Jesse, my 19-year-old cat (92 years old in human years) has become an elderly cat, or according to cat websites, geriatric. I watch him and wonder about how much longer I will have him with me. I have learned to treat an older cat has many moving parts.
Now, every morning when we get up, Lin and I wonder if Jesse has survived the night. If he’s asleep somewhere, we check to see if he’s still breathing—both of us know the evitable is coming!
As a Siamese Silver Tip, http://www.petplace.com predicts Jesse could live to 20 years old—one more year. https://www.petplace.com/article/cats/pet-health/average-life-expectancy-cats/#section5
That’s hard to think about!
I found out in April 2016; he had feline diabetes, so we tried to manage it with a special cat food. That worked until August 2017, but we had to start daily insulin shots because of his high glucose numbers. The outrageous cost of the insulin shocked me, but his veterinarian convinced me Jesse had to have it, and immediately his numbers decreased. Over the years, we’ve increased the shot to twice daily and to three units of insulin each time. It has been at that dosage for a couple of years.
Last year, Jesse’s veterinarian put him on Cosequin because he walked on his full hind legs, and it looked painful. Early in his diagnosis of feline diabetes, the vet thought the diabetes had caused a type of arthritis in his hind legs. What a difference that medication has made. In fact, Lin and I looked into taking it ourselves, but it’s expensive! After he takes it, Jesse immediately walks upright on his back paw.
So, Jesse had done really well for six years with the care I was giving him, but at the beginning of this year, his vomiting got out of control—eight times in a little over a week. Cats with feline diabetes have a problem with vomiting.
Jesse hates traveling now! He used to do really well and accompanied me to southeastern Colorado any time I went. When I took him to his vet in Albuquerque in November 2021, he vomited and had a bowel movement in his carrier on the way to the office, so what a mess we had when we arrived. Thank God for the assistant who cleaned him up and his carrier, but right then, I decided that was his last trip to town.
When Jesse saw the Albuquerque vet the last time, she asked me to monitor his food because he had gained too much weight—he was up to 18.4 pounds. We wanted him at 15—16. We both laughed about it because this weight gain came during the pandemic, like most people in the world. Before, I fed him whatever he would eat in a day—no measurement. So, I measured out 2/3 cups of food daily. Whine, whine, whine—meow, meow, meow! But I stuck to it, mostly.
So, I found a new veterinarian near us here in the east mountains. Again, he messed the carrier, but not as bad as the twenty-mile trip to Albuquerque. The new vet did a complete geriatric workup on him. He had a potassium deficiency, which she thought was causing the excessive vomiting, but his diabetes was under control. Whew! What I worry about is kidney failure because of the diabetes. So, the new vet prescribed a potassium gel to put on his food.
It worked well for a month or so, then he stopped eating the food with the gel on it. So, I tried spreading it around on his food, but the way I did it, the food clumped together, and he wouldn’t eat the clumps. I gave into his whining and meowing and gave him more of his allotted food for the day, just glad he was eating because he had stopped eating all together. The next morning, the clumps remained in his bowl. Frustrating for sure! And the vomiting started up again, so I worked harder at spreading the gel around and forcing him to eat the clumps. I was semi-successful.
Last week, I went to southeastern Colorado for ranch business, and Lin took care of Jesse. He came up with a fantastic system. First, he measures out about a third of the food into Jesse’s bowl in the morning. Next, he meticulously measures out a little more than ½ teaspoon of gel. Then he takes one piece of cat food and dips it into the gel. After that, he puts it in the bowl and spreads the gel around. He continues with individual pieces of cat food until the measured gel is gone.
Jesse rebelled at first, refusing to eat the food with the gel, but Lin outlasted his meow-fest. Each day, Lin would report to me with laughter about how upset Jesse was with this new system, but it has worked. When Jesse eats the treated food, then Lin gives him the rest of the food. He hasn’t vomited in eleven days!
So, now that I’m home, I’ve had to adhere to the plan and not cave in and give him more food when he refuses to eat the treated food. So far, so good!
Jesse has a loving spirit and looks forward to each night we watch TV. The pandemic spoiled him with us being home so much. He crawls up on the arm of my side of the loveseat, ready for the evening. After I sit down, he crawls into my lap and stays there for the rest of the evening—so satisfied.
In the morning, Jesse snuggles close to me during my Quiet Time reading and writing and sometimes tries to assist me!
In the morning, after his shot, he curls up in a favorite sunbeam somewhere nice and warm. During the last few winter months, Lin has kept a fire going in our wood-burning stove and Jesse sleeps either in front of it or beside it—the warmest place in the house.
Finally, a geriatric cat of 19 years is old, yet Jesse still likes to play with his toys and be with Lin and me. For now, we’ve figured out the moving parts, the system to take care of him. I love him dearly and look forward to more days, weeks and months with him—maybe years!
Do you have a cat? A geriatric cat? How do you deal with his treatment?
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