It took a bit longer than expected but the results of all of Fritz’s blood tests are now back.
He definitely doesn’t have a thyroid problem. That’s been confirmed. And his kidneys are fine (they’re actually working very well for a 17 year-old cat).
However, he does have liver problems probably brought on by an impairment of how his bone marrow is working. The vet can’t nail the condition down as some indicators (like white blood cell levels) are off the charts and others are way below what they should be. The only way to narrow it down would be through liver and bone marrow biopsies. And the vet doesn’t recommend those given Fritz’s age – he’d have to go under a deep anesthetic and there are inherent dangers there, again given his age.
Fritz, peeping out of some bushes when he was about one year old
There are three possible causes (or maybe a combination of one or more of them) for his condition:
1. Allergies and/or a parasite (e.h. lung worm)
2. Bone marrow dysfunction, possibly due to onset of bone cancer
3. Liver disfunction, possibly due to liver cancer or possibly due to damage from white cells flooding his system due to bone marrow dysfunction
There’s also a muscle-wasting condition that might or might not be in the mix. To say that the blood test results were a bit unusual and non-typical would be an understatement. But that’s Fritz. He never does the expected. And, because the results are non-typical, they’re not pointing to a specific cause of his condition.
The vet can’t give any idea on life expectancy. He’ll need to go in for another round of blood tests in a month to see how the indicators are moving. If there’s little or no change, then the condition is being managed and/or stable and that would tend to indicate a longer life span.
If the indicators go out of whack even more then that would mean a progressive condition and a shorter lifespan.
The treatment for all the above conditions basically boils down to giving Fritz steroids – he’s already on them for his asthma but the dosage has now been doubled – so in some ways it would be pointless going ahead with biopsies anyway. He’s also been put on a drug to boost his appetite and desire to drink. The condition he has sometimes overrides his hunger and thirst reflexes. He had been going out to the food bowl, looking at it but not eating. I thought at the time that was just him being fussy about what he ate. But he obviously knew he needed food but had no desire to eat (or drink).
He’s home again now. Ans he was re-assessed last night. The vet was really happy with how Fritz responded to treatment over the weekend and said he was like a 7 year-old cat in how he moved and reacted to things around him.
So now it’s day to day with me monitoring his food and water intake and his behaviour. I also need to see if the fluids they pumped him up with over the weekend stay in his system over the coming few weeks (good) or he starts to get dehydrated again (bad).
Here’s Fritz on the right and Harley (a neighbor’s cat) on the left on a hot summer afternoon in 2010. Harley started to move in with us, spending more and more time and overnighting but then she just disappeared and we never saw her again.
Filed under: Cat Care