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Anyone got any advice for looking after an old girl who's probably on the way out?

11 replies

OhBuggerandArse · 30/12/2012 14:02

My dear old cat has been up and down for a few months now. She's being treated pretty successfully for hyper thyroid, and her blood tests are all coming back pretty much normal, but she periodically stops eating and drinking, and has to be rehydrated by the vet.

She gave up on Christmas Day, spent the night before last on a drip at the vets where she started eating again, but since she came back last night hasn't eaten anything or drunk for herself - I've managed to get a bit of water in by syringe.

A practical question to start with - does anyone know what quantity of water I should be aiming to get her to take? She's already beginning to look a bit dehydrated again to me, but there's only so much messing around with the syringe she will tolerate.

And I'd be really grateful for some help with how to approach this with the vet. I don't want to keep dragging her in and out as she does find it distressing, and if she's decided she's giving up, at some point one has to accept that - but I don't want her to be uncomfortable. The vet's tendency will always be to try to fix things, I suspect, and I wonder if that's necessarily always going to be in the cat's best interests?

Any thoughts about that, or about anything else I could do that would make her more comfortable, would be very welcome indeed.

OP posts:
cozietoesie · 30/12/2012 15:30

Oh Lordy. When a cat stops eating and drinking for themselves, it's very difficult indeed. How old is she?

ratbagcatbag · 30/12/2012 15:34

I know this is really tough, but do you think she's had enough? If she has then maybe it's time to make that awful decision, I feel really sorry for you, it's so difficult though. Big hugs.

OhBuggerandArse · 30/12/2012 16:19

Thanks, both. She doesn't seem unhappy - just very very quiet. She's pretty old - we're not exactly sure how old as she came to me as a stray, but she's at least 16. She is looking frail - I'd just really like to figure out if she's in pain, or whether we can let her quietly take her time.

OP posts:
cozietoesie · 30/12/2012 16:40

It's a tough one - but unless there's a clear medical reason for it, I've always regarded really giving up on eating and drinking as ... well, letting go. And at least 16 is elderly, particularly in a cat who has existing problems.

I'm afraid I don't know whether she could be uncomfortable - apart from the feelings she would have from not eating and drinking. Maybe one of the vets who post (or another poster who has had a cat with the same condition) can advise; although you'll know how good cats are at covering up distress.

What has your own vet advised?

OhBuggerandArse · 30/12/2012 17:24

Nothing as yet - I think she thought that because she responded well to being on the drop that she was out of the woods for the moment. As all the bloods came back ok there didn't seem to be any obvious cause - and I don't want to subject her to invasive testing or more trips in and out of the vets when she is frail anyway and we'd be unlikely to pursue aggressive treatment.

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hellymelly · 30/12/2012 17:34

I kept my old cat alive when he had given up drinking, (kidney problems) by syringing drops pf water into his mouth. He had another 18m of life, eventually there was a point where he just looked miserable and I knew it was time for him to go. Old animals do have big ups and downs like old people, so don't assume a rocky patch is the end. If all the bloods were ok then it may be just exhaustion as the thyroid levels off back to a more normal point. Is there anything that really would temp her to eat? Tiny slices of chicken or ham, prawns, that kind of thing? My old cat liked meat stock to drink (no salt) as a sort of nourishing soup. Hyperthryoid ,akes them eat anything in sight so she may have just lost the impetus with lower thyroid levels and need time to adjust.
With all the cats that I've had pts, there has always been a point where they looked somehow blank and unhappy, and if that lasts for a few days, then maybe that is the time to pts. I would talk to your vet too, they do of course like to "fix " things, but most are good at judging the right time to let go. With one of my cats the vet would have done it weeks before I chose to, but I could see that she was still having some enjoyment out of life at home. When that stopped we called the vet out.
I hope you have some more time with your old lady.

cozietoesie · 30/12/2012 17:39

If you're near a co-op, I'd recommend the Elmwood cold roast chicken. (Get a couple of chicken quarters and chop up some of the upper bit of one quarter.) It is particularly delicious and Seniorboy and I practically came to blows over some at lunchtime.

Remember - sloppy wet food only on offer. If she can eat wet food, she should get liquid from that.

cozietoesie · 30/12/2012 17:40

Sorry - have liquid around of course. I meant - don't just offer her dry food.

portraitoftheartist · 02/01/2013 20:57

I wouldn't put an old cat through the distress of repeated visits to the vet. It doesn't matter to her whether she dies now or next week or next month, don't put it off until you think you've waited too long. If she's not eating or drinking it's probably time to let her go, gently and peacefully.

OhBuggerandArse · 04/01/2013 16:47

The old girl is still up and down - she's had some really good days, eating well and seeming interested and happy to be sociable, so it's difficult to say that the time has definitely come. But I don't think it'll be long, all the same.

Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions.

OP posts:
hellymelly · 04/01/2013 17:16

If she's having good days then it may just be that she has bad days and is uncomfortable or tired out. I've had a few cats tick along for a year or so like that (the one I mentioned above being one of them). I think you will know the difference between a bad couple of days and a shift to no good days. With all mine it really was obvious when the time had come and if it isn't then it probably isn't the time. I'm sure you are lavishing her with love and tlc.

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