It was just last week that I wrote about both our cats and their health issues. Samantha had been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and started on medication (methimazole). I want to thank everyone who left reassuring comments that this is a very treatable condition. The night before that post went live, Samantha didn’t eat all of her supper. The next day she wouldn’t eat at all. She had been vomiting as well, mostly that yellow bile liquid, and some hairballs.
We’ve had episodes like this with Sam before and nothing was ever found wrong with her. However, it can be dangerous for cats to go without eating for more than a couple of days. Luckily our vet has office hours on Saturday mornings, so we decided to give her until then to see if it resolved itself. It did not, so off to the vet we went.
The first thing after a physical exam was to do blood tests to check her thyroid. She hadn’t had her medication since Thursday morning, and her T4 levels were still high (that is the hormone they produce too much of with this condition), though during the physical exam the vet noticed that her heart rate had come down. Increased heart rate is one symptom of hyperthyroid so that at least was good, and the fact that she hadn’t lost any more weight. The levels may have been higher since she hadn’t had her meds.
Our vet could also feel something in Sam’s stomach, which she shouldn’t have, since she’d been vomiting and not eating. The blood tests didn’t show any problems with her liver or kidneys, so next they wanted to do x-rays to check her stomach. Our regular vet was there as well and when they reviewed the x-rays, they could see a thickening of her stomach walls and something in her lungs. Our hearts dropped because we knew right away what this might mean….cancer.
But they still felt her lack of appetite could be due to not feeling well because of the hyperthyroid (even though normally hyperthyroid increases appetite). The only way to check for cancer would be through ultrasound and endoscopy. They would have to find a specialist that could do that. In the meantime they wanted us to do everything we could to get the thyroid medication in her, and they did further blood tests (CBC) to check for infection and other things. They also gave her fluids for dehydration.
Over the rest of the weekend we did our best to give her lots of attention and love (and other than hiding out more than usual she was acting normally), and we were able to crush up her pills into some tuna juice, which she would drink! I waited for the vet’s phone call while at work Monday. The CBC did not turn up anything definitive, no infections. There were some slight abnormalities but they were things that could have been due to dehydration. Their recommendation was to go forward with the ultrasound/endoscopy. My husband and I had already discussed it (more like agonized over it) and decided we would not put Sam through that. We felt sure we could put her through all that just to find out she had cancer and there would not be a lot to be done. Her age of almost 13 was a consideration, as well as the fact that we lost Samantha’s sister and littermate to cancer several years ago.
I was feeling pretty hopeless by that point, and only knew one thing for sure. I have come to terms with the fact that Conrad may not be with us much longer, but we were not ready to let Sam go. I had had a pep talk with her over the weekend, telling her just that and that she needed to fight. Apparently Sam agreed because when I got home from work that day, she showed up on the kitchen counter looking for her lunch, and she actually ate some of her dry kibble! Later she ate canned food and got her pill, and she’s been eating since.
She had been hiding out downstairs but spent that evening up in the kitchen with us. Sam hides out a lot anyway, but she’s been going to some of her other favorite hideouts over the last couple of days, which we see as a good sign. She’s still not eating as much as she was….but perhaps she had been eating more because of the thyroid? That is normally what happens with thyroid, but we hadn’t really noticed her eating any more than usual before finding out about that. She can also be fussy normally, so I’ll be getting some new foods to try with her as well.
She did throw up some hairballs since, and here’s where we’re at: I am hoping that the hairballs were a factor with her upset tummy, so I am now brushing/combing her daily (and she hasn’t thrown up now for a couple of days). Could she have cancer? Well, yes, that will be hanging over our heads, but we are not going to have that test done just for our own peace of mind. We are just going to hope and pray that this is related to the thyroid and perhaps the hairballs. It’s worth noting that they said her T4 levels were the highest they had ever seen! She’ll have another blood test next week to check again, and they will adjust the meds if needed at that point. They start out on the lowest dosage possible to reduce side effects, and because it could have to be increased later. The meds are not a cure, but a way to manage the disease.
We are feeling cautiously optimistic, and taking things one day at a time. As I’m writing this, she was in the kitchen sink trying to get water out of the faucet (I gave her a dish of it in there), and she ate a little dry food. I wanted to leave this post on that optimistic note. We have good news to share on the pet health front, but as usual my post has gotten pretty long, so we’ll save that for later, along with some other fun stuff we’ve had going on. I’ll keep you posted on Sam, but we are going to hope and pray that there is nothing new to report other than good news.
Today we are joining the Thursday Barks & Bytes blog hop. Thank you to our hosts 2 Brown Dawgs blog, and Heart Like a Dog. Please visit other blogs through the links below!
Travel Animal Doctor says
I am so glad she is getting the proper medication for management and look forward to hearing about her follow-up. Samantha is gorgeous, and she looks like a fighter. 🙂
Groovy Goldendoodles says
Please keep us posted on her recovery. She’s such a gorgeous creature, and I know you love her dearly. Sending positive thoughts your way!
Thank you, Cathy, I’ll post an update on Thursday. But it looks like the thyroid is under control, but she’s still not back to being completely herself yet.
Ellen Pilch says
I will ad Sam to my prayer list.
Thank you so much, Ellen, we really appreciate that!
So sorry little Sam is under the weather – hope she’s feeling better soon.
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
Oh Jan what a scare that was. I hope it was just her being under the weather and not anything else. I’m glad she is feeling better.
She is still not eating as well as I’d like her to, and hiding out more than I like too (though that is pretty normal for her, but we still usually see her more). She goes for her next blood test this week so I hope that will just show that she needs a bit of an increase in the meds, and that will help. I bought some different canned foods to try with her too, and hope that we’ll find one she likes (she is also normally a bit picky).
I’m sorry to hear that Sam isn’t feeling so great and hope that this little corner she turned continues to be positive. For what it’s worth, I think your decision is sound. When faced with having a biopsy on Delilah’s liver the vet asked me, “Depending on what the biopsy showed, would you do anything differently?” And my answer was no, so why put her through something like that? Besides if I “knew” I’d worry far more than I do already. Thanks for joining the blog hop!
Thank you, Jodi. That is worth a lot, because that is a great way to look at it. If we knew Sam had cancer, we wouldn’t do any drastic treatments or anything (if they were even possible), and I’d be watching her with worry even more closely than I am already! Now we can just focus on the positives of her doing better.
2 Brown Dawgs says
I am late getting around this week. I am glad Samantha is perking up. My Dad’s old kitty on the appetite stimulant also was on thyroid meds. In addition, she had high blood pressure. Periodically she would go off her food and have issues, but the vet was always able to get her back on track. She lived to like 18 or 19. I hope the same for Sam. Thanks for joining the hop!
Hailey and Zaphod says
Paws crossed Samantha is all better. My sister’s cat lived with hyperthyroidism for 6 years (he was diagnosed at 11).
The Island Cats says
We’re purring for Samantha and hoping the medication helps her feel better and she continues to eat.
Paws crossed for her. She is such a pretty kitty!
Caren Gittleman says
Sending you purrs and prayers that all will be ok!! Samantha’s situation sounds somewhat similar to what was going on with Cody last December when he wouldn’t eat. It turned out to be nothing, we still have no clue what was going on. But, he doesn’t have thyroid issues.
I DID have thyroid issues and used to take the same meds as Sam, and yes she could have been eating more due to the thyroid and the meds would stabilize that. Also, could she have been having a reaction to the meds?
I also think the hairballs could have been causing her discomfort, she is a long-haired cat, I am surprised they didn’t turn up on the xrays.
Sending purrs and prayers that all is going to be ok!
Thank you, Caren!
I’m so glad things turned out OK with Cody, it can be so frustrating to not know what’s going on!
They didn’t seem think Sam was reacting to the meds, and since she’s better now while still on them, thankfully that didn’t seem to be it.
The hairballs still seem to be better (and yes, I’m surprised they didn’t show up on xrays too), so I’ll keep up the daily brushing and hope that continues.
easy rider says
It’s sometimes the best decision we can make for our pets…Samantha I cross my paws for you and I hope so much that you feel better and that everything is good… Hugs to you, your fursiblings and your pawrents who are there for their furkids in good and in bad times…
So glad Sam is starting to get back to her normal self! Have you tried Cat Lax (or any of the other laxatone hairball remedies)? Soth gets daily hairballs–regardless of how often I brush (I think he might be a little OCD about keeping his whites white)–and our vet gave us Cat Lax (and we’ve grabbed the similar products at Petsmart when on vacation). Supposedly, normal cats only need it daily for a week or so and then you can cut back to a couple times a week, but if we skip a day, Soth throws up another hairball and bile. Maybe it could help Sam? Let me know if you find any irresistible food that she loves–I think I mentioned on another post that Soth goes on hunger strikes sometimes, so we’re always looking for food to mix things up when he gets picky.
I haven’t tried any of those products, but perhaps I should. We used to have her on special food for hairballs, but it ended up upsetting her stomach, strangely enough. I’ll look for that when I go shopping this weekend. Right now, she seems to better as far as that goes since I’ve been brushing her daily, but it may not last.
I’ll definitely let you know on the food. We were doing really well with Merrick salmon pate food, but now she seems to be bored with that. She’s actually eating the bland stuff the vet gave us, right out of the can! (if I put it in the bowl she won’t eat….aren’t cats funny?) But that’s not something she should have all the time, it’s just a prescription diet for upset stomachs.
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
Sometimes the best thing we can do for a pet is to NOT have a procedure done for our own peace of mind. I will keep her in my prayers that the T4 levels will even out and become more manageable with meds soon. Callie’s been on thyroid meds (for hypothyroidism) for a few years now, and she’s doing great.
M. K. Clinton says
We are keeping positive thoughts and prayers for y’all. ♥
Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady says
Aw jeez. I am so so very sorry for all your going through!! Paws are crossed and please keep us updated :/
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
I think you made a very selfless and good decision about the testing. We’re praying right along with you that Sam will eat normally and that your next post will be full of good news. 🙂
Thank you so much for saying that, it wasn’t an easy decision. Thank you as well for the prayers, so far, so good.