Monday, 27 October 2014

Cat's Protection Trip

Normally all my spare linens and donations go to the SSPCA Cat and Dog Home at Cardonald but a few weeks ago I decided to give to the Cat's Protection Society just for a change. Magic no longer needs the U40 caninsulin and VetUK syringes as she uses U100 human ones for her Insulin Glargine and they replied to say they'd be delighted to receive the syringes.
I was keen to donate these quickly just in case I made an error and lifted the wrong dose syringe so off sat nav and I went to find the place which was up a winding road like these places often are.
How could you resist this sweet face?
There were also some more spare items like the expensive sachets I'd bought to tempt Magic's appetite and some varieties like the Whiskas or unusual sachets that they both refuse to eat. The orange print bag contains a bag of cat litter that weighs heavier than lead and the staff ended up getting a barrow and it took two of them to heave it out.
Two kittens sleeping the way kittens do! (pic poor due to the glass)
I didn't get any pics of the adult cats as I spent ages chatting to one of the staff while petting one of the longterm cats and fussing over it. It was a lovely cat but I had been warned it could get a bit swipey when it had had enough. Sure enough, as it was taking lots and lots of loving I forgot and got a good old scratch to the knuckles. My fault really for not giving the cat ALL my attention and daring to chat to someone else at the same time! I'd also forgotten normal cats have scratchy claws unlike mine who get regular mani-pedis. I brought home some kitty grass and some car stickers which were free but I made a donation as charities like this need all the support they can get.
I do hope Magic and Red enjoy their first kitty grass....if I ever manage to grow the stuff successfully that is....!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Diabetes Resistance

Dear goodness, I have no idea what to do with my girlie. She remains resolutely hyperglycaemic despite escalating doses of insulin. We have a great vet at the Vet School Hospital who has been totally engaged in researching, asking external experts and generally trying to puzzle out what the heck is going on. She is now up to 8units of insulin glargine and still her readings are pretty horrendous. Even the vet is beginning to develop a twitch each time we increase the insulin as we are getting near the 2units/kg range.

In herself, she is doing ok and is still a wise, loving and adored little cat. However, her coat is not its usual sleek velvet and she is often quite subdued preferring to go and lie quietly in cold places. She's lost weight and is now 4.8kg despite stealing Red's dinner if she can. I test her blood sugars twice daily to ensure it is safe to administer her insulin and again if she shows any odd signs in case she is having a hypo.

I've no idea what is going on with her so we are pursuing more testing. We've started with testing for acromegaly. This seems to be the newest theory for insulin resistant cats and it is estimated it can affect 1 in 5. As a newer theory it seems a little light on definitive evidence and the testing can result in false negatives and positives. As she's been diabetic for four months the likelihood of a false positive or negative is reduced in her case. The test itself is £150 and if positive leads to ever more expensive MRI scanning and if a tumour is found the treatment is stereotactic neurosurgery +/- radiotherapy. In discussing it with the vet her rationale of testing simply so that we know what we are dealing with seems a plausible route forward given how resistant Magic seems. Even if we do nothing more it will give us some reassurance that increasing the insulin is the right thing to do as acromegalic cats often need high doses.

What I don't want to consider is neurosurgery or radiotherapy. I find it very hard to contemplate allowing this irrespective of cost. This kind of surgery is still very new in cats and though recent research and outcomes are promising it has nowhere near the safety margin that this type of surgery has in humans. On top of this no-one ever returns from neurosurgery or cranial radiotherapy unchanged and right now I consider the risks to Magic far outweigh the benefits. I have 8yrs experience of caring for a relative with an acquired brain injury post neurosurgery and it is this which drives my concern. Magic is an amazingly wise little cat and I feel I owe her a great deal as during some dreadful life disasters it was her coat I cried on. However, to risk her life and fundamental personality is a decision which would need a great deal of consideration which is why I would much rather we manage her medically rather than surgically or radiologically. I really hope I don't have to face the dilemma of making this decision.

The blood has gone to Cambridge for testing and they only run the samples once a week so her results should come back in the next week or so. I'm trying not to over think things but if it is positive then the issues above need a decision, if negative then it will be other organ testing to see if the culprit can be identified. I know this sounds rather grim and at the moment the result is unknown so I am just praying that whatever happens she and I still have many years to go together.

Red is as cute as he always is and has been more keen for cuddles. I'd like to think it is my magnetic personality but I suspect the dropping temps are the real reason. Both cats have been very attentive as my Mum has gone into hospital again and, though their attentiveness is heartwarming, I am waking up roasted alive as I have one as a Davy Crockett hat and one as a foot warmer.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cuddle Therapy

Magic is doing ok-ish. Her blood sugars remain shockingly high despite a change to insulin glargine and escalating doses. I am delighted she seems robust and resilient but now is the time to let the treatment work.
She is such a chilled puss that on the way home from the vet school I decided to chance taking her to see my Mother in her care home. She adores Magic and it is just a pity she cannot have an animal with her but sadly she can barely look after herself. It is a lovely place and often the staff with bring in their dogs and let the residents pet them. There is no official therapy pet scheme in places but they are very open to having animals there.
The home were happy to accommodate my feline companion and, though my Mother's memory is poor, she loved having Magic there as she did all the sweet scratches and kisses she used to do with her.
Magic was so well behaved and a very gracious lady content to sit beside my Mum. When we came back up from the conservatory she was happy to be taken out of her travel box to be cuddled by some of the staff and was relaxed enough to nibble and groom their hair.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Basket Case

You all know how wussy my sweet Red is around strangers especially anyone who may come into the house. Magic sometimes growls like an Alsatian if someone comes to the door but the boy panics.
Recently, I was trimming Magic's nails before we went to the vet hospital so I evicted Red from the bedroom into the hall. All doors were closed except the bathroom and kitchen as there are no hidey holes there and I could put him back in the room when I went out without searching for him.

While I was persuading Magic into her manicure, this one was with towel this time, someone knocked loudly on the door and I heard a bit of a clatter. I was annoyed at being disturbed but got up inly to find there seemed to be no-one at the door. Oddly I didn't notice Red on my trip to the door and it is only a short L shaped hallway. Anyway, I continued on with Magic's nail trim and whoever had been at the door returned and dropped something through the letterbox.

Nails done and Magic placed in her box I set about looking for the errant boy who seemed to be missing which was a bit perplexing. Till I realised the kitchen door was closed and he was banging it to be let out. He had not only gone to hide in there but he'd actually managed to shut the door behind him in fear of the unknown door knocker. This time it wasn't Magic rolling her eyes at him it was me!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

High Numbers and High Five

Despite all the initially positive signs Magic's diabetes is not going into remission as evidenced by her escalating blood sugars which have reached 30+mmol/l. She has had her insulin gradually increased but it is failing to stop the rise and such persistent hyperglycaemia is really worrying to me as I know how damaging this is.
I email her latest readings to her vet each day and have done another curve but I am anxious for action over observation. Her vet and I have shared our thoughts and I can appreciate her caution. I too am terrified in case anything goes wrong and Magic has an unobserved hypo as it will have been me that administered the fatal dose. However, this really needs intervention now and I am not sure what this week will bring.
She seems other wise well in herself but for some reason only known to her she keeps seeking cold places to lie and sleep.
 In more cheerful news the fluffy boy reached the grand age of five - woo hoo! Doesn't he look very serious now he's all growed-up?
If I reflect back to his first birthday and his daredevil antics it is nothing short of a miracle he's survived. On the day he got a toy spider, lots of playing with and plenty of crunchy treats to celebrate. Hardly very generous but there was nothing else I could get him as he lacks for nothing in his life which I think is probably better than any birthday present.
The pic below is where I found him one day when I came home from work. Thankfully, Magic was pointing out he was under the covers otherwise I'd probably have sat on him to get changed as normally never goes under the quilt. Five years on he still gets himself in dangerous situations, so thank goodness wise Magic is looking out for him, even if she isn't his bosom buddy.
Even though he is a big boycat now he still looks like a wide eyed kitten to me.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Goodbye to Sparkle Cat

Actually, it looks pretty good on me!
Our hearts are so, so sore and the tears have fallen hard and fast when we read of the loss of the amazing Sparkle. We can only guess how heartbroken her beloved human Janiss is and the difficult time this is for all. Her dignified post is a tribute to her and the magnificent Sparkle.
Sparkle and her human took us to their hearts and we have loved reading their posts for fun, for wisdom and companionship. I had never seen a Somali cat and Sparkle is clearly imprinted on my brain as the standard setter for this gorgeous and dignified breed. That Sparkle's human could be thinking of Magic's illness while Sparkle herself was so desperately ill really touches us.
We so hope Sparkle's human doesn't mind us appropriating one of our favourite pictures of her to say goodbye. It is not only Sparkle's blog that is dark this weekend it is many of our hearts at losing such a bright star. May Sparkle's spirit continue to twinkle wherever she is and may she reflect that light on Janiss and little Summer who has some huge paw prints to follow.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Red to the Vet

Last week I took little Red to the vet's for his routine vaccination. As he has had a dreadful reaction in the past I only allow him to get this every 18months which is still within the license of the vaccine.

He was a complete sweetie and though clearly terrified he just snuggled up close to me as much to get near me as to get away from the vet. However, he sweetly let them get on with it without complaint. I did have to open the carry box at the top as no way was he coming out the door but he let me lift him without protest although it was like lifting wet spaghetti.

The vet found two things which she asked permission for the student vet to feel/listen to 1. an impressively palpable full bladder 2. a 'squeak' in his lungs. My head snapped up at this and I asked what the squeak meant. She smiled and said poor Red was so scared that fear was making him squeak and he was suppressing it when he was breathing in. Awww, my poor boy....!

The vet was quite amazed that Red is normally bold, tricky and quite the character at home except if someone comes in as he throws himself over the back of the sofa to hide. He's just not great with strangers.

I drove him back home quickly so that he could visit the litter box and not the carry box!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Rule of Thumb

This is written in response to The Stunning Keisha's Claws post as it would have been too long for a comment. I am no expert and neither would I advocate something for another cat I've never laid hands on. However, I am happy to tell my story of how I trim my cats nails. It works for us so I am happy to share on that personal basis.

I only realised when I was rereading this before posting that it probably says more about me than about nail trimming. Obviously, anyone knows the theory of how to trim a cats claws as all you do is clip the very end of the claw avoiding the red vein...seeemples! Well, it would be, but we all know about the gap between theory and practice when working with a cat who has other ideas.....!

Magic and Red have been having Mani-Pedi's since kittenhood but it was on Cat, their predecessor, that I first started doing nail trims. Cat was a much trickier proposition with an overdeveloped sense of ego and we were inexperienced cat owners. Nail trimming started when she was an adult cat and serious wrangling was often needed as she was an outraged ninja cat. There was always protest but as the years went on it became token noises just to save face! I don't always win the first couple of rounds and have received a fair few 'second prizes' for my troubles as I posted last year. 

Nail trims are essential around here every 3-4weeks. Magic in particular shares her love by hanging on in a fierce cuddle over my left shoulder. She's so secure I have actually been able to take both hands away and she stays in place. Unfortunately if her nails are not kept under control she unintentionally shreds my shoulder. Red has huge soft long fingered paws which I suspect may have an opposable thumb. He uses them very dextrously and I fear him getting a nail caught and ripping it off. It is fine if someone is around and knows not to help him pull the nail out but to do the converse and stroke the top of the paw to make him retract it. 24hr supervision is not possible but regular nail trimming sorts this.

Both sleep well but neither does the profound 'sleep of the dead' that Cat used to achieve so I always do it with them awake as they would trust me less if they woke to find me attacking their nails. I also don't do it in their sleeping or resting places as that would make these places seem less safe. I tell them what needs done in advance and ask for their permission and help. Yeah, I know.... how nuts am I?

I quietly get a bath towel and some toenail clippers which are only used for the cats. Don't open the nail clippers in advance, they can hear them from a hundred paces and vaporise! I don't use the curved vet nail clippers as I found them awkward to know where I am cutting and the nail shredded which still makes me sick to think of it-eeugh. When they were kittens the small fingernail clippers worked fine.

I go and collect the victim cat and close the door of the room I am using which doesn't have inaccessible hidey holes. I settle us down and offer lots of reassurance and an opportunity to do it by cooperation without a restraining towel. It is soon clear whether this is going to be possible and if not I go straight to the towel to save prolonging any distress. I reckon the towel is used around half the time. I am very purposeful about nail trimming and I like to think both of mine are secure in knowing it is not a battle to the death to escape but a fairly short procedure with a fixed end and cuddles to signal it being over.

I normally sit on the bed cross-legged holding the cat like a baby with their spine to the crook of my left arm and rest their bottom in my cross legged lap as this gives a little hollow to sit them on and make the back legs stick out. This means I can restrain them by trapping them between my arm and side/tummy and still have the left hand for securing the paw and extending each claw. If I'm using a towel I use a kidnap style wrap crossing it over tightly at the neck, not too tight but firm enough to repel an escape. It can be useful to lay the towel out across your lap for quick access. The right hand is the clipping hand. If you are a leftie, just read this in reverse :-)

Shouts of outrage I ignore and talk softly and reassuringly as I work, but if they get very distressed I release them and restart within an hour. Usually, I just do the other one then come back to the protester. This allows them to settle but also underlines that when I say it is nail cutting time then it is! I think this cuts down on confusion and lessens distress.

If the cat is not very compliant I always cut the back claws first so that if a rogue paw escapes I don't end up with the skin flayed from the underside of my forearm. Alternatively if everyone is playing nicely then either I pick up the first paw or loosen the towel a fraction and 'allow' a front paw to pop out then retighten the towel and start the snipping.

I only snip the tips and avoid the red area with the vein because it is correct and also because the thought of a bleeding one makes me want to vomit and my tummy flip inside out! Be prepared for your otherwise normal cat to appear only to have three legs. I have no idea how they do it but both seem capable of secreting a back leg about their person at nail trimming time!

I don't stop for treats or draw it out in any way. I do lots of reassurance but make it clear this is happening, I am totally on their side but it needs done, and I am doing it. It is very purposeful and over as quickly as possible then I use final words like 'all done', 'finished' and do lots of petting or a big cuddle. Sometimes they just want to jump down which is fine and I fill the food bowl or crack out the really good treats all with loads of praise.

I prefer to do nail trimming at home. It isn't exactly fun but this way there are no scary trips to the vets. It is all done at home by the beloved human and it is all very routine, firm but fair. It doesn't always go to plan but I will win the war if not every minor battle. The job doesn't involve the use of sedation but with Red I very occasionally use zylkene when other situations are distressing him. It is a milk protein derivative and doesn't cause any of the scary side effects of the traditional sedations. I wrote a pile of posts between here and here on my experience of using it on Red. Our vet recommended it and I wouldn't suggest anyone tries anything without checking with a vet.

In the past this used to be a two or even three person job but in all honesty early on I realised it was much easier by myself. Involving the rest of the family meant coordinating holds and changing positions and I found that more stressful. I also think the cat felt more distress at being outnumbered. Doing it one-on-one with the cat means the focus is exclusively on the cat, they are in a cuddle hold and facing outwards without being crowded and it is easier to adjust the hold and pace more easily.

If anyone has good tips of their own I am always opening to learning something new.

When not perky meets pinky

Magic is doing well and although her readings are a little higher than I was hoping they are still in a good range on half unit of insulin twice daily. She is well in herself, her little necklace of itchy bumps have all gone and she is eating well.

The mornings are becoming a little bit of a flashpoint again but all credit to her that she walks through to the living room and jumps up on the sofa when I ask her and show her the syringe. There are a number of humans and many children who wouldn't be that compliant so I am counting my blessings. Occasionally she will jump down but can usually be coaxed back.

Maybe her ears are becoming sore from being stabbed twice a day, either that or she is just getting a bit hacked off as this is going on much longer than she wants to tolerate. Not being a morning personality she is not that perky and is definitely crankier than she is in the evening.

In the past few days she's taken to snapping her head round as I prick her ear and letting out a little snarly ouch! Unfortunately, as she turns round with her mouth open, she ends up swallowing my pinky finger which is level with her mouth as I work on her ear. This shocks her and I jerk too when I feel her jaws round my finger! She isn't biting me but she does give me a fright and she looks pretty startled herself at choking on an unexpected finger...!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Ladies and Gents

Red is a little Gentleman and insists on escorting me to the toilet almost every time I go. He will even wake up and come running from another room if he hears me moving about in case I need him to lead the way.
I am not sure why he does this as it's been going on since he was a kitten.
I've been managing to get to the toilet by myself since childhood so I think I am quite competent but no, my fluffy guide insists and will even run to overtake me and shoulder open the bathroom door.
I am the only one he does this for so I don't know if he thinks I am daft or it is in honour and recognition of my favoured human status.
I don't mind the escort as it is very endearing and he is so sweet but I do wish he wouldn't remain and sit expectantly while I attend to matters! Sometimes he insists on being lifted and sits purring while I am otherwise occupied.
I am fairly certain this is not normal but I don't know how to break the news to him without hurting his feelings. I have tried closing the door but he becomes distraught, yells and batters hell out of it. Any suggestions are welcome or should I just accept that toilet visits are a two person role around here?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Instrumentally stupid question

Time for an amusing tale I think as things have been very serious around here. Magic is still doing ok but there have been some higher blood sugar readings which I hope are to do with the new can of test strips rather than her. I've ordered some more to compare and will post how we get on. Red continues to shed fluff and we are still spitting, sneezing and chasing the stuff. I haven't yet asked the hairdresser about a Sphinx haircut for him but I am getting there...! I also saw something funny tonight and posted it on my other blog if you are in the mood for another silly story.

This happened the day before Magic got critically ill but I was too focussed on what was happening with her. Now things have calmed a little (fingers crossed) it seems like a good time to share and I hope it makes you smile too.

I was in the vet's collecting a prescription and a great big burly man came in with a cat box. He sat down, put the cat box on the floor and his cat started registering it's protests. The two receptionists laughed as apparently he does this each time he comes, the cat not the man! The man opened the small flap on the top of the box to stroke the cat but it was not buying it. It was not in distress, it just wanted out, NOW!

When I looked over I thought it was possibly a Siamese and I was really keen to say hello to it as I've never seen one in the flesh, or more accurately, the fur. At the time I had been listening to Doreen Tovey's audiobooks at night about her two Siamese which had left me both intrigued by these cats and too scared to contemplate having one of these four legged demolition experts. The chap was happy for me to stroke the cat and it felt utterly beautiful and had such a sweet angular face. Even tho' it was still singing the song of its people!

I told him I'd been listening to an audiobook on Siamese and he knew her books. Incidentally, the man looked like a bouncer and it surprised the hell out of me that he'd read these frightfully twee books. It just goes to show, I suppose, how into the breed Siamese owners are which is something Doreen Tovey talks about in her stories.

I went on to ask him what his cat's name was and he said "Trumpet". At the time I was bending down to the box so was at his head height as he was seated and I said "Trumpet? That's unusual, where did you get that from?". The man looked at me as if I was an imbecile, then looked down at the cat bawling its head off as I twigged and burst out laughing before agreeing it was a stupid question because the deafening 'Trumpet' was very aptly named.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


You haven't seen much of this boy on the blog recently. While Magic has been getting all her care he has been a little star and I've been making sure he gets his full quota of cuddles and sweet talk. However, he is in BIG trouble with me......
....You all know how much I love my floofy boycat but right now I am plotting various assaults upon his little angora person. Why, you might reasonably ask? Well, he's shedding what seems like a polar bear amount of balls of soft fluff which is rolling up and down my hall like tumbleweed, coating every single surface he looks at and lodging itself in clumps on the carpets. Don't let this cute face fool you.
No matter how much I vacuum within seconds he's replacing the stuff I sucked up. Every time I hear the familiar 'doof, doof, doof, doof, doof' as he scratches another chunk of fur out of his neck I can feel my heart sink. Lifting him for a cuddle or being swiped by his tail as he passes means you spend ages trying picking his almost invisible hairs from your mouth, skin, clothes and eyelashes.

I have tried brushing him but he only allows his face and neck to be brushed if he can hold the brush. It also must be one of my hairbrushes, for some nutty reason.
Sweet he might be but the we are rapidly disappearing under a blanket of ultra-soft floaty fluff which gets everywhere. It is not good for him either as he's been yakking up some substantial furballs these past couple of mornings.
Currently, as he wont let me brush him properly, I'm debating taking him to the hairdressers with a picture of a Sphinx cat and asking them to style him pretty....!
 If you do feel the need to call the SSPCA to come and rescue him due to my threats......
....just make sure you tell them to bring an extra big pet brush and a great big tranquilliser dart for the gibbering woman clutching the vacuum and muttering "out, out damned fur" in the style of Lady MacBeth !
 Till then, while I am trying to live under a haze of the floatiest cat hair the culprit sleeps the sleep of the innocent....!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Magical Update

Mainly very good news from Thursday's vet visit at the Glasgow University Vet School's Small Animal Hospital with Magic. This place literally has been a lifeline for my girlie. The staff are wonderful and really know their stuff as well as genuinely relating to their animal patients which is so reassuring.
The weekend before I'd done another glucose curve which showed a lovely stable blood sugar profile in the range of 5-8mmols with no seriously low hypo readings that made me want to wet myself. I was again humbled by how accommodating she was in allowing me to repeatedly stab her ears to check her readings. I was grateful she worked with me but sad to see the little haematoma I had caused on her ear with the repeated testing. The twice daily routine tests I do have allowed me to pinpoint which varieties of food have the least or most impact on her blood sugar which is useful info for the future.
In herself, Magic has become more playful and although I thought she was bright enough she has been doing a little more like raiding the toy box for something to play with and giving Red some decent hisses. Luckily the hissing is the usual 'wind and water' that doesn't even scare my wussie boy-cat!  

As usual at her appointment she was a little star and did her usual potter round the reception desk afterwards to say hello to the lovely receptionists. She came home with a leg bandage which displeased her greatly and I was struggling to loosen or cut it off until I realised I could just slide it off. Note the little poodle-style sock haircut on her leg from her time in ITU. Note also we do NOT mention it, point at it or worse laugh at it.....!
The offending bandage...
Her blood sugar levels have been going well on the 1unit of insulin and following a very positive lab sugar and fructosamine test she has been reduced to half a unit of insulin twice daily. Although its only been a day and a half she has been stable on this which I am delighted about.

Her vet was most cheeky when I asked if she thought a remission might be on the horizon. She said she was hopeful we were going in the right direction as "1unit for a cat of her weight was almost too low a dose to be controlling diabetes".....huh, my girl a chubby puss...I'm outraged...well, ok, maybe 5.4kg is on the voluptuous side, but we never speak of a lady's weightEmoji I've been cautioned against being too hopeful that she is achieving remission but each step is very positive.

On Friday the vet called with the latest blood results. She still has some results which are outwith normal but most have been heading in the right direction and they are very pleased with how things are progressing. However one dark cloud is looming as her creatinine has come back as elevated and is raising concerns that her kidneys may be developing signs of a degree of failure. We've come through so much recently and I am just hoping that perhaps it is maybe a reaction to the traumatic insult her body has had to handle as I can't really face up to another problem right now.

The vet was adamant that I didn't feed her the high protein diabetic food if her kidneys are in trouble but, as Magic has absolutely no intention of even looking at that stuff, there is not much chance of this being an issue. Trust her to develop a condition that stops her getting onto a diabetes control regime!

On Tuesday, after she allowed me to cut her nails, I removed her soft collar that was protecting the healing oesophageal tube site. It is looking a little tattered as she is a bit of a neck scratcher. My sewing skills are not up to much but I definitely think this is prettier than her exploded bandage look!
As a little side issue, since her collar came off she has developed a 'necklace' of bumpy spots around her neck. I'd initially thought the first two at either side were from the failed central line placement during her surgery but they were soon joined by half a dozen more.
I found it quite hard to get a look at them as, if I wasn't helping her scratch them, she was not interested in wasting time raising her neck. The vet thinks they are just from clipper rash and has prescribed a once daily antibiotic which is clearing them up beautifully.

Since she came home during her tube feeds and essential diabetes care I have signalled that we are in serious care mode by putting a towel down on the sofa and telling her what is happening. At all other times when the towel is gone she is quite safe from any treatment interventions and happily sleeps there or comes up for cuddles. As I needed to give her the oral antibiotic directly and with the nail trimming I chose to do this elsewhere so that I did not confuse her, or worse lose her compliance. And what hell both of them have been. This little girl who allows me to stab her with lancets and needles turns into a ninja octopus when it comes to giving her half a tablet or a mani-pedi. So I was right keeping the two strands of her care apart and it proves cats are a law unto themselves.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Feline Hope

Thank you so much to everyone who has commented and left their good wishes for my girlie. We are most grateful to the lovely Sparkle for thinking of us too and sending you over here to leave your lovely comments. We are also absolutely tickled with Sparkle modelling the bracelet. I'm sorry this is a very quick update but I thought it better to do a summary to let you know how things are going than wait till I get time to do a long version.

Magic seems to be stabilising and everyone's prayers seem to be doing the trick to my immense relief. We have had a really rocky time but seem finally to be getting there. When I did her first glucose curve on the 3units of insulin, which she has been on since discharge, she had two critical blood glucose dips. At 4hrs she went to 2.9mmols and at 8hrs she went to 1.8mmols both of which are dangerously low. I was horrified and did a control check on the monitor as I wondered it if had become faulty, but it wasn't. She looked otherwise well and without the blood glucose reading I was oblivious. I felt like I'd had ice water poured over me as this has obviously been happening while I have been at work in the preceding days too and I just never knew.

Logically the nadir, which is the name for the lowest reading, would occur around 6hrs and I had been testing at this point when I was not at work. Similarly her vet appointments where around the 6hr stage and didn't pick this up either. Trust my Magic to be like the recession and have a double dip! This all happened on the 19th Jul and it has taken me this long to even make a flippant comment about it as it scared me so much.

Luckily, her diabetes and critical care vet were both on shift on the day this happened and it was really reassuring that staff who knew her were available and could give very specific advice. We withheld the insulin for the evening dose, and the next day she was still lower than would be expected so she has been reduced to one unit of insulin twice daily. She seems to be maintaining really well so far on this dose and the latest curve done this weekend has shown a really nice consistent level. Crucially, none of this Saturday's results made me want to wet myself!

In herself she continues to be an absolute delight and I am still blown away by how good she is even when I am stabbing her ear or scruff. She occasionally protests or gives me a warning snarl or swipe if it is sore, but there is absolutely no malice or injury. She sits without being held and if she jumps to the top of the sofa or window ledge she will come back if coaxed. This morning I was in a rush as I had a 9am meeting. When I came out of the kitchen after drawing up the insulin I was all set to find her but saw the last inch of her tail disappear round the living room door as she was making her way to the sofa to wait on me to come and do the needful. I cannot imagine how awful this whole process would be if I had to kitty wrangle and see her being distressed. Obviously, I would do it as it needs done but being able to work in partnership with her is a blessing.

I'm not sure where we are headed next with her condition but probably just need to have faith. We see her lovely diabetes vet on Thursday and I'll write an update on where next from now. In the meantime, thank you so much and please accept my virtual hug to you all.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Feline Faith

Progress over the weekend has seen Magic eating a little more with no tube feeds only her drugs going in. Her insulin continues at 3units twice daily. Tube wound dressing every second day and bandage changes as often as she manages to unravel them.
 Presently, she only owns half a fur coat as she is missing her undercarriage, her neck and thigh fur as well as a half a dozen cubes at strategic points where she was being scanned. If you look closely you can see she also has some clipper rash too. The feel of skin on a cat is strange but boiling hot which you never notice on a furry cat! She seems very ashamed of her coat but each time I lift her she gets a belly kiss and lots of cuddles.
 Somewhere along the line there was an 'incident' with her left set of whiskers which I didn't even notice when I got her home. She's not bothered tho' which is not surprising with everything else she has going on.
Foodwise, I am not really sure where we are going with this but it might just be early days. After they both rejected the healthy diabetic diet(!) 'I' decided that they would both be changed onto Applaws as it is very high protein and is clearly of good quality. I know this as it looks like the ingredient it is meant to be and doesn't make me heave when I open the sachet like normal cat food does. Sadly, Magic only deigned to eat the broth surrounding the meal and her blood sugars were utterly hellish 20.1 and 24.9mmol. So, rather than let her remain in a grossly hyperglycaemic state I gave her some Sheba and even with the little she is eating her sugars are around the 8-12mmol level.

All being well, the tube will be removed and we can discuss her management plan. I would dearly love her to achieve remission if humanly, or felinely, possible. However, there is a fine balance in making sure she is safe, comfortable and happy. Currently, she is remarkably compliant I would hate to try to force her to do something she is unhappy with, to destroy her routine, let her become hypoglycaemic when no-one is around or to damage her trust in me as she comes to me to fix things. Tonight she sat watching as I prepared the syringes and drugs. When I asked her to follow me through she trotted in and sat waiting on the towel on the sofa that I use to denote the treatment area for carrying out her care.
I've been doing her blood sugars at least three times a day. This is for her to make sure I am not giving insulin when she is near to a hypoglycaemic state but also so that I can monitor what food is working for her, in what amount, how the insulin affects her and it will give me confidence that I am getting her care right. Getting blood out of her ears is becoming problematic no matter how much I warm or stroke them and I am having to prick her three or four times to get her to bleed. Aside from a wee squeal and a scowl she remains sitting with me and lets me got on with it. Last night I was having no joy with either a handheld lancet or the pricker device. Wondering if it was the depth setting that was the issue I increased it. Stupidly I forgot to wrap a tissue round my finger and when I pressed the trigger the lancet went straight through her ear and right into my finger. Her ear remained resolutely blood-free but my finger bled like stink. This was a low point but I can only imagine how much worse it would be trying to wrangle a resisting cat which is why I am keen to do this by consent.

Red is being a little star too. I try to give him as much attention as I do for Magic but her care has been quite intensive and he has probably not had his fair share.
Last night as I was using the sewing machine he took things into his own paws and brought me a mousie mousie to play fetch with him. He was so sweet that I couldn't do anything but agree to join in the game.
He is enjoying the cuisine and thinks Heston Blumenthal has moved in as the menu has improved to include chicken with pumpkin, wild rice or asparagus, sea bream, tuna, pacific prawns, cream and a wide selection of dry foods. He's been enjoying EIGHT meals a day and frequent treats.....or at least he was! When I was trying to tempt Magic to eat I was laying out wet and dry food for both of them in the spirit of fairness. However, as she wasn't eating he was hoovering up all the delicious foods she was rejecting. Normally he is a lean, mean cuddling machine weighing as much as a puff of air but he was beginning to turn into a little butterball.
Sadly Heston has left the building and it's back to good old Sheba.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Feline Grace

I am humbled by how much grace, stoicism and understanding Magic is showing with her condition. She has just come to me to have her bandage reapplied. I noticed earlier it was beginning to loosen a little but was substantially intact so I decided to leave it for the time being. Just now she's obviously had another good go at it and also managed to get the ends sopping wet presumably from drinking more water.
So she came to find her favoured human and made it known things needed sorting then sat on the sofa where I normally perform her care. I didn't have a spare primapore dressing to hand but she let me go for it while waiting patiently for me. Once we were done I lifted her for our post-treatment cuddle and she couldn't snuggle in any closer and was frantically trying to groom my hair which felt like a thanks. I am actually moist eyed writing this at her bravery in accepting what I do for her, for how she is playing a part in her care and knowing to come and tell me something needs fixed.

I'm hideously biased about Magic as she has been there for me through some dreadful life events so it is a privilege to care for her in her hour of need.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Day and Night

I am immensely grateful to everyone who has left supportive messages and to Jane of Jane and Chris who offered to share her experience of caring for a diabetic kitty and very kindly stood by her offer by answering a question I had.
Poor little Magic is still having a really hard time. My earlier optimism that she was beginning to eat was misplaced as it was not sustained and she has eaten negligible amounts since. She has also vomited a few times. I am really disappointed as the tube feeding needs to continue and she is driven spare by the bandage and tube. An appetite stimulant was started 2 days ago and tonight an anti-emetic added. A review at the Vet Hospital on Tuesday showed that on ultrasound her liver is improving and it is less 'bright' and more defined. Her liver and renal bloods have shown signs of recovery with only an odd few remaining abnormal. Here glucose was low but thought to be the nadir rather than a hypo.
The morning tray with crushed drugs, feed, water for flushing and insulin
These last three mornings have been a dreadful flashpoint with her growling for the full 25 minutes, jerking each time I move to press the plunger, giving me the odd smacky paw and legging it with the 50ml syringe of feed attached to her neck. I have no idea why this is as I don't do anything different, the tube has not dislodged or blocked and I try everything to keep her feeling settled. Yesterday I had to split the feed because she became so resistant and stressed that I let her calm before resuming. Later I gave her a very stern talking to I told her that the situation was not good, and I was no happier than she was, but it was a means to an end till she was eating.!.!.! I also warned her that if she kept it up I'd be forced to do the cat burrito with her wrapped in a towel. That earned me a gimlet stare.......!

Strangely, the evenings are a much calmer affair. Tonight, for instance, she watched me prepare the feed, drugs and insulin then followed me through and when I spread the towel out and patted it she walked with great dignity and settled herself to be fed. It brought a tear to my eye and I felt such love for her accepting what is happening with such grace.
In the absence of any other reason for the morning shenanigans I need to consider that my pre-noon grumpy, narky, growly cat is actually just not a morning cat and I never noticed before.
The bandaging of her neck drives her bonkers and I never know what state I am going to find her in. Before I took her back to the vet hospital she was sitting with her paws tucked in under her chest and on a quick glance I saw the white collar and thought everything was chirpy. When I lifted her to trim her nails she suddenly unravelled. I then realised there was only the pinned end of the bandage and the padding round her neck as she'd unravelled and removed the rest, tucked it underneath her and sat with her arms folded looking as innocent as a cherub. I reckon I am pretty wise to cats but I was flabbergasted by her downright craftiness in outfoxing me. The next time I hear anyone refer to a cat as a 'dumb animal' I'm going to introduce them to her!