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.
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.
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.
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.