Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Three Blind Mice? Nope. But I Do Have One Blind Cat

KiKi is moving into his later years.  


It'll be 14 years ago this fall that SM picked up this squished little kitty at a gas station.  KiKi has had good life for a mostly wild cat.  Food and shelter inside our warm adobe and a kitty access door to the wide wonderful world outside whenever he wants it.  Scratches and snuggles available on demand but instant "alone time" when the mood and his growls warn us to back off. 

He's never missed a meal unless you count the time he went missing for a week.  We thought he was a goner for sure.  We couldn't figure it out.  We went up and down the streets calling him.  No cat.  We notified all our neighbors and after 5 days of "no KiKi" we assumed something bigger and meaner had got a hold of him and took him to kitty heaven

A few days later, our neighbor Don heard meowing under the vacant "For Sale" house beside ours.  He looked into the crawl space and there was KiKi none the worse for wear after a week under the house.  We think that a home inspector had gone under the house and KiKi, seeing the crawl space door open, followed his instinct for dark, creepy places and got locked inside after the inspector left. 

The only other excitement we had with KiKi was his bi-annual fights that he had with various cats in the hood when he was younger.  These fights would result in bites that would abscess leaving SM and I with our periodic financial contribution to the Vet who was more than happy to take our money in return to sedate and stitch up "Devil-Kitty" as he was known at the Vets.  Seriously.  His rather thick file had a big red sticker on it that proclaimed THIS CAT BITES!

Things have calmed down over the years though and KiKi has become a somewhat friendlier cat, more with SM than with me since I'm the one covered in dogs 24-7.  The dogs treat him pretty good too considering that there's three of them to one of him.  He is The King after all.

So it was SM who noticed KiKi's behavior change a few weeks ago.  He became a lot more vocal and demanding.  SM said that he seemed hesitant to jump from one area to another.  I brushed it off as "old age".  It has been cold here and he IS getting up there in years, maybe arthritis was setting in?

Last week though I went to feed him and it seemed that he couldn't find his food.  I noticed that he walked around until he bumped into it.  I kept my eye on him as he walked through the house and noticed that he "hugged" the walls.  He knew his way around for sure and if you didn't know him you wouldn't think anything was wrong.  I went to touch him and he startled.  I snapped my finger in front of his face and waved my hand around.  Nothing. 

His pupils were huge though.  I grabbed a flashlight and waved it in front of his eyes.  Pupils were responsive.  No blood that I could see.  He was eating and drinking and other than being blind seemed fine so I told the Vet's office that it wasn't an emergency and that we could wait till Monday to take him in for an evaluation.

I google searched sudden blindness in cats and came up with the "big three" of cat issues.  Kidney, thyroid or hypertension.

The Vet confirmed bilateral retinal detachment and did a blood draw to pin down a cause.  He suspects hypertension but won't know for sure until the blood results come back.  I am encouraged that while both retinas are detached, they aren't folded or wrinkled.  He says they appear "closer" like he has some edema (swelling) behind the retinas that's pushing the retina forward thereby detaching it.  He feels that if we can get the inflammation down, than KiKi just might get some of his vision back.  He fixed me up with 3 different pills and asked me if I can give KiKi pills.  

*Those of you with cats, try to suppress your giggles  Those of you who have never tried to give a cat a pill read all about it here.

BTW, SM and I managed to get the pills down his throat with SM holding KiKi wrapped up in a towel and me dropping tuna smeared pills into his growling mouth.  Heaven help us if he DOES get his sight back cause then he'll see me coming and KiKi can be one pissed off cat!

The Vet wants to see KiKi again on Friday to check his eyes for improvement and to discuss the findings of the blood work.  I have to be at work that day (lucky me!) so this is a job for SM.  SM 's only comment to me was that I have to put the cat in the carrier before I leave for work and that as long as the vet staff does the same when they're done looking at him, he'll be happy to take him in.

So SM and I have had to have THAT discussion.  You know the one.  When do you say enough is enough?  He is 14 years old after all.  If it's a thyroid or blood pressure problem I'm OK with buying the meds.  He seems healthy enough.  The Vet mentioned referring us to a specialist if he can't figure out what the problem is.  "Um...No, thanks." 

We also won't go down the "kidney failure" road either.  Our last dog Alex went quick with kidney failure.  About 6 weeks from diagnosis to death.  It was fast.  If it's kidney, there's not much to be done IMHO.  (We had neighbors who told us they tried to extend the life of their 6 year old cat who was suffering kidney issues.  IV's and all sorts of meds.  Nope.  Not for this old cat.)

So here we are.  I will say this though...For a blind cat, he gets around amazingly well.  Makes you realize how refined all his other senses are.  It is fascinating to watch. 

8 comments:

  1. Oh, poor KiKi-it sucks getting older. Hope this all works. And hope you can stick to your guns when the time comes. I spent HUNDREDS of dollars trying to keep a 15 year old cat going. In retrospect, I would have done him a favor letting him go.....

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  2. Aw, shame. So sorry to hear about KiKi. You decision will be the right one when the time comes.

    I always feel that our animals depend on us to give them the best we are able, and, as they are no longer "wild" and at the mercy of the other predators out there, that care sometimes means we have to make very hard decisions regarding their health.

    Not ever an easy decision - my thoughts are with you all.

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  3. My cat Alvin is about 95% blind. He does amazingly well. He has everything memorized. It's funny to see the paths he takes when he goes outside. It's like so many steps then make a left or right etc. He even catches voles! He will sit in one spot for sometimes days and then just grabs one!

    I'm with you on spending a ton of money to prolong a pets life. It's usually not the best for them.

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  4. Hope all goes well, in any instance. Watching your pets get old is hard, but like others have mentioned, the fact that we can ease their suffering by making it more comfortable for them or to make passing easier when the time is near is a great gift we can give them in return for all the love they give us.

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  5. I do understand the plight with your cat. I had a cat named Ooboo that lived until she was 19. Great cat, good mouser, but in the end she couldn't hardly see and worse she was deaf. She would meow at the top of her little lungs looking for someone or something. Drove the wife mad. Good to see a fellow Piedmont gardener, although I'm not sure I will qualify myself as that. Maybe Gardenee?

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  6. I had a cat, Zach, who also suffered from retinal detachment. The vet could never figure out the underlying cause for his high blood pressure which is what caused the detachment. He was blind the rest of his life and he did fine. We made sure to not move any piece of furniture so he would find his way around. His other senses got stronger. I hope they figure out what's wrong so you can treat it.

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  7. I am sorry to hear about your kitty. Hopefully the meds will help!

    I giggled thinking about giving our cats pills... I don't think that would ever happen, no matter how much tuna we covered it in.

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  8. Oh Tami, poor KiKi. Chronic conditions like that are tough when it comes to decision making. We let our cat Rascal go through chemotherapy when he was first diagnosed with feline lymphoma, but declined when he came out of remission 2 years later. Kidney is different though and I would not try to treat that either. Hoping the news will be good for you all.

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