Katie are complex.

I read through the thread //www.city-data.com/forum/cats/1669993-do-you-keep-spending-when-do-3.html

Many different opinions were voiced in this thread regarding vet care and money spent vs. quality of life for the pet. My personal beliefs on death is that it is an inevitable part of life, and that extra-ordinary measures or continual medical treatment which does not result in an increased quality of life is more for the emotional needs of the living than the well-being of the afflicted.

Humans have the ability to make the decisions in terms of their care, say for instance whether to pursue treatment for incurable diseases with a low survival rate shortly after diagnosis. Our pets must rely on us to make the decisions for them.

I guess my post has at its heart the question of how will I know that Katie has declined to a point where euthanasia should be considered? I am recently disabled and thus am home almost 24/7 to be able to observe her behavior.

  • She sleeps so much more now and sticks to me like glue. She likes to sit in "my chair", wherever it might be (especially when it is still warm and full of my scent?) and does not want to move even with some firm prodding. I have decided to just let her be.
  • Appetite seems normal, yet she is definitely drinking more water and shows new behavior when drinking; its almost as if she is trying to call my attention to her drinking habits. She moves the water bowl at times, will grip the floor around the bowl and laps her water audibly. There are no changes with her litter box habits (she is an indoor cat and always has been) and she uses her box without a problem.

    She has had several bouts of feline cystitis when she was younger and would always let me know by urinating in the bathtub...what a great cat! Nothing of that nature is happening now.
  • She is definitely more vocal. Our routine is that at my normal bedtime, she heads up to bed and curls up next to me. Now sometimes, she wanders downstairs, yowling. Sometimes she will come when I call her and other times she continues to yowl. In the morning when I get up, she "mrows"close to me, asking for attention and I am constantly petting her.
  • I notice a change in the way that she handles going down stairs now. Her litter box is in the basement, plus we have a second floor (where I sleep and she joins me) to the house. Now when she goes down the stairs, she takes them with short hops using first her two forelegs and then her two hind legs. Before she would go down steps using each leg independently. She does not give any indication of pain.
  • Her grooming habits are still the same. She's sitting next to me cleaning herself right now. I have always been fascinated by the way cats are able to groom themselves and keep white fur pristine white!
  • It is noticeable that she does not like to be picked up and held as much as she used to when she was younger.
  • She snores now and I hear a lot more noises from her while she sleeps. Sometimes it appears as if she is dreaming.
  • Noises catch her attention more now than before. She does react to noises on the TV as well as other noises in the house (wind, creaking, etc.)
If she starts not using the litter box, I will move it so that she does not have to deal with the stairs. What other things should I be looking for in terms of her aging?

You so obviously love your cat so much!

(Just a little aside: Why keep the litter box in the basement now? I suggest that you bring it to whatever room she uses the most so she can have as little strain as is possible on her joints. I have litter boxes in the DR and LR! We keep them very clean and it makes it much easier on the older cats.)

Honestly, for the most part, you will know - as will your vet - when your cat has no quality of life. Your cat is just aging gracefully. The yowling is often a consequence of an aging brain, i.e. possibly a little senility even, I am told.

Drinking of water: This is the big one! Did you know that many (I would guess the majority) cats (and often humans) have some renal (kidney) failure as they age? But I have had a close experience with renal disease in a dog and in a cat who got subcutaneous fluids, daily, for her kidney/renal condition.

I am concerned, very much so, in fact, over her preoccupation with water. I think it is time for you to ask your vet (and I realize you and your vet may have already done this), review her renal status now. Be aware that blood tests for renal disease do not necessarily show the disease till it is more advanced, but that does not mean that the cat does not suffer from it. Ours had normal blood tests for renal disease all the while she was drinking and urinating like nobody's business! The symptoms to look for are: the pinch test of the skin at the shoulder blades: This will tell is she is dehydrated, the heavy drinking of water (you should carefully gauge this), the amount she pees (bad kidneys let the water go through like a sieve), and other symptoms such as nausea, weakness overall, vomiting at times, etc.

Quite often, a cat will do well to get subQ fluids at the vet's office or at home. It can provide quite a relief for the cat -she will thank you over and over!

There is more but I will let others write to you.
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Old 12-22-2012, 08:40 PM
 
3,763 posts, read 8,123,679 times
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Our cat started with some of these symptoms, particularly increased thirst, at age 13. The next symptom was increased urination with smell. She lived to the ripe old age of 17.

I hope that for Katie, ripe old age.

So so sorry about the loss of your brother, Audrey.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:18 AM
 
1,983 posts, read 3,657,746 times
Reputation: 3282
I agree with Martha Anne about the water issue. It could also be a sign of feline diabetes.

The vocalization could be a sign of a thyroid problem. Especially if she has never been that vocal before. One other thing to watch out for is her eyesight. I have a 19 yr old kitty I inherited when my Mom died. She has gone blind and suffers from senility. It's such a shame our babies are afflicted by the same diseases we have to deal with.

It's obvious how much you care for her. We just can't help but love them.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:29 AM
 
18,845 posts, read 34,807,264 times
Reputation: 26296
Mickey was 19 when he moved to the "rainbow". He had more problems jumping on the bed, and grooming himself.

I started feeding him wet food exclusively, he barely ate any kibble.
I also made one room in the house, his room, with the cat box, food, water, his bed and toys right there. He could leaave his "room", but I told the kids to not bother Mickey if he was in his room.
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Old 12-23-2012, 05:00 PM
 
2,274 posts, read 4,006,499 times
Reputation: 1830
Quote:
Originally Posted by bongo View Post
Our cat started with some of these symptoms, particularly increased thirst, at age 13. The next symptom was increased urination with smell. She lived to the ripe old age of 17.

I hope that for Katie, ripe old age.

So so sorry about the loss of your brother, Audrey.
Oh, that's so nice she lived to 17!
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Old 12-23-2012, 05:02 PM
 
2,274 posts, read 4,006,499 times
Reputation: 1830
Quote:
Originally Posted by ouijeewoman View Post
I agree with Martha Anne about the water issue. It could also be a sign of feline diabetes.

The vocalization could be a sign of a thyroid problem. Especially if she has never been that vocal before. One other thing to watch out for is her eyesight. I have a 19 yr old kitty I inherited when my Mom died. She has gone blind and suffers from senility. It's such a shame our babies are afflicted by the same diseases we have to deal with.

It's obvious how much you care for her. We just can't help but love them.

Great post. I never have had a diabetic cat so didn't think of that but you are of course correct. And I did have a hyperthyroid cat but she didn't vocalize like that.

All around great post. Yes, watching out for the eyesight is important, too.

(Isn't she a lovely pet parent?)
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Old 12-24-2012, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
9,918 posts, read 22,750,592 times
Reputation: 5138
I just want to touch on what you said at the beginning about extraordinary measures and bring that around to a couple things you mentioned that I think would be worth checking out. Basically, I'm not sure how you would define extraordinary measures, but increased thirst and yowling at night could indicate typical senior cat issues such as kidney disease or hyperthyoid. 14 years old would be a fairly common diagnosis age for such things. And both of these have some treatment available that I would consider not to be an extraordinary measure. For example, I am treating my hyperthyroid cat with methimazole, an inexpensive medication. She has lived about 3 years since her diagnosis. Alright, and I'm also getting repeat blood work done and that costs a couple hundred bucks a year. But that's not extraordinary to me. On the other hand, if someone told me my cat needed chemo or something, I might pause and ponder this.

Anyway, main point being that given the parameters in the first post I would think checking for some of these common and treatable senior ailments would be a good idea and worth the expense of a vet visit for the bloodwork. It's quite possible for a cat to live several more years from this point with only modest treatment and not extraordinary measures. And that's with good quality of life not just hanging on.
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