Monday, September 28, 2015

A Veterinary Adventure

As most of you know, there have been issues with Scarlett and her extreme vet anxiety in the past, but due to recent concerns about her health, I decided she really needed an exam. Sarah, who takes care of Scarlett and Melly when I go away, and Sue, who fostered Melly as a kitten, both work at a veterinary clinic in Tacoma, and Sarah suggested I bring the girls there. Both Sarah and Sue have a wonderful touch with cats, so I thought this was a great idea. We worked it out that Sarah would bring Scarlett into work with her on Friday morning. The team would help Dr. S with the exam, and they'd be ready to anesthetize Scarlett if needed. Then, I would bring Melly later in the day for her exam, talk with Dr. S, and then bring my babies home.

I got the carriers out the night before and placed them strategically by the food dishes. Melly briefly hung out in hers; Scarlett was a bit suspicious.

In the morning, I put out the usual breakfast food, but before Scarlett could partake, I bundled her into her carrier and set off for Sarah's house. She cried most of the way, but of course as soon as I turned the camera on her, she stopped.

At work, I got a text from Sarah that Scarlett actually allowed an exam with no anesthesia, but they did have to knock her out briefly for the blood draw.

In the afternoon, I ran home and grabbed Melly. She never minds being in the carrier, as you can see!

We headed to the vet and had Melly's exam. Melly wasn't overly thrilled by the experience, particularly the rabies shot, and she actually hissed at Dr. S a few times. Melly is usually so friendly that it always takes me aback to hear her hiss.

Melly is in great shape overall. Her teeth are in need of cleaning, so I'll be scheduling that for sometime in the next few months. She also has a possible irritable bowel disorder, but since she already eats excellent food, Dr. S just recommended a couple of supplements to help regulate Melly's digestion. When the exam was done, Melly curled up in her carrier until it was time to leave, understandably looking quite put out.

Scarlett is 13, and in the 4 years before I got her, she had been an outdoor cat and had had two litters of kittens. For these reasons, I always prepared myself that her lifespan and health would be more in line with those of an outdoor cat rather than an indoor cat. So, when I noticed that she was guzzling water and urinating an unusually large amount, I figured her kidneys were starting to go. We'll know for sure after the blood draw, but Dr. S agreed that's a likely issue. She said Scarlett may have a hyperthyroid condition, or possibly even a kidney infection, but given her age and the symptoms, it's most likely early kidney function decline. We'll talk more about treatment once we know for sure.

Scarlett's eyes are clouding over and her irises are thinning; she has loss of muscle tone in her back end; and she likely has arthritis in her lower back. These are all very typical for her age, and I had already noticed all the signs at home and had arranged the furniture so Scarlett can jump in steps (floor to chair to window sill), which the vet said is great since it still enables Scarlett to get much-needed exercise.  Glucosamine supplements may help, so I am looking into that.

When one of the vet techs went to get Scarlett from the kennel, he discovered that she was hiding behind her carrier in the cage, and he couldn't get her to actually go in to the carrier. The video below is just sound, recorded when the tech was attempting to gently guide Scarlett into the carrier. That's Scarlett's reaction to... just about anyone and anything veterinary-related. (It's also how she communicates with the neighborhood outdoor cats.)

The tech eventually ended up getting Scarlett to go into a much larger carrier, but then we discovered that the top wasn't on quite right. So, Sarah bravely and carefully shuffled Scarlett into her own carrier.

In the car, Scarlett started to calm down and Melly relaxed immediately. I think they were both very pleased to be back in a familiar-smelling area. The car ride was unusually quiet; both cats just hunkered down and waited to be home.

When we got home, Scarlett bounded right out of her carrier with her tail held high, and flopped on the floor for a belly rub from Josh (given by foot, not hand--important distinction in Scarlett's world). Melly sniffed the carriers thoroughly, then both cats had dinner and settled right back in to their usual routines.

All in all, I would consider the day a success. Neither cat had any surprising ailments, I have solutions for the minor ones, and Scarlett actually received a thorough exam. Despite all her various conditions, Scarlett is such a happy cat. She plays with great enthusiasm, she eats with gusto, she loves looking out the window, and she snuggles against me all night. It makes me so sad to see my dear girl aging, but she seems happy and comfortable, that's what is most important.


Rene said...

I love the final two pictures of the girls in their carriers. Tucker (minus the kidney problems) had the same aging issues as Scarlett. We added step stools and I would pick Tucker up instead of letting him jump up. It's sure hard to watch them age, but there's also something special about a senior kitty. They are so wise and wonderful.

Karen said...

This CAN be a tough time for us who love our aging kitties, and you have the right attitude. She's healthy and happy TODAY, and you can take joy in that. year can take care of itself.

Summer at said...

Poor Scarlett, with the vet visits being so traumatic for her. It makes it harder when cats get older and need more medical attention. I'm glad she got a thorough checkup! I can't believe Melly is so cool in the carrier. My human is envious because I tend to be really annoying and a bit noisy!

Tails from the Foster Kittens said...

it is always amazing what those grumpy cats will let you get away with when mom isn't in the picture.. I hope Scarlett's blood work comes back as positive as it can.

Percy the Cat said...

One of my cats has hyperthyroid, as well as some beginning kidney issues, and arthritis in her back end. We use methimazole for the thyroid, a phosphorus binder for her food to help with the kidney issues (as well as very good quality grain-free canned food), and she is on buphrenorphine to help with the arthritis pain. It all seems to be helping. I also give her glucosamine, but some days she's annoyed enough by the syringing of the thyroid and pain med, so it's hard to give her the other syringe of the glucosamine, too. (Percy the Cat's mom)