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Athena Cat

So the AthenaCat has been a source of much concern over the last few months.

Her saga overlaps mine to some extent, but it really pre-dates it. Back in January, we took her in for a general health checkup, and she passed with a small caveat that she lose about a pound. She weighed in at 11 pounds, and the vet said that she could probably stand to lose one. Other than that, everything looked good.

About a month later, Celosa arrived. She was never really elated about the arrival of Celosa, though we were really proud of her because she stood her gound against the puppy. She occasionally swatted and hissed at Celosa, but she never hid away from the puppy. Instead, she chose to sit on her favorite chair (which had the benefit at first of being unreachable by short puppies with little hopping clearance) and bask in the sunlight.

Two weeks after Celosa got here, though, Graham left for a three week gig in Dallas. Graham generally works out of the house, so the animals were used to having someone around all day. Around this time I noticed that Athena had lost a little weight, but it didn't really concern me much, because she had also lost a little weight when she first moved to Houston. The stress of the new situation caused her to hold back on eating a bit.

A few days after Graham left, Zapata, for reasons way too complicated to go into, moved in for about five days. Zapata isn't exactly cat-friendly, so my solution to having both animals in the house was to sequester Athena into her own room for the duration of Zapata's stay. Again, Athena didn't eat much during this period, and I wasn't too concerned because I thought it was a natural reaction to the stress she was suddenly under. Zapata's departure was welcomed by the kitty cat, and she did seem to bounce back a little then, but she wasn't particularly interested in her food.

When Graham came home in early April, Athena acted like her normal self, but she was still put off by her food. We thought that maybe she just didn't like it. The food she'd had before the current bag had been really high quality IAMS that had been on sale at the grocery store, and we thought that maybe she didn't like going back to the cheaper Goodlife. I offered her some tuna fish at some point during this period, and she ate it with gusto. And we threw away her Goodlife cat food and got some IAMS.

But she still wasn't eating all that much, and her weight loss was fairly visible. We looked up "cat anorexia" on the internet, and we found a lot of causes, including the stress of adding a new member to the family. We started buying canned food and offered that to her instead of the dry stuff she'd mostly been eating. She picked at the wet food, but still wasn't particularly interested in it. We also bought some Rescue Remedy and started adding that to her water, to keep her stress level down. She never had any problem with water intake during most of this whole thing.

I got sick at some point during all of this, and I was pretty useless. But the benefit to all the animals was that two of us were home all day, and we could keep an eye on them. At this point, Athena had started taking to hanging out either on me or under the coffee table in the TV room or on my chest. The Wednesday after my surgery, April 22, Graham decided to take Athena to the vet. Our normal vet wasn't there that day, so he made an appointment with another vet in that office. Athena hates driving in the car and made the whole trip miserable. She was pretty close to my guess of a three pound weight loss: she went from 11 to 8.3 pounds in about three months. Her initial glucose levels were a little high, but the vet thought that might be because she hadn't been eating much. He took her blood for intense testing, but he was also on board with the "high stress" theory of non-eating. We'd know more when the blood tests came back, and in the meantime, we kept on trying with the wet food. We also bought a high calorie supplement that we put on her paws to be licked off at Pet Co.

It took forever for the blood tests to come back. Apparently there was some sort of communication problem with the lab, and it wasn't until the following Tuesday, April 28, my last day at home, when we went in simply to pick up some heartworm preventative for Celosa, that we were able to get the labs back. Our normal vet saw the labs and tried to make sense of them. Her glucose was still a little high, but other indicators of diabetes weren't there. Her kidneys looked fine. As did her liver. Her cell counts were up, and he asked us to bring her in for a urinalysis. We did. She was much better in the car on my lap than she was by herself with Graham, though she wasn't too happy about being dropped off. The vet saw some red and white blood cells in the urine, and he suggested that we put her on antibiotics.

The antibiotics seemed to help. After a few days, she perked up a bit, and she started eating with a little more gusto. She'd yell in the mornings about having no food, and we thought that she was on the road to recovery. Over the weekend, though, she seemed to have a bad turn. She again stopped eating as much, and she seemed to have trouble getting to her food. Her food is on a filing cabinet that she can get to by either jumping two feet from Graham's desk or hopping on the top of her litter box and then to the top of the filing cabinet. She'd been chosing the latter method more and more often lately.

On Tuesday, the vet called early in the morning to talk about the urinalysis. The culture had originally come back from the lab without any bugs. But the second look indicated that she had a pretty nasty infection that was pretty drug resistant. The good news was that the drug she was on was supposedly one of the few that could fight this particular infection. We were nearly out of antibiotics, so he refilled that prescription. Wednesday, she started on the second round of antibiotics, but she wasn't looking good. She was covered in the high calorie supplement, because she didn't have the energy to groom herself. Yesterday, she couldn't hold down water.

Around two yesterday, Graham called to say she wasn't looking good at all, and we need to talk about options. He called the vet, who said we could go hyper-agressive in fighting or maybe this was it. Some of these decisions were up to us. I went home around three, and I had no idea what I'd find. Having recently gone through this with Relampago, I knew that we didn't want to make Athena suffer for any time longer than she had to. Graham and I had both heard horror stories about friends and family spending untold thousands of dollars to keep beloved pets going. One story involved taking a cat three times a week to a vet school for chemo. Another involved a feeding tube for six weeks. We didn't want Athena to go through anything like that. On the other hand, if there were something that could be done to help her that wasn't particularly invasive, then we owed it to her to try it out.

Athena was sitting on a pillow in the fireplace when I got home yesterday; Celosa was right next to her, not bugging her at all. Her meow was pathetic, because her throat was so hoarse. But she meowed. And it got a little stronger. I picked her up, and in the car, Graham and I decided that we'd go ahead and check her in to the vet's for an overnight stay on fluids. We knew that she was very dehydrated, and part of her problem was a lack of energy from not eating and drinking. We figured if she could get some of that energy back, maybe she could let the antibiotics work and fight this bug in her.

She was relatively active in the car. Meowing and watching the world around us. When we got to the vet, she paced on the front desk counter, exploring a little. In the examination room, she discovered she loved the coolness of the stainless steel table, and she stretched out luxuriously. She didn't really seem like a kitty cat that had given up quite yet, though she certainly was not the same kitty that had explored every inch of that room back in January when she had her check-up. We told the vet about our decision, and he said he'd check her glucose and electrolytes to see what mixture of fluid to put her on. He said he'd call us this morning to see if this worked. And then we had to go.

Celosa graduated from puppy school last night. And then we went to have a margarita.

This morning we had no idea if our kitty cat would ever come back from the vet's office. At around ten thirty, the vet called Graham and told him that Athena ate last night and she ate again this morning. It seemed like this was working, at least in some respects. Graham and I decided to leave her for one more night, so she could rest, recover, and get even more strength back before she came home. We'll pick her up tomorrow morning before the art car parade.

Our kitty cat is coming home, and hopefully, she'll fight off this thing, and then spend another few years annoying the hell out of Graham.


( 6 comments — Say something )
May. 8th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
oh, i amso glad and grateful she's doing better!

sometimes antibx cause really bad nausea and digestive woes, but probiotics can help some. We just use human type and mix it in a treat about 1 hour after each does of antibx (and another dose of probx about 4 hours later, if it's twice a day antibx; another couple times a day if it's 1/day antibx.

*fierce huggings* *athena pettings*

and go celosa for realising athena needed company and nto paly!!
May. 8th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
When my kitties were /are ailing, I get some baby food. Gerbers strained lamb or chicken...they seem to LOVE the stuff...and its easy on the tummy.
May. 8th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
I'm glad things are looking up for Athena. Poor kitty. I hope she's on the mend and will be bugging you guys for a long time to come!
May. 9th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Thinking good thoughts for her!!!
May. 10th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
Richard Parker and I send *healthy kitty vibes* to Athena.
May. 11th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
poor kitty cat! how old is she?

you probably already know this, but never feed a cat onions. it can make them very ill.

also, I second the probiotic recommendation. I sprinkle probiotic powder on my cats' food daily, since one of them had some digestive issues as a kitten. I can tell you the kind I use if this would be helpful - I order online.
( 6 comments — Say something )