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Olly

Elderly cat woes

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I'm just having a bit of a moan, really (and this is NOT a complaint about the cost of vet's bills).

 

My cat Claudette is almost 17 years old. In the last five years she has had:

- an episode of vestibular syndrome, fortunately this just left her with a slight tremor

- hyperthyroidism, treated with tablets at about £30/month

- irritable bowel syndrome, we stick to one brand of catfood now after several vet visits and injections

- kidney disease, treated with another medication

- cystitis before and after last Christmas, this needed two visits and antibiotics, and could recur at any time

- a sprained paw a couple of months ago, analgesics and another two visits

- most recently, a dental abscess - two more visits and two lots of antibiotics, vitamin B and a steroid; thankfully this has worked, because her age and kidney disease rule out anaesthetics - but it could flare up again

- She also has arthritis and is almost completely deaf.

 

Now, she still has a good quality of life despite all the above - she lies in the sunshine occasionally, snuggles on my lap in the evenings and sleeps the rest of the time, and I love her to bits - but I am starting to wonder if all this patching-up and treatment is really doing her a favour. I know when I was growing up cats simply weren't diagnosed with this sort of thing, and it's great that they can treat it now but I wonder where it's going to end. I sometimes feel my vet is concerned with prolonging life at all costs.

 

And cost is a significant issue - I calculate that I have spent more than £800 in the last nine months, and the next visit and blood tests in two week's time plus more thyroid medication will push it over £1000. I buy the pills online, but there's a £20 prescription fee every time. I am lucky - while it's hurting me to pay this, it doesn't leave me unable to eat or heat my home, but it's making me seriously consider whether I can afford to have a cat in future.

 

Sorry - bit of a :boohoo: but I wondered if other people feel the same; I sometimes think that if one of these illnesses had proved final, we may both have been spared a lot of anxiety (well, on my part - I don't think she feels it!) and repeated trips to the vet, which we both hate.

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I've never been a tinkerer when it comes to pets. If the treatment is simple and effective and non invasive for elderly cats, I will definitely do it. But for me there is a definite point where it isn't "worth" it anymore. Not in monetary terms, but more in terms of fairness to the cat.

My previous cat had a tumour in her jaw. My vet opted to remove it, by taking half her jaw away. The cat was 16 at the time. I didn't go through with that and chose to treat her with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. I wasn't about to leave my 16 year old lady with only half a jaw... risking that I would need to hand feed her.

 

I fully understand your point, although it does differ a lot per cat. Some never have anything, others need a lot of vet care. Personally I'm not put off by it.

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As you say years ago anyone of those illnesses would have been the end. I suppose like our doctors,if they can treat they do and sometimes it doesn't seem to be in the patients best interests,human or animal. Perhaps next time the decision will be more clear cut and it would be kinder not to treat.Maybe if she enjoys the rest of the summer in good health the autumn may bring more issues.My older pets seemed more sprightly in the warmth and when all their aches seemed to return in winter and they looked to be suffering I chose to euthanise. Enjoy her while you can.

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I had an elderly cat, William. I inherited him when my mum sadly passed away. He was 13 when he came to us and 18 when he died. When he was 15 he developed thyroid problems, the vet gave him tablets, but unfortunately we discovered William also had a liver problem so couldn't metabolise the tablets. The vets answer was radioactive iodine treatment to knock out the thyroid. Problem was William would have to stay at the vets for a week in a lead lined box. No way was I doing that to him. I opted to do nothing and I still had him for another two years.

 

I am a firm believer in the saying 'just because you can doesn't mean you should"

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Thanks for the above, sorry I was feeling a bit low when I posted - living with a geriatric cat can be a bit depressing, every time she sneezes I wonder what's coming next! I've also realised lately that - while she is still happy and has a good life - I am missing some of the cat interaction that I'm used to, she still sneaks on to my lap in the evenings, but she no longer wants to play or do much else.

 

As long as she is not in pain and still has a good quality of life we will carry on; and as others have said above, I would not agree to any procedure that might reduce that quality of life, I really don't see the point in putting a pet through dialysis or chemotherapy. She could well rattle on for another couple of years, I think the kidney disease will be the main problem. She should be on a low-protein renal diet but when we tried it upset her tummy and I reckoned this was going to shorten both our lives!

 

She is currently snoozing happily on the spare bed. :D

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I feel for you Olly :(

 

I have no words of wisdom, I don't know what I would do. Our old old boy lived till he was 20, then had to be PTS, then the others have either died or been PTS when their ailments were incurable and it was obviously time. I haven't had the dilemma of massive bills and wondering what is best for quality of life, it must be so difficult. It's hard enough when you know it's the right time. I just wanted to sympathise. I have always enjoyed hearing about Claudette, the cat who wouldn't use the cat flap :D

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I do agree with the 'because you can doesn't always mean that you should'....equally many pet owners have insurance these days and there seems to be a suggestion to sometimes undertake treatment that is very invasive and expensive and probably put the animal through stress that isn't really fair and will prolong life but maybe not for that long if the animal is elderly to start with.

 

We all adore our pets and want to keep them with us for as long as possible but sometimes it's kinder to let them go rather than put them through something that they obviously won't understand...we have had to make this descision on several occasions and it's never easy, even when you know absolutely that it's the right thing. Every time I come back from the vet with a cardboard box on the seat and an empty cage I feel like a murderer.

 

Personally I take the view that, as long as the animal is eating, bright eyed, moving well, has a glossy coat and is 'curious' then its fine. When they lose condition, struggle to get about, get bitey or snappy and just sit huddled then enough is enough and it's off to the vet; when you know your pet so well you do tend to know when it's that time :boohoo:

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Thank you for the responses above. I said goodbye to Claudette on Monday, with sadness but also with relief - her kidney disease had worsened, and last week she lost her sight, she was not looking happy and I feel glad that I was able to let her go with dignity.

 

Prior to Christmas, she would only sleep on the front doormat, and was only getting up to eat and drink. I was convinced she had senile dementia (which the vet agreed with), and had she developed another infection at this time I think I would have declined treatment. Then the vet changed her thyroid medication - and it was like having the old cat back again, we had lots of lap time and she was interacting with me and we had a few good weeks.

 

The last few months have been grim, and I am still not convinced that all the vet trips etc were worth another six months or so of decreasing quality of life. I also feel quite disappointed in the information and advice I got from the vet, they were not helpful in giving a clear picture of the possible outcomes, although I never doubted their care of her. It has made me really question whether I want to have another cat, something I never thought I would say after a lifetime of cat-ownership.

 

I will be taking a break for a few months, anyway - although the house feels strangely empty. :(

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I'm sorry Olly, I always enjoyed hearing about Claudette :(

 

Take your time, things might well look different at some point in the future.

 

I know what you mean about vets, our old city group were money grabbing so you were never sure whether treatments were in the cat's best interest, our current UK rural vets are wonderful.

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Sweet dreams Claudette.

 

You never know if a treatment at that stage will have had the desired effect. Don’t regret your decisions.

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Sorry to hear you have lost your dear Claudette.

 

I am not a cat person, they terrify me, sorry but I understand how you are feeling. We felt like that when we lost Poppy.

 

In time you may change your mind about things.

 

Thinking of you.

 

Chrissie

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On 31.01.2018 at 7:44 PM, Cat tails said:

Sweet dreams Claudette.

 

You never know if a treatment at that stage will have had the desired effect. Don’t regret your decisions.

It's hard!

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Posted (edited)

Hi Olly so sorry - you did the best you can. 

Sorry pressed submit - we were told by a wise vet nurse "you'll know when the time comes" and we did with Sandy our ginger tom. I know what you mean about quietness - Sandy was our spokescat the other 2 arent so verbal. I hope you give yourself time to mourn. Hugs Ali x

Edited by Alis girls

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Thank you for all the kind words. 

I meant what I said above, about taking a break from the responsibilities and worries of cat-ownership. 

However, I soon found I was not enjoying the freedom.   I hated coming back and putting my key in the door, and finding nobody there to greet me and an empty house.  I kept thinking I saw Claudette out of the corner of my eye, or I'd hear a noise (the house creaks a bit) and think it was her jumping off the bed.  I missed her, and I felt

So .... this is Barry (not his forever name).  He came to live with me just a week ago and we are already firm friends, he is curled at my feet as I type this.  I'm trying out new names to see what fits, but he is gorgeous and has made me very happy.  I still miss Claudette, but he needed a home, and this home needed a cat.

IMG_1418.JPG

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He is a very stunning lad! I exactly know what you mean. I hate not having a cat. Even when the cat is already in boarding and I am due to leave on holiday the next day, it still feels empty and lonely.

Good luck choosing a name! My friend has a Sphinx called Monty (from the Full Monty) but I tried to convince her she should call him Lord Peaches Nakedbottom. ;-) So I might not be the best help... although I have to say he looks like a Stanley. :lol:

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He's gorgeous. How old is he and is he a rescue cat. He looks like a Harry. Hope you will both be happy. My OH talking to our neighbour stopped in mid sentence when he saw what he thought was Sandys ghost. It was a new kit on the block. Fave him a fright. I say good morning to Sandy as I squelch down to the hens. Very boggy lawn.

 

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He's beautiful! Our home still feels empty without guinea pigs and we still hear them making a noise, so I totally get you.

I think he should be called Mr. Oreo!

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Haha, great name suggestions, thanks!  He is 4-5 years old, and yes he's a rescue cat, I've never had any other sort.  Apparently he was abandoned when his owners moved away, they had not bothered to have him neutered and so he was getting into fights and his coat was getting very matted living outdoors.  Hard to imagine as he's a real softie, and clearly loves being pampered!  He's already allowing me to groom him, and has settled in really well.  He won't be going outside for a bit, but I'm going to get a microchip catflap when the time comes.  As he's a bit tubby (due to having been living in a small space) and quite vocal, my friend suggested 'Pavarotti' but I don't think that's his name. 

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Posted (edited)

Figaro?2BCD3199-BEEC-4585-8855-42733404A552.jpeg.c7b46ed29c630ba76b1715efbffc1be3.jpeg

 

Edited by Cat tails
  • Haha 2

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He's lovely and I'm sure he appreciates his new home 😀 Can I just ask which food you gave Claudette as Tara is now 16 (had half her tail amputated in January due to a recurring abscess) and often brings her food back up 🤢 

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Aww! He's lovely and looks very happy in his new home :-D. Mine have all been rescues or garden foundlings too - at least you know exactly what you're getting.

Looking at his gorgeous colouring, I'd be thinking of Jet or Onyx, but then I had a Puddy (cat) and Tozi (because he had extra toes), so maybe not ...

 

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Posted (edited)
On 21.03.2018 at 5:33 PM, dancing cloud said:

Aww! He's lovely and looks very happy in his new home :-D. Mine have all been rescues or garden foundlings too - at least you know exactly wahl pro series dog clippers rating and comparison you're getting.

Looking at his gorgeous colouring, I'd be thinking of Jet or Onyx, but then I had a Puddy (cat) and Tozi (because he had extra toes), so maybe not ...

 

Glad to hear it!

Edited by garethmorse

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On 3/20/2018 at 8:55 AM, scarlettohara said:

He's lovely and I'm sure he appreciates his new home 😀 Can I just ask which food you gave Claudette as Tara is now 16 (had half her tail amputated in January due to a recurring abscess) and often brings her food back up 🤢 

hi Scarlett - in fact, I ended up feeding Claudette on Waitrose basic catfood because it seemed the only one that settled her tummy, and she was not eating enough biscuits to keep her weight up.  However, before that I was buying Royal Canin Sensible biscuits (I think it's pronounced the French way, but who knows!) and they were definitely better for her digestion.  

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