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02 February 2012 @ 04:03 pm
Blog: The story about the time my cat DIDN'T die from liver failure.  
FYI: I'm writing this for the people out there who are Googling "feline liver failure" or "feline anorexia" right now. I am not a veterinarian and therefore this absolutely cannot be considered advice or anything of the sort. But while I was going through this with my cat, I found that reading about other people's experiences was not only comforting, it also gave me information that I needed to help my cat recover. It's taken me five months, but I'm finally keeping the promise I made to myself that I would pay it forward if my cat survived!
During Labor Day weekend of 2011, my husband and I were in South Dakota for a family reunion when we got the news that our cat, Angelus, was dying.

Dwayne's parents had had to take him to the vet in our absence because he was listless and refusing to eat. We got a call from the vet while we were at the Corn Palace. She told us that Angelus was in very bad shape. She said that his blood test results were off the chart. She said that he was never going to survive without $5,000+ in treatments, and that even then, there was only a 25% chance. She said that the best option was euthanasia.

Obviously, we were very upset by this news. We felt terrible that we'd never see him again. We felt even worse that Angelus had known us since the day he was born, but since we were in South Dakota, his final minutes were going to be in a vet's office with Dwayne's mom instead of with us.

After talking it over together, we decided that if it wouldn't be painful for him, we wanted to see if he could survive until we got home on Monday. The plan was that we'd spend a couple of hours with him at home, and then take him in for euthanasia ourselves. The vet said that that would be all right. She already had him on an IV for rehydration. She then gave him an appetite stimulant and sent him home with Dwayne's parents.

Dwayne's mom did some research about feline liver failure and found some tips about how to help a cat in this situation. (I did the same from my hotel room, using my phone to read whatever I could find on the subject.)

We checked in every day, and he still lived on. He was even eating tiny bits of food here and there. When we got home on Monday, Dwayne's parents said that they really didn't think we should have him put to sleep. They thought we should keep trying to get him to eat and see if he'd continue to improve. We agreed to try, but weren't particularly confident that he'd ever fully recover. We were glad, though, to have this extra time to spend with him, since we had been worried the whole weekend that we wouldn't have the chance.

As it turned out, I'd already requested the entire week off from work, so I was able to spend a lot of time taking care of Angelus. Every couple of hours, I was putting something in front of him. These are the things I was able to get him to eat and drink:

1. The lowest-sodium chicken broth I could find at the store (slightly heated).
2. Sodium-free canned sardines.
3. Water drained from the sardines.
4. Low-sodium deli turkey.
5. Low-sodium canned chicken.
6. Water drained from the canned chicken.
7. Water drained from low-sodium canned tuna. (I didn't feed him actual tuna, because it's not supposed to be good for cats.)
I also gave him a "high calorie nutritional supplement" gel to eat about three times a day. My mother-in-law picked it up from a natural pet food store. It's called Nutri-Cal. She had tried mixing it in his food, but he wouldn't eat much of it that way. I took a more aggressive approach and smeared dollops of it on the back of one of his paws. He'd then lick it off and get filled with calories whether he liked it or not!

Every day during that week, he got better and better with more energy and a bigger appetite. After a while, I realized that he probably wasn't eating or drinking as much as normal because he was getting filled up on the gel, so I switched to giving him that only once a day.

That Friday, six days after the vet told us that Angelus was dying, Dwayne took him back in and had his blood tests redone. His numbers were in a normal range once again. He had completely rebounded.

It's now been five months, and he is doing very well. He still hasn't fully regained all the weight that he lost, but he looks healthy and seems to feel completely normal--including being his whiny-baby self on a regular basis!

Current Mood: gratefulgrateful
Little Willowslayground on February 3rd, 2012 12:08 am (UTC)
That is amazing. Amazing. Please give him a HUGE hug from me! What a strong kitty, and what wonderful, caring humans.
Mindi Scottmindiscott on February 3rd, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! He has been hugged now! :-)
Little Willowslayground on February 3rd, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Yay! :)
bonesai on February 3rd, 2012 12:13 am (UTC)
Angelus is an angel! Sweet face! Thank you for sharing this story. Lots of love to you Mindi!
Mindi Scottmindiscott on February 3rd, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
He's my precious baby gray. ♥
Roxo TrvolRoxo Trvol on February 3rd, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
I'm so happy your little cat survived.
I have been through something similar with, not one, but two puppies.
I took one at my place, but didn't give him a shot, so he caught some virus from the air. We though he was feeling bad because of something he could have eaten, when we realised he wouldn't recover by himself, it was too late.
The second one we got later. He was very lively at first. When I observed the first symptoms the other puppy had, I took him to the vet. He gave him something to hydrate and some other medicine and he finally started to eat by himself. ( I gave him cat food, it is more nutrient and tastes better) but 9 or 10 days after he had gotten sick I saw he was sneezing blood. I decided to take him back to the vet when I came home from school the next day. It was too late.
So, you see why I am happy to see an animal get better from a bad illness. I felt so hopeful when I saw Barney (second puppy) get better, I had really hope he'd survive.
I got a lot of help on the internet as well, unfortunately I could find nothing for the bleeding.

Sorry I shared my sad puppy story here... It's painful for me to remember too...
Mindi Scottmindiscott on February 3rd, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
Re: Glad!
I'm so sorry to hear about your puppies. What a tough thing to have to go through. *hugs*
Amyjupiteramy on February 3rd, 2012 02:45 am (UTC)
I'm so happy he's better. ♥ Yay cats! Cats cats cats.

I went through a similar experience (though different outcome, obviously) when Lily got sick. What I mostly discovered was a wealth of information on feline nutrition. I keep meaning to write something up about it, but I worry that it will come across preachy and like, "The way you feed your cats is WRONG!!" I imagine that wouldn't go over well.

Give all your babies a squeeze for me!
Alexandra ShostakAlexandra Shostak on February 3rd, 2012 04:33 am (UTC)
I am so happy to hear this story. I had to put a kitten down in fall of 2010 and it was the worst thing, watching her get sick, finding out that it was something there's no cure for (FeLV)... So hearing a story about a pet surviving lights up my evening. :)
skippity_doo: Barleyskippity_doo on February 3rd, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
I am so glad that Angelus is doing better. Barley sends nosebumps.
JP: honeybetweenthetwins-ouranjpmarsull on February 4th, 2012 02:45 am (UTC)
That's AWESOME. I'm so glad! :D
cosmicavatarcosmicavatar on February 4th, 2012 11:57 am (UTC)
Poor Angelus! I'm so glad he's better, and well done for all your efforts in caring for him. It's great to hear how he responded so quickly.
afracloseafraclose on February 5th, 2012 05:09 am (UTC)
Incredible! Glad to hear he's doing well. <^^>
Juliet Coberly FarmerJuliet Coberly Farmer on February 7th, 2012 04:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Thank you for sharing your experience. I too cheated the kitty reaper with my former cat. She had kidney failure at age 5, and one vet said there was nothing to be done. I took her for a second opinion, and with some serious home car (sub-Q fluids 2x a day for weeks), she rebounded and we got 3 more years with her. I miss her every day, but I also share my experience whenever I can in case it might help someone else. :)
(Anonymous) on January 18th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC)
I am awake tonight as my love bear sleeps over at the hospital with a feeding tube and IV due to fatty liver disease and "something else...probably with the liver." Needless to say, this is what I needed to read.

Glad the kitty is doing better. Thanks for the hope.

-sleepless in...Boston