Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Asthmatic Cat....who knew?

Our eight year old cat, Buddy, was diagnosed with asthma last winter. It was the first time I'd ever heard of cat asthma.

At first the depo-medrol (steroid) injections were working but instead of every 2-4 months the time between has gotten closer. I took him to the vet for his latest injection recently, which was a little over a month since the last one.The rides to the vet, which are thirty minutes in length, are hard on him. He cries the entire drive. The injection doesn't seem to have taken very well this time around.The vet said the injections are probably the best treatment for Buddy.

I have researched cat asthma online. There are similar treatments to those that humans use such as oxygen and inhalers. The vet and I talked about these treatments early on. I don't know about other people and their cats, but I know, any cat I've ever had I could never have used an inhaler on them or put an oxygen mask over their little faces. When I was reading these articles online all I could think was "Get real!"  I guess they worked for the people who wrote the articles but there is no way they would work for Buddy. He's a loving cat, but come on, he is a cat! They don't sit still for taking a pill let alone attempting an inhaler into their mouth or an oxygen mask over their nose and mouth.One website posted pictures of a cat with an oxygen mask. My thought was, either that cat is very old or sedated. 

Buddy was found in a box, with his four litter mates, on the steps of our church back in 2002. My oldest son and his then girlfriend (now wife) found the kittens and brought them home. The kittens were just a handful. Single handful. They were so tiny their eyes weren't even open. We took it upon ourselves to try to save them by hand-feeding them, cleaning them and seeing if we could save the lot. They grew and thrived, except for Buddy. He was the sickliest one. He had goo in his eyes that always had to be cleaned. He was small and skinny. Didn't seem to be putting on weight. My husband and oldest son took it upon themselves to give Buddy the extra care he needed. When the other kittens were big enough for homes, we found homes for three of them. We kept Jinxy and Buddy. They were almost identically marked gray and white, though Jinxy had rabbit-like fur, extremely soft and fine. Buddy grew and thrived. 

Buddy and Jinxy were outdoor cats at first. We live on a small farm so plenty of room to roam around the house, in the barn, up in the woods. They stayed in the barn during the winter and I fixed them special area for sleeping with blankets to cuddle into. A couple of years ago, Jinxy died from an undiagnosed problem. We were never sure. When I took her to the vet and left her for observation, she didn't survive the night. I always felt bad about that because I wasn't with her. She was my little friend out of the two. Buddy always seemed to bond with the guys in my family. I think because my husband and sons were the ones who cared for him and bonded with him when he was a baby since he was the sickly one.

After Jinxy died I started inviting Buddy inside when the weather turned cold. He and Jinxy had always cuddled up together. So, that's how Buddy became an indoor/outdoor cat. These days he stays inside at night, goes out in the mornings for a while, comes back inside, and depending on the weather may stay out most of the day.

When the asthma diagnosis came I told the vet I wouldn't keep Buddy inside because it wasn't his life. He enjoys laying on the deck on a sunny day, stalking in the weeds, hiding in the tall grass,and basically just living. I wouldn't take that away from him when he's eight years old. The vet told me he actually sees more asthma in indoor cats due to their cat litter so outside would probably not be a problem. No more a problem than for a person with asthma.

So, my dilemma is what's next?. Buddy still goes outside. Sometimes he seems fine, sometimes I can tell his breathing is bothering him. He is congested but not enough where he doesn't try to go outside or he just lays. I'm nagged by the fact that I feel I should be doing something for him but my vet has said the injections are the quickest for relief and if they don't work, the pills probably wouldn't either.

I'm not sure what to do at this point especially since the steroid doesn't seem to be working. The vet has mentioned x-rays but then decided against it when Buddy's temp was normal. I've always appreciated this vet because he's common sense when it comes to treatments.

Right now, Buddy is still eating well, drinking water, and keeping weight but I have no idea how long that will last. Actually, the vet sort of gives me the impression, this is the best we can do without going overboard and possibly making life more miserable for Buddy. My way of thinking, as long as he seems comfortable and wants to carry on his usual daily activities, let him "be". But, there's still part of me that says, "isn't there more I can do?" I suppose that's how we all feel about the animals we care for when it seems there should be more we can do, but must realize, sometimes, there just isn't.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Here in my neck of the woods we are graced with the beauty of changing leaves blanketing the hillsides. The landscape will be breathtaking in about a week with yellows, reds, and oranges. The hills will look like God is laying down Nature's quilt for the coming winter. Even with the extended September dry spell, I think the rain showers of the past week will bring on good color.

Then there is the mood of our animals.All of them seem more high spirited this time of year. The horses running, bucking and generally feeling good. My husband cringes as they run around the field tearing up the turf.I enjoy watching them and don't really care. I understand the philosophy behind "saving the grass roots" but appreciate the beauty of equine play more.The two dogs seem more energized as they take off up into the hills behind our house. Our hills and forest acreage provide plenty of room to roam.

October has challenged me through the years with family sicknesses, injuries, surgeries, and last year my dad entered the hospital for the last time the last weekend of October. My grandparents passed way at the end of October in '66 while I was in the hospital with pneumonia.I was only five. My oldest son had to have serious surgery the last weekend of October back in '97. My youngest had surgery the last weekend of October back in '08. I had my first biopsy for thyroid cancer in October '08. Odd how certain things pop up for me in October.Regardless of these seemingly bad omens for October, I have still always admired the beauty that comes this month, if only fleeting, until the leaves have all fallen.

As I spread hay out in the back field for the horses this morning I noticed the running hoofprints in the mud. I had to laugh because it was obvious someone had been kicking up his heels in honor of October!