This is my beautiful Isabel. She’s one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever known, easily and quickly forgiving my missteps (literal and figurative), always anxious to play with her sparkle ball or curl up in my lap (whether I want her in my lap at the moment or not). She (and her brother Toby) turned 15 last August; I’ve had them both since they were 7 weeks old. Izzy is a sweetie pie and I love her dearly.
Isabel was recently diagnosed with both hyperthyroidism and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) which has resulted in several changes in our routine including more frequent visits to the vet (Izzy hates going to the vet), lots of blood work, one frantic trip to the Animal Emergency Center, daily doses of medicine and weekly Subcutaneous (SQ) fluids treatments. Isabel hates the medicine – we cycled from pills (which she refused to swallow and would let foam in her mouth through clenched jaws) to liquid (which she also determinedly refused, allowing it to drool down her jaw) to a cream I apply to the inside of her ear (which she also hates but allows). I have to wear gloves to apply it and it’s remarkably expensive.
The weekly SQ fluids treatment has become a test of wills. When the vet first showed me how to administer SQ fluids I was still reeling from the diagnosis and its implications. Well-meaning but harried, the vet gave me perfunctory instructions and sent us on our way with needles and IV bag. My first attempt – nervous and timid – was a complete failure. Fortunately, I was able to hire a wonderful veterinarian technician to come to the house and give me more detailed instruction. Except for the initial pinch of the needle I don’t think Izzy is in any pain – the entire treatment takes no more than five minutes and she always shows a lot more energy and appetite afterwards. However, she recently decided she wanted no more of this and it has now become a two person job – one to hold her and one (me) to stick her. Luckily, my friend Michelle has been great about stopping after work once a week to help.
I’ve learned a lot of things I never thought I’d know about – such as how to stick a needle in my cat – but the most valuable and enduring is how Izzy has handled all of this. She obviously doesn’t like the medicine or the treatment (she runs and hides as soon as she hears Michelle’s voice!), yet within minutes afterwards she is back for attention. She does not hold a grudge, or complain about her condition. Instead she enjoys life – napping in the sun, playing enthusiastically with her toys, snuggling next to me, demanding attention and treats. She is content with the present, a lesson any of us can follow.
For anyone facing chronic medical issues with their cat, I highly recommend I Will Help Your Cat, a blog and website run by veterinarian Dr Kristopher Chandroo. I find his advice practical, non-judgemental and given with generous doses of humor and support. Do not miss his video about his own elderly cat Zach, or his very helpful video on giving SQ fluids. For CKD cats, I also recommend Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease, a site with many helpful tips, links and advice.