Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Mojo needed for Pepper Bean
As I write, my lovely 14-year old longhaired girl cat, Pepper Bean, is hospitalised at the vets, suffering from what we think is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).
She went to the vets yesterday as she had been lethargic and had basically stopped eating for a day or so, although she was drinking buckets of water. The vet found a nasty looking tooth for which she gave us antibiotics and we hoped that was that, and within 48 hours Pepper would start eating again. Blood was taken for testing, the result of which would show if Pepper's kidneys were failing (which can cause anorexia - failure to eat) and, if they were, would indicate what to do next. I was obviously upset about that as kidney disease is a major killer of cats. We were to ring back this morning at 11am for the test results.
This morning we woke up to find her having trouble breathing - shallow and rapid, as if she'd run a long distance, and she was obviously in a lot of discomfort. She was crying and was weak. We waited until just after 11am to ring the vets and they said her blood test was fine and showed her kidneys were okay for a lady of her age. TLH told them about her laboured breathing and they offered to hospitalise her to see what was going on. We took her down immediately. She was panting and crying in the car - she really doesn't like going in the car and hates going to the vet.
We handed her over and went to do some food shopping. I was feeling okay about it all then as kidney disease had been ruled out. As soon as we got back in, the vet rang to say that Pepper was actually very ill - she had a lot of fluid in her chest (not her lungs but between the lungs and chest wall) which was pressing on her lungs causing her to not get enough oxygen, hence the shallow, rapid breathing. This is often caused by a heart problem and if she's not stabilised, could be fatal. Pepper needed to be kept as calm and stress free as possible (to lower her heart rate and blood pressure, hence reducing her risk of sudden heart failure) so after needle aspiration of some of the fluid, she was given a diuretic to reduce the fluid levels and thence the pressure on her lungs, which should help sort out her breathing and lessen the stress. They also put her in a cage and just basically keep an eye on her from a distance but without interacting too much - doing no tests whatsoever - until she stabilises. We have a critical 48 hours for her to get through this. If she survives then the vets can start investigating further.
She (the vet) didn't actually say the words 'hypertrophic cardiomyopathy' to me on the phone at lunchtime, but putting the words 'cat laboured breathing anorexia' into Google makes this the closest fit. It is an incurable disease but life expectancy (assuming the cat survives the initial crisis - which is what Pepper's going through now) with medication and lifestyle changes seems to range from 3 months to a couple of years, maybe longer depending on the severity of the disease. She'll need to be kept as stress-free as possible which might be tricky as she's always been of an anxious and suspicious disposition, but if she does get through this then obviously we'll do what we can for her.
I'm to ring back at 5pm for an update if the vet doesn't ring before. I hope she doesn't because that can only mean things have got worse. She said that, at that time (lunchtime), Pepper was calm and happy so maybe she'll be okay.
UPDATE: Sadly, she declined further this afternoon & the vet said she was unlikely to last the night. So we went down to say our goodbyes & she was very poorly, struggling to breathe even though they were giving her oxygen & she was obviously disconnected from everything around her. We decided we couldn’t leave her to suffer so gave permission for euthanasia, our last gift to her. Farewell, Pepper Bean.