Caring For Minnie

Catsnkiddos

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A family friend (really a friend of my parents, so a many in his late 60's) had an unexpected and catastrophic heart attack two weekends ago and passed away. I went the same morning and took his cat, Minnie, from his home. I was able to get Minnie into the vet on Tuesday (he used the same vet as me) as I had immediately had health concerns for her. When I took her in she was very skinny- I can feel every bone, bone spur on the shoulders, vertebra, etc; she consumed entire bowls of water when I gave them to her; she was ravenous; she has diarrhea; she wobbled when standing; she tilted her head; she can't jump, even into low window sills which she wants to do. I feared diabetes ad put her on my diabetic cat's low carb food and twice daily feeding schedule. I wondered if she'd had a stroke, or gotten into her owner's medications. I suspected an ear infection.
At the vet appointment, he noted that she had been 13 pounds 2 years ago and was now 6. He did a urinalysis and said she was not diabetic. He took blood and sent us home with tresaderm drops for her ear and metronidazole for her diarrhea. He also told me she is 14 or 15 years old.
Minnie has lived alone with her owner her whole life. I am not sure he really paid all that much attention to her so she is not overly socialized. She has never been with other cats, dogs, etc. The first week she was here I had her in a large dog crate in the basement (it is finished). She had a litter box, bed and food in her crate. She could also see the other cat's food bowls, their litter boxes, toys, beds, etc. We spend time down there, but not as much as the rest of the house so it seemed a slow intro to the rhythms of the house. I brought her crate upstairs to the dining room when she seemed more interested in life outside the crate than in- this room was more in the everyday life, but still used less than most rooms. When I opened her crate to feed her, our dog would extend his nose toward her and she extended back (I was right in the opening feeding, cleaning, etc) Body language was relaxed for both. After a few days in this setup she really wanted out, and when my son opened the crate to put a clean box in and take her dirty box out, she trotted out to the kitchen where I was snacking my own kitties. She walked right past the group over to me. My cats noticed her after a few moments. One trotted off to higher ground..the others decided to finish their snacks and do their thing. The closest one to her noticed she was stretching her neck toward him so he stretched and sniffed back, then finished a snack as she walked away. Not the measured intro I'd planned, but the cats were all completely nonplussed. The dog however clearly makes Minnie anxious. He doesn't chase, or even acknowledge a cat unless it comes to him, but she was not having any of that. She left the room. She has decided she most likes the basement (dog almost never goes there) and has set up camp down there. She will occasionally come sit with me on the sofa. Our feral cat, Lola (a cat hater extraordinaire) LOVES Minnie and will actually SIT IN MY LAP if i am holding Minnie and try to snuggle and touch her. Minnie will lean in to her, but isn't there for the snuggle sleep yet.

Anyway, we got blood results back yesterday and she has a thyroid issue. I have to give her a pill 2x a day for the rest of her life. I was wondering, since the vet was really not very informational, if I should be feeding her a high calorie food? Or maybe some other sort of food regimen to support her condition? How long on this med before she will start to gain weight? Will it likely help with her stamina and ability to get in the windowsill? Anyone with experience to share?
 
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LTS3

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So the vet diagnosed your cat with hyperthyroidism and prescribed Methimazole?

Methimazole can be compounded into another form if pills are too difficult to use. Wedgewood Pharmacy is a popular place and has these options: Methimazole Medication & Information for Animals, Wedgewood Pet RX, Wedgewood Pet RX A local compounding pharmacy can also be used.

Ask the vet if I-131 therapy would be helpful for your cat. Its radioiodine therapy and there are precautions to take for a couple days after the cat has the therapy. If the vet isn't helpful, find another vet who will thoroughly answer all your questions.

Here's some info on hyperthyroidism:

Feline Hyperthyroidism
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi! Thank you for taking Minnie into your life and caring for her. It is wonderful that she has you to rely on. I hope as time passes she warms up to you and your family even more!

I don't have first hand experience with hyperthyroidism, but thought I would share a few articles that include information about food options. There is likely to be some duplication to the article LTS3 LTS3 provided, but here they are anyway.

The Best Cat Food for Hyperthyroidism | OliveKnows

5 Best Cat Foods for Hyperthyroidism Of 2019 - Feline Culture

Diet Recommendations for Hyperthyroidism in Cats
 

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I can't help with the hyperthyroidism, but I've done the dog and cat intro before and offer this.

Dogs take a little longer for cats to decide okay, but what you are doing sounds good. Your dog is doing just what he needs to do. Minnie has a safe place and it sounds as though she is adjusting well. Once she gets her health back things should continue to go well.

You are a good person to take her in. Remember, even if he didn't pay a lot of attention to her, he may not have noticed what was happening to her sometimes you can't see it when it is your own pet (honestly), she probably misses him some.
 
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Catsnkiddos

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Would the medication and low iodine food be done in combo? Should I cut out the canned food and only give her dry? I have to have the recently diagnosed diabetic kitty on only canned so this could become quite the juggle.

I had hoped Minnie would only be with us while she found her retirement home. I still hope to find her a lap of her own- mostly because she seems really uncomfortable with our dog. She deserves to have a happy home in which she feels comfortable. So far, I have had no interest in her and her medical condition wasn't even known when I was asking about- this will likely make it more difficult. We have a caboodle of kitties already....oh my! I would never turn the old gal out though and for now she is here so I want to do my best to help her be in tip top shape.
 
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Catsnkiddos

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I am sure she misses her Daddy and the comfort of their routine at the very least. Unfortunately, when I went into his home to get her (he exclusively came to ours for holidays and dinners and such) it seems in the past few years he had become a hoarder. The place was filled with years of mail, shopping bags, etc. It seemed dirty, moldy even and dark. Her litter tray was a climb to get to and looked sorely in need of cleaning. There was also no air conditioning or air circulation. Our home is clean, with lots of space. Litter is cleaned daily. Cat trees, scratching posts, beds, toys, food and water bowls are on all 3 floors. They have lots of window seats with cushions...and nice climate control. I am hoping the cushy life will appeal to her and help ease her sorrow. She is friendly. Purrs A LOT..comes when I call her. She is quite sweet. That my feral who is anti cat likes her is a bonus- I hope they can be friends.
 
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Catsnkiddos

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20190524_150400.jpg 20190524_150822.jpg

This is Minnie on one of the trees the first day she came out. I put her up there so she could survey the room (it is in the corner). She went from there and tried to get into the window next to the tree (all of our windows are pretty much floor to ceiling so it should have been accessible.
 

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I am so glad that she likes being with you - and, even your feral! As much as she might miss her owner (and, she will for a time), she probably is also enjoying a better environment and it is even possible that she is getting a lot more attention from you than perhaps he was capable of providing to her.

Let her settle and since your dog isn't really posing any issues - she might in time learn to accept him as one of the crew.

I would think the low iodine would be in addition to the meds, but you can at least call and ask the vet about that. I am not sure canned food has to go completely - especially if she likes to eat some wet food. There were some food recommendations that came in canned in those articles. Now, the key is to check the ingredients and see if there is an issue with your diabetic kitty possibly eating some.

It shouldn't be as big of a deal if you are feeding them separately. But, you could look into food dishes that are opened with a chip reader - that reads the associated chip in a cat's collar. That way, neither could eat the other's food.

Edited: LOVE Minnie's pics!! She looks like such a sweetheart!!!
 

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It sounds to me as though she is very happy with you all, including the dog, and feels safe. She came out of the kennel and went around to greet everyone very quickly, which is a good sign. She doesn't sound at all like a cat who wants to be an only cat. She sounds like a cat who is happy to have a cat pride to be part of.

Every day since she's been to the vet she will feel better. It's even possible she knew her dad wasn't doing well and was afraid for him and her future. You've given her more than she could have dreamed of.
 
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Catsnkiddos

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I have been considering chip reading feeders to prevent my diabetic kitty from grazing. The other kitties get canned and dry and are annoyed that is no longer free feed on the dry. Those kitties eat in the basement, diabetic kitty eats upstairs and is monitored (she gets insulin as soon as she is done). I tried feeding Minnie upstairs in the same room as the diabetic Kitty (her name is Jake) but she didn't like it. Even in the basement she does not want to eat in her own space- I feed Minnie firs then got to the table where the others eat and she goes right over. She can't jump up. but she wants to be fed near them. They all obviously have free roam access to all floors, but feeding times are run this way.
 

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I don't have a hyperthyroid cat, but I am always keeping an eye out for info regarding certain diseases since my cat takes daily steroids for asthma/allergies and, eventually, she may develop other issues (hope not! cross fingers!).

One of my favorite and, in my view, one of the best sources of information on the web for endocrine issues is Dr. Mark E. Peterson.
Insights into Veterinary Endocrinology
Research Studies | Animal Endocrine Clinic

You could try reading these two as a start:
Insights into Veterinary Endocrinology: The Best Diet to Feed Hyperthyroid Cats

Insights into Veterinary Endocrinology: Optimal Protein Requirements for Older Cats and Cats with Hyperthyroidism
 
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Catsnkiddos

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I feel bad for her since she chooses to hang out in the basement all the time. Once school is out the kids will be down there more, but we aren't down there for huge chunks of the day- so she is alone. The other kitties go down to graze, to use those litter trays, sometimes they play with the toys but they too mostly like the other floors better (bigger windows, human beds) The dog almost never goes there so I think that is why she stays down there. The dog has a couple of kitties (Lincoln and Atticus Caticus the Baddicus) who follow him, rub on him, sleep on him- he does not necessarily return their level of affection- he groans at them. Marley likes to eat and drink from the poor dog's bowls- even while he is there doing the same. Minnie hasn't tried to sleep or play with the other kitties. She seems a little concerned when they are about, but there is no hissing, no tail twitching or fighting (the original ones sometimes get testy with one another but that has not happened around Minnie yet). She didn't run away from my arms when Lola (the feral) came snuggling up. Hopefully when these meds kick in she will feel healthier and start to integrate

Does anyone know how long it takes to start seeing some results? Especially in terms of weight gain?
 

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Since Minnie can't jump up on the table you might ask the vet to x-ray her and see if she has arthritis. there are supplements that aren't expensive that really help.

I feel your frustration with trying to keep the diabetic cat from grazing. Our diabetic cat couldn't keep weight on, so I spent time tempting her. The other cats had no trouble putting weight on. It is tricky.

Minnie's patterns may change as she feels better or not.
 
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Catsnkiddos

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Jake finally put weight on- she was DKA the first week of March which is how we'd found out she was diabetic. We'd had her to the vet for the weight loss, but he missed it. Jake is now a good sleek kitty size. She is doing well with her diabetes. I hope Minnie can gain some weight. I hate feeling every bone.
 

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Somehow I got in between your posts.

It's possible that Minnie is still a bit tired from what she's been through, emotionally and physically. She may be going to the basement to get more sleeping, non-interacting, resting time. This should improve with time and with her medication working.

While it seems to you as if it has been a long time, it really hasn't. She's had a lot to process. And I can tell you, as you get on up there, it takes longer to bounce back physically from things. When you've been stressed (the last few months with her dad) it leaves you rather tired. Think of your grandparents, or your great-grandparents.

Truly as an outsider, it sounds as though she has done a huge amount of adjusting, exploring and getting to know her new place.

Patience is the key. I know the problem is you want her to be happy and you're still a little worn from worrying about Jake. Minnie is happy, she just needs time to rest and find her place in your pride, which has accepted her. Yes, they have, really.

Once she gets a little more flesh on her she'll be more likely to curl up with others and you. She's probably just being careful right now. And there is the possibility of arthritis, that can make a person or a cat avoid 'hugs'.
 

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Does anyone know how long it takes to start seeing some results? Especially in terms of weight gain?
I have heard it can take quite a long time to reverse the weight/muscle mass loss - so, you might want to consider charting her weight and a description of what her body (size, shape, muscular structure) feels like to your touch. Maybe chart this information once a week?

Sometimes, hyperthyroidism can play a role in affecting the kidneys - I trust Minnie's kidney function was checked? Might be something to consider next time you talk to your vet if it was not done - just to be on the safe side.
 
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Catsnkiddos

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Yes kidney function was checked. Vet wants her back in 4-6 weeks to monitor kidneys for this reason. I got the impression that will also be for life.
I just arranged her Daddy's cremation. He died so suddenly- no will, no family. It has been a haul
 

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So sorry for all of the upheaval this has caused for you.

The one bright spot in it all is Minnie - and the gift this poor man gave you through his unfortunate passing.
 

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Thank God you were there for Minnie! Don't feel to badly that she spends most of her time in the basement. Two reasons for this, it is very early days yet for her, and things are very different from her old home, so I'm sure she needs to retreat to somewhere darker and quiet (and more familiar for it) occasionally, and she doesn't feel quite physically well yet. From everything you have said, she's made a truly remarkable adjustment thus far, and I believe that as she is more accustomed to her new, bright surroundings and begins to feel better from her medications, you will see her really blossom.
 
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