Wednesday, October 3

Feline Calamity

As some of you know, my home is filled with life. Not only do we have two kids; we also have 2 cats, 2 dogs, and 8 or so hermit crabs (you can never tell with them). I have a great bouquet of flowers from a local farm on my table and even a couple of struggling plants in my bedroom (woe to them being in my house!).

The kids are 7 years and almost 11 months old. The dogs are 2 years old. Who knows how old the crabs are? And the cats are 19 and 8 years old.

Let me tell you a little bit about these two cats. My sister and I found Witch on our front porch when I was 16, so many years ago. She was just a tiny kitten with a broken paw that had healed wrong and a mighty voice. We adopted Bronte, a much more laid back cat, many years and a marriage and child later, when a friend moved to Hawaii and couldn't deal with putting her in quarantine.

In the past month or so, things have been starting to look bad for our poor kitties, and I don't know what to do about it other than take one step at a time and hope my heart doesn't simply break.

Witch apparently had a stroke about a month or so ago. She was having trouble walking already, but one morning, DH found her in her bed with vomit and so on. She seemed to be having real troubles this time and couldn't walk or stand up. At the vet, she was so freaked out, he was certain something had gotten to her brain. Later that day, at home, she calmed down, and we adopted a wait and see attitude. The second day, she hardly ate, and we worried. She seemed to be having trouble just orienting her head to get a drink of water. Then, she started eating again and enjoying attention as well, so we waited and just took care of her as best we could. Her orientation was getting better. Then, the other day, a real beam of hope. My husband was down near her bed cleaning up a toilet overflow when she got up and actually walked a few stumbling steps toward him! Maybe she's recovering, maybe not. The most she's done since then is try to get up. Research is slim to none in telling us how to help a cat recover from a possible stroke, especially when she's 19.

Now on to Bronte, a mere 8 years old. I noticed a while back that she seemed to be throwing up a lot, but she's a cat--they do this all the time. Heck, Witch practically made a habit of throwing up for much of her life. However, I realized soon that she was throwing up nearly every single day, so off to the vet we went. He started treating her for irritable bowel, which cats apparently get a lot. No help, and Bronte started eating less and less until she basically is not eating except for a bite here and there. None of the medicines were helping, and an X-ray showed nothing, so today, I hauled the kids to another vet about an hour from home for an ultrasound. Abdominal masses, several of them. We now have an appointment for Friday for possible surgery and biopsy. I have no idea what her prognosis is at this point, but I can't say I'm not worried.

Is it something in the water?

Now, here's the kicker. If this turns out to be lymphoma, which is very likely, this will be the THIRD cat of ours who has had it. Witch first (she recovered after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation), then Xander (who did not make it after complications after his tumor had cleared up after chemotherapy), and now poor Bronte! I'm a little scared because I wonder if something in our old house or something we brought to this one (we lived in another house when Witch had lymphoma) could be causing this? Is it still here? Is it affecting us? Our dogs? Our kids?

I can only say that I hope not, but the causes of feline lymphoma, outside of feline leukemia virus (ruled out) and cigarette smoke (not a factor), are "obscure," as one site told me.

Anyway, if you're a cat lover like me, please keep Miss Bronte in your thoughts. I hope we can afford to do whatever it is that needs to be done or at least keep her as happy as she can be if there's nothing to be done.

I've been trying so hard to explain this to DS (because he's asked) and hope I am not providing too much information. He seems to want to know, though, and so far, he seems to appreciate honesty from me. To be honest here, I don't know how to fudge it or to "kidify" my explanations to him. He always asks too many questions and ferrets out the details anyway. His birthday is next week; I just hope it isn't ruined by all this. We'll try to highlight the positive as best we can.

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