Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chloe - Things are looking up

Some of you know that our cat Chloe had some type of "episode" early last week. I will give a summary for those of you who don't know.

A week ago Tuesday, DK and I were getting ready for work and Chloe was acting like her usual self, shadowing me around the house. She likes to go into the bathroom with me, sit on my dressing table or in my lap while I put on makeup, and just generally follow me all over the place. We were about to leave and DK heard a thud from the den. He looked in and saw Chloe stumbling around like a little, furry, four-legged drunk. He called me over to look. When I looked in, she was sitting upright under the coffee table. Then all of a sudden she tipped over onto her side. It was really scary. I picked her up and called the vet. Because of her age and heart condition (she has a leaky heart valve), they said I should bring her in just to be on the safe side.

We got to the vet and they wanted to keep her all day. They wanted to do a full blood work-up and take x-rays. The vet said that without any test results, her first thought was that maybe because of Chloe’s leaky heart valve, she had missed a few beats and the lack of oxygen to her brain made her faint. She had no signs of a concussion. We thought maybe the thud was her falling (no, she does not land on her feet) and maybe she bumped her head.

Most of the test results came back late last week as normal. The vet suggested that we take her to a kitty cardiologist. That appointment was today, more on that later.

Early this week another blood test result came back indicating that she has very mild hyperthyroidism. The short version is that the thyroid gland overproduces a hormone. That hormone can damage a lot in the body, including the heart. This is bad news for a cat that already has a heart condition. The good news is that her case is very mild and we caught it very early. She can be treated either with oral medication, topical gel or radioactive iodine. These are the treatment options:

Obviously, we want to pick the treatment that is easiest on Chloe and us.

I think the pilling would be traumatic for her and a pain in the ass for us. I think she will learn the pilling schedule and hide when she knows it’s time. The pills can also cause vomiting.

The medicated treat option sounds a little better. We wouldn’t have to shove something down her throat twice a day and she does love treats, but we would have to isolate her from our other cat so that the other cat doesn’t eat her medicine. As with pilling this option makes our lives a little harder and requires a set schedule as well as someone to come by twice daily when we travel.

The medicated ear gel presents the same schedule and travel problems and it can irritate the skin.

I think the radioactive iodine treatment is our best bet. We would only have to do it once a year. The difficult part is that she has to be at a special facility where they administer the injection for around four days, some cats take a week or more, and some shorter. When she came home we would need to isolate her from Fuzzy for a few days and collect her waste in special medical waste containers. It is also advised that she not be around children or pregnant women for two weeks after the injection. This all sounds very extreme, but I think overall, it may be better for her. She would have four days of trauma per year versus being traumatized twice a day with pilling. The vet said the facility is really nice; the people there are great and they spend a lot of time snuggling, holding and playing with each cat. She said it’s really very comfortable for them. This also would be easier for us. Although it would be heartbreaking to both of us send her off for a few days, the rest of the year would be normal. This treatment does not cause her any pain according to the vet.

I dropped Chloe off this morning at the cardiologist’s office. They did an EKG (electrocardiogram) and a ECG (echocardiogram or cardiac ultrasound). DK and I went to pick her up around noon and met with the cardiologist. Her heart is slightly enlarged, but it’s a very mild enlargement. That could be a result of the hyperthyroidism or it could be that she had mild heart disease before the onset of the mild hyperthyroidism. The plan going forward is to start treating her hyperthyroidism and bring her back for another cardiac ultrasound three months after her thyroid hormone levels stabilize. If at that time her heart is still enlarged, they will assume that the enlargement is not due to her hyperthyroidism. If her heart is back down to a normal size, they will know that the hyperthyroidism caused her heart to enlarge.

Curiously enough, the cardiologist said that after reviewing the results, she does not believe that the episode last week was related to her heart. That is good news, but it also makes me worry a little about what might have caused it. We may never know. We are supposed to feel her heart rate a couple times of week (just by holding a hand to her chest) and keep a general count of that. If she ever faints again, we are supposed to feel her heart rate again right then and report back to the cardiologist. If we notice that during a fainting spell her heart rate changes that could give us some clues to why it happened. Hopefully it will never happen again.

A note on her leaky heart valve: Over the years, the level of that has gone up (from undetectable to a 2-3), but according to the cardiologist, just because they hear a level 2 or 3, that doesn't mean she has a level 2 or 3 all of the time. The level can read higher (worse) based on her activity and stress levels. Of course every time she is at the vet, she is super stressed, so her heart rate is elevated, therefore making the leaky valve more noticeable and raising the rating level. It could be that at home, relaxed and calm, she is only a level one, we don't know.

So I guess the bottom line is that she is not a ticking time bomb. That was my big concern, that we could lose her any day. It will be nice to not worry every time I go home that I may find she passed away during the day. We can live with and treat the hyperthyroidism. It’s great news that she does not need heart medication.


NuclearToast said...

Glad to hear you know what's going on and have treatment options! I also think it's cool you're gonna have radioactive cat poo.

CJ said...

good thing you won at poker to help pay what I'm sure are several hundred in vet bills!

Bri said...

I'm so glad you figured out what was going on and that miss chloe is going to be fine. By the way i love that picture...Cute suits!!