Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hamlet has gone to Biker Cat Heaven

After our own vet gave Hamlet some Lasix for the congestion in his lungs last week, he rallied a bit, and each time I warmed him a little Fancy Feast Liver and Chicken, (his favorite), he would valiantly push it around the dish and consume some of it.  On Sunday he worked his way through a whole half can and his breathing seemed to have settled down.

Yesterday the breathing was intermittently bad and Hamlet ate little, although he still tried to drink a fair amount.  He would look at me longingly in hopes of getting his hunger assuaged, and would try to bend down to eat his Royal Canin dry food, but could do no more than lick the surface.  He struggled desperately when I was trying to give him  subq fluids, which he had never done before, and we think it was panic because he couldn't breathe at the angle he was lying on the floor.  He WAS frequently having to change position to be comfortable.

Today we decided we had to take the next step as recommended by the vet, even though she wasn't in the office.  Luckily we had an old acquaintance and workmate of Margie Scherk who made us feel we had the best advice we were going to get for our boy.  She referred us to the major emergency clinic for ultrasound and the ability to cope with a possible difficult scoping of his throat to see what the obstruction was.

We never would have guessed on our own, and it turned out to be his nemesis.

Hamlet had a collapsed larynx.  Part of the time he was taking in food and water it was ending up in his lungs, which was why we had the intermittent issues needing lasix to reduce the congestion.  Never could I have been more relieved that the vet had insisted I not force feed Hamlet any further last week as I would only have caused him so much more distress.

When we originally rescued Hamlet all those years ago, he was not able to use his voice.  He would try to talk to us but there would be a silent meow all the time.  Intermittently he would manage to be vocal but it wasn't a normal cat sound - we would call it bellowing.  Now we know that there was much more history to his life than we were aware of, and he was probably a number of years older than the 20+ we could trace.

This afternoon Hamlet was starting to show that the constant gasping in of air, that often ended up in his stomach and intestines, was draining his energy to a level that we could see he really wanted us to fix, or he wanted to escape, so we listened to his expression of exhaustion and let him be put to sleep.  He was too old and too weak to have any chance of surviving a tracheotomy.  Along with the possible surgical complications due to his seizure risk, and other factors, it would have been for us that we kept him alive, and we really did want to do that.  We agreed, together, that we needed to let him be at peace.

He was a wonderful gentle soul who wouldn't hurt a fly, but was prepared to hurl his body at any cat that insulted him when outdoors.  Dr Lim who had rescued him called him a "Biker Cat" and he was a tough survivor to the end, trying so desperately to take in air.  We will miss the dear soul who would come and bellow at us if we started raising our voices at each other.  We are two very strong individuals who learned, at his paw, to treat each other with more respect, and hopefully that legacy will continue with us for the rest of our lives, in his honor.

Hamlet was about 10 pounds back in October, but today he had dropped to 7½ pounds.  When he was starving as a stray he was 8 pounds, so this episode had drained him of all reserves.

For future reference for other cat owners, we knew Hamlet didn't have asthma, but were always disturbed by the strange sound of his breathing.  It was brushed off as possible polyps, but if we had taken the time and money to investigate when he was healthy, there would have possibly been a chance for him to succeed in his determination to overcome yet one more obstacle.  As it is, he is now with his old pals Marmaduke and Max, and hopefully they are making hims as happy and comfortable as they all where when alive.

I have mentioned elsewhere that I believed Hamlet's condition wasn't caused by his battle with diabetes, however, co-incidentally I received an emal this evening that has provided information on this very subject, in which there is reference to neuropathy, which was a condition that Hamlet battled.  Click on this section to see the Winn Foundation information on this.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just Getting Too Old. )-:

About a month ago Hamlet had an 'accident' in his bed, unloading a whole bladder full of urine.  He is always a trooper about getting to the litter box, so this was a very unusual behavior uncharacteristic of him.  He had 'leaked' urine the odd time when having seizures, but never like this.  Since that episode he has been having a bit of difficulty breathing, and when it became so bad he had open mouthed breathing, we rushed him to the emergency veterinarian.

After running all the tests that would eliminate possible deterioration or disease in Hamlet's system, and trying different medications that might improve his breathing, the vet sent X-rays to a specialist online for assessment.  The online veterinarian, and our own vet, have concluded that there is a possible mass that could be cancer restricting Hamlet's ability to swallow or he may have had a stroke back in December when he had his accident.  All methods of searching further for answers would be more painful for Hamlet, which we don't want at this point, so we are taking our lead from his behavior and symptoms.

We have assumed that he is about 20 years old, but an X-ray also showed up previous damage to Hamlet's shoulder that happened before we rescued him, suggesting a possible longer history than we are aware of as it was completely healed by the time we took him in.  His muscle tone has been deteriorating quite markedly for the past year, and his spine is very prominent as the result of the type of muscle wasting that happens with old age.

Hamlet may have exhausted all the lives he is going to, and it is likely we will have to let him go.  We are asking too much to expect the old guy to go on forever, and he has had a great run at life's experiences.  I just wish we could give him more as he has given us so much over the years.