Fritz, my remaining elderly cat (he’ll be 18 in April), hasn’t been well for the last couple of weeks. He’s suffered from asthma for several years now but giving him tablets regularly has pretty much kept that under control except for the odd coughing fit.

Here he is, sleeping in his cat igloo

He also has arthritis as so so many old cats. For that he takes Metacam. It must be pretty fast-acting as he now comes looking for his medication if I forget to give it to him. He’s obviously made the connection between getting the medicine and the pain in his arthritic joints fading quickly.

A little over 2 weeks ago I heard him digging in the litter tray. He’s always been one to do his business outside so I wasn’t privy to his toilet habits. The litter tray was there for emergencies and overnight use when the catflap was closed.

I didn’t pay attention to his digging in the tray the first time, but then I heard him digging again a few seconds later. This was a bit odd as the catflap was open and he could easily have gone out into the garden.

I watched him surreptitiously to see what was going on. Each time he dug in the tray, he tried to poo. And each time nothing came out. He obviously needed to go but for all intents and purposes, seemed to be constipated.

I made an appointment to see the vet later that day.

He got a thorough examination and, while his heart rate was a bit high, the vet put that down to vet (white coat) anxiety. The vet did find a small lump in Fritz’s rectal tract which he surmised was a hard bit of poo that was causing a blockage rather than it being something more ominous. Fritz had also lost about half a kilo in weight since his last visit – that’s equivalent to a human losing about 10 kg, a lot for a cat.

Paraffin oil was prescribed to lubricate things and I was told to keep Fritz in for a few days until he’d had a bowel movement. The vet also thought he might be suffering from stress or anxiety at home which might have been due to bullying from one of the neighbour’s cats. So I was also given a pheromone spray to use on his bed and litter tray which would calm him down. It seemed to have the opposite effect and he’d cry after I squirted his bed particularly.

The vet also gave Fritz a quarter tablet of Mirap, which boosts appetite in cats; the object being to see if he’d eat more once he got home. It had the intended effect at he ate like a horse that evening.

A week later I returned to the vet to check on Fritz’s progress. I’d seen a small hard bit of poo in the litter tray after he’d had his first bowel movement and the vet reckoned that was the lump he’d felt the week before. Fritz had also put on 0.15 Kg over the week, so that was a good sign. The vet took him in for blood tests, primarily to check his kidney function after I told him that Fritz took quite a long time to pee.

The tests revealed that his kidneys were fine. His urine was overly concentrated though and there was a small amount of blood in his urine. There were crystals in the urine which were apparently tearing on the kidneys, resulting in minor bleeds. This was put down to diet, and Fritz was put on a wet food only diet (he likes a 50/50 wet/dry food diet). The vet also gave him some antibiotics in case there was an upper urinary tract infection.

I was also to give Fritz a Mirap quarter tablet twice weekly to keep his appetite up.

I took him home again as everything seemed ok again but over the last couple of days he’s hardly eaten anything. I tried all kinds cat food from different manufacturers, cat food in gravy, cat food in jelly, supermeat, raw chicken, cooked chicken and salmon. When all else failed, Fritz would always eat at leas one of the latter three.

But not this week. As the days went by, he ate less and less and the Mirap tablets were having no effect.

So today, it was time to bring him back to the vet to see what was going on. In just the last week, Fritz has lost 0.2 Kg, losing all the weight he put on last week and a bit more. Not good.

His heart rate was high again, but that could have been down to anxiety at being at the vet’s again. After the vet examined him again, he discovered that Fritz was severely dehydrated so that would certainly account for some of the weight loss.

But if he’s dehydrated, why wouldn’t he be thirsty I asked. Sometimes, if toxins build up in a cat’s system, they can interfere with the appetite and thirst processes and a cat simply won’t feel hungry or thirsty. Given his current condition, the vet decided to take Fritz in overnight and re-hydrate him through a fluid drip. That means at least one shaved leg (not good in this cold weather) and having to agree to have him sedated so that they could administer the drip.

A couple of blood tests will also be run to see if the underlying condition can be identified. There are three likely candidates: hyper-thyroidism, liver disease or heart disease. Fritz wasn’t presenting symptoms for any of these conditions but they are possible candidates for his loss of appetite and lack of fluid intake.

So tomorrow I have to ring the vet and get a progress report…


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