Princess of My Heart   3 comments


Princess of the Universe

Originally uploaded by Lady Birchwood

The beautiful calico in this photo turned 15-years-old on March 27. She was a feral kitten, born under the neighbor’s porch in a south Minneapolis blue-collar neighborhood, and became officially part of our family in the late summer of 1994. Trust was not earned lightly with this little girl! It took her several years to sleep right beside me on the bed and much, much longer to sit on my lap. I have never been able to pick her up and hold her because she likes to be in control at all times. If she sits beside me or snuggles next to me in bed, it is because she decides to. The fact that she decides to nightly is a sign of the trust she has placed in me, and I feel honored to have gained that trust.

We’ve been monitoring Katie’s kidney function the last couple of years, ever since routine bloodwork prior to a dental cleaning determined that her BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and creatinine were right on the high border of normal. These are substances that the kidneys normally clear from the blood and will become elevated when the kidneys can no longer accomplish this task. We’ve had her on special kidney disease food since then and check these values annually.

Recently, I noticed that her appetite seemed off and weighing her at home indicated that she had lost two pounds — 20% of her body weight. She was several months overdue for her annual checkup and I wasted no more time in getting her in to our vet. Her checkup was essentially normal. In fact, the vet commented that she looks great for a 15-year-old cat. Blood was drawn for her chemistries and a CBC (complete cell blood count.)

I got the results of her lab work on Monday this week from a vet who had not examined her since Katie’s vet only works on Fridays and Saturdays, spending the rest of her time at the University of Minnesota. Her BUN and creatinine were clearly into the low abnormal range, and her red cell numbers had dropped almost to the point of being officially anemic. (The kidneys produce a hormone that stimulates red cell production in the bone marrow, and the red cell production will drop when the kidneys are compromised.) This vet immediately wanted me to start supplementing her with subcutaneous fluids and electrolytes. I balked at this, said that we would get the results of a urinalysis to see how her kidneys were concentrating her urine, and consider the big picture once we had all the data. I made an appointment to take her in to the vet on Friday to have the bladder tap done for the urinalysis, which we were unable to get a week earlier.

Inwardly, I was a mess all week, suffering with the thought of my Katie-cat going downhill with chronic kidney failure. I would think about that, and my chest would tighten up. A lump would form in my throat. She’s been my baby, my princess, for almost 15 years now!

I denied her access to her litterbox Thursday night with the hope of a full bladder Friday morning quickly allowing for a successful tap and an expedient ride back home. She started clawing at the closed master bathroom door where her litterbox is as 6:00 AM. Her pleas to be allowed to use her litterbox became more frantic over the next 90 minutes. Instead, she got plopped in a carrier and taken to the vet for her 8:00 appointment. She held it until they got her on the table for the tap and then she urinated on the table. They pipetted up enough urine for the chemistries, specific gravity, and microscopic exam, although since the urine was no longer collected in a sterile manner, they couldn’t send it for culture.

Her specific gravity was fine. It had dropped a bit from a previous value a couple of years ago, but is nowhere near abnormal. The vet on duty Friday morning (not our vet but a good one nonetheless and NOT the one I had spoken to on Monday) said as well that she was a very healthy-appearing cat for one her age. She was not dehydrated. The administration of supplemental subcutaneous fluids was taken off the table. Her electrolytes were normal. No need to supplement those in light of normal values.

The great news was that when we put her on the baby scale, she had gained three-fourths of a pound since her last weight at the vet a week earlier. That could have been a difference in scales but I’ve noticed that her appetite has been better, her activity level has been improved, and she’s been more interactive and engaged in the household.

I discussed with the vet the trust issues involved with Katie, her feral history, and the fact that everything is on her terms. I will not turn her final years into a battle of wills, forcing pills and injections on her to prolong her life by months. There has got to be an understanding of the importance of our relationship and what it’s been built on. The vet seemed to appreciate this, and for that I am grateful.

For now, I think we’re stable. My heart is a bit lighter right now. And I’m grateful for some very competent veterinarians on our side, both young, intelligent, sensitive women! (A big hurrah for intelligent, sensitive, professional women!)

I love you, Princess of my heart.

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Posted April 25, 2009 by StPaulieGrrl in cats

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3 responses to “Princess of My Heart

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  1. What a beautiful photo of the lovely Katie cat. It’s definitely nice to see her out and about again. It’s also good seeing you smile and knowing that you’re not feeling so (understandably) heavy-hearted.

    I’m here for you, sis. (((hugs)))

  2. If I have to come back as something, I want it to be either one of our dogs or one of your cats. I’m glad Katie is improving. Good luck!

  3. B: I think that either coming back as one of my cats or one of your dogs would be a high honor in the scheme of things!

    Thanks, Lottie, for being there for me. These four-legged people are such a part of our family!

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