I recently blogged about the antics of my elderly cat, Scruffles.
I adopted Scruffles when she was in her early teens. She is 17 now. I found out from the friends who had placed her with me from the friend of theirs who had died of cancer that her complete medical records stopped at her six month spay and front declaw. I will blog someday about declawing; suffice it to say for now that I am against it.
Anyway, Scruffles had never been to a veterinarian again since.
I took her to my vet to establish a geriatric pet profile, and to use a groomer for the first time in my life. I work on all my own animals, but due to her age and the severe matting of her long coat, I wanted her sedated and professionally groomed. Although that did not happen, her geriatric exam did, which revealed a mass in her abdomen which led to bloodwork and x-rays, which led to an ultrasound, which led to a "NSF" (no significant findings), which led to a $250.00 grooming bill, since the traveling ultrasound vet did not charge me (so kindly) for the $400+ ultrasound since she could not see anything, and since she values my rescue work.
That was six years ago, and Scruffles continued to not need any vet care, until recently. For a few days she did not seem her normal disfunctional self, but was sleeping a lot and listless. I gave her two days, and on day three, when she started coughing and sneezing, we went straight to my World's Most Wonderful Vet (Tri-City Animal and Bird Clinic in Mancherster, my second home, and where I worked for 11 years).
A series of bloodwork, cultures and other lab tests revealed, not surprisingly, that Scruffles is suffering from Thyroid disease, which many consider to be a synonym for cats over the age of 10 or 12.
Back in my day, thyroid disease was really icky to work with. When we initially began to treat it, it was done surgically and was usually a tricky and difficult surgery, often with complications. Later, radiactive iodine therapy began to be used, but that was also problematic as the cats' waste would be radioactive and precaution needed to be taken in interacting with them, such as wearing protective gloves to change the litterbox.
Hyperthyroidism in cats, as I mentioned earlier, is a very common endocrine disorder, and sometimes exhibits similar symptoms as kidney disease or diabetes, so a good diagnostician is very important. Signs can include hyperactivity, increased appetite or thirst yet weight loss, poor skin and hair coat, and diarrhea and or vomiting. Fortunately I caught Scruffles early, at the "just looks pathetic" stage.
The thyroid gland is located in the neck, and it regulates bodily functions by using iodine from the diet to produce thyroid hormones, which influence heart rate, metabolism, blood pressure, body temperature, and bowel functions.
Recently, veterinary medicine has developed an anti-thyroid daily medication that inhibits the excessive production of thyroid hormone, which can adversely affect the heart and kidneys, as well as other vital organs. I hate pilling my animals, so I was thrilled to learn of the most recent advance for treating the disease - diet.
Hills prescription veterinary diet has created a canned and dry cat food called "y/d Feline Thyroid Health". Unfortunately for me (my vet warned me that I would hate it, and I do, since I feed holistically) the first two ingredients are - wait for it, I can hardly bring myself to say it - CORN GLUTEN MEAL (!!!fainting!!!) followed by pork fat (reviving from fainting ... what?! Pork fat? fainting agan).
So, first of all, I ask you - have you ever seen cats stalking fields of corn to eat? - and secondly, since when was Fat one of our major food groups? Arghhhhhh (says the organic hippee nutrition nazi in me). However, Scruffles was literally PAWING at the bag as I was opening it and has gotten herself a new paw-watch to remind me of when it is time to give her her breakfast and dinner canned food. She LOVES it, and it is so much easier than pilling her twice a day.
So, so far, so good. She gets her levels re-tested in a few weeks, I am helping her to study to pass those tests with flying colours ;).
There is so much more to this issue, if you are interested, please email me or better, contact your veterinarian for more information. As always, if you have any concerns about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Dorene and Scruffles, who is waiting at the canned food cupboard for lunch