About 6 weeks ago Cato -who just turned 14- suddenly started to vomit multiple times. Up to the point that she only threw up bile and foam. Throwing up is one of Cato’s specialities, but usually it stops after one time. She also completely stopped eating and drinking afterwards. A quick Google search taught me that cats can get liver damage from not eating for 2 days or more. So we made sure to see the vet the next day.
Why is Cato so ill?
The day before her health declined we had some work done to our back yard, including a quick cleaning of the patio. The patio cleaner was supposed to be biological, but upon further investigation we learned that it contained Didecyldimethylammonium Chloride / Benzalkonium Chloride. Diluted and dried up this substance shouldn’t do much harm to cats. But we think that she might have ingested some from her water bowl outside. Afterwards I feel so stupid for not checking on her bowl, so if you read this and have pets, be aware. She did not have any mouth ulcers though, which usually happens if a cat licks Benzalkonium Chloride from its paws.
Up to this day we are not sure if she’s got any damage from the patio cleaner, or if it is just a coincidence that she got ill the day after. The blood tests and echograph didn’t show a clear diagnosis, other than that she had an infection and possibly pancreatitis.
Sadly I discovered this Monday that her right eye has gone blind, the pupil is permanently dilated. I talked to the vet in tears when I found out. Because she had been poked around so many times I had promised Cato not to go there anymore. But I decided to bring her in once more, only to see if her blood pressure wasn’t sky high. Once she was on the treatment table she made a perfect poo, haha. Both me and the vet were happy, because she hadn’t been able to do so in a while. Her blood pressure was just fine. So now we still don’t know what’s wrong, but it might be a brain tumor.
Cato’s main symptoms are:
– Hardly eating
– Stomach pain (she mostly sits hunched up with her feet tucked under her)
– Sleeping most of the time
– Back leg weakness
– Sudden blindness in one eye
In the beginning she also stopped drinking, but this has gotten better after a day of fluid therapy.
So what now?
To make sure that Cato was getting fed, we had to tube feed her multiple times a day. Basically this means feeding the cat with syringes with wet food (in our case Hills I/D). She also had to get multiple medications, such as antibiotics. The vet made this look so simple, but at home it was a huge battle trying to get her to swallow a pill. So from that day on I mixed it into her food. This was time-consuming, but luckily we are both working from home as freelances for kind & patient clients.
The horrible thing about pancreatitis is that you can’t cure it, you can only help the cat a bit and hope for the disease to go away. And if it’s a brain tumor we would only prolong her life for a year or so, if it can be treated in the first place. There’s no clear prognosis and her condition will range from day to day. One day I though I had to let her go and the next night she gave me headbutts and cuddled up beside me. Eventually Cato got fed up (no pun intended) with the force feeding, up to the point that she started hiding from us. Last weekend we decided to only feed her Almo Nature from a small bowl -great treat for any cat- which went well.
We might have to let her go
Tuesday she was doing really well, she was active and managed to kill a pigeon in the backyard (O_o). But today she is not doing well at all. She can barely walk and she accepts syringe feeding by opening her mouth herself. If she will stay like this or if she gets even worse, we will put to sleep before the weekend. It really breaks my heart to even think about this. It is so hard to let her go, but it is even harder to see that her quality of life is suffering. For now we try to keep her as comfortable as we can. We also gently cuddle her a lot, which she still accepts and enjoys.
all of the above pictures are from before her illness