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Author Topic: Prayers for Drive By
Tatiana
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Many of you may have heard me talk about my cat Drive By, whom I found as a kitten nine years ago immediately after someone had hit her on the highway on the way to work one morning. She was flopping in and out of traffic, and I stopped and scooped her up, and took her to the vet.

It turned out she was a feral kitten, very like a zoo animal or wild animal in personality. Dr. George, Maggie Dix, and I all nursed her back to health. It was a close thing but she pulled through and has been the greatest cat I've ever known. She totally accepts me as another cat, and as her mom, though she tends to be quite shy of other humans. She recovered completely except for the fact that her left front paw got some nerve damage, so she has always walked on the wrist on that paw. It never has slowed her down any, and she is quite deft at manipulating it into place by swinging it from the shoulder joint. She tucks it behind her neatly before she eats, and so on.

The guys I worked with at the time, and my mother, were all eye-rolly telling me I should not spend huge sums to save some stray kitten's life but just destroy her and get a healthy kitten from the shelter. Maggie, Dr. G, and I disagreed. I'm sure another kitten would be very nice, but she would not be Drive By. There's a fundamental difference in view here. To some of us, cats are people. They're not fungible. They are individuals

If I ever had any doubts about that, it's been confirmed beyond my wildest dreams. Drive By is the most loving, intelligent, vocal, sweet, playful, and dearest cat that I've ever had. I've never regretted for a moment the worry and tender care and expense of getting her well. She's a small siamese type kitty only all black rather than with points. She likes to nuzzle and lick the ones she loves (Brando and me) and is playful, bossy, and just so intelligent and alive. She likes to sing along with music, and I have several recordings of her duets with Trent Reznor, Maynard James Keenan, and others, and of her singing solo with violin quartet accompaniment. As an all-black cat with a limp, Drive By seems to bear out the folk wisdom that she should be a powerfully magical being. Certainly she has greatly blessed my life.

Now she's got something wrong with her that has her not wanting to eat. Dr. George has run blood tests and examined her several times but we can't seem to find anything wrong to treat. She's supposed to go in for x-rays, in the last hope that we can find something wrong that we can fix, but unless that turns up something, or she just begins eating again on her own, or we decide to force feed her, or something changes, then her prospects don't look good. She's lost so much weight that her bones almost poke through her skin.

Would those of you who pray please pray for my dear, beloved, smart, wonderful Drive By? She's only nine! I don't want to lose her yet. If she has to go, I will try to understand, but please pray that she will stay with me for a long while yet.

[ March 28, 2006, 09:01 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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calaban
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My tabby is experiencing similar issues. It's heartbreaking. I hope the news is good.
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Stray
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I'll send some good thoughts her way, and yours. She sounds like a wonderful creature, I'm glad you made the effort to save her so you could share her life.
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airmanfour
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Awww. Sounds like a great friend. She'll be in my thoughts.
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Uprooted
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Prayers for Drive By and calaban's tabby.

My parents had a cat who went through some hiding, non-eating behaviors. The vet couldn't find anything wrong at first, but eventually discovered it was a bowel obstruction. She had to have surgery, which was really pricey but they opted to do it because she'd been pretty healthy up to that point, and she is thriving now (although will be taking a stool softener daily for the rest of her life).

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Noemon
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~~~~~~~~Drive By & calaban's cat
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Noemon
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I'm sure that there's almost no point in asking, Tatiana, because I'm sure you've tried it, but have you offered her tuna, ham, chicken, milk, and the like?

Edit--what kinds of tests has Dr. George already performed?

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Tatiana
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I've offered her every tempting treat we know of. Dr. George suggested this Royal Red Sockeye Salmon, which she ate with enthusiasm in very small amounts, for a few days. Then she ate less, then none.

This morning she's licked just a bit at the juice on her food a few times. I think it shows a small improvement. I'm home for the rest of the day, thank goodness, so I can offer her fresh treats every hour or so and see how much I can get her to take. Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers, everyone! I believe in the power of hatrack prayers!

He did a complete blood workup, fecal, and about six weeks ago we sedated her so we could do a really thorough palpation and exam. Like a zoo animal, she's usually too recalcitrant to allow us to do too much without sedating her. I was terrified at that time because it took her almost 24 hours to come out of the sedation, when it should have only been a couple of hours. I was afraid her liver functions were compromised or something like that, but the tests showed liver, kidneys, blood cells, everything looked good.

Another thing that's been happening for a long time is that she vomits clear pinkish liquid every few days. The thing that started this particular downturn is that she got a sinus infection and had to take antibiotic pills. That seemed to exacerbate whatever gastrointestinal problem she has so that she vomited more often, and it was pinker than usually, and contained flecks of bright red blood (like clots). We know she has inflammatory bowel disease, which we are treating with a long-acting steroid shot every six weeks or so, and it seems upon palpation to be much better now.

We took her off the oral antibiotic and gave her a long acting antibiotic injection instead. Then Dr. George was concerned that she was getting too high a bacterial load by eating canned food that had been sitting out too long, and told me to take up the food after no more than 30 minutes. (She also has dry food available, which she used to enjoy before all this started happening.)

I think whenever she goes too long without eating it tends to kick her nausea in. That (and the fresh blood in the vomit the other day) is why I'm thinking in terms of something upper-GI now. Dr. George said the diagnostic procedures for that are stuff like endoscopy and barium contrast studies and stuff that she won't tolerate well, being as fragile as she is, and as easily stressed by stuff like that. I agree completely with him on that. I think he suspects something upper-GI too but he knows that he doesn't have any good way to treat it, even if we could get a sure diagnosis.

I think that the more often she eats, the better off she feels (she's very thin now). I am going to ask Dr. George today if there is anything like a proton pump inhibitor (is that the right term?) that we could give her to eliminate stomach acid. That's what the doctor gave me for my Barrett's esophagus (which had similar symptoms to Drive By's) and it totally fixed it in a few weeks.

She also has asthma, which we treat by inhalation of FloVent about once a week or so whenever her breathing looks bad. She's got a little kitty aerosol chamber with kitty face mask that I use to administer it to her. Her asthma seems to be in good control.

Other symptoms which have showed up recently which may have nothing to do with the failure to eat are hair loss and a skin sore that appeared from nowhere above and behind her left shoulder blade. Her hair loss started a few months ago, and now her belly is completely bare. Dr. George thinks it's from an excess of cortisol, which can be from stress, or perhaps a side effect of the FloVent. I began waiting longer between FloVent treatments to see if that helped.

[ March 28, 2006, 12:16 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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Noemon
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[Frown] My sympathies.

I figured that you'd have already offered her everything under the sun to get her to eat, but I thought I'd mention it on the off chance that you hadn't.

Are there feline GI specialists that might be able to help?

Is Pepsid AC safe for cats? I know that Frida (a ferret) was on miniscule doses of it for a while due to some stomach problems she was having.

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calaban
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[Frown] kitties are so sad when they can't eat, Kit is the name of my tabby, he is 15. He vomits all the time as well.

All of his bloodwork, xrays and physical tests have had inconclusive results. Both vets we have been to have only specualted at what the issue might be.

We give him tuna juice all the time so that he is drinking something that might give him nutrients. We have also fed him baby food so that some of it might absorb before he has to vomit again. Perhaps you might try the baby food. Kit has also developed a sinus issue, which we have speculated is related to the appetite because he can't smell the food.

We have also been given an IV of saline and vitamins to give him daily. He is a little grumpy when we give it to him but it has helped him go from a very anemic 5 pounds back to 6 over the last couple of weeks. His normal weight was probably about 8 to 9 pounds.

Hopefully some of our experiments in feeding will help you. Kit is an insatiable begger, so I often pretend his food is something tasty I don't want to give to him, and sometimes he will eat a little bit of it.

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Tatiana
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calaban, good luck with your Kit, as well! I will include him in my prayers.

I just talked to Dr. George again and he said the upper-GI symptoms are usually a side-effect of the lower-GI inflammatory bowel disease. They get upper GI erosions and ulcers and stuff associated with the inflammatory processes. He said instead of proton-pump inhibitors they usually give cats (something else that I can't remember the name of), and that was a possibility we could pursue. He suggested that I get some feline A/D and try to force feed her today with a feeding syringe, and get as much of that down her as I can, so that she will be in better shape metabolically tomorrow for the sedation and x-rays.

I'm so glad I'm off for the rest of the day so I can nurse her like this.

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Tatiana
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I have Ringer's lactated IV fluids I can give her subcutaneously, as well. Dr. George taught me how to do that with Brando. That works really well.

Another symptom she has is that the hair never grew back on the spot he shaved her six weeks ago to take blood. He said that usually indicates something endocrine going on. Her thyroid is fine, but if it's something going on with the adrenal gland, there's no way we can treat it.

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Grisha
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Kim and I are both praying for her.

She is a truly wonderful cat, very cute, and kind. Also she is quite protective of her mother (Tatiana). We both hope she will be okay.

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ClaudiaTherese
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Oh, sweetheart. My heart just dropped when I read the title of the thread.

I don't pray, but I'll try, anyway. Maybe rusty ones have concentrated power. *wry grin

All the best thoughts and wishes I have winging toward you and your baby girl.

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Tatiana
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Thanks, Grisha and Kim! <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<hugs>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thank you, CT! Rusty ones are extra potent! [Smile]

Thanks to everyone else, as well! I know hatrack's prayers are heard and felt.

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ClaudiaTherese
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(*trying very hard, right now

I'm asking for good health physically, but if that is not in her future,at least some measure of understanding of the pain and a deep conviction of your love. I think the hardest part about animals or babies hurting is that they don't have a sense of why. [Frown]

(((Tatiana))) )

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amira tharani
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*sends good thoughts to Anne Kate and Drive By*

My mental image of you is always accompanied by Drive By sitting on your monitor and dangling her paw over the screen. May she do so for many years to come!

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Tatiana
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SHE'S EATING!!!!!!

thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyougod

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ClaudiaTherese
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[Big Grin]

Oh, thank goodness!

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Noemon
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[Smile] That's great news, Tatiana!
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Tatiana
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Fancy Feast Marinated Morsels are teh r0xx0rz!
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Tatiana
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Now if we can just find something fixable tomorrow on the x-rays and additional blood tests. <hopes>
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ClaudiaTherese
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Hope the news is good.
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KarlEd
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I wish I could write more just now. Tatiana, your love for Drive By came through so much in your post that I was tearing up.

I'm glad to know that she's eating now. I'll continue to send good vibes your way in hopes that she fully recovers and starts getting her weight back.

~~~Drive By~~~

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Eduardo_Sauron
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Yay, Tat!
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Noemon
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When will you get the results of the bloodwork back, do you know? Let us know what you find with both the x-rays and the blood tests.
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Tatiana
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calaban, how is your Kit doing?

Drive By went for x-rays today and they showed that she does indeed have a very inflamed bowel, as he thought from palpation. He will call tomorrow about the blood tests, but for now what he thinks (and he's very good at this guessing what's wrong business) is that she has Cushing's disease, on top of her asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. That can be caused by tumors in the adrenal gland or somewhere else (didn't absorb fully everything he said), or it might possibly be something we induced by giving her steroids for both her asthma and her inflammatory bowel disease.

We can't give her any more steroids at all. We will have to see if it's possible to treat her other two life-threatening things successfully without them.

For the moment, though, she's in crisis because of not eating. He said (which I already knew) that she has used up all her fat and most of the muscle in her body (she's skin and bones) and that she's got to have food. He gave her fluids today but starting tomorrow morning I'm supposed to force feed her with a syringe, as much of the feline A/D food mixed with water as I can get her to take.

If she comes out of this metabolic crisis in the next few days and begins eating again, then it's possible that we can successfully treat the asthma and bowels without steroids. Then if the Cushing's is something we've induced (instead of it being due to a tumor), she might make it through.

It seems like a slim chance, and she's a very sick kitty still, but there is that one ray of hope left. If I don't manage to save her, I'm going to have a lot of making up to do in the next world for pestering her and forcing her to eat these last few days of her life. I hope that she will forgive me for it.

I thought about it a long time today, after Dr. George called me. I was sitting in the cafe of the art museum downtown, eating a delicious quiche, watching the sunlight play on the waters of the art-fountains across the concourse, and looking at the beautiful art all around me, and I realized that life is indeed good. Every moment of it is precious. I realized that Drive By loves life, and she loves me too. I think she would want to be alive and with me for a while longer, if that's possible. I think she would forgive me for trying, and for not being able to let her go without a fight.

Thank you all for listening, and for caring. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. They mean a lot to me.

[ March 29, 2006, 09:35 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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ludosti
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*hug* I've been thinking of and praying for you and DriveBy and calaban and Kit.

It has always been so hard for me when one of my kitties was not doing well. I hope that things will go as well as possible and I hope you and your kitties can be content and at peace.

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katharina
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*hugs* I hope everything is okay, Tatiana.
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Jeni
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My vet has told me before that he believes cats know when they need help and understand when you're trying to give it to them. I bet that's true of Drive By and I think he's very lucky to have found someone who's willing to help him. Many hopeful thoughts are coming your way, Anne Kate.
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Tatiana
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Thanks, guys. I'll continue to post updates on how she's doing here.

Dr. George used about half as much sedative this time, so she was already awake and aware when I picked her up at 2pm. Since then she has eaten twice on her own without me having to force feed her. He wants me to get her some Tagamet at the drugstore and give her 1/4 tablet each evening starting tonight.

She's still a bit drunk, but doing really well compared to last time. The fluids he gave her helped, I think. Last time it was when I gave her fluids that she came out of it. She's sleeping peacefully now in what looks like a comfortable position. I'm just going to continue to put fresh food down for her every hour or so to see how much she will eat on her own.

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Noemon
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That's really great, Tatiana. I'll be continuing to think of her.
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Epictetus
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*hugs*
I hope Drive By gets well.

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Altáriël of Dorthonion
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Drive By = Best Name Ever. I shall pray for her and I hope she recovers. Have you tried to show her some really really rediculously good smelling and good tasting food that no other cat would dare to resist?
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ClaudiaTherese
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*fingers crossed and rusty prayers squeaking on out

How is this morning going? How is Drive By, and how are you?

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Tatiana
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Altariel, yes I've got an array of everything any cat could possibly want to eat! The other cats are so happy because they're getting all the leftovers.

CT, the quandary I have this morning is that she's eating tiny amounts on her own every hour or so, but I don't think it's enough. Should I force feed? This may be likely to have her hiding in the closet, sitting on a cold hard shelf instead of her warm soft bed with heating pad, and it might be likely to decrease her willingness to come out and eat on her own. It also might save her life. She's making a real effort, and comes over and eats as much as she can each time I put fresh food down, and sometimes in between. There's the possibility that with force feeding she will begin vomiting, which right now she's not doing.

So.... force feed or not force feed?

When I force fed Brando it turned out to be a great thing to have done, but he wasn't eating at all, and was almost out of his head, so that he didn't really come to himself until I'd been feeding him for a couple of days. She's not to that point yet. I wish I knew the right thing to do. [Frown]

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pH
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If you can figure out how much she's eating, approximately, maybe you can figure out if she's eating enough. I mean, I don't know how much you'd force feed her, but is it possible that she's already eating that amount on her own?

-pH

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KarlEd
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Maybe, rather than force feeding just yet, you could put down less food more frequently. It's possible that she would finish what you put down if she thinks that's all there is, then eat more next time you put some down.

It's just an idea, but I agree that if she's eating something, especially if that something is more than she was eating previously, it might be premature to force-feed and have to deal with the trauma it will cause.

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pH
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What Karl said.

Especially if force-feeding might make her vomit; she might be afraid to eat again.

-pH

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Tatiana
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She's still eating fairly well, perhaps a teaspoon every couple of hours, so I'm not force feeding her yet but just putting fresh interesting food in front of her every hour or so to try to get her interested.

She's curling up with her head resting on my arm and purring. My poor little girl!

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Tatiana
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I gave her 1/4 of a Tagamet tablet tonight, according to Dr. George's instructions. I hope it helps her GI tract to feel better. She's still eating on her own. I bought a large variety of Fancy Feast flavors, which seems to be every cat's favorite food ever. Right now she's having the Marinated bits of Salmon in Gravy. She seems to think it r0xx0rz.
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Tatiana
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I have to go back to work tomorrow, though I'm going to get up early and feed her twice before I leave, come home during lunch and feed her again then, then I should be able to get in three feedings after work before bedtime. That's six times a day so hopefully that will be enough. Then we have the weekend. Maybe she will have pulled out of it by Monday, well enough that I can leave her all day long. It takes half an hour each way from home to work and back, so I will have to take a long lunch to make it, but I can make it up by staying later.

My boss was so great about it! I called today to take my one personal day that I have so far, and he said I should stay home and take care of my child, and that if I needed to stay tomorrow as well, then I could make it up later. What a great guy! [Smile]

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Eduardo_Sauron
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You're lucky, Tat. Not all bosses are so great.

Side note: Me and Isabel are thinking of adoptinig a Persian cat for our household, next year. I luuuuve cats. Maybe you could help me clearing some doubts, later.

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Stray
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I'm feeding my foster mama cat the Wellness brand of canned food. The stuff actually smells appetizing to me, which is not a word I thought I'd ever use regarding canned cat food--it smells pretty much like human-quality canned chicken or tuna.

I'm glad your boss is so understanding, Tatiana. I'm lucky I have a lot of flex in my schedule; that came in handy when I was up till 3 a.m. supervising momcat's labor and delivery, and again when I had to take the five-day-old kittens to the vet for a sinus infection.

Still sending good thoughts for the both of you.

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I bought a large variety of Fancy Feast flavors, which seems to be every cat's favorite food ever. Right now she's having the Marinated bits of Salmon in Gravy. She seems to think it r0xx0rz.

*nods

Fancy feast = "kitty crack," according to our veterinarian

I'm so glad she is continuing to do well. Tatiana, I'm on a long two-day drive up to Canada for the weekend, but I'll keep checking in to see how you and she are doing.

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quidscribis
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Tatiana, I'm glad Drive By is doing better (and I agree - that's a great name!). I've had sick kitty worries before as well, and it wasn't any fun at all.

calaban, any news on your kitty?

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Tatiana
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Thanks, everyone. Dr. George got the results back on the blood tests today and he said they look terrible. He said that her immune system is pretty much totally shut down and that he can see the bad effects of her not eating.

He said it doesn't look good for her.

In the meantime, she's eating very well. I went to work today but I got up at 4am and fed her once (though she had already eaten some of what was there from last night by then). She ate some of that and then I fed her again at 6am before I left. When I came home from lunch she had eaten almost 1/3 of a can of the stuff I gave her at 6! So I fed her again and again when I got home from work this evening she had eaten quite a bit of what I gave her at lunch.

I fed her as soon as I got home, and she's been eating it every few minutes since then, and has eaten about 1 ounce in 2 hours. Also she seemed perkier this morning, head butting me and purring, hopping down to go to the bathroom, and licking herself all over. Just generally acting less sick. I think Dr. George didn't expect her to recover this well, based on her blood results, but I think it is another miracle, of which he's been responsible for quite a number since I've been going to him.

Now he wants me to give her amoxicillin drops orally, as a prophylactic measure, because her immune system is not working. Remembering that it was the oral antibiotics we gave her a few weeks ago for the sinus infection that sent her into the tailspin, I am reluctant. I picked them up from the vet's office, but I'm hesitating about giving her any unless I see a sign that it's needed.

He also left me a message for me to force feed her by syringe, 1 can of feline A/D cat food a day, but I think as long as she's eating so well, I don't want to interefere. I really hate not doing what Dr. George says, since he's so good and so smart and such a wonderful vet. So I called and left him messages about all this stuff but I haven't heard back from him. I think he's sick too now. His health isn't that great. So I don't think I'll hear back until Tuesday. In the meantime I do believe I will just pray and follow what seems the best course. Y'all tell me if I'm making a mistake.

I'm so so happy she's better! The thing I'm most worried about now is that her breathing will get worse and worse, and since we can't treat it with steroids anymore, I don't really know what to do in that event. I left Dr. George two messages asking him but I don't think he responded to that question yet. I think he's probably thinking she's in serious enough shape that we may not have to worry about that. [Frown]

calaban, let us know how your Kit is doing! I am keeping him in my prayers. Thanks so much, everyone, for keeping Drive By in yours.

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Tatiana
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CT, Dr. George called Fancy Feast "kitty cocaine", so the idea has some currency. [Smile]

Have a good trip and drive safely!

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Uprooted
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Well, of course I can't say whether you're doing the right thing, but I think I'd do the same thing in that situation. Keep us posted.
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Tatiana
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This morning, she ate at 5am, at 8am, and at 11am. I really think she's getting enough nutrition in, and I hope it's being absorbed well, despite the terrible bowel inflammation that showed up on the x-ray. She isn't vomiting or having any diarrhea, so I suppose it must be going somewhere.

She hasn't touched what I gave her at 1pm, yet. I think I will go ahead and replace it with something else (maybe more appetizing) before I go out for a bit. She does seem to be feeling much better overall. I think the prayers and good-wishes are working.

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