I can't tell if my cat is just old or dying?

bootsm

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My little girl, Chickpea, is 17 years old. She does have some heath issues like IVDD and hyperthyroidism. But those things were kept in check and she still seemed herself the past year or so. We needed to up her hyperthyroidism medication by a lot the past month and since then, she seems different. Not totally different but there's a change. She still eats and drinks, goes to the litter, and cuddles but she's less responsive and really really clingy. (She's always been attached to the hip to me but now really doesn't want to leave laying on me.) I think it's the less responsive part that is making me unsure. She seems in a daze a lot of the time. She also has good days and bad days. Some days she is more her. I've asked the vets, none of them have said it's time but they say to monitor her and check her quality of life. I've had to do this before and it was obvious with another cat, who has declining quick and having seizures. I want to do right by her and not sure if she is in pain or just slowing down. I think about my other cat and of course, have the "what ifs" with that. I know it's hard to answer but how do you know?Do I let it get to the point of being obvious (not going to the toilet or eating?)
 

iPappy

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I am sorry. :( 17 is quite an achievement. Have you mentioned to your vet that adjusting her thyroid medications and her seeming less responsive happened around the same time? That would make me wonder if there wasn't some side effect or possibly over medicating going on. They may want to re-adjust (maybe somewhere in the middle of what she's getting now and what she was getting) and see if that brings her back to herself.
My dog was on prednisone for awhile. We had to bump him up to the maximum dose, and he became anxious, grouchy, and spent his life pacing, panting, and drinking water (and, peeing.) I called the vet, and we found the "Goldilocks dose" for him--a few milligrams less than he was taking currently, but a few milligrams more than he had taken in the past.
When he was later given a grim diagnosis, I wrote in his "journal" I was keeping of his health notes, "He's still eating! He's still playing backyard agility! He still goes outside and explores! He still wants treats, and chewies, and he still loves his cats, and is engaging with me!"
By the end of his life, his list of "still does" was trimmed down to none of the above. Occasionally he sought me out, and he ate (hand fed) well up until the last day, but when he didn't care about the cats and could barely walk across the floor without gasping for air and his breathing became so labored I was afraid he was simply going to be unable to get oxygen, I had to make one of Life's Worst Decisions. I hope your girl isn't there yet, and it's simply a sign that a medication dose adjustment is needed. :hugs:
 
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bootsm

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@ iPappy iPappy Im sorry about your dog :( Yes, I had brought up to several vets about the medication possibly not agreeing fully with her but they said the chance was slim that it has to do with the changes in her. That's a good idea of keeping a log of activities, I'm going to try that. Thanks so much
 

FeebysOwner

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Each time thyroid medication is changed, there should be blood work done to ensure the change isn't too much or not enough. From the description you've given, it does sound like it might be too much. And, changing the med "a lot" at one time is not recommended. Rather, it is gradually increased with blood checks done in between to see where the T-4 stands (the common indicator of if the thyroid function is being kept 'in check').

How is the IVDD being treated? Perhaps, is she is being medicated for that as well, and the meds need to be increased or changed. If not severe enough for surgery, most IVDD cases can be managed with anti-inflammatory medication, pain relievers, and restricted movement.

Although eating/drinking/using the litterbox aren't the only factors to consider, they are right there at the top, IMO. Since she is doing those things well, it is worth pursuing if there is something going on behind her current behavior that can be corrected.
 
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bootsm

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@ FeebysOwner FeebysOwner we have followed up since and yes, her levels are in check now. I have raised concerns with three doctors about it being too much and none of them think that it is. we can continue to monitor but for now, it looks like its the right dose. The IVDD is treated with presnidone and gabapentin. its been almost a year she's been on these so no surprises there. her leg is drags slightly but it doesn't keep her from doing things. but we also have to watch out for decline with that too.
 

FeebysOwner

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I only mentioned the thyroid med increase because even if it makes the level looks 'good', if increased a lot at one time it can still affect her body as it tries to deal with the change. This would also be true if the level decreased significantly all at once, even if it made the number look appropriate. If there is any reaction, such as lethargy, the usual course is to decrease the meds, stabilize, and then gradually increase again. I am not saying that is her issue, but when you said her meds were increased by a lot, I thought it could be a possibility.
 

BellaBlue82

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I was just reading through threads and came across yours. I just wanted to share my experience.

Nico was 16, and had many health conditions. He was a fighter, and everything seemed pretty well controlled with his medications. Until it wasn't.
I don't know if it's any solice, but there is a moment that comes in which you just "know." I kept questioning myself if Nico was doing ok, and he was for the most part the past few years. Then it was like someone flipped a switch and I just knew. He suddenly lost all interest in everything it seemed, even eating, drinking, and using the bathroom.

I say all that to reassure you she may just be getting old. When she is ready for that time to make a decision we all despise with our deepest gut feeling, you will know. Until then I say keep doing what you're doing and keep giving her lots of love. She's so lucky to have you take such great care of her. ❤
 

neely

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I'm also sorry you've noticed a change in Chickpea. You mentioned she is on medication for Hyperthyroidism but just out of curiosity, how long has she been on meds before the recent increase?
 
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bootsm

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@ BellaBlue82 BellaBlue82 thank you so much, that's true and yes, its so hard. I still relive that moment of putting my previous cat down and I can't image losing her. she's always with me. I'm sorry for your loss of Nico as well.

@ neely neely that's a good point, she's been on meds for a couple of years now and only needed slight changes. maybe it means something that she needed such a higher dose.
 
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bootsm

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@ iPappy iPappy yes, I mentioned her temperament and changes to her vet, they said that she may be on her way to declining but ultimately it's up to me whether I think she isn't happy anymore. he said some owners think if their pets stop playing etc, they aren't happy but for some, just cuddling and not doing much else may be ok.
 

OopsyDaisy

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I'm sorry about Chickpea. :catlove: At 17, she may still have a few good years left.

All I can offer is to share my experience with you in the hope that it might help.

Our Andrew was almost 23 years old when we made the decision to let him go. He didn't have any health issues, wasn't on any medications and still used the litter box He was also still eating and drinking. Unfotunately, that was about all Andrew did. He would cuddle with my daughter on her bed all day and night but that was about it. He was so old and starting to get weak.

When he got to the point where he stopped grooming himself, and really didn't have a good quality of life, we had to do what was best for him. It would have been selfish for us to wait any longer.

We rescued him from the SPCA when he was 8 months old and he had the cutest little head butt "hello". We found out later that he was scheduled to be euthanized the next day. As it turns out, we had adopted him just in time. The vet said that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him except old age.

There will just come a time when you know. Hoping that time isn't yet for you, and that you will have more time together...but you will know.

Love and hugs to you and Chickpea. :lovecat4:
 
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