Saturday, November 26, 2016

Jimmy Accidents Out of Box

Tuesday, Jimmy went out of the box against the living room window. Yes-the window, window sill, under the window to the foam insulation, behind that to the screen and sill on the outside; down the wall, under the baseboards, through the cracks between floor boards, down the chest, under the legs, etc. It took an hour to clean with my husband doing the outside work and me cleaning up the mess inside. And we both cleaned and moved the chest (in place because you don't want to inadvertently spread urine.)

Last week, he went against the wall at the top of the landing, a favorite place of Myrna's. That was easy. This was beyond difficult.

After wiping up the urine, I used cleanser, then bleach on the wood, window, screens, floor, chest, etc. Where it might actually bleach out color, I used sparingly. But the wood interior sill wouldn't stop smelling so I kept soaking it in bleach. Finally, I used a wet paste of baking soda and have left it soaking for a few days. I'll eventually wipe it up and vac and sweep and let it dry and make sure the smell is gone.

He has had accidents a few times this summer but on pads around litter boxes for the most part, nothing this horrifying since his issues first began in 2010. When he first began urinating out of the box in 2010, we tried everything-new boxes, new litter, calming sprays, changing placement of boxes, adding boxes, monitoring his use of and the time it took for him to go; monitoring behavioral cues; using behavioral training techniques; finally adding Prozac to the mix. We've titrated up Prozac as needed as time went by, all with success. He began to be normal by 2013, and only had one or two accidents against litter pads in the last two years. Then this summer he went about four times, and has gone three times since fall including this week. That's about seven accidents in six months, more than in the last three years put together.

I took him to the vet yesterday for blood work of CBC/chem panel and fructosamine to test his sugar levels as he is pre-diabetic (discovered a couple years ago.) If there is too much sugar in the urine, the bladder fills quickly and the body wants to "dump" it as soon as possible, and the cat feels it must go immediately. (And if there are reasons why they choose a certain site, it's difficult to discern as to why they chose that spot other than it might be cool or comforting-if they have a UTI for example. But why a window?) The CBC/chem panel shows some dehydration and some ticking up of kidney values. Those can be related but typically seen only in extreme cases of dehydration and a decline in electrolytes. And there are none. And his SDMA kidney value test was normal. We will get the fructosamine results in a few days.

Meanwhile, we are trying a calming treat solliquin the vet suggested. We add it to his food.

The vet also suggested we increase the Prozac. We had in August but by late September, he began showing signs of anger management issues and fighting with his sisters (psychotropics can increase anger as well as increase feelings of happiness.) We decreased the dose. He was fine. But now he's had two accidents. We increased it again to .19 from .17. She suggested we get it over 2.0 and if he gets angry, increase dose to see if he becomes less angry.

What is difficult is that we started from zero in 2010 and built a successful approach that included training, boxes, litter, paying close attention to cues, and meds. There is no other successful med other than Prozac, that if Prozac stops working, there is nothing more effective. In fact, most other meds are less effective for controlling anxiety and litter box use. It was working. But if it is no longer working, and we have done all there is, what more do we do to solve the problem?

Pray of course. Increase Prozac if possible. Clean more thoroughly (the house is clean but I have not washed walls and baseboards in months and probably should since Roxanne has been running around the house and is no longer confined-not that she's had an accident but to make the place smell more neutral.)

I'll ask the vet about any concerns regarding his kidney values. May need to pay attention there. And he needs a urine test and he did not have a bladder on Friday.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Roxanne Vistis Cardio-Has Slight Changes in Left Vent but Not Yet HCM

Roxanne saw the cardiologist yesterday just because that's what we do. Glad we did. She shows signs of changes in the left vent. No signs of heart disease but those changes often become HCM. The cardio said it could go either way. But no stress or too hot or too cold or too humid environments. And no steroid medications. And she will need annual cardio visits. We found with Cooper that heart disease can suddenly emerge from one year to the next-one year he was fine; the next he was not.

She gets car sick, though, and vomited and had diarrhea in the crate on the way there. But while there, she was very calm. She sat quietly for the exam; her heart beat was steady, not racing due to being in a new place.

No meds are recommended at this time since the heart rate is steady and there are no other signs of actual heart disease. The walls of the heart are not seriously thickened; there's no congestion; etc. She described the walls to be as appearing to be uneven.

So, we will keep an eye on her.
Here are the vet's notes:

"There was no evidence of serious cardiac disease during today's echocardiogram. The only questionable abnormality that was found is that the wall of Roxanne's left ventricle are slightly thickened. This may be completely normal for Roxanne or it could be an early indicator of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). There is no need for any type of treatment at this time. She is not considered to be at risk for congestive heart failure or blood clot formation. I advise rechecking her echocardiogram in 1 year. If progressive changes in the heart are seen at that time, Roxanne will be diagnosed with HCM and we will consider beginning cardiac medications. If there is no change in her echocardiogram, we will consider these measurements to be normal for Roxanne."

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dealing with Cat Aggression, New Cat, and Cat Fights

In our house of cats: Katharine can't be around Baby because she attacks Baby. Jimmy can't be around Roxy for very long and unsupervised because he attacks Roxy. The girls and Roxy get along fine as long as the sisters don't try to get too close. If they do, then Roxy growls and hisses. So, you can imagine that we have spent the last few weeks closing off cats from cats. This has lead to the main set of "kittens" (siblings) being closed off from us and main parts of the house for long periods of time while Roxy has access to those areas. You can imagine that the siblings began to feel isolated even though we saw them every day, for hours at a time, in other parts of the house. An explosion of cat fury occurred Wednesday night when Jimmy and Bette got into a fight and then Katharine and Elizabeth joined in. It was as if just because one was upset and making loud growling and hissing noises, that the others also became upset and had to join in the fray. Jimmy was so upset, making such painful sounding noises, that we separated all of them, watched him for awhile to make sure he wasn't injured; then administered Buprenex to calm him down. (His Prozac is once a day and in the a.m. so I felt confident that it was out of his system enough that there would not be an adverse reaction.) He calmed down and we took the three sisters upstairs to bed with us, putting them in the guest room and not in our room with Baby.

The next day, I reread my links on aggression and discovered that I had likely, inadvertently, created the situation because their "territory" had been diminished and needs to increase; and that they needed behavioral training and more of our attention.

The plan now is to allow the cats to mingle upstairs more and in the regular living quarters more while also playing musical doors: Baby and Rox can be upstairs, or Baby and the siblings and Roxy, but not Roxy and Jimmy and not Katharine with Baby. But then Baby is closed off when fed. The siblings, especially Jimmy, can have the living room in the a.m. and Roxy can stay in the dining room or come into the kitchen while Jimmy is closed off from her until they are fed. The girls and Roxy can mingle in the living room but not Roxy with Jimmy unless supervised and only for a few minutes until someone begins growling; then Jimmy is moved out and redirected. Etc. No cat is punished or yelled at but is simply told (usually Jimmy) "Be a good boy" and then we gently nudge him in a different direction.

And Jimmy loves to play with mice but can't if Katharine is in the room because she takes the mouse away. So, Jimmy gets a play area without Katharine so that he can play with his mouse.

See? Musical doors and cats. One does what one needs to do regardless of effort required. Or how silly it sounds when you try to explain it. But so far, it's working.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Roxanne Tries Prozac

Roxanne goes today for the final distemper/rabies shots. It's been a month since her first set. She is receiving a set of them as if she had never had them since no one was able to find if she ever did receive them as a kitten.

We also have been giving her Prozac (compounded into a liquid given by mouth) last three weeks. We began with .1ml for a week but that proved to be too much because it led to urine retention-inability to urinate normally and only going every 12 or so hours. I could feel the bladder was enlarged. And she seemed hyper. I then gave her .07 which seemed to work better for her. It took the edge off from her anxiety and she was no longer crying at the windows or doors every second to go out. She was also able to urinate more normally and did not seem to have an enlarged bladder/urine retention. Now, she is taking .09. I'm titrating up based on what I believe are symptoms of anxiety while also making sure the increase does not interfere with her bladder.

An issue we had with Prozac being too bitter and making her foam at the mouth. Jimmy is on the same formula but does not have any issues with it. We had the pharmacy remake it and they also used Bitter Stop. While less bitter, even this made her foam. So, I now syringe up some liquid pet food after I syringe the Prozac. I also dip the syringe into the cat food, coating the outside of the syringe, making it more palatable. It leads to less foaming. I have to do the right steps: give her the good tasting immune therapy liquid via syringe first, saving some for last. Then I give the Prozac, quickly followed by the immune liquid. It decreases the foaming by 90%. We may have it made next time with a different paste, much like how the antibiotic was made. Or we can use a transdermal-cream you put on the cat's ear. But I can't titrate the med once it is transdermal. So, we'll see how this goes.

Monday, September 19, 2016

It Takes a Momentary Breakdown to Understand What Is Needed for the New Cat

When Roxy cries and begs to go out, she is aggressive and insistent about it. And if she believes she does not have my attention, she pulls all of my papers on my desk apart. And if she needs to go to the bathroom but does not want to use the litter box, it takes a lot of coaxing to get her to use it. Even then, she may not settle down because OUT is all she wants. We have tried fast and furious play time and treats and food and petting to distract her, all of which are only momentary distractions. And if we keep her in one day, and she seems calm about it, the next day, she will demand to go out as if her life depended upon it.

This brings us to last night. Yesterday, she was in the house all day. She had free range of the house and mixed well with our other cats. But she cried and cried last night to go out and I thought, sure, why not. It's not too late. She will go out; I will call her back in 15-20 minutes; she will come back, etc.  All summer long she has worn a pink collar with a bell that someone put on her. Yesterday, I attached to the collar, a tag with her name and our address. I let her out and called her back after 15 minutes, and nothing. She never came back. A few minutes later, I heard the collar jingle and I called out to her but she never returned. An hour and a half after I let her outside, she finally returned home. No collar; a scratch on her nose; and a very wet and runny eye. I brought her in, wiped her eye, cleaned the scratch with Duoxo medicated pads (for pets) and cried.

That was my momentary breakdown. I cried out of fear for her life. I cried because I was upset that the new tag was gone. I cried because she may be hurt or sick and need to see the vet. I cried because I realized she was unhappy with us because we keep her inside.  I cried because I don't know how to let her out safely and let her be happy. I cried because I was afraid she was bringing in fleas and disease that could infect the other cats. I cried because I did not have any answers, only questions, and a lot of fear.

This momentary breakdown, fueled by fear, has happened before. I cried like this when Jimmy originally was not using the litter box in 2010-2011 and often during that long struggle with him before drugs, behavior techniques, and prayer brought the problem under control. (Prayer brought my fear under control, as well.)  I cried like this in the first two months that we had our first cat, Baby, when she would not stop crying to go out, also; when she would also not use her litter box. (Part of the problem was solved with spaying; the rest with behavior training.)

Momentary breakdowns fueled by fear and frustration, when everything you try to solve a problem isn't working, will happen with cats that have illnesses or difficulties and issues.  It's that moment when we are overwhelmed and give up and say I don't know what to do. Nothing works.  It's when I said she needs a better home, a loving home, a home with a fenced in yard she can't leave, a home where someone can let her come and go every hour.  But how can we give up on her and be the third home she has had in three years? If we give her to the Humane Society, how will we know they will give someone her particular information to meet her particular needs? How do we know anyone would do better by her?

Today I read a local story about a man who dumped his puppy on the side of the road. The dog ran after the truck until it couldn't run anymore. For three days, it waited by the side of the road where it was dumped and for three days locals tried to capture the dog. Finally, someone did capture the dog and took the dog home to join their family.  I knew then we couldn't be those people who dump Roxy and hope someone else figures out what she needs.  When I woke this morning, that's when I realized that I had been here before-with Baby and Jimmy-at this place full of doubt, fear, and lack of answers. I found the answers then, and I knew I could again.

Did I want a sixth cat after Myrna died? No. Was the house better off with only five? Yes. If in May when we first met her, and if I had thought Roxy was a stray, would I have taken her to the Humane Society? Yes. But first she had a home; then the owner didn't really take care of her; then she got sick; and then...then it was up to me to solve her problems.

We've taken her in and we are the ones who have accepted responsibility for her care. We must also accept responsibility for her safety. If she had been seriously injured or killed last night, I would not have said "Oh, well. Comes with going out, which is what she wanted."  I would have felt responsible and saddened by my lack of resolve.

We will keep her inside because she will be safer.  We will keep her inside because she will be healthier.  Maybe she needs Prozac to ease her anxieties.  Maybe she can learn to leash walk outside. Maybe we can build a pen even if that still would be too confining for her.  Maybe this will take a lot of time and work.

I never had a breakdown regarding Myrna's illness. Cried yes on occassion. For long periods, no, and more out of sadness but not fear or for a lack of answers.  I think it's because everything with her happened in increments so I had time to find answers. And most of her care was based on meds which were the answer I needed.

So, cry if you need to; have that momentary breakdown but stop after 15 minutes.  Don't give up on your cat. The easy answer is to give up. The hard one is to go forward and find the answers and be the best solution your cat needs.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Roxanne Gets More Updated Shots; Needs More Later; Gingivitis Linked to Bartonella

September 2, 2016

Roxanne saw the vet for her leukemia and rabies shot. She is responding well to antibiotics for bartonella. So well, that the slight gingivitis the vet thought was due to lack of brushing of the teeth, has all but disappeared. Bartonella causes the appearance of gingivitis by causing the gums to swell. That the gums have decreased, means that her swollen gums were a sign of bartonella and not gingivitis. She returns in a month for a second leukemia and distemper shot to replicate the series she would have received as a kitten because we do not have any vaccination records for her. Next year, she'll get all three again (rabies, leukemia, distemper); then the following year distemper will be every three years. And as long as she goes outside, she will need an annual leukemia shot along with annual rabies. And since I've not heard back in two weeks from her so called owner, even after I informed her that Rox had bartonella and tapeworms and needed meds, I decided to microchip Rox. At least this way, her vet is listed and my contact information is listed.

Inflatable Pet Collars at Pet Stores-May Be Easier Than Cone Collars

Inflatable collars for pets at Petco (I'm sure other places and online.) skip the hard to handle cone and try these next time your cat needs one.