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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The cobbler's cat goes barefoot...

Somerset is the first cat I ever owned. When I got her, I knew nothing about cats - I remember that when I got her to my apartment, I was that she would poop in my plants. She was wandering around exploring the place, and about every 15 minutes I'd pick her up and put her beside the litterbox, just in case she had forgotten where it was. It was a huge relief when she finally used it
I can't believe she thought I didn't know how to use a litterbox - do I look like a dog?

Every so often one of the cats will have some weirdness going on, and I dutifully take them to the vet. This spring, I took her in because she kept sneezing, and when they weighed her, she was about 8.5 pounds. I was a bit surprised, because I thought she was closer to 10 pounds. I didn't think much of it until I came across their vaccination pamplet from March 2007, which was just before they made the move to Ontario. According to the pamphlet, she weighed 12.2 pounds.

In a year, she went from this:

To this:

She's definitely less torpedo shaped now. I hadn't really noticed. Although in retrospect, she was easier to pick up, and didn't make the same impact if she jumped onto my lap.

Otherwise she seemed to be fine - she didn't seem to sleep more than her usual 12 hours per day, she was eating, and she still liked to cuddle and play. If anything, she seemed a bit more active than before, and more chatty. So I deluded myself into believing that at the age of 11 years, she spontaneously changed her exercise and eating habits enough to lose about 30% of her body weight.

Finally, I got around to taking the cats to the vet for this year's vaccinations, and the vet mentioned that she seemed to be a good weight for her size. I told him that she had actually lost a few pounds over the year. He did some bloodwork looking for diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease, and thyroid function. The initial thyroid hormone level came back right at the upper range of normal, so he asked them to do a second test on the blood that measured the amount of "free" thyroid hormone, meaning the level of hormones that were floating around freely in her bloodstream, as opposed to those that were bound to proteins and thus not doing much.

It took a few days to get it back - they had to send it to a reference lab in Cleveland or some other hotbed of veterinary endocrine activity. Yesterday the vet called and went over the results with The Gambler - normal range is 15-55, and her level was 128.7. She's flagrantly hyperthyroid.

So much for my clinical acumen. "La la la, my cat has shrunk to 2/3 of her former size but I don't really notice it."

Now I just have to figure out how to get the medicine into her...


Comments on "The cobbler's cat goes barefoot..."


Blogger Cathy-Cate said ... (Wed Jun 25, 11:42:00 PM EDT) : 

As soon as you said, "*was* 12 pounds", I instantly thought -- she's hyperthyroid! Only because older cats are frequently hyperthyroid, just like they often get kidney disease. And I worked as a vet tech in college, so I had a leg up on you.

Hey, you're a pulmonologist, not an endocrinologist! And she couldn't tell you about her palpitations....


Blogger Not An Artist said ... (Thu Jun 26, 01:36:00 AM EDT) : 

I think its much harder to notice changes in someone (or somecat) when you see them everyday -- its like I don't notice my SO's hair growing shaggy and long because he's always right there.

Its like boiling a frog.

Anyways, good healing vibes for Somerset. ~~~~~~~~~~~~>>>>>


Blogger Kathy Kathy Kathy said ... (Thu Jun 26, 03:27:00 AM EDT) : 

I'm glad there's medicine for Somerset. Good luck on the pill insertion. Mebbe I should take my guys to the vet. One of them is pretty skinny, too. I assume is a summer thing, though, because it happens every year. The vet. I just live for putting them in carriers and listening to Teddy cry the WHOLE WAY in the car just like he did when I first stole him from his mother and brought him home.


Blogger Monika said ... (Thu Jun 26, 06:49:00 AM EDT) : 

oh, poor kitty!


Blogger Bezzie said ... (Thu Jun 26, 07:22:00 AM EDT) : 

Aw poor girl. I'll be there some day. All the women in my family have thyroid problems. No one's going to coat my pill in meat though. :-(


Blogger turtlegirl76 said ... (Thu Jun 26, 07:43:00 AM EDT) : 

Good for you for saying something to the vet and getting the extra tests done. She'll be ok. Now that you're aware of what's going on, it'll be ok.


Blogger Dreams of Yarn said ... (Thu Jun 26, 08:42:00 AM EDT) : 

Poor baby :(
LOVE the I can has cheezburger reference. Nice.

She'll get used to the meds after awhile and it will become routine for you both.


Blogger Bridget said ... (Thu Jun 26, 08:57:00 AM EDT) : 

One of our cats suffered from hyperthyroidism, and we were lucky enough to get liquid medication, that came in flavors (she actually didn't mind taking the tuna-flavored stuff ...)!


Blogger loribird said ... (Thu Jun 26, 09:20:00 AM EDT) : 

Wow! That's a huge weight loss - I'm so glad your vet was able to find the cause. Here's hoping the medicine can bring her back to normal.

(If you're looking for hints, one of our cats used to take pills well if we put them in the center of a mushed up ball of cheese...)


Blogger Yvette said ... (Thu Jun 26, 11:06:00 AM EDT) : 

Cats are so darn good at hiding illness! I've experienced thyroid problems with a cat as well.
She should start to turn around fairly quickly. Happy kitty thoughts to you.


Blogger Michelle said ... (Thu Jun 26, 12:00:00 PM EDT) : 

Simon is hyperthyroid I'm sure you know from looking at him...he usually weighs in at about 6-7lbs.
The oral medication upset his stomach so he is now on a transdermal gel that goes in his ear called methimazole. Might be an option in case Summerset has problems.


Blogger f. pea said ... (Thu Jun 26, 01:56:00 PM EDT) : 

can i come over and snuggle with somerset?


Anonymous Melissa said ... (Thu Jun 26, 02:55:00 PM EDT) : 

Gradual changes are hard to notice. At least you caught it. I hope she starts getting better and gaining her weight back with the treatment. (Though then the vet will tell you that she is overweight and needs to be on a diet.)


Blogger koko puff said ... (Thu Jun 26, 09:42:00 PM EDT) : 

Um. Ditto over here with the lack of awareness...9.2 lbs to 7.4 lbs, 14 years old...we are awaiting the results of tests round three! Unfortunately hyperthyroid and diabetes have been ruled out, so we're focusing on kidney-related.

Good luck with the med-regimen!


Anonymous betseydoodle said ... (Fri Jun 27, 07:36:00 AM EDT) : 

Poor kitty! I hope that she feels better soon with the medication...


Blogger Vaedri said ... (Fri Jun 27, 06:02:00 PM EDT) : 

I suggest trying the pill pockets. They're kind of hollowed-out chewy cat treats that you can use to hide a pill. Most cats love them and don't even notice the pill. Most. Mine, of course, is the exception. Good luck!


Anonymous Kristin said ... (Fri Jun 27, 10:21:00 PM EDT) : 

will she be taking kitty PTU? I second the pill pocket suggestion, although I can't get my isaac to eat them, they work for most kitties.


Blogger Turtle said ... (Sat Jun 28, 09:03:00 PM EDT) : 

i have heard so many people say their cat is as well. Is it some new cat food ingredient that is bringing this out or just chalk it up to better medicine detecting it? Poor kitty! Goodluck with the med's quest.


Blogger Maggie said ... (Sun Jun 29, 12:10:00 AM EDT) : 

Giving medicine to a cat can be surprisingly easy, or a struggle every time. One of our cats will accept anything, easy-peasy. One of them is a bit tougher to dose. Pippa, our youngest, is near impossible.

Pippa is also the biggest! Our three went to their annual on Friday and we learned that she's now 14.5 pounds! I cannot believe it. She's a bruiser!

Our kitties are still very young...the oldest (but smallest) being 4.


Blogger Merry Karma said ... (Sun Jun 29, 01:11:00 PM EDT) : 

Poor kitty...but don't beat yourself up over it. That's why I prefer doctoring people - esp those who are old enough to talk.


Blogger cpurl17 said ... (Wed Jul 02, 06:30:00 PM EDT) : 

Poor sweet kitty! I just want to pick her up and snuggle her!


Blogger Educo School of Colorado said ... (Wed Jul 02, 11:51:00 PM EDT) : 

I'm so glad your cat has you. Did you know hyperthyroidism in cats has increased in the last 30 years and before that it was unheard of? It's being related to the chemicals in the fire retardants used in furniture. Arlene Blum (alpinist, biochemist) has been involved in tons of research and lobbying.

Here is a pdf:
See page 8 about cats. Good luck.


Blogger Carol said ... (Thu Jul 03, 10:29:00 PM EDT) : 

For pill administration, there is a new treat called Greenies. you shove the pill in it and the cat just eats it up supposedly. Haven't tried that one yet. I have crushed the pill and mixed it with a little bit of soft cat food and put it down before dinner time. By a little bit, I mean pea sized or so. That has worked fairly well over the years.

I hope you find soemehting that works....


Blogger Batty said ... (Fri Jul 04, 10:17:00 AM EDT) : 

Poor kitty!

And poor you. Getting medicine into cats is no fun.


Blogger Brigitte said ... (Mon Jul 07, 10:09:00 AM EDT) : 

:( Aw, widdle kitty-girl...

It's hard to know when cats are sick, they don't exactly tap you on the shoulder and say hey!


Blogger marie said ... (Tue Jul 15, 05:11:00 AM EDT) : 

to make your cat swallow the medicine... use a needle-less syringe, and force it inside the side of its mouth. (use extra medicine, as your cat might spit part of it)

mine is grumpy when i do that but no other way will do, so he has to put up with it lol.

good luck!


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