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Rapid Weight Loss in Old, Teeny Tiny Kitty Cat

AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin KoopantinoRegistered User regular
We are already working with the vet on this, but I wanted to see if anyone had similar experience with their fur-babies.

We have an old kitty, she's about 17 years at this point, and she's always been small (7-8 pounds is kindof normal for her, people always think she's not full grown yet). She has been a free feeder her whole life, we leave a bowl of kibble out 24/7 along with water and she comes and goes as she pleases.

About 3-4 weeks ago she started vomiting once a day, every day, like clockwork. We switched her to a sensitive tummy kibble and the vomiting tapered off, and then stopped all together. We thought we were in the clear, but then we notice she's suddenly getting very thin and her energy is decreased. We schedule an appointment with the vet, but one morning I notice she won't even get up out of her sleeping spot, so I drop everything and take her in. She gets a barrage of tests (blood, urine, x-rays) and.... everything looks normal except the vet reports she has some pain in her back/spine area near her hips, but that seems unrelated to the weight loss. Her teeth/gums look fine as well, so it's unlikely that she's having pain from eating. She had a follow-up appointment for another urine test as the vet wasn't confident they got a clean sample, but again it came back normal. Meanwhile, she's down to 4.8 pounds. Just super tiny, fur and bones kitty.

They prescribe pain killers, appetite stimulant, nausea suppressant, and high calorie wet food. She still eats, but she just doesn't eat enough. She still gets excited for treats, but when we give them to her, she just sniffs them but doesn't eat. She's also lost interest in her kibble for the most part. But she does eat the prescribed wet food, she just won't eat enough of it. We are supposed to get 200 calories per day in her, but we are lucky if we can get 80-100 calories.

The vet is stumped. They referred us to a specialist for an ultrasound, but they are pretty booked up and we have to wait 2 weeks before they can get her in. In the mean time, I feel like I'm keeping this kitty teetering on the edge. I realize she is very old and may be nearing the end, but I want to keep her happy and comfortable as long as possible.

Has anyone had a similar experience? What ended up happening? Any advice you can give, particularly with getting a cat to eat more? Also, if anyone has pointers on how to give a cat pills, that would be appreciated. She puts up a heck of a fight and is real good at spitting pills out a few minutes later when I've let my guard down.

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Posts

  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    My eldest cat hates pills, but she is relatively passive when it comes to me doing things to her. I just flip her on her back, put my fingers in the corner of her mouth with one hand and use my other to get the pill as far back in her throat as I can, then hold her mouth shut and scratch her face until she does the little swallow and lip licking thing that indicates I'm safe.

  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    The closest is my older cat started being hyperthyroid last year, but that definitely showed up in the lab work.

    The Greenies pill pouches I've found work really well.

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  • HeraldSHeraldS Registered User regular
    How's her energy now? Still lethargic? Something similar happened to my lab once upon a time and it turned out to be a (benign) tumor on his spleen. He was back to normal once they took it out. They did a basic x-ray of his stomach area and saw the suspected tumor from that.

  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    Her energy has improved since starting medication and the high calorie diet, but still nowhere near normal. X-rays didn't find any obvious masses, though, that's why she's got an ultrasound coming up for a more detailed look. We've been weighing her every day and she's holding steady at 4.8 lbs. Just wish she would start gaining some weight at the very least.

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  • RingoRingo He/Him Bury me at Lone Tree DenRegistered User regular
    That is similar to my experience when my cat had cancer, behavior shifts around food and energy, as opposed to my grandmother's cat who was 19 years old but had no physical problems whatsoever and just peacefully went in her sleep with no warning.

    Sterica wrote: »
    I know my last visit to my grandpa on his deathbed was to find out how the whole Nazi werewolf thing turned out.
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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    Ringo wrote: »
    That is similar to my experience when my cat had cancer, behavior shifts around food and energy, as opposed to my grandmother's cat who was 19 years old but had no physical problems whatsoever and just peacefully went in her sleep with no warning.

    Did your cat experience a pattern of improving then degrading appetite and energy level, kind of going back and forth? Or was it more of a steady decline?

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  • RingoRingo He/Him Bury me at Lone Tree DenRegistered User regular
    Ringo wrote: »
    That is similar to my experience when my cat had cancer, behavior shifts around food and energy, as opposed to my grandmother's cat who was 19 years old but had no physical problems whatsoever and just peacefully went in her sleep with no warning.

    Did your cat experience a pattern of improving then degrading appetite and energy level, kind of going back and forth? Or was it more of a steady decline?

    Back and forth a bit. One day after he had been diagnosed but before his scheduled surgery, he went completely missing (indoor/outdoor cat) and as far as we could reconstruct events he had wandered off into the woods basically to die, but then came back sheepishly when he didn't. By the time of his surgery he was barely eating anything at all, surgery was unsuccessful and we put him down. (Incredibly traumatic moment for me - I held him as they gave him the shot).

    However with my cat they found the cancer fairly quickly. If they didn't with yours it's absolutely probable that there's something else (and hopefully less serious) wrong!

    Worrying about potentially losing a loved one can sometimes be harder than the actual event as most people try to stuff their emotions and pretend that they aren't being affected. Don't do this! Even if you don't have time for a good cry or whatever, acknowledging your feelings and validating the reasons you have them is important for your mental health. Lean on your supports, practice self-care, and enjoy some time with your kitty.

    You both deserve to be loved!

    Sterica wrote: »
    I know my last visit to my grandpa on his deathbed was to find out how the whole Nazi werewolf thing turned out.
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  • jkylefultonjkylefulton Squid...or Kid? NNID - majpellRegistered User regular
    I have some experience with this - my suggestion would be a pill-crusher and Gerbers meat-flavored baby food (mine likes Turkey & Gravy or Chicken & Gravy). Just mix the crushed pill into a teaspoon of baby food, she'll lick it right up.

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  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    Unless your cat has renal failure, try spicing the food with a flavor enhancer like nutritional yeast (a lot of cats go crazy for it).

    P.S: Do not use baby food. Or at least check so that it doesn't contain anything from the onion family (garlic, chives, onions etc). That will upset cat digestion.

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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    edited March 11
    Doctor didn't rule out renal failure completely but said the test results made it look unlikely. If they think it's OK I will definitely give it a try. Thanks for the tip!

    AbsoluteZero on
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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    Got an update and could use some input from anyone with similar experience. They biopsied a swollen lymph node with the suspicion they would find lymphoma, but found carcinoma instead. The carcinoma didn't originate in the lymph node and they have no idea where it came from. They found nothing on x-rays and ultrasound.

    Kitty has been on steroids for about a week and is eating much better but still not gaining any weight. She's a hair over 4 pounds now.

    They gave us treatment options but no prognosis. The options are as follows.

    Keep giving her steroids and pain medication to reduce her misery until she passes.
    Chemotherapy drugs which may prolong her life but it wasn't clear if they would make her more or less miserable.
    CT scan to try to find a tumor.
    Surgery if a tumor is found and possible to remove, although it's not clear if she is even healthy enough for surgery at this point.

    I have no idea what the best option is. I just want her to suffer as little as possible. Any input would be appreciated.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    I’m sorry to hear that.

    My parents have owned many cats over the years and have a policy, which I find sensible, that they will never prolong the life of a suffering cat.

    So my advice to you is to keep her comfortable (as with your first option) and keep a careful eye on her so you know if you need to have her put down, which will be when she exhibits visible signs of distress or simply stops doing anything.

    Vets really should not offer cancer treatment to very old cats like this, it just guilts owners who want to do everything for their beloved pet.

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  • RingoRingo He/Him Bury me at Lone Tree DenRegistered User regular
    Yeah, 17 year old cat makes me lean towards steroids and pain meds, but it's very important that you and your loved ones are all in agreement on how to proceed. Pets are family members and decisions about end of life care are final, so making certain you only have grief, not resentment, is important.

    (Just this week two of my roommates had to rush across the country to say goodbye to their dying grandmother only to learn that grandpa had unilaterally decided to pull the plug while half the family was still in transit, and none of the local family were even at the hospital. Less than 24 hours later and I'm fielding bi-hourly reports on the nuclear meltdown the entire family is now experiencing. It's not great!)

    Sterica wrote: »
    I know my last visit to my grandpa on his deathbed was to find out how the whole Nazi werewolf thing turned out.
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  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    edited March 26
    With your cat being that small, I'd be surprised if surgery was successful. When my cat got cancer, he was young enough that I went for the treatment route. Chemo doesn't really bother cats due to the dosage, but it's not cheap, and it means a lot of time at the vet. If I were in your shoes I'd probably be looking at palliative care at the most. In the end most of this medicine is for the humans rather than the animal.

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  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    Yeah. Cancer treatment can indeed be effective on cats (for example my ex's cat was treated for ovarian cancer at the age of 11, got cured, and lived to 19), but in a case like this you have to consider the cat's quality of life. Cats can't understand the purpose of the treatment, and without that context it's basically torture from their perspective: all they know is that they're being subjected to awful vet visits and treatments, plus whatever symptoms the cancer is causing. People sometimes wish to end treatment and just die in peace, even though we're able to see the treatment in proper context. So I'd agree that for an old cat palliative care would be the kindest option.

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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    Thanks for the input everyone, greatly appreciated. We spoke with the doctor and asked specifically how much time our cat has left, she feels in her condition even with treatment we're talking months at best. After a lot of back and forth and wrestling with our emotional impulses and trying to square that with what's the most morally right decision, the wife and I decided we would not subject our kitty to any more procedures or treatments unless absolutely necessary to prevent suffering. We're going to keep her on pain medications and steroids and try to keep her as comfortable as possible at home until her time comes. I can tell she feels like absolute trash and it's pretty heart breaking. Trying to be strong and be a good pet parent. I'm not sure how people can go through this kind of stuff with their actual children, because this shit is rough.

    Thanks again everyone. Definitely helped us think this through.

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  • RingoRingo He/Him Bury me at Lone Tree DenRegistered User regular
    edited April 1
    Much love to you and your family. I hope your kitty passes without suffering
    :bro:

    Ringo on
    Sterica wrote: »
    I know my last visit to my grandpa on his deathbed was to find out how the whole Nazi werewolf thing turned out.
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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    I think you are making the right decision, AbsoluteZero. Hugs to you and your kitty.

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  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    It's definitely a hard decision, but I think it's the right one. You gave your kitty a loving home for many years, and you're doing what you can to keep her in that loving home in her twilight.

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  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    I've had many a pet go in my arms to old age and the drug combo. It hurts, but it hurts the least kinda? Like you'll know you did all you could and made sure they had a long happy life.

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