I’ve been watching Emeraude for the past couple of weeks, tracking symptoms that might have only been part of the change in weather—less sunshine, colder temperatures, furnace running resulting in a less active kitty, slightly weepy eyes, a little sniffle, dry skin and a few small mats. Then this past week, the girl who loves her food wasn’t finishing her meals, even her favorite flavors, and just lapping up the liquids which may have had to do with dental issues or her formerly broken jaw developing a painful arthritic condition. But it was what wasn’t happening in the litterbox yesterday that had me concerned. This morning I decided to start some diagnostics, took her temperature (barely 99 degrees), and she collapsed in respiratory distress.
We rushed to the emergency hospital, and she was a little perkier by the time we got there, but that doesn’t fool me or any veterinarian. Blood tests showed a high white blood cell count concentrated in lymphocytes, which indicates cancer rather than an infection, and dramatic anemia as well as a heart murmur, which may just be from the anemia or just weakness. She’s home and eating, but at this point even treating the symptoms won’t change her condition. She’s still moving slowly or not much at all, eating a little bit at a time, but obviously weak. One thing that hasn’t changed is that Lady Emeraude is still sweet and friendly, purring, and still has the brightest green eyes, even the veterinary technician remarked about them—though we all agreed to call her “Emmie” because no one seemed to recognize the name “Emeraude”.
I’ve been giving her subcutaneous fluids, but she’s not staying hydrated, and I had tried to stem the anemia since she’s been here but the high-potency vitamins only upset her stomach and caused constipation. The acupuncture worked wonders in helping her digestive system relax and do its job, and I’ve been giving her a probiotic and supplements all along. I will be doing what I can for her, of course, but like Lakota in July, Emeraude also turned herself around after arriving here, coming back to health and holding off the inevitable for a period of time. And like him, there may be nothing that works for her, and even basic palliative care may not keep her comfortable enough if her body is finally letting go. Her conditions are inherently painful.
Emeraude is a very popular kitty on The Creative Cat and many people ask after her and share her photos and stories. I’m so happy to have been able to give her this chance, and I hope she and I have set a good example for others when senior or geriatric kitties come along and just need a little more time. It’s so worth it!
And Bean is finally making progress, purring loudly and putting his happy tail straight up in the air and squinting so he can barely see, and no hisses! Really, we know he’s mostly interested in her food, but he is the ambassador in the bunch and he likes everyone.
And I’ve been looking at my posts lately, including the one I posted today. November is a month of memories for me—two years ago Cookie and I were coming to terms with her decline, and three years ago I had lost Peaches and was preparing to lose my mother. It was in November that I lost Sophie, that Fawn had her brush with lymphoma and Sally decided to start eating again, and many other close calls. But last night as I prepared The Cavatina I remembered especially Kelly’s last morning and thought about Emeraude in that situation. This morning, the dark, the rain, the odd behavior, the decision to take some action, the rush to the same emergency hospital just left me a little shaken.
I will keep a close watch on Emeraude overnight and consult with my veterinarian first thing tomorrow. For now, I just opened another little can of food and she ate well, a little at a time, waving the tip of her tail back and forth happily. Emeraude makes the decisions, she’s come this far, and in true regal fashion she thanks her adoring fans for all the love and support they’ve given her in the past few months.
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Thanks to everyone who commented before I even shared this on social networks! I thought I’d observe Emeraude a little more and then talk with our veterinarian today before I shared this, when I had a better idea of how she was. And she’s doing well today—eating pretty well, using the box though it’s still a little difficult, not lethargic but more active and talkative than before.
I discussed the results from yesterday with our veterinarian and what further tests might tell me better how to help Emmie, but anything further, a biopsy, further scans, might be something she couldn’t tolerate in her weakened condition. The enlarged heart is the most worrisome, and the biggest obstacle to even dosing her with fluids to keep her hydrated and comfortable, which will affect her renal issues. What I’d seen while she was eating in the past week or so really was some breathing difficulty because it’s hard to breathe while she’s chewing and swallowing, not necessarily due to her formerly broken jaw. The white blood cell count, 78,000+, is worrisome and the lymphocytes at 42%, but she has no fever and no sign of any infection, including a temperature, which is still below 100—which is not optimal, but not clinically a problem. The dark and heavy stool indicates internal bleeding, that and the anemia could point to leukemia, but we could never do a bone scan.
It’s all a bunch of clues and the one that I find most interesting is that she’s actually gained an ounce since everyone’s exams at the beginning of October, not what I’d expected and not typical of most suspected conditions, including cancer and heart disease. I’m accustomed to seeing a weight loss before a diagnosis, especially with both conditions. What’s happening is something she’s been holding off for a while and compensating for, and doing quite well, thank you. Her heart condition is serious enough that she might collapse again at any time, and suggested it was time to consider euthanasia, and I actually had it planned that I would get in touch with my veterinarian yesterday. But Lady Emeraude isn’t going down so easily and she has nothing I haven’t seen before, so I will be aware for increased breathing difficulty, problems in the box or lack of appetite or obvious signs of pain. She’s not bossing me around like a cat who’s ready to go.
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