Emeraude Today

black cat with green eyes
Lady Emeraude

Thanks to everyone who sends well wishes to Lady Emeraude—I’ve no doubt that’s what helps her feel well. I’m following her progress so that others who may be facing the same situations and decisions can see they are not alone, and perhaps find more information to discuss with their veterinarian in caring for a geriatric cat. At this point in caring for a cat in Emeraude’s condition many minor symptoms show up that may be issues on their own or results of other larger conditions. Because she’s too weak to undergo major testing we are treating symptoms with as much information as we can obtain from blood tests and observations, and just making sure she is as comfortable as possible. While this is always a goal, Emmie is now in palliative care.

. . . . . . .

black cat on toilet lid
Resting in her other favorite spot.

We’re feeling okay, just a little tired. Emeraude recovered fairly well from her collapse in November, but with marked anemia and an enlarged heart she would not be fully well again. All diagnoses were really guesses because further testing would be needed to determine her exact condition, such as an echocardiogram to determine the level of her heart disease, and a bone marrow biopsy to determine whether the anemia and collapse were as a result of one of several forms of leukemia. Because she was not in the condition to undergo tests like these at that time, nor even as she felt slightly better, a test like a bone marrow biopsy would do more harm than good and even an echocardiogram could stress her beyond her comfort level, we can’t get a true diagnosis but I can still provide all the palliative care available to me.

She slowly declined, eating less, being less vocal and less active and having increasing trouble in the litter box. Observation is extremely important at this point, and noting for instance not only how much she eats but how she eats—a little at a time, trouble chewing or swallowing, particular foods that may give her trouble, and even checking her respiration and gum coloring after she has eaten are all details that provide clues to what she’s feeling, but decided how to treat what I was seeing was puzzling for me this time because of the unknown details of Emmie’s heart condition.

two black cats
“Cat Talk”: Jelly Bean and Emeraude have a little conversation.

Hydration is often an issue with cats at this age, and whether they don’t drink enough to stay hydrated or they drink a lot but don’t metabolize the fluids normally because of a heart or kidney insufficiency, simply keeping them hydrated can go a long way toward general wellness. I had learned this not only through care for my older cats but also monitoring care for my mother in her last years—all the body’s organs, from internal organs to blood to even skin, need enough fluid to be able to do their part in keeping a body functioning, medications have a greater effect and even food is more fully digested and gives greater nutrition.

I’m well-acquainted with providing supportive or therapeutic care by helping them with three important functions: hydration, and intake and output. If I can keep them eating and eliminating comfortably that goes a long way toward their comfort, and proper hydration is often key to both; often it’s all that can be done. I’ve administered many doses of sub-cutaneous fluids after discussing it with my veterinarian, but with the level of Emmie’s heart condition and the fact she’d collapsed just weeks before I was concerned I might stress her to the point of collapse again, or overburden her heart with fluids it couldn’t manage, though she didn’t mind a good bit of water added to her food. Because of the sensitivity of her formerly broken jaw she doesn’t react well and I hesitate to pill her by mouth, and many of the other comfort measures such as a stool softener and Pepcid couldn’t easily be hidden in her food. I felt I needed more information.

black cat on blanket
It’s time for lunch!

My regular veterinarian makes house calls and is always available by phone so I discussed things with her. When Emmie really seemed to be failing two weeks ago, though, and I thought I might even need to have her put to sleep, my regular veterinarian was away. I decided to call the hospice veterinarian who works in our area.

We did a full panel of blood tests which showed Emmie is not hyperthyroid as most of us had guessed she might be, and that her red blood cell count had increased from 16% to 25% so her anemia was improving, but her white blood cell count was still very high and her heart function was still an issue. She had also lost a full pound from her emergency visit in November. We could, again, check for leukemia and explore her heart disease, but it was still not advisable in her condition. She has an enlarged heart, and most likely chronic lymphatic leukemia.

black cat on bed with dish
“I belong to the Clean Plate Club!” Just this morning too.

So we are following a course of supportive measures that she is currently enjoying: prescription canned recovery food that is high in carbohydrates and rich in protein and minerals as well as her regular favorite foods, a probiotic to help her digest it, weekly B12 injections, daily dose of Pepcid and stool softener Miralax dissolved in her food along with lots of water.

Her blood tests show that she is immunosuppressed enough that she is at risk of infection with anything that comes along, and we also decided to start her on a small dose of prednisone as a part of treatment for the anemia, so she is also on an antibiotic.

Emmie is adjusting well to this and is feeling better. She adores the prescription food and actually sings for it, even with everything mixed into it—she eats it all up and licks the bowl, which she didn’t even do for her favorite Fancy Feast flavors. She’s fine in the litterbox, and while she’s not too energetic, she’s still pleasant and social and very very affectionate.

I check and note her respiration and heart rate once a day as well though her incessant loud purring makes this a little difficult, but who could complain about that? In all, she’s pretty relaxed and comfortable, and that’s about all we can ask for right now.

black cat on bed
R-e-a-l-l-y r-e-l-a-x-e-d-!

Of course, feeling like she’s part of the household is very important. I visit her frequently and usually stay with her for a while after I’ve fed her, but she loves her pets any time I stop in. I leave the door closed while she’s eating and while I have food out for her, but I also let the other cats in while she’s eating now and then, and put the food away so the door can be open to the bathroom where she stays. She no longer wanders over to the studio when we are in there, but she seems to enjoy us being near. The boys are never far away, and it’s not just her food they are interested in!

two black cats
Our tails are crossed we’ll get some of that.
two black cats
We’re just waiting to see if she wants to share.
three black cats
Waiting outside the door…

Please read other articles about palliative care, care for geriatric cats and pet loss
and visit my series Pet Loss in the First Person.

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, The Creative Cat offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats.

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14 thoughts on “Emeraude Today

  • December 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm
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    Keeping thoughts and purrs with you and Emeraude. I’m glad the prescription food is making her feel better, along with your supportive and loving care. I know how difficult these times are, and I wish you peace and strength.

    Reply
    • December 16, 2013 at 6:35 pm
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      Thanks, Catwoods, I’m just so glad I can do this for her and share it with others to help with their situations too.

      Reply
  • December 16, 2013 at 11:03 am
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    I love the posts of Emeraude. I don’t know why, but I’m drawn to that beauty and it’s great to see how she’s part of the household and how much you support and love her. It’s been a few years since I’ve been through this; my orange tabby, Jack (of nearly fourteen years) passed early in 2011. It took me a long time to get to a point where I felt I could bring new kittens into my life (brothers Dante and Puck are now a year and a half). It’s a huge comfort and relief to know, if/when I enter that phase again, that you and your followers are here, so full of wonderful stories, advise, counseling and strength to draw from. Thanks Bernadette. Thanks all of you.

    Reply
    • December 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm
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      Lynda, thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I’m so glad to share Emeraude, I think she deserves it, and I’m sure if she were to make a choice she’d be glad to know she’s helping other cats and other people who love cats. I hope it’s a very long time until you are in this place, and can just love Dante and Puck in memory of Jack for many years. Sharing stories is as old as humanity, and even though we share virtually it still has the same effect of learning and growing together.

      Reply
  • December 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm
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    I am very sorry to read this about your Emma. I too have not been keeping up on my readings and am sorry that I too missed that she collapsed in November. My Frisky is starting to “go that route” right now as he was diagnoised with hypertension along with having a bad heart. He’s down to 7 pounds now. Still eating but I too am on that “just waiting and watching.” I am feeling this with you and know how many prayers I am sending to you. I send you love and peace. Sincerely, Linda

    Reply
    • December 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm
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      Linda, we’re purring for your Frisky and you! I hope you have veterinary support and lots of information, it’s just so much more comforting when you know what’s happening and can at least keep them comfortable. It’s so hard to think about them being ill and getting worse, but with watching and waiting you can sometimes prepare for what’s next. We are thinking of you.

      Reply
  • December 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm
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    You know, I feel for you….and am glad to hear E is holding her own. It is so hard to know what to do. I was hand-feeding Angela three times a day, and decided (though she meows when I give it to her)to try the appetite stimulant. Sadly, it doesn’t work as well as it used, and she doesn’t eat enough by herself. So I still have to hand feed as well….though last night, she ate a good amount of Kibbles. I have to hide the Kibbles in the drawer because of the other two, and at night, when Angela walks over my head to the drawer, I take it out….. My husband thinks her quality of life is not that great. But she chases the red dot (occasionally), eat the Kibbles at night; purrs, and headbutts me in the bed. So, she doesn’t behave like a kitten, but I think with all that’s going on, she is doing quite well. We do what we can….. I see you are doing what you can, and that is all we can do. I certainly am not going to put Angela down because she doesn’t eat well. Feeding her is an inconvenience, but she seems okay, albeit slowerly and not as playful…but then, MacDuff sleeps all day….so they are all getting older….and hey, so am I.

    But I empathize with you and feel your pain and worry. Tis hard seeing them uncomfortable. But we do what we can do. luv ya. allia

    Reply
    • December 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm
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      Thanks, Allia, and if Angela is walking on your head for food I’d say she’s still feeling pretty good and has a long way to go before she’s ready to leave. She may also simply enjoy you feeding her, just that alone may be a great comfort to her so she chooses it over eating on her own, and that’s a great compliment to you. Thanks for taking such good care of her.

      Reply
  • December 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm
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    What a beautiful Lady..I am glad to know she is doing a little better and eating all of her food..she is so blessed to have you Bernadette..and you are blessed to have her also..Hugs

    Reply
    • December 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm
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      Nancy, they’ve all been angels come to teach me lessons. I knew there was a reason I said I’d foster Emeraude and Lakota!

      Reply
  • December 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm
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    Lots of purrs for all of you.
    I think of her pretty often.

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    • December 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm
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      Maru, we know you are Emeraude’s special friend. So often when she and I spend time together we think of you. Thanks for all your good wishes.

      Reply
  • December 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm
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    I’m sorry to hear that Emeraude is not feeling well. I’m behind on my blog reading, so I wasn’t aware she collapsed in November. This stage is hard – just waiting, watching and keeping them comfortable. But as long as she is eating and she is still happy to see you and the kids, then all is well. I know you been through this so many times, but each time is still difficult. xo

    Reply
    • December 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm
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      Thanks, Vicki, we see to it that she always feels like a member of our family as she always will be

      Reply

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