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Cat update

My cat's kidney function is better, but he has developed anemia, with only 16% of the red blood cells he should have. The treatment for it is erythropoietin, the hormone that stimulates red blood cell growth. It's generated by the kidneys, and when your kidneys are as impaired as my cat's are, you don't generate enough of it.

The problem is that the form of erythropoietin available for use is a human form. There is no feline erythropoietin on the market. Human erythropoietin works in cats, but 25-33% of cats develop an immune reaction against it, which destroys not only the human hormone but any hormone their bodies may still be making. The only treatment for this is transfusions. Moreover, studies suggest that the longer an animal is on the human hormone, the more likely they are to eventually have a reaction, so not having a reaction immediately doesn't prove that the animal will always be able to tolerate it. (Treatment is 3 times a week until the red blood cell count rebounds, then once a week.)

I am very hesitant to give this hormone to my cat, for obvious reasons. I'm not sure how serious even 16% RBC is compared to the risk of completely wiping out his ability to generate red blood cells, which is what's at stake. Even if we catch it in time, that would mean transfusion therapy for months, which is grueling for anybody, and especially for a nine-pound cat.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2008 12:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, goodness--what a terrible choice to have to make.

*hugs you, scritches kitty*
Nov. 14th, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh, this is such a hard decision to make. We want the best for our pets, and having to weigh quality of life, length of treatments, the long-term effects of those treatments and exactly how happy your pet will be during all of it is one of the most difficult things we are faced with. Last year, I had to decide if I wanted to go through an incredibly extensive cancer surgery for one of my dogs. The prognosis was not good, but he was strong and healthy and my vets were incredibly understanding and supportive. We went ahead with the surgery and the treatments and he shocked and amazed us all by surviving 9 months longer than anyone thought he would. Which, in dog years, is pretty long. He was happy and healthy up until two days before we lost him to something other than the cancer. Would I do it again? Yes, as his quality of life was the best through those 9 months. But when I was faced with bone cancer in two of my other guys, there was no question, I couldn't prolong their suffering one second more. (I've lost three pets in the last six months, the last one three weeks ago.) I wish I could give you some advice or an easy answer for your sweet kitty, but all I can say is to trust your heart. Your love for your cat is so obvious and that means that whatever decision you end up making, it will truly be the best one for him.

All my best wishes for the both of you.
Nov. 16th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your losses. That's a terrible string of events in such a short time. I'm so sorry. Thank you for your kind words of support, both now and previously. They mean a lot, especially knowing what you were going through.

Nov. 16th, 2008 04:36 am (UTC)
Thank you for your kind thoughts. Yeah, been a crap few months, but I've learned so much about myself and my pets in the last year that oddly enough, it's been worth it. And it's not all bad, we just got a new greyhound a week ago, so the house is not so empty and my remaining pup isn't alone anymore. We only have them for a short time, so I'm just cherishing every moment they are around.

A friend passed this quote on to me. I think it applies to all pets, not just dogs. And I think it sums up our love for our pets beautifully.

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are." -- Cheryl Zuccaro
Nov. 16th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
That's a wonderful quote. And I'm so glad you've adopted a new dog. That'll be good for both you and your remaining dog. Animals need companionship, like all of us.

I wish I could face losing my cat with the fortitude and philosophy you have with your dogs. Since he's been doing a bit better, that final farewell has receded a little, no longer as imminent, but I know it will come before I'm ready for it. As ever, your support and kind words mean a lot.

Tonight for reasons of his own he's been resisting getting his fluids. I've twice had to let him go when the needle pulled loose due to his squirming and started soaking his fur. It's a little early in the evening for fluids and I'm hoping when he's had a bit more time to do whatever settling down he does at night he'll be more cooperative.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )