Author Topic: How much vet care for very elderly pet?  (Read 3229 times)

Tris Prior

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How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« on: January 25, 2018, 10:08:18 AM »
My cat's 19 years old. She has early kidney disease - actually, I guess it's not really "early" because she's had it for 3 years, but her numbers have been very stable since her diagnosis and all she's needed so far is a switch to prescription food.

Our vet - who I otherwise really like - is now wanting us to bring her in every 3 months to recheck bloodwork and her weight, as she lost a few ounces at her last visit and she's been a very petite cat all of her life. Last time her bloodwork showed that her thyroid was higher (lower? I'm not sure; basically that she's verging in the direction of hyperthyroid but is not there yet), so now the vet wants to recheck her and I guess put her on meds (that I guarantee you we will NOT be able to get down her, and if we do, they'll immediately come back up) if it gets worse?

Aside from the cost, she REALLY does not do well at the vet at all - gets carsick to and from, every time; hisses and spits at the vet and fights all attempts to examine her (this has been the case since kittenhood); is upset for days afterward. She's 19. We feel (and the vet agrees) that invasive or expensive treatments are not a good choice given her age; if she goes downhill then that's it. We don't want the end of her life to be spent miserable because we're constantly cramming meds down her against her will, or sticking needles in her to give her fluids - which she hasn't needed yet but I understand with kidney disease they all eventually need this.

So, why are we doing these frequent visits, again?

We have an appointment on Saturday and I'd like to discuss this with the vet but I don't want to come off like an irresponsible pet owner. Or that I'm only concerned about the cost - because honestly it's less about money than about how upset and freaked the cat gets every time we have to haul her in for repeat bloodwork. (I honestly have no idea how they manage to get blood out of her without losing a hand, but somehow they manage.)

Has anyone else had this conversation with your vet? How did you explain it without coming off like an uncaring asshole who only cares about money?

bluebelle

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2018, 10:25:27 AM »
does the vet know how much it upsets the cat?  As you said, it seems cruel to put the cat through this every 3 months.  I'd take the approach of explaining how upsetting it is to your cat, and to you to watch.

If the cat is comfortable at home, I'd advocate for the fewest visits to the vet.  And you'll know when the time is right and the cat is in pain/discomfort and it's time to make that final trip.

Much like with humans, just because we can prolong life, doesn't mean we should take herioc efforts to do so, if it doesn't add to the quality of life.  Stressing an elderly cat just for tests doesn't seem kind.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2018, 10:33:25 AM »
It's a valid concern.  My general rule is that I won't put the animal through more negative than the positive they are going to get out of it.  Is your cat happy and comfortable?  If so, then a vet visit may be a net negative, as they don't know they're going for their own benefit.  I would minimize vet visits to those you feel are actually necessary (vets are going to err on the side of caution, not just for the money, but to avoid the 'you should have done more!' people).  Plus as pets get really up there, 'keep them healthy' starts to become less of the goal than 'keep them happy'.

Talk to your vet, they get it.  Plus you're already in like the 95th percentile of pet owners just for the fact you're spending money on your cat and worried about it's old-age health.  My dog's last visit to the vet, they gave me a laundry list of (expensive) things they wanted to do so she could go home again.  They read my initial hesitation wrong and the vibe started to turn negative, until I explained that I wasn't worried about the cost, but I didn't want to put her through the stress of medical work only to take her home and have her still not be happy/comfortable, even if she is 'alive'.  They got it, the tone changed, and we had a good conversation about options and expected outcomes.

Trede

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2018, 10:46:59 AM »
I have two geriatric cats myself, both around 19 years.  One is diabetic and also now has kidney disease as well.  The other is on thyroid medication and is experiencing gradual weight loss.

Your vet should be able to see your point of view, I think it's quite reasonable, but since vets are used to dealing with "bad patients" they may not consider it a concern unless you bring it up.  For example, standard procedure for a diabetic cat is to do periodic glucose curve checkups.  This is an all-day affair, where they prick the cat's ear every hour and take a glucose reading to see how its blood sugar is controlled throughout the day.  Well, my diabetic cat gets so stressed at the vet that his "curve" doesn't end up being particularly representative of how well his disease is under control.  After a couple curves, and a casual mention by one of the vets that the curve is off-kilter due to the stress level, I asked about alternative methods to keep tabs on him.  No more all-day glucose curve appointments.  Turns out there was an alternate blood test that could be used as "good enough" and a better fit for the patient.

I'm with you on this one 100%.  It's no point making the last year(s) of your cat's life miserable.  I gave up trying to get a pill down my thyroid cat's throat after our relationship started changing from loving teddy bear to having said teddy bear run at the sight of me in the kitchen.  Now I crush his pill, mix it with the tiniest amount of the most decadent canned food I can find, and sometimes he eats all of it but most often he doesn't.  At this point his dosage has been adjusted to include the missed bit on average.

Here are some ideas to minimize vet visits and stress:
1. Can you get a scale to weigh your cat at home and just call in the numbers?
2. Try cat pheromone plug-in scent therapy to calm her down before a needed visit?  My vet has a "kitty parking lot" on their counter right next to one of these for cats that get stressed out.
3. Stretch out the time between testing with a talk with your vet.  Yeah, they may recommend 3 months, but if you are monitoring her weight at home and don't see other signs of changes, is 4 or 6 months okay?

I haven't reached the give fluids stage of the kidney disease with my cat yet either, but I will say that my diabetic cat takes needles with ease and all I had to do was train him to expect a dash of cream for his compliance.  Needles seem far easier than pills, at least with my cats.



Frankies Girl

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2018, 10:51:33 AM »
Been there.

Kidneys, thyroid and cancer are the big three as far as cats. We've had them with one or two or all three. It doesn't get any easier to decide what is "enough" and when it is time to stop. As far as how much farther... I always said that I'd do whatever necessary to make them comfortable and not experience any pain or nausea, but invasive surgery or high amounts of vet visits wasn't going to dramatically improve their life or give them years longer, then I wouldn't put them through the trauma.

As far as the vet visits: she's 19. They should know she's on borrowed time at this point and subjecting her to an every 3 month round of tests and vet visits is kind of cruel. I'd request that they give you meds as needed for now, and you will closely monitor her weight and eating/litterbox habits and bring her in at the first indication that anything is changing. I would not go to heroic measures at her age. Do the meds if possible, because a cat in kidney failure pretty much feels weak and nauseous most of the time, and if she's in early stage hypothyroidism, she'll be really thirsty/hungry and feel jittery - which to me sounds like a recipe for being miserable.

We put our most recent kidney cat on K/D Science Diet (as recommended by the vet) and she vastly improved. Like kidney function normalized. You can sign up for coupons at Hill's website which might help a tiny bit. But it was worth every penny as we got 3 more years before her she was diagnosed with the cancer that took her out, and it might have been much longer without the cancer.

Will your cat eat cheese? We used crappy sliced American cheese to hide our geriatric kitty's thyroid pill and she adored getting her cheese treat every night. They make soft treats too, and worst case, hide it in teaspoon of wet catfood. Sure, some pills would be hard to get down them, but a thyroid pill generally is TINY and usually needs to be cut into halves anyway, so you should be able to use treats or hide in food with no issues.

If your cat is happy, participating in the same things she has always enjoyed and seems to be eating, drinking and going to the litterbox as normal (for her age), then I'd do what is necessary to maintain. But if you don't do the frequent vet visits, it does require you to be very vigilant in monitoring things like weight and eating/drinking habits because they can take a turn pretty quickly with both kidney and thyroid issues and suddenly have lost a half pound and be in poor shape. That's likely why they recommend it - because they don't think most people pay enough attention to their pets in these cases and thyroid and kidneys both can take a downturn FAST and cats are notorious for hiding pain/sickness anyway. But as long as you're on top of the monitoring, you'll likely be okay.

So sorry about your kitty.

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Tris Prior

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2018, 10:53:41 AM »
does the vet know how much it upsets the cat?  As you said, it seems cruel to put the cat through this every 3 months.  I'd take the approach of explaining how upsetting it is to your cat, and to you to watch.

If the cat is comfortable at home, I'd advocate for the fewest visits to the vet.  And you'll know when the time is right and the cat is in pain/discomfort and it's time to make that final trip.

Much like with humans, just because we can prolong life, doesn't mean we should take herioc efforts to do so, if it doesn't add to the quality of life.  Stressing an elderly cat just for tests doesn't seem kind.

I think it's pretty obvious given the hissing and horribly unearthly howls that come out of the cat any time the vet attempts to do anything with her. Honestly, the vet and her tech are pretty awesome about it; our last vet was very judgy about "can't you control your cat?" Um.... no, she's a CAT? :)

I also think that the vet's kind of shocked that she's doing as well as she is at her age. I feel like she keeps expecting her to crash at some point and that's part of why she keeps wanting these return visits. I get this, because I've never had a cat make it this long and I'm pretty shocked too.

She seems happy enough and not in pain. Eats, drinks, pees, poops without incident. Not very active and doesn't really play, but hell, this is 92 in people years and how active are most 92-year-olds? Mostly she likes to hang out on one of our laps, sleep on our heads at night, paw us in the head at ungodly hours of the morning, and eat some treats.

Sibley

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2018, 10:57:40 AM »
OP, I wouldn't. I have a 18 yo cat with kidney disease, similar stats. Mine doesn't like the vet, but is much more agreeable (she freezes and then overeats once home). I'll take cats in annually at a minimum, more often if something's going on. It's been working out to be 3-4 times a year the last couple years for the 18yo. My philosophy is pretty simple - quantity of life should not be had at the expense of quality of life. The balance between quality and quantity of life is a fluid one. I make different choices for a 5 year old cat than a 15 year old cat for example. I'm much less willing to do invasive diagnostics, treatments, etc for my 18yo than I would be for my 10yo. But again, I'd make different decisions with my 10yo than I would with a 5yo. Also, there are certain conditions/injuries in general that I would do palliative care for and then have the animal humanely euthanized to end their suffering.

I have discussed my philosophy with my vet, and they understand. If they had a problem with it, I'd find a new vet.

If weight loss continues to be a problem, the advice I was given is that eating the "wrong" food is better than not eating. More kidney disease cats die of starvation and related conditions than of the kidney disease itself. So, throw the rules out the window and feed whatever she'll eat. I had to do that the last 4 months, and mine has gained weight. I expect that I'll be monitoring and adjusting what I feed pretty consistently as long as she's alive, since she's already rejected multiple brands I can't imagine she won't do it again.  Pro tip - if all fails, try kitty crack - pureed baby food meat.

Tris Prior

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2018, 11:43:45 AM »
Trede, what side effects, if any, did your cat get from the thyroid med? I'm just curious as it sounds like this may be in our future.

We do have Feliway in the house, and the vet has the plug-ins in the exam room. I'm not sure to what extent it helps her, but I figure it can't hurt.

As far as the vet visits: she's 19. They should know she's on borrowed time at this point and subjecting her to an every 3 month round of tests and vet visits is kind of cruel. I'd request that they give you meds as needed for now, and you will closely monitor her weight and eating/litterbox habits and bring her in at the first indication that anything is changing.

This is exactly how I feel. And of course I would bring her in if something changed.

Will your cat eat cheese? We used crappy sliced American cheese to hide our geriatric kitty's thyroid pill and she adored getting her cheese treat every night. They make soft treats too, and worst case, hide it in teaspoon of wet catfood.

Nope, she's curiously uninterested in people food. She will not eat wet food either; we took her in when she was 15 and had only been fed dry her entire life, and the first time we put wet food in front of her she had the funniest "WTF, you expect me to eat THIS?" look on her face and then stalked away angrily. We've tried different brands, different formulations, and she's just not having it.

She's never been very food-motivated in general; she's one of those cats who will snack and nibble all day but isn't into large meals. Very unlike my last cat who would wolf down any food he found - and once got into the pantry, ate a horrifying amount of dry food right out of the bag, and then was messily sick all over the house!

She likes the kidney food fine. She's on the Hill's kd - we tried the Iams first and she hated that one so we switched. She's just never been a big eater and has always been on the scrawny side all of her life - she was the runt! No one expected her to outlive all of her siblings, I don't think, though apparently her father lived to be 21!

ETA: She does not seem inordinately hungry or thirsty or jittery. She is a pretty chill cat unless she feels you are not paying enough attention to her. :)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 11:52:13 AM by Tris Prior »

Trede

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2018, 12:01:07 PM »
Trede, what side effects, if any, did your cat get from the thyroid med? I'm just curious as it sounds like this may be in our future.

The medication is felimazole, and I haven't noticed any side effects, or at least I never associated anything with the medication and he's been on it for quite a while now (years).

SoftwareGoddess

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2018, 12:06:06 PM »
I'd just like to comment on the hyperthyroid treatment. My 16-year-old cat was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism last year. We gave her the pills, but she developed the unusual side effect of severe sinus congestion and had quite a hard time breathing. (The more common side effect is an itchy face, but we never saw that.) We tried tweaking dosages and delivery systems -- there's a cream form that you can apply to the ear, which could work for you, but didn't for us.

In the end, we went with radioactive iodine treatment. It was expensive, and the cat had to be away from home for 1-2 weeks. But it solved the problem, and kitty is fine now. If it's in the budget, it might be a good option.
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Tris Prior

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2018, 12:23:21 PM »
I think that any treatment that would require kitty to be away from Her People for 1-2 weeks goes toward that quality of life/mental health issue. But I'm glad it worked for your cat!


SoftwareGoddess

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2018, 12:37:24 PM »
I think that any treatment that would require kitty to be away from Her People for 1-2 weeks goes toward that quality of life/mental health issue.

I totally get that. Our cat had obvious symptoms such as weight loss, lots of jitteriness, and poor sleep. She was "only" 16 and otherwise healthy, so we felt that the iodine treatment was worth the temporarily lower quality of life.

If your cat does end up with hyperthyroidism, then there's always the cream form of felimazole.
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Tris Prior

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2018, 12:53:29 PM »
I just googled felimazole and it said it's not good for cats with kidney disease. And, "facial sores" as a common side effect? Hmmmmm.

I imagine vets hate it when we google stuff...

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frugalfoothills

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2018, 01:39:44 PM »
Firstly, so sorry to hear you're having to go through this. Hard decisions for sure.

I was in a similar situation recently with my 15 year old dog. He was rescued when he was about 8 years old and had some pretty bad anxiety, and absolutely hated riding in the car and going to the vet.

I took him in last October when I noticed him dropping weight rapidly. In the span of a week it seemed like he'd lost 10lbs. Could see his ribs, etc. He was diagnosed with aggressive cancer.

The vet recommended chemotherapy which would've been $600 a pop (for 6 rounds!), but it would probably only extend his life 3-6 months. That would involve a lot of car trips, a lot of trips to a place he hated, and a lot of people poking and prodding at him. It just wasn't what I wanted his last days to be.

I think it's all about their quality of life and what is realistic for your animal when they get to that age. For mine, aside from the weight loss, his behavior hadn't changed and he seemed his normal self. He was still eating, drinking, and using the bathroom regularly. The vet said that would change quickly (she estimated about a month), so I just made a decision that I would make that month the best month of his life. I decided to look at his diagnosis as a fortunate thing... because I knew it was coming, I could go out of my way to make his final days wonderful and as soon as I saw him begin to deteriorate, I could make the decision to spare him the pain and suffering. Because I was on constant alert, I truly feel like he didn't suffer a day, and I got to enjoy a wonderful last month with him. The one thing I didn't want to do was put him through unnecessary suffering just to extend his life another month or two, just because I wasn't ready to let him go.

Also, I'm not sure if you're aware, but there are veterinarians who specialize in at-home euthanasia. Because car rides and vet trips were so awful for my dog, I decided this would probably be the best option to make sure his final moments weren't full of fear and anxiety. I would highly recommend exploring this option... thanks to them, he was able to pass peacefully at home surrounded by people who cared about him and without fear. Can't tell you how much peace of mind that brought me.

This is a super personal decision and a really hard choice to make. I think if you allow yourself to be guided by the desire to do right by your pet, you will make the right decision for you both.
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CalBal

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2018, 01:56:45 PM »
@Tris Prior I feel you. I'm going through some decision making with my own "only" 14 yo cat right now. Something that has put it in perspective was my experience with my first cat.

She was diagnosed with undifferentiated heart disease when she was around 6 or 7 (after a very bad reaction to steroids that were prescribed for an infection she had). She almost died then. The vets then told me she might live a full long life or she might die tomorrow, it was impossible to predict with her particular condition. She was put on a diuretic and a blood pressure medication to keep it under control (both low doses and cheap and easy to give to her).

Fast forward 7-8 years of perfectly healthy life when she started losing weight and not interested in eating. She had an ultrasound that revealed substantial thickening of her intestines that suggested either serious IBS or cancer. She had never shown signs of IBS before. She could not be on steroids (at all) because of the heart disease, and that's one of the first things they try with IBS. Tried all kinds of things. Appetite stimulants didn't do anything. Kept holding out hope that we would find something that would work. She lost a lot of weight and wouldn't eat. Didn't do a biopsy because if it was cancer it had spread all throughout her intestines already anyway so it would have been a useless diagnosis (so we focused on the IBS angle). I spent probably the last month of her life force feeding her hoping to keep her alive long enough to find a cure or something that would work to get her to eat again. It was awful and I regret it so much now. I didn't want her to die, it made me so sad and hurt so bad, she was my first and I felt like I had failed her. The truth is she had a great life with me for 14 years and it was just the last little bit of her life that was not good. I should have let her go sooner, but I didn't know any better at the time. I do still miss her and she has been gone for 2 years.

We humans are selfish. We don't want them to let them go because it hurts us. But somewhere I recently read that cats and dogs don't have a sense of the future the way we do. We plan and think about the future and it saddens and angers us if we know that will be cut short. But they don't do that, they live in the now, and aren't sad about not living in the future because they don't think about the future. They aren't afraid of dying, but the might be afraid of pain now. The best thing we can do for them is to give them a good quality of life now, and if we can't do that anymore, especially for older animals, it's not a tragedy to relieve them of their pain and suffering. It's ok to say "enough is enough".

My current 14 yo cat has IBS (definitively, and has been living with it for 3 or 4 years, successfully treated with medication). Over the past year she has become less interested in eating and we've had to up her dose and increase appetite stimulants to get to eat enough. She still lives a pretty "active life" (she sleeps a lot but still seeks cuddles, talks to us, gets mad at the other cats...). Her blood work is perfect (so it isn't something else). She's not super keen on wet food either, I try all sorts of things to entice her. Some things work some things don't. She has started to show some side effects of being on the prednisolone for so long. Her weight is way down from her all time high of 3 or 4 years ago. It is getting to the point though where I am not sure she isn't uncomfortable all the time, because if she was, it wouldn't be such a struggle to get her to eat. I don't want her to die either! Either way, though, the prednisolone will eventually kill her if she's on it long enough, and she can't not be on it. I think I am going to have to make a hard decision for her sake in the near future. I know that for her, too, she had the best life I could give her.

Anyway, just some food for though, and hopefully not to make you sad or feel guilty. Sometimes some perspective is good. Just know that you have done right by her so far, and she has lived a long life, and when the time comes to make the decision it isn't anything to feel bad or guilty about (even though you undoubtedly will).

Tris Prior

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2018, 03:04:57 PM »
Thanks, everyone.

The thing is - she seems fine to us. If she stopped eating, stopped drinking, wasn't acting right, had a change in behavior, couldn't pee or poop (both happened to our last cat) etc. we'd take her in. If she's suffering, she's hiding it really well. We took her in, from a friend who could no longer care for her, when she was 15 - at that point she wasn't super active and was already elderly, so we haven't witnessed a decline or anything. We understand the need to monitor older cats but this just feels like too much to us. I feel like the vet is just waiting for something catastrophic to happen, and keeps being... not disappointed, but I guess surprised? that it hasn't happened yet.

We will absolutely do at-home euthanasia if we need to. I can't see hauling her into the vet under those circumstances. She's not afraid of people coming into her house but is absolutely afraid of the vet and of car travel. At-home would be so much less stressful on her.

CalBal, we had a similar experience with our last cat, who was also my first. We ended up spending $5 grand on him and he died anyway, it was just a cascade of one problem after another. He had the appetite stimulants too, which kind of worked, until they didn't. We were cramming 4 different meds down him daily, and one of them was a capsule that he simply would not swallow - it'd start dissolving in his mouth and then he'd barf it back up... it was truly awful and he didn't like me very much at the end. When they said he'd need to be hospitalized and on oxygen and have the fluid drained out of his lungs - except it likely wouldn't stay drained and we'd have to repeat this over and over again, we said, that's it.

Sibley

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2018, 03:07:22 PM »
...
My current 14 yo cat has IBS (definitively, and has been living with it for 3 or 4 years, successfully treated with medication). Over the past year she has become less interested in eating and we've had to up her dose and increase appetite stimulants to get to eat enough. She still lives a pretty "active life" (she sleeps a lot but still seeks cuddles, talks to us, gets mad at the other cats...). Her blood work is perfect (so it isn't something else). She's not super keen on wet food either, I try all sorts of things to entice her. Some things work some things don't. She has started to show some side effects of being on the prednisolone for so long. Her weight is way down from her all time high of 3 or 4 years ago. It is getting to the point though where I am not sure she isn't uncomfortable all the time, because if she was, it wouldn't be such a struggle to get her to eat. I don't want her to die either! Either way, though, the prednisolone will eventually kill her if she's on it long enough, and she can't not be on it. I think I am going to have to make a hard decision for her sake in the near future. I know that for her, too, she had the best life I could give her.
...

CalBal, if you're seeing pain from a cat, they're probably in a LOT of pain. Cats hide pain, its instinct. You need to talk to your vet, soon. I'm sorry to say it, but you need to consider if it's time NOW, not next month if your goal is to prevent suffering. :(

They're not just animals, no matter what the clueless people think.

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2018, 03:42:42 PM »
I wouldn't, for quality-of-[the cat's]-life reasons that others have mentioned.

Where I live, there are vets who make house calls for routine care, though I have to admit I've never used one.  Could be worth checking on whether there are good house-call vets around you?

Good luck -- I'm sorry you're facing these decisions, but also amazed your cat's made it to 19.

CalBal

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2018, 03:53:24 PM »
@Tris Prior I just wanted to add, if you have a good vet now, they should understand that conversation. Couch it in terms of quality of life. They don't see your pets all day every day and have to (should) trust that you have their (the pet's) best interest at heart. Given that you've spent a lot of time and money already they should (I would think) be comfortable with any decision you make. :) Also, 19 is an amazing age to make it to!

@Sibley She sees the vet about every 3 months as it is. Her last wellness check with bloodwork (all perfect) was only about a month ago. She isn't showing any signs of pain, and her other behavior hasn't changed, just less interest in eating (although not no interest. She does eat. Just not as much as I would like. Whereas with Mary she nearly stopped eating in a very short period of time.) We periodically raise her pred levels (and then drop them back again) and that has worked really well in the past to keep the inflammation under control. I have just started one more round of that and if it doesn't make a difference I will be having that conversation. (TY for your concern, truly.)

« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 03:58:33 PM by CalBal »

Tris Prior

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2018, 04:12:37 PM »
Yeah, she's totally recalibrated my sense for what an "old" cat is. My friend recently lost her 14-year-old cat and my first thought was "wow, that's young." Of course it isn't. My last cat died at 14. That's a normal age for a cat to die, but now, after her,  it seems young. She's definitely had a good run.

I should add that there have also been times when we've brought the cat in after 3 months, as directed, and we expected bloodwork, but the vet was like, "you know what, her weight's fine, I see no changes, let's skip it this time and do it in 3 months." Which, y'know, was fine with us because bloodwork is $$$ - but, I get the sense that the vet's uncomfortable going 6 months without seeing her.

I have to keep remembering that this vet isn't a total dick like the last one he went to. That guy had Issues. Super shame-y. Once, he mansplained to us how to give her meds, and then demonstrated. Unsuccessfully. She spat the pill across the room and hissed like a wild evil thing and tried to bite his hand. He said, "well, THAT'S just great" and stalked out of the exam room. I about died laughing and said, "good kitty!"

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2018, 04:34:15 PM »
I have two geriatric cats myself, both around 19 years.  One is diabetic and also now has kidney disease as well.  The other is on thyroid medication and is experiencing gradual weight loss.

Your vet should be able to see your point of view, I think it's quite reasonable, but since vets are used to dealing with "bad patients" they may not consider it a concern unless you bring it up.  For example, standard procedure for a diabetic cat is to do periodic glucose curve checkups.  This is an all-day affair, where they prick the cat's ear every hour and take a glucose reading to see how its blood sugar is controlled throughout the day.  Well, my diabetic cat gets so stressed at the vet that his "curve" doesn't end up being particularly representative of how well his disease is under control.  After a couple curves, and a casual mention by one of the vets that the curve is off-kilter due to the stress level, I asked about alternative methods to keep tabs on him.  No more all-day glucose curve appointments.  Turns out there was an alternate blood test that could be used as "good enough" and a better fit for the patient.

I'm with you on this one 100%.  It's no point making the last year(s) of your cat's life miserable.  I gave up trying to get a pill down my thyroid cat's throat after our relationship started changing from loving teddy bear to having said teddy bear run at the sight of me in the kitchen.  Now I crush his pill, mix it with the tiniest amount of the most decadent canned food I can find, and sometimes he eats all of it but most often he doesn't.  At this point his dosage has been adjusted to include the missed bit on average.

Here are some ideas to minimize vet visits and stress:
1. Can you get a scale to weigh your cat at home and just call in the numbers?
2. Try cat pheromone plug-in scent therapy to calm her down before a needed visit?  My vet has a "kitty parking lot" on their counter right next to one of these for cats that get stressed out.
3. Stretch out the time between testing with a talk with your vet.  Yeah, they may recommend 3 months, but if you are monitoring her weight at home and don't see other signs of changes, is 4 or 6 months okay?

I haven't reached the give fluids stage of the kidney disease with my cat yet either, but I will say that my diabetic cat takes needles with ease and all I had to do was train him to expect a dash of cream for his compliance.  Needles seem far easier than pills, at least with my cats.

Trying not to sound preachy (cause I hate people who preach this) but you can test your diabetic at home.  I too have a diabetic fur kitten, I test him before I give his insulin and do a curve every once in a while at home.  I was terrified at first, now he purrs at me thinking it's just his regularly scheduled ear rub and love. 

I do agree needles are very easy on cats.  Their skin is built to take abuse so I don't think they have a lot of nerves compared to humans. 

On kitties weight.  I also have a baby scale to regularly monitor my diabetic, he gets a treat to eat while I see that his weight is stable we are both happy about it.

ETA:  I'm all about "quality of life" with my senior pets, will this add to their QOL and not detract from it consider, will it detract from their QOL ignore.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 04:37:54 PM by neverrun »

Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2018, 04:52:18 PM »
19 years old is pretty old for a cat. I'd just try to make the rest of their lives as comfortable as possible until they develop major health issues.


le-weekend

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2018, 05:54:56 PM »
I have been there.

In the last two years I've had to say goodbye to my two precious cats (one age 18, one age 14). Both times I waited a bit too long and put them through car trips, tests, and treatments that did not add to their quality of life and may have even shortened it due to stress (they also hated car trips / vet visits).

Once you get into thyroid / kidney / cancer stuff, I believe you're getting more into the territory of normal end of life, the body naturally shutting down, and that is not something that you are obliged to "fight against" since the treatments can be worse than the diseases, or send other things out of whack that only cause more stress and havoc for you and your kitty. I believe it is our duty as their caretakers to provide as much safety and comfort as we can; it is not necessarily to provide life-prolonging medical treatments that for all we know may be stretching out an already painful process. (We can't always be sure because cats hide pain so well.)

One piece of wisdom I acquired along the way is that animals live in the moment far more than we do. So if they are miserable, they are not realizing these shots, car trips etc. are "for their own good." If they can be reasonably comfortable at home, then I would vote for no more excess vet visits.

Both times I used Lap of Love https://www.lapoflove.com/ (mobile hospice vet service) for my cats' euthanasia. They made a very difficult process as positive and easy as such a difficult thing could possibly be. It was peaceful and comforting to have my cats safe and warm in their own beds, so they could be given a peaceful ending in a comfortable state.

p.s. - I wish I had taken more pics and videos of my girls when I still had them! Even though when I look at them it can make me cry, it's a good healthy cry that helps me grieve and even smile to remember them healthy and well.

Best of luck to you and hugs to your cat.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 05:59:27 PM by le-weekend »

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2018, 06:03:15 PM »
I have lost 2 Maltese in the past 7 months. One was only 12 but had many health issues and started to have strokes. The other was 20 and she was on a lot of meds. When she got kidney disease I did not do the fluid injections because I couldn't even wash her face without her biting me.  We did nothing an din a few months it was obvious it was her time to go. We also did the home euthanasia and although it cost double it was worth it as she was in her own bed and not scared. Your cat has had a great life and I would just keep her comfortable until it is her time. Hugs:))

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2018, 11:08:36 PM »
You've had a lot of responses but I agree with all of the comments that it all depends on the individual cat.

Anecdata:

My neighbour's kitty, who we feed a few times every month, is about 14 or 15 yo. Shewent on to pain meds for arthritis a few years ago. She then developed hyperthyroidism, had the radioactive iodine (I think she stayed at home but locked in a room? can't remember). Now her thyroid is playing up again and she is on twice-daily tablets to keep it under control. But, she's a very happy kitty, has friends up and down our street, loves to be petted, chases off other cats... and most importantly, LOVES eating wet cat food for breakfast and dinner. So we can all give her her meds without any drama - just drop it in the cat food and she eats it. So the intervention has been right for her, with her zest for life and ability to take tablets in her food.

However, my kitty had genetic polycystic kidney disease and given his complete and utter freakout for anything even slightly invasive at the vet, we all agreed it was best for him that there were no heroics for him, even though he was young (like 5yo). That was the right decision for him. It was all about quality of life. Giving him tablets was not an option (and he would only ever eat about 1/2 teaspoon of wet food per day).

We go to the same vet practice and clearly the vets are very good at tailoring treatment to the individual kitty.

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2018, 07:58:15 AM »
Has anyone else had this conversation with your vet? How did you explain it without coming off like an uncaring asshole who only cares about money?

My cat has kidney disease and she also fell and hurt herself last summer. I took her to the vet and she wanted to do all sorts of expensive stuff plus follow up visits. I went through her list and authorized anything I could see a purpose for. The cat stayed overnight and got a bunch of tests done for a bill that was over $1K. We figured out what was wrong and came up with a treatment plan that my GF [a RN] could make happen at home.

For all the extra stuff I said no. The vet likes to call and suggest more stuff I don't even pick up the call. I just check the VM later. They are close to my place and they do good works I keep using them.

My cat is 13yrs old. If she was 19yrs old I would make her comfortable and that's about it. When she could no longer function at home or was in a lot of pain I'd put her down.

Funny thing this spending $$ on old pets is not even a human thing. My GF is appalled that surgeons at her hospital will perform major operations on someone 90+yrs old who will never recover and leave the hospital. What was the point of all the pain/suffering/$$ when the quality of life was shit to the end?

So my suggestion is do what you feel is right. Pay no attention to what the vet thinks about you. You'll spend 1 or 2hrs with that person in the remainder of the cat's life. They are irrelevant to you beyond providing medical care to your cat. If they are really making you unhappy find a new vet and explain what you didn't like about the old vet at the first meeting [without bringing in your cat]. That way if you don't come to a meeting of the minds you can walkout with zero hassles.

My friends had an old sick cat they loved, but they felt it was time to put them down. Their vet said no, gave them a huge guilt trip, suggested $$$ treatments and said if they didn't do the treatments she'd report them to the animal cruelty folks! What an asshole. They went back later and their normal vet wasn't there. The new vet looked at the cat, listened to their story and agreed it was totally reasonable to put the cat down. So shop around. Vets are just people. There are some good ones and some not so great ones.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2018, 10:23:41 AM by Retire-Canada »

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2018, 09:15:14 AM »
My friends had an old sick cat they loved, but they felt it was time to put them down. Their vet said no, gave them a huge guilt trip, suggested $$$ treatments and said if they didn't do the treatments she'd report them to the animal cruelty folks! What an asshole. They went back later and their normal vet wasn't there. The new looked at the cat, listened to their story and agreed it was totally reasonable to put the cat down. So shop around. Vets are just people. There are some good ones and some not so great ones.

Wow, this is horrible!

Retire-Canada

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2018, 10:24:22 AM »
Wow, this is horrible!

Yup. Exactly what you don't need at a traumatic time like that in your life.

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2018, 10:25:17 AM »
My friends had an old sick cat they loved, but they felt it was time to put them down. Their vet said no, gave them a huge guilt trip, suggested $$$ treatments and said if they didn't do the treatments she'd report them to the animal cruelty folks! What an asshole. They went back later and their normal vet wasn't there. The new looked at the cat, listened to their story and agreed it was totally reasonable to put the cat down. So shop around. Vets are just people. There are some good ones and some not so great ones.

Wow, this is horrible!

That is worse than horrible!.

Our cat was 17/18 (never sure because she was a rescue). She was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Our vet suggested NOT doing treatment on such an old cat. The car rides were torture on her and should would be out of sorts for days after. She didn't seem to be in pain but they said cats are great at not showing pain. Gave us some pain meds and said if the situation changed to come back. A couple of weeks later it was obvious that she was in rapid decline. The vet office was fantastic and offered to come to our house or have her put down in the office. Very compassionate to my whole family (especially my daughters) who wanted to be with her at the end.

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2018, 11:59:47 AM »
A lot of good thoughts in this thread. In the end, I think it is a very personal decision between you and your cat. Every situation is different.

My middle aged cat has mammary cancer and kidney disease, and is also a terror at the vet. I personally try to to judge what we do by her home life. Every time we go to the vet, they tell us she was "feisty" or "saucy" and her chart say "TEMPERAMENT: CAUTION". But as soon as she gets home, it's like it never happened. She's eating, purring, cuddling, chasing the birds she sees through the window, etc. They way I see it, she is such a rascal at the vet because she still has a lot of energy/life in her, and it's worth an hour or two of discomfort every few weeks/months to keep her comfortable at home.
With each home treatment, I view it the same way. We do daily fluids and medications for the kidney disease (the cancer is under control for now). As with the vet, she's annoyed while we're giving the treatments, but is back to normal as soon as they're done. We gave up on pills because they were impossible, but we can get liquid meds close enough to the vicinity of her mouth that they'll go down. If we ever get to the point where she is hiding or running away from us because she hated the treatments so much, we will reconsider. But for now, a few minutes a day help her have a good quality of life for the other 24 hours.

If I were in your position, I'd probably do the bloodwork every 3-4 months as long as she bounces back from the vet visit fairly quickly. If your situation is more like CupcakeGuru, maybe not. But as others have said, cats hide pain really well, so bloodwork is often the first signal that there's something you can be doing to make your kitty feel more comfortable. It's pretty important if it's possible. Same with the treatments. I think it's worth trying fluids/meds once she progresses to that point, with the thought that you will stop if they aren't helping or she's miserable. But only you know your cat, and in the end I know you'll make the right decision for her, whatever that is.

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2018, 09:25:48 PM »
You could get a vet nurse to come out and take the blood. Maybe someone who would be passing on their way to work or something? No need to haul the poor cat in every time. You could also find a vet closer to you. There must be some options to make the process easier for the cat, before you think about decreasing medical care. Have you tried Feliway pheromone spray?

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2018, 10:02:28 AM »
Yes, we've used Feliway, and they have Feliway plugins in the exam rooms at the vet, but it doesn't seem to help her much.

We used to visit a vet who was much closer - and he was a complete shame-y ass. And she was no better behaved or less stressed there. It's not so much the car ride, as being touched by a stranger. Honestly, she doesn't really like us to mess with her either and we are her family! We took her in from our friend when she was 15, and according to her friend she's been a terror at the vet since kittenhood. If she's going to freak out and behave badly at any vet, I'd rather stick with the one who answers my questions and isn't shame-y.

So, we took her in, and it turns out her weight is WAY down. :( We went ahead with the bloodwork and will see what that shows. Had a fairly productive conversation regarding quality of life, and whether not treating whatever she has will actually worsen her quality of life. (If it's thyroid, which the vet suspects, the consequences of not treating it seem fairly unpleasant for the cat.) I feel like I got all of my questions answered in a non-shamey way. If there's a way to get the blood draws without having to haul her in, that'd be great and is definitely something to explore if it turns out she has to go on thyroid meds. What's making me hesitate on that is the blood rechecks that would be needed.

Worried now because she hasn't really eaten much since coming back from the vet. That's not unusual - usually it takes her a couple of days to settle down enough to eat and sleep, after a vet visit. But since she's lost weight, I'm really concerned about her this time. :(

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2018, 10:13:14 AM »
I don't have anything useful to add here but just wanted to say my heart goes out to you.   Poor kitty that it takes her a few days to settle down from a vet visit. 

We got a kitten last April so she's not quite a year old yet.  She's very lovely - playful and social.  We had to take her to the vet 3 times when she was little for her kitten shots.  The first time at the vet's she was friendly and playful.  By the third visit, she was quite unfriendly.  I guess she figured out nothing good will come of her being there.  She doesn't much like being in her carrier in the car either. 

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2018, 05:56:33 PM »
Aw, I'm sorry to hear about your kitten @Tris Prior ... If you want too get her to eat something immediately, try what someone upthread suggested - baby food. I bought some just to see, and holy cow, it *is* like kitty crack! The meat ones are just pureed meat in juices I think. I tried pureeing some home cooked chicken (which mine *loves*) and she shunned it (and again, will *totally eat shredded chicken*), but she ate the chicken and turkey commercial baby food like it was going out of style. I guess she doesn't like the texture of the homemade or something. Obviously not a long term solution, but it might be a good way to get some quick calories in her. I think I am going to use it as an easy vehicle for mine's probiotics. It's kind of pricey for those little jars (how to people with babies do it?) but as a stop gap you could try a couple of flavors to see if she'll eat it. I've seen chicken, turkey, and beef.

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2018, 06:17:19 PM »
Yes, we've used Feliway, and they have Feliway plugins in the exam rooms at the vet, but it doesn't seem to help her much.

We used to visit a vet who was much closer - and he was a complete shame-y ass. And she was no better behaved or less stressed there. It's not so much the car ride, as being touched by a stranger. Honestly, she doesn't really like us to mess with her either and we are her family! We took her in from our friend when she was 15, and according to her friend she's been a terror at the vet since kittenhood. If she's going to freak out and behave badly at any vet, I'd rather stick with the one who answers my questions and isn't shame-y.

So, we took her in, and it turns out her weight is WAY down. :( We went ahead with the bloodwork and will see what that shows. Had a fairly productive conversation regarding quality of life, and whether not treating whatever she has will actually worsen her quality of life. (If it's thyroid, which the vet suspects, the consequences of not treating it seem fairly unpleasant for the cat.) I feel like I got all of my questions answered in a non-shamey way. If there's a way to get the blood draws without having to haul her in, that'd be great and is definitely something to explore if it turns out she has to go on thyroid meds. What's making me hesitate on that is the blood rechecks that would be needed.

Worried now because she hasn't really eaten much since coming back from the vet. That's not unusual - usually it takes her a couple of days to settle down enough to eat and sleep, after a vet visit. But since she's lost weight, I'm really concerned about her this time. :(

Your vet does sound better! You're in a very hard situation. Have they given you some ideas of high calorie but thyroid or kidney friendly food?

I would talk to your vet and find out if there's a way to get a nurse to come out and take bloods. There are home call vets, so even maybe one of those just to take the bloods?

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #35 on: January 28, 2018, 07:48:41 PM »
Aw, I'm sorry to hear about your kitten @Tris Prior ... If you want too get her to eat something immediately, try what someone upthread suggested - baby food. I bought some just to see, and holy cow, it *is* like kitty crack!


You know, everyone says that, but she is completely not interested in any kind of wet food, including the kinds described as crack. I've tried. I offered her some meat baby food once, when I temporarily had to foster a couple of kittens and had some on hand. She immediately got the "OMG you're trying to poison me!" look on her face and stalked away. This was years ago so maybe she'd eat some now? I'll discuss with the vet, should this continue, because, due to the kidneys, she's supposed to be on low-protein food. Though it might turn out to be a balancing act of feeding her what's best for her kidneys vs. getting calories into her at all.

I can hear her crunching away now in the kitchen, though, and she happily devoured a few treats this afternoon. So maybe this is progress? She also FINALLY slept. This is why I hate taking her to the vet, it takes her a couple days to calm down enough to eat and sleep and just relax. :(

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2018, 08:28:44 PM »
My last three cats passed at 21, 23, and 21, so I had quite a few years of hospice care for each.  My guy with kidney failure secondary to high blood pressure went blind after a stroke. I went a totally different route than the low protein prescription foods because they have zero flavor and my blind cat would have wasted away to nothing in no time on that stuff. I definitely believed in keeping him eating as a priority. Luckily I used to work with my current vet and now work in human healthcare so my vet is great about letting me do my thing as he knows I have access to research so I'm not just making up a treatment plan from some random website.

I found it helpful to decide what the end point was for each of my pets well before they were geriatric. Each of them had a different personality and what was appropriate for my blind guy would not have been appropriate for my senile happy cancer girl. Getting that choice as black and white as I could beforehand really helped me emotionally when the time did come.

You know your cat best. I agree that a conversation with your vet may open up different options than rechecking bloodwork so regularly.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 08:30:46 PM by katscratch »
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CalBal

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #37 on: January 28, 2018, 08:31:03 PM »

I offered her some meat baby food once, when I temporarily had to foster a couple of kittens and had some on hand. She immediately got the "OMG you're trying to poison me!" look on her face and stalked away. This was years ago so maybe she'd eat some now?

LOL, I've gotten that look SO many times over the years, so I hear ya.

Maybe she'd eat it and maybe not? Both my original girl and my now-elderly cat I got as adult cats and they never liked wet food particularly. Now Lily eats it but somewhat reluctantly. I give it because it is more easily digested, keeps her more hydrated, easier to dose with meds, and all that (she eats some dry kibble too). Mary though would have nothing doing with wet food. Would give the "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO POISON ME" look every time. Wouldn't ever eat people food like chicken or fish either (weirdo). Lily surprisingly actually really likes shredded boiled chicken, especially when still warm. You might try that! I was really surprised she would eat it (and still eats it). They'll never get enough calories just eating boiled chicken (too lean, fills them up), but again, it's better than nothing...

When I got my kittens earlier this year (yes, punch me in the face), my vet recommended getting the acclimated to eating wet food so that, even if they primarily eat kibble, down the line, should it become necessary, they will willingly eat canned food. They do primarily eat kitten kibble (they are still under a year old), but they get part of a can of wet kitten food each morning which they happily devour, so so far so good...

I'll discuss with the vet, should this continue, because, due to the kidneys, she's supposed to be on low-protein food. Though it might turn out to be a balancing act of feeding her what's best for her kidneys vs. getting calories into her at all.

My parents have an elderly cat (like 15? 16?) that has been on early kidney failure for a while (a few years?). She doesn't particularly like the kidney diet. So they feed here about 1/2 kidney diet and half normal (the stuff she prefers). QOL and all that.

I can hear her crunching away now in the kitchen, though, and she happily devoured a few treats this afternoon. So maybe this is progress? She also FINALLY slept. This is why I hate taking her to the vet, it takes her a couple days to calm down enough to eat and sleep and just relax. :(

Yay for the eating at least!

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #38 on: January 28, 2018, 09:04:25 PM »
You could always partially soak the kibble, just to make it a bit softer and get some water into her. Even soak it in pet milk if she likes that. Or salt free stock?

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2018, 08:25:19 AM »
Make sure the stock is made without onions, if you try that. I made bone broth for my guy and just offered it warm next to his water.
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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2018, 09:16:36 AM »
Some of the new research on kidney disease suggests that it's low phosphorus that matters, not low protein. In the later stages they do need low protein too, but feeding low protein in the early stages can cause muscle wasting. Cats are straight up carnivores so they need a meat-heavy diet. If you google Tanya's CKD phosphorus you can find more info and citations. There's also a list of phosphorus content in wet and dry foods on that website that can guide you. The person who put the website together isn't a vet, just an owner who has had two or three kidney cats and has gathered a lot of info and tips over the years. Of course, discuss with your vet before making any decisions in your specific case.

Our cat won't eat enough wet food for that to be her only diet. She was losing too much weight so we had to put kibble back out. Won't touch the prescription kibble, so she's on her old food. It's pretty low phosphorus, though. Since we're keeping her hydrated with daily fluids it's not as much of an issue. Her numbers actually keep improving with every visit.

Glad your cat is calm and eating again after the indignity of the vet visit. :)

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #41 on: January 29, 2018, 09:22:05 AM »
My parents have an elderly cat (like 15? 16?) that has been on early kidney failure for a while (a few years?). She doesn't particularly like the kidney diet. So they feed here about 1/2 kidney diet and half normal (the stuff she prefers). QOL and all that.

Our cat won't eat the straight up kidney Rx type food. So we give it to her as much as she'll eat and then we feed her a variety of other high quality foods. Ultimately the goal isn't to keep her alive as long as possible at all costs. It's to keep her happy and as healthy as possible given the circumstances. She'll be 14 this year. If she gets to 16 or 17 I'll be stoked, but however you slice it she's had a good life in a family that loved and cared for her. I don't really see a likely outcome at this point where I'll feel bad about her life.

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #42 on: January 29, 2018, 01:15:05 PM »
Well, the bloodwork results came back today and they were pretty much the same as last time - the thyroid value was actually a smidge lower (higher? Whatever one is closer to normal). So, the vet didn't feel the need to run the free T4 or put her on meds. Kidney values still stable, no worse - this is going on 4 years of kidney disease with no change now.

So, her weight loss and lower appetite may just be her slowing down due to her extreme age, the vet said. Back to watching and waiting. I am REALLY happy that we don't have to put her on meds.

I'm fortunate that she really enjoys drinking water. She likes water in general, hanging out near the shower, etc. However, she does not like any sort of liquid in her food. This results in the "OMG POISON" look.

I really wish she'd been acclimated to wet food in her youth. Our friend who was her first owner had MANY cats and she fed them all kibble because I guess that was cheapest and easiest? When you take a cat in at age 15, it's hard to get them to change their habits!

Cats are weird.

katscratch

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #43 on: January 29, 2018, 01:48:38 PM »
Good news it sounds like :)

The vets I worked with always recommended people pick a high quality food then cycle through the different "flavors" and both dry and wet foods. For that exact reason.

And to echo an earlier post - that's what I ended up doing, low phosphorous food with a phosphorous binder added (a flavorless powder). He never ended up losing weight or getting that "kidney cat" look and lived 2-3 years longer than we thought he would. N=1 but I'm in favor of that route over restricting protein in the early stages.
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marion10

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #44 on: January 29, 2018, 04:34:15 PM »
In our area there are vets that do house calls- many of them specialize in cats for this reason. Is that an option?

Tris Prior

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #45 on: February 14, 2018, 10:13:03 AM »
Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. Just to finish off the story - this all ended up being a moot point. Unfortunately, after the vet visit she started eating less and less, and then started throwing up water. I called the vet, certain this was the end of her. She suggested giving her an anti-nausea shot, appetite stimulant, and fluids. To see if that would "reboot" her. She said that helped some cats who get into a not eating/so they feel sicker/so they don't want to eat downward spiral, but that for others it was only a temporary fix and that if it didn't work, it was her time.

This seemed reasonable to us - at least then we'd know we tried everything that's not invasive. We got that done. Got her home and she happily shoveled down more food than I'd ever seen her eat in her life. She seemed to be feeling better, was cuddlier and friendlier, and the eating kept up for a couple days (though, normal eating and not shoveling it in so fast I had to take it away from her for fear of scarf 'n barf)

Last Friday my office was closed due to a snowstorm, and she spent most of the day cuddling with me and napping on my lap and having some food now and then. She seemed fine, until she wasn't. At one point she got up, drank some water, came back onto my lap - and without warning spewed it all down my front. She continued repeatedly throwing up the rest of the night. Called the vet the next morning after, for the first time in ages, she didn't even try and get into bed with us but spent the night huddled on the couch looking miserable. We agreed it was time, and were able to get an at-home euthanasia service to come out that evening. (Which I highly recommend, btw, for anyone else facing this. They were wonderful and we didn't have to haul a miserable cat into the vet.)

I feel like we did right by her but wow, does this suck.

RIP, sweet girl.


Sibley

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #46 on: February 14, 2018, 11:03:23 AM »
I'm so sorry. Take care of yourself. :(

zygote

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #47 on: February 15, 2018, 11:28:34 AM »
So sorry to hear your kitty took a turn for the worse. I'm glad she was so well loved, and very clearly well taken care of. RIP

Frugal Lizard

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #48 on: February 15, 2018, 11:40:58 AM »
So sorry for your loss.  It sounds like a very similar end as my Bella.  Same kind of decline at the end with kidney failure.  It is so sad when they go.  Take care.
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RetiredAt63

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Re: How much vet care for very elderly pet?
« Reply #49 on: February 16, 2018, 07:42:43 AM »
So sad, but happy she had a stress-free departure. It is our gift to our pets, that we can do this for them.
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