It was just last week that I wrote about both our cats and their health issues. Samantha had been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and started on medication (methimazole). I want to thank everyone who left reassuring comments that this is a very treatable condition. The night before that post went live, Samantha didn’t eat all of her supper. The next day she wouldn’t eat at all. She had been vomiting as well, mostly that yellow bile liquid, and some hairballs.
We’ve had episodes like this with Sam before and nothing was ever found wrong with her. However, it can be dangerous for cats to go without eating for more than a couple of days. Luckily our vet has office hours on Saturday mornings, so we decided to give her until then to see if it resolved itself. It did not, so off to the vet we went.
The first thing after a physical exam was to do blood tests to check her thyroid. She hadn’t had her medication since Thursday morning, and her T4 levels were still high (that is the hormone they produce too much of with this condition), though during the physical exam the vet noticed that her heart rate had come down. Increased heart rate is one symptom of hyperthyroid so that at least was good, and the fact that she hadn’t lost any more weight. The levels may have been higher since she hadn’t had her meds.
Our vet could also feel something in Sam’s stomach, which she shouldn’t have, since she’d been vomiting and not eating. The blood tests didn’t show any problems with her liver or kidneys, so next they wanted to do x-rays to check her stomach. Our regular vet was there as well and when they reviewed the x-rays, they could see a thickening of her stomach walls and something in her lungs. Our hearts dropped because we knew right away what this might mean….cancer.
But they still felt her lack of appetite could be due to not feeling well because of the hyperthyroid (even though normally hyperthyroid increases appetite). The only way to check for cancer would be through ultrasound and endoscopy. They would have to find a specialist that could do that. In the meantime they wanted us to do everything we could to get the thyroid medication in her, and they did further blood tests (CBC) to check for infection and other things. They also gave her fluids for dehydration.
Over the rest of the weekend we did our best to give her lots of attention and love (and other than hiding out more than usual she was acting normally), and we were able to crush up her pills into some tuna juice, which she would drink! I waited for the vet’s phone call while at work Monday. The CBC did not turn up anything definitive, no infections. There were some slight abnormalities but they were things that could have been due to dehydration. Their recommendation was to go forward with the ultrasound/endoscopy. My husband and I had already discussed it (more like agonized over it) and decided we would not put Sam through that. We felt sure we could put her through all that just to find out she had cancer and there would not be a lot to be done. Her age of almost 13 was a consideration, as well as the fact that we lost Samantha’s sister and littermate to cancer several years ago.
I was feeling pretty hopeless by that point, and only knew one thing for sure. I have come to terms with the fact that Conrad may not be with us much longer, but we were not ready to let Sam go. I had had a pep talk with her over the weekend, telling her just that and that she needed to fight. Apparently Sam agreed because when I got home from work that day, she showed up on the kitchen counter looking for her lunch, and she actually ate some of her dry kibble! Later she ate canned food and got her pill, and she’s been eating since.
She had been hiding out downstairs but spent that evening up in the kitchen with us. Sam hides out a lot anyway, but she’s been going to some of her other favorite hideouts over the last couple of days, which we see as a good sign. She’s still not eating as much as she was….but perhaps she had been eating more because of the thyroid? That is normally what happens with thyroid, but we hadn’t really noticed her eating any more than usual before finding out about that. She can also be fussy normally, so I’ll be getting some new foods to try with her as well.
She did throw up some hairballs since, and here’s where we’re at: I am hoping that the hairballs were a factor with her upset tummy, so I am now brushing/combing her daily (and she hasn’t thrown up now for a couple of days). Could she have cancer? Well, yes, that will be hanging over our heads, but we are not going to have that test done just for our own peace of mind. We are just going to hope and pray that this is related to the thyroid and perhaps the hairballs. It’s worth noting that they said her T4 levels were the highest they had ever seen! She’ll have another blood test next week to check again, and they will adjust the meds if needed at that point. They start out on the lowest dosage possible to reduce side effects, and because it could have to be increased later. The meds are not a cure, but a way to manage the disease.
We are feeling cautiously optimistic, and taking things one day at a time. As I’m writing this, she was in the kitchen sink trying to get water out of the faucet (I gave her a dish of it in there), and she ate a little dry food. I wanted to leave this post on that optimistic note. We have good news to share on the pet health front, but as usual my post has gotten pretty long, so we’ll save that for later, along with some other fun stuff we’ve had going on. I’ll keep you posted on Sam, but we are going to hope and pray that there is nothing new to report other than good news.