Update On My Update: My Hand In My Cat’s Paw: An Update On Loki

As some of remember my 12-year-old cat, Loki, looked sick. He was thin and not licking himself and smelled bad. We made him indoor-only and bathed him, which was both cute and odd.

Poor wet Loki

The smell was actually an ear infection (although that doesn’t necessarily explain the weight loss and desire for cat dreadlocks). He was put on antibiotics to treat the infection and became ataxic, i.e., walked like a drunk. Funny for 10 seconds. Terrifying for the other 1430 seconds of the day.

Since his blood work was fairly normal in the circumstances (mild anemia and very high neutrophils), he was just put on new antibiotics for the outer ear in case the antibiotics caused it and another antibiotic for a possible inner ear infection since that often causes ataxia in animals.

Within a week on the new medications, he stopped walking around like he’d enjoyed one too many shots of whiskey and began puking and pooping his brains out.

At that point (also known as Saturday), I posted on my Facebook page:

Advice/suggestions please: I have thought that over the last 6 months or so my 12 yo cat, Loki, was struggling in his old age and seemed unhappy and unwell-ish. Just not himself –even though his lab work is normal, he lost weight and stopped taking care of himself. And since his severe ear infection a few weeks ago, he really seems to not have a good quality of life. He is pooping and puking from the 2xpill which has to be shoved into his mouth and his jaw held shut because he’s a freakin pill ninja and he may never be able to go off the antibiotics since cat inner ear infection are often chronic. The most worrying sign? He has only purred once in the last month and he used to be a purring love bug. I am tearing up writing this status update so be gentle in your honesty, okay? xo

I received the sweetest, saddest, most heartfelt comments (feel free to peruse but bring tissues).

After reading and crying, I decided to take Loki off all the medication, since the treatments were as bad as the infection, and get a second opinion from a vet that was more quality-of-life oriented.

Loki perked up off the meds, not the same cat as a year ago but so much happier. He was purring and eating and talking.

First time he’d snuggled with the kids in a month.

We still went to the vet since I try not to play doctor to the ones I love. The doctor was like Scott in vet-form, which was awesome and hilarious. When the vet was squishing Loki’s stomach, I said: See, he doesn’t even fight you or growl. That’s worrisome.
Vet: Maybe he likes me.
Me: Or maybe he’s really sick.
Vet: It’s okay to admit Loki really likes me.

Between thinking how much Scott would love our vet and giving our vet advice on kids, he looked at Loki’s ear and drew more blood, and we waited. And waited. And waited.

What my husband and kids gave me when I came home from the vet’s office. They even wrote little notes inside the cards.

This morning, I got great news. The anemia and neutrophils are back to normal although the liver enzymes are now up. However, the vet thinks it could be just an old liver trying to process all the medication.

And more importantly, the vet said: He’s doing well so let’s leave him alone. If he keeps losing weight even with eating or if the ear infection, particularly the inner infection, comes back, we’ll decide what Loki needs, but right now everything is good enough.

The vet also suggested, as a friend did in the Facebook comments, to keep a list of things Loki enjoys. When I begin to cross off more and more, it’s probably time. On the medication, half were gone. Off the medication, only one, going outside, is crossed out so we will give him lots of love and wait.

Although I plan to forget that I’m waiting and just love him.

Thanks to my freaders and family who has been holding my hand and Loki’s paw through all of this. We really needed people who understood the love and fear and concern around a furry family member and y’all were there. Loki and I are very grateful, and I feel more at peace with whatever may come because of you.

UPDATE: Loki is back at the vet today because of a limp. The vet thinks it might be the same infection that caused the ataxia but no one really knows at this point. He is getting a shot of antibiotics and a shot of steroids to see if it helps. I’m not sure I’m going to be willing to do anything else.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

19 thoughts to “Update On My Update: My Hand In My Cat’s Paw: An Update On Loki”

  1. I was terrified to read this but I’m so glad I did. It’s so important to try to give our elder and sick babies joy for as long as we can. You guys are great kitty parents.

  2. So glad to hear about Loki feeling better. I have an 18yo that is in decline and just lost my friend LaGata who was 22. I hope I do not loose them both in one year. They are a loving and constant presence, anyone who does not understand that they are a family member has not had a cat. Or is just an asshole.

    1. I have two 12-year-old cats, and when we were adopting more last year (because we are crazy cat people), I couldn’t adopt any cats around their age because I was terrified I would lose them all at the same time. So sorry to hear about LaGata and hope your 18 yo comes back around to purring and content.

  3. I’m sobbing like a baby over here. (It was the flowers and the card that sent me over the edge.) SO glad to hear Loki is feeling better, and that he is his happy, purring self again. Give him some chin scritches for me.


  4. Whew! So glad Loki is feeling better. It’s been almost a year since we lost Louis, my 17.5 year old cat. Eddie still asks about him and tells me he misses him. I was really hoping and praying that you would have happy news to report, so this made me smile.

    Remember, cats have 9 lives. Loki probably still has like, 8 left 🙂

  5. I’ll admit, I teared-up just seeing the title of this post in my INBOX.
    I was worried.

    I hadn’t left a comment on your Facebook post since you already had so much wonderful advice and I couldn’t find the right words of my own to show support because I, too, am a LOVER of my furry children.


    And I know not everyone understands they aren’t just pets but I do; and the thought of making the choices I know in my head we all will face someday – well –

    my heart struggles.

    So I’m glad beyond words to see a diagnosis of “good enough” –
    How appropriate for you, my friend who is “late enough.”

    Enough is okay. Enough is wonderful.
    And for now, yes. Just love him.

    Of course.

  6. It’s so hard with a furry member of the family is sick. They look so miserable and can’t tell you what is wrong. I am glad he is going better and I hope he continues to get well.

  7. I went throught this with my dog. We grew up together. I rescued him when I was 23, I drove across the country with him, and he helped me be brave. He kept getting sick and then better until one day he couldn’t move much and he looked at me and howled at me. That’s when I knew it was time. I’ve always said that dog was my soul mate…much to my husbands dismay! I hope Loki keeps feeling better and you get more time with him.

    When I saw the first picture in this post it brought back memories of a childhood cat we had that kept losing weight. After multiple vet trips they finally found out he had a thyroid problem. Has Loki’s thyroid been checked? With our cat it took the vet a long time to figure it out so maybe cats don’t usually have thyroid problems. Just putting that out there just in case.

    1. My cat is like that too — was my buddy through so much difficult stuff and stayed while things have gotten so much better. I can’t imagine my life without him.
      The first round of blood work included a thyroid work up because our vet (both) wondered that right away, but it’s normal. Thanks for asking.

  8. I was so worried to read this post, but so happy to hear that you followed your instincts and that Loki is feeling better! I hope he has lots of time left to cuddle and purr. The phrase “holding Loki’s paw” totally brought tears to my eyes. It really evoked that hard-to-describe feeling of just how much people love their animals (me included). I want to give him a hug right now.

  9. Be strong! I just lost my 14yo old baby to cancer. She hid it from us like cats tend to do, and 5 days after the first vet visit I had to let her go. Thank god for my kids and husband, looks like yours will be your rock through this. There are more of us out there who understand a cats love, and the rest can go [email protected] themselves!

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