Sneaker is a 17 year old domestic shorthaired cat owned by one of our techs at Killarney Cat Hospital. Having almost all of the ‘old-age’ diseases that most commonly affect senior cats we thought he would make the perfect mascot for senior focus this year! See if you can keep count of all the medications he is on!
In 2007 Sneakers long list of problems started when he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. For a few months prior he had been hyperactive, vomiting undigested food once a day to every other day, and losing weight despite breaking into kitchen cupboards to eat butter! He was eating constantly yet acted as though he was starving all the time. Veterinarians ran bloodwork on him and his T4, the thyroid hormone, came back elevated. An increase in thyroid hormones is indicative of a hyper active thyroid which caused the symptoms noted by his owner. At this point he was started on methimazole, a pill he will take twice a day for the remainder of his life.
For the next few years Sneaker did really well as a treated hyperthyroid kitty. Off and on he would have loose stool and the occasional bout of diarrhea. Although not specifically an ‘old cat’ problem Sneaker was diagnosed with colitis/irritable bowel disease. Since he did not respond to a diet change he was started on oral prednisolone once a day to decrease inflammation in the intestines. He also receives tylosin twice a day, an antibiotic to change the balance of bacteria in his gut. Many senior cats and especially ones with bowel issues do not get enough vitamin b12 in their diet and Sneaker was started on b12 injections every two weeks.
In 2013, Sneaker started acting weaker. One if his legs would slip off the couch as he was trying to jump up and he would occasionally lose his balance and fall over. He seemed to be ‘slowing down’. During his 6-month senior wellness check-up the vet noted that Sneaker had a decreased range of motion in his elbows and knees. He was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease (a fancy term for arthritis); an ailment that affects almost 100% of cats over 15. He was started on cartrophen injections monthly, a medication that helps to re-lubricate the joints. Sneaker was also started on a pain medication called Gabapentin to help with the soreness that goes along with this disease. These medications made a huge difference to Sneaker and he was once again able to jump up to his favorite sleeping places.
In 2014, although not showing any clinical signs or symptoms yet, the lab results from Sneakers 6 month senior wellness visit showed that he was in Stage 2 chronic kidney failure. A diet change to one with high quality protein, low phosphorus and increased potassium is the best way to support cats at this stage and can delay progression to the next. As it stands today, Sneaker is in stage 3 kidney disease and visits his veterinarian once every 3 months to monitor his condition. When the kidneys start to decline in function they are unable to filter out toxins from the blood stream. As these toxins build up they can make the cat feel nauseous and put them off their food. A few months ago Sneaker started getting pickier with his food and vomited occasionally. We started him Cerenia, an anti-nausea medication that he gets once a day Monday through Friday with weekends off. As the kidneys decline further they are unable to save water and concentrate the urine appropriately, this was evident on Sneakers urinalysis. Because the kidneys are not doing this job there is a higher demand for fluids from the body. One of the best ways we can keep cats with kidney disease hydrated is to provide them with subcutaneous fluids administered under the skin which Sneaker will be in need of shortly.
Although it sounds like he has a long list of issues and many medications to take every day with regular vet check-ups Sneakers diseases were able to be diagnosed early and treatment initiated before things got too bad. It has been 8 years since Sneaker was first diagnosed with hyperthyroid and he is very happy senior cat and has a fantastic quality of life!