Wow, it has been a really long time since I used this blog. Between Cheezland and, intermittently, Facebook, it’s been easier to just share kitty news elsewhere.
But since Cory-Bear just had a not-yet-confirmed diagnosis of cancer, which means that there’s an invisible clock ticking and we have no idea how long it will take for it to run down… I imagine there are going to be lots of updates. And honestly, posting everything in two different places is going to at best be annoying, and if things get hectic, might not be possible. This way, anyone interested in following how Cory’s doing can just subscribe, or drop by here now and then, or wait for me to share links to new posts (probably will do, but can’t promise). I’ll look at the settings and see what I can do to make things as convenient as possible for Facebook peeps and Cheezland peeps (many of which are Cheezpeeps anyway!). This is where we started, posting Cory’s story as often as possible. For however long we still have, I thought we’d come back here. I’ll toss in pics and links to YouTube vids and any updates.
Not-so-quick catch-up, mostly Cory’s recent health history: the whole household has been in a lot of turmoil for the past three years or so. We moved to a new apartment a bit over 2 years ago, and the kids all seem to really prefer it – the’re all more confident and relaxed here. Trick has either lymphoma or IBS, both of which are treated the same way and a more clear diagnosis would be intrusive and expensive. He’s responding very well, has gained his weight back, and is no longer vomiting, so with any luck, he’ll be with us a long time yet, his same crazy self. Freya had a terrifying episode of her back end suddenly not working, but after a few days of pain meds and intense 24/7 nursing care, she got her functionality back just like nothing ever happened.
Cory, meanwhile, was originally diagnosed with calicivirus as the reason for his tongue to develop serious ulceration on the outer third or so, multiple times. It hasn’t happened in years, and I’m grateful for that! But he still has a very smooth tongue, since all the papillae never grew back properly. He was diagnosed with eosinophilic granuloma on his nose and upper lip, and was put on a consistent dose of prednisolone for that. I wasn’t totally thrilled, since we’ve been fighting with his weight being too high ever since his first dose of pred years ago.
More recently, new vet, same clinic.
She says: not calicivirus, not eosinophilic granuloma. Both were guesses, never confirmed, and do not match the current picture. More probably pemphigus, which causes discolouration effects (rather striking, pink spots appearing on a black cat) and can cause mouth sores.
She also said to get his weight down NOW. At the time (late Dec 2017), he was 8 years old, and over 10kg. A fussy cat with an allergy to corn and wheat is kinda hard to put on a diet that he’ll actually eat. This vet said: regular food, but get him off the kibble, no matter how much he likes it. Some cats – she calls them “true carnivores” – just cannot handle the carbs, and all kibble has carbs. It’s addictive, because it’s all sprayed with something called animal digest (sounds tasty). But get him eating low-carb wet food (and not all wet food is low carb) and get the kibble down and out.
Now, for as long as I can recall, I’ve been free-feeding kibble with wet food spaced through the day on a set schedule. What we did, to minimize the stress, was flip it. They now have wet food available 24/7… but they get kibble, in a limited amount, on a set schedule. Currently that’s three times a day. And so that Cory doesn’t inhale it all in seconds, we made a game of it. He loves it! And he’s been very good about eating his wet food, even without the high-carb gravy stuff – which has wheat gluten in it anyway, adding to his itching.
Thanks to a serious YouTube design flaw, the video that WAS here got removed off YT. Until I can remember which of two videos it was AND our incredibly slow and unstable Internet connection allows me to re-upload, here’s a link to the two possible videos it could have been, on Google Drive. I’m hoping there is nothing embarassing in either one, and that this works for peeps. I’m really sorry! Why the heck do we all keep using YT anyway?!?!
And his weight started to drop. Gently, but definitely. Every vet visit, it was lower. In less than six months, he lost 2kg, and his energy was so much better!
But more recently, other stuff has started happening. The fur-pulling because of allergies and itching has happened before. The sinus infection flaring up, so has that, but it has never lasted for weeks before. Antibiotic drops slowed it for a while, to give him some relief from the constant heavy thick discharge (and us cleaning him up several times a day with tissue, baby saline drops, and a baby nasal suction bulb, although he was very good about it). Also, he has a tooth that’s sore – we noticed this so fast, because of his reactions during his kibble game, that the vet almost missed it on an exam! Metacam for that, while we tried to figure out how to pay for dental surgery.
We tried him on Cerenia, which Trick is also on, but it caused weird effects. Obsessive grooming of the same spot for a long time, and more worryingly, apparently seizures: he’d just stop moving, stop reacting, turn totally non-responsive, for anything from a few seconds to most of a minute, then just keep going like nothing happened. We stopped the Cerenia, and that stopped happening.
Then, weeks later, we noticed that his pupils were asymmetrical. Vet checked him out. It wasn’t at all clear which eye it was, she had to take him in the x-ray room where it’s all dark, and watch the reactions on coming out into the light, that kind of thing, to conclude that the left eye is responding more slowly and is always more constricted by at least a little. She told us to watch for seizures, and that she wasn’t comfortable doing dental surgery with an unknown neurological issue involved, so since he’s responding so well to the Metacam (a significantly lower dose than the limit, even) just keep doing that.
A few days later, we might have seen a seizure. He was in my arms after having kibble, and he never stopped purring or showed any distress, but for something like three minutes, his whole body just sort of… tremored. Reminded us both of someone with Parkinson’s or something like that. He was fine afterwards, if he noticed anything it was obviously not distressing to him at all. The thing is, it was so quiet and gentle that I would never have noticed if I weren’t actually holding him. He could be lying in arm’s reach beside me when I’m working, and unless I reached over for a scritch at just the right moment, I wouldn’t know. Vet says: definitely something neurological going on.
But, all this, he’s still happily going about his life. His sinus congestion came back, worse than ever, and we talked to the vet about what we could do. He went on oral antibiotics for ten days, and that very quickly got it under control.
But… he also started having other odd little things. His eye started weeping and looked swollen, the one with the odd pupil. I called to make a vet appointment, but with the weekend (I called on a Friday morning) it was going to be Monday afternoon. No big deal, it didn’t seem painful or immediately dangerous, and he let me do the teabag trick a time or two. But his eye cleared up over the weekend, mostly. Instead, we noticed that he was making a mess with his food, especially wet food. He started crying more often for running water (he loves it in the shower) and acting like he was thirsty all the time, but there was no increase in the litter box output. He started sniffing at food and acting as though he was about to eat, then not eating. When I resorted to finger-feeding, he was fine with that, and when he had running water, he’d drink enthusiastically… but have serious droolage. And, we discovered on Monday, his weight dropped a fair bit very quickly.
Vet took all of this on Monday, checked him out, sent off some bloodwork… but also voiced a suspicion that the left side of his face might be paralyzed to some degree. It’s hard to make out on black cat. We didn’t see any serious seizure or stroke, and he’s in the same room with me most of the time day and night, but not 24/7 and even when he’s close, well, quiet things happen. So we went home with that.
Over the next two days, we started treating everything as a functional issue rather than pain or lack of inclination. And it works! He’s got the hang of water from a feeding syringe, so quickly that he sits in the bathroom and yells when he wants me to come give him water that way. We’re giving him a bit more kibble than we have been, and may go from 3x/day back to 4x/day. Wet food, he can sometimes eat, but I’m making sure that the rather dense pate has just a tiny bit of water added to make it goopier and easier – and I’m wiping him up afterwards. We can work around this.
Wednesday, the vet called with the bloodwork results.
His white blood cell count is really high. Lots of things can cause that. Fewer things because it’s just his lymphocytes and eosinophils that are super-high, not so much the regular ones. Could be stress, allergies, toxoplasmosis waking up because of an underlying immune issue, yada yada. But given the overall picture, she strongly believes he has cancer. She was very gentle on the phone, but she was certain enough to point out that while he’s currently happy and comfortable… we’re eventuallly looking at euthanasia so he doesn’t suffer. There are a whole bunch of things we can test for, we can do futher bloodwork to check for FIV or Feline Leukemia, we can get the lab to take a closer look at the white cells to see what tey look like, we can do hundrreds of dollars of X-rays… all of which might tell us nothing. Or, we go back in 6 weeks for a repeat of his CBC bloodwork, just that, to see what his white cell count looks like.
And meanwhile… spoil him, love him, make sure he’s comfortable, watch him for any new symptoms or complications.
No one in Kingston offers intensive cancer treatment for pets. I wouldn’t put him through that even if we had the money for a conclusive diagnosis and the treatment out of town. There’s no way to explain to him why all this is happening.
For over nine years, we’ve stolen time for him to be happy and loved. I’ve considered him my son: no human kids, but I bottle fed this little rugrat, cleaned his bottom until he was litter trained, carried him around in a sling. He got me through my worst depressive episode ever, and Jackie’s solution to my anxiety spiking is to shove him into my arms. The best thing we can do, for his sake, is give him as much love and joy as we can but keep things as normal as possible. And pray that there’s no pain. When it gets bad, we’ll just set him free, to be with Angel and Loki again, and Nermal who never met him.
But for right now? He’s completely unaware of anything being wrong other than a couple of minor annoyances. And I’m going to do everything in my power to give him every day of love and happiness I can still steal for him. I’ll worry about grieving later.