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My Cat ~ I don't know what to do

Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: Archive April 2006: My Cat ~ I don't know what to do
By Heaventree on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 01:33 pm:

My cat who I thought was older than she is, I thought she was 18 but realized at the vet the other day that she is 16 years old.

I took her in to have her nails trimmed as she had one that was not shedding properly and it was about to grow into her pad. This cost $39 because it takes two people to trim her nails as she resists quite a bit.

While I was there I was talking to the vet about Minou and she thought that we should do some blood work just to see how she is doing because she had lost weight. Last year I had her blood work done and she had elevated levels in an enzyme in her liver. So they did blood work and took a urine sample. I didn't ask how much it was going to cost before and was surprised when the bill came to $400.00 (including the nail trim).

The vet called today and this enzyme has now shot up to the 900 level (whatever that means)and now there is another enzyme showing up and they are now suggesting that I either have an xray done ($300) or an ultrasound $500 and perhaps a liver biopys (ultrasound and biopsy would be $1,000), then we would have to decide on a course of treatment depending on the results. Or we could do nothing and just give her some vitamins and milk thistle and hope she stablizes or improves.

I truly believe that pets are for life and that it is our responsibility to care for them, but my dilema is how much and how far do we take this. She is not a 5 year old, she could live another 5 years at the most, not to mention all the testing will totally stress her out. I just don't know what to do. I know what DH will think (probably not do the testing) but he will leave the decision to me as she is my cat and will support me in whatever I decide.

I'm in tears, I so don't want to make this decision. I don't think she is in pain or suffering I want to just leave it, but I don't want to be left with the what ifs or feel like I am failing her in anyway. I wish she could talk and tell me what she wants me to do. :(

By Vicki on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 01:41 pm:

We are going through something silimar with our dog. She is 16 years old and I had her to the vet a couple of weeks ago. He mentioned that she could stand to have her teeth cleaned, but that it wasn't urgent and he wanted to do blood testing first. When he called with the results of it, they were high enough that he didn't want to schedule her cleaning and put her out. She has to go again in May and he wants to check her blood again. I know he mentioned two things and one was high, but not really off the charts, but the other was pretty high. I think he tested her liver and kidneys??? Anyway, dh and I have always said that we don't want her to suffer at all. She has already passed her "average" life span and if this is the beginning of the end, we have to decide how long to treat something that will not get better. I don't have any advice for you as we will be facing the same thing soon I am sure.....

By Janet on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 02:59 pm:

{{HUGS}} Pets are our responsibility and naturally you want to do what's best for Minou. I also had an old cat (15) who got sick, but it was a little different for me, as he was clearly suffering. Even so, it's heart-wrenching to have to make a decision about a life. You said Minou seems to not be suffering, and I'm assuming she's also active, eating, and getting around well. You also said that all the testing would be very stressful on her, and I agree. For an old animal, that could mean a lot. It seems to me that a lot of testing and a liver biopsy (which would mean anesthesia--risky in an older animal), plus subsequent treatment for whatever condition is uncovered, wouldn't do much to prolong her life. I think perhaps the less aggressive treatment might be the kindest route, plus making her comfortable and happy in the time she has with you. {{Hugs again}}

By Crystal915 on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 04:02 pm:

I think that at her age, it's not wise to spend that kind of money, and put her through that kind of trauma, it actually could be more dangerous. I don't know many vets who would actually recommend that, considering her age. If she is not in any pain or discomfort, leave it alone, and if she is, take measures to make her more comfortable. I guess part of that is also how you look at human life. I don't want a bunch of extreme measures taken to keep me alive, especially if I'm very old. I would rather enjoy my time, and be comfortable, than go through all of that. Since I consider my pets to be family, I would make a decision like that the same way I would make a similar decision for a human family member. ((((HUGS))))

By Cocoabutter on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 04:45 pm:

I can relate. My cat is now almost 13, and I don't know what I'll do when her time comes. But I do believe that, no matter how much we love our pets, they do not deserve to live in pain just because we can't let go of them.

I say that b/c my grandma kept her dog alive for 2 years after he was diagnosed with a liver problem and hip displasia (sp?) He was cranky and bit everyone around him, including the other grandkids and grandpa, but she just couldn't bring herself to let him go until he finally bit her.

So, while I know it will be difficult, if you feel your kitty is in any pain, I hope you will have the strength to do what you know is best. Best wishes to you and Kitty.

By Heaventree on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 04:58 pm:

Thanks your comments really helped. I called DH and he was leading in the direction of he just didn't want to spend the money, which I knew but like I expected he left the decision to me.

I'm still going to sit on it for awhile and perhaps speak to the vet again. I don't love this vet, I like the other one at this practice much better but he's hard to get into to see and we have a history with this vet, she knows what's going on. I just find her answers to my questions vague. I wanted to know what could be wrong with her, I know she can't make a diagnosis without further testing, but how many things could be wrong with a cat's liver?

I'm going to call her back and ask her if she thinks Minou is in any discomfort. She examined on Saturday and said she thought she was fine even though I mentioned she was declining.

My poor kitty has been through so much in the past 3 years, first the dog, then 2 babies. Matthew chases her around the house screaming "Ditten, Ditten, Ditten" at the top of his lungs. He loves her, she's terrified of him. :)

Janet you are right I worry about the anesthesia, they would surely have to give it to her as she is not a calm, pleasant animal to deal with when feeling threatened. They will also have to take more blood just to see if her blood will clot at her age she might not even be able to have surgery or anesthestic.

Crystal I have the exact same concerns as you do. I'm worried that the stress and trauma let alone the recovery from the biopsy might just be too much for her.

I knew the day would come that she would either become ill or I would have to say good-bye would come but I just don't want to face it. She has been my little companion for such a long time. I remember one time DH was tickling me and I was screeching, she actually bit him (gently) a few times to warn him not to hurt her mommy. I love my little kitty.

By Heaventree on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 04:59 pm:

Thanks Lisa, we posted at the same time, I won't let her suffer.

By Trina~moderator on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 05:00 pm:

(((Cori))) I have been through this twice with a very special kitty of mine and know how difficult and heart wrenching it is. Ask your vet lots of questions, even the ones you don't really want to ask, and follow your heart. Gosh, I'm tearing up as I type. Sniff, ... More {{{HUGS}}} and prayers for you and Minou.

By Dawnk777 on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 05:26 pm:

{{{HUGS}}} That decision is never an easy one to make.

By Tripletmom on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 08:34 pm:


By Ginny~moderator on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 08:54 pm:

Cori, if it were me (and it has been me several times in the last 10 years), I would ask the vet exactly what enzymes, by name, and what the significance of the numbers is.

I am speaking as someone who spent nearly $3,000 three years ago to try to save a dog (and not my dog - my son's dog) who suffered a recurrence of Lyme Disease, and still we had to have her put to sleep. In the past 18 months or so Scott has spent over $4,000 because his beloved Sascha popped first one and then the other anterior cruciate ligaments (and he desperately needs a new car, which is what paid for the surgeries).

What I want to say, Cori, is that with a 16 year old cat (and, Vicki, with a 15 year old dog) your beloved pets are living on borrowed time. You are both right - the tests and treatments would be a lot of stress. If your cat is so difficult to handle, Cori, she would probably have to be sedated just for an x-ray, never mind an ultrasound or liver biopsy, and that sedation has risks, as you so rightly point out. The same applies to your dog, Vicki.

I asked Scott to read this thread - not only is he a dog lover, but he is also a vet tech. Our shared advice is to do what you can with diet and medication for your beloved pets' comfort, but think long and hard before you venture into stressful (and expensive) tests and potential treatments, and the risks of anesthesia. Question the vet thoroughly about the significance of the blood tests results, and the likelihood that any treatments would have a significant effect - that is, would any proposed treatment (other than diet and medication) be likely to improve the comfort and quality of life of your cat or dog for a year or longer. If not, then I don't recommend that you invest that kind of emotion or money.

I don't for a moment regret the money I spent on Keyla, the dog with Lyme Disease, because the vet truly thought that we would be able to bring her around, and she was only 6 years old. It was only in her last two days that it was clear that it wasn't going to work, and by that time the money had been spent. But, when I had to make the decisions about my dear mother's aging cats, whom I inherited - one with diabetes, one with hyperthyroidism, one with chronic kidney problems and one with a painful chronic mouth infection - for each cat, when it became clear that treatment and medication would only buy another couple of weeks at a time of ease, for me the right decision was to give each cat a peaceful and comfortable end rather than have them go through periods of pain and being crippled by their diseases. I won't tell you it was an easy decision to make - it never is. But I remain convinced that each time it was the right decision.

By Reds9298 on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 08:55 pm:

I'm sorry you have to make a decision like this. I also feel that pets are ours for life and it's our responsibility to take care of them, and I respect the fact that you feel the same.

If she's not uncomfortable and her quality of life is okay, I would keep her happy until things go down the hill (if they do). I would have a hard time spending that much money on a pet that old, but I know I would definitely consider it just like you are.


By Heaventree on Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 09:58 pm:

Thanks again to everyone.

Ginny thanks for your words and for asking your son to read my post. I want her to be happy and content in her old age, not stressed out and recovering from all sorts of testing and procedures.

Minou actually seems a lot better these past few days, she's got her spunk back, maybe she just needed a little TLC and a nail trim. It's amazing what a day at the spa can do for your spirits. She's actually eating much better. I'll call the vet again in a few days but I think I've pretty much decided just to treat the symptoms and not put her through anymore testing. I'm hoping with her increased appetite she will gain a little weight back.

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