Feline pain management… yecch.

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I took my cat back to the vet today (they said they would avoid cashing my check until I get paid in December). It turns out that what she has, probably isn’t just fleas. I kind of thought it was more than fleas, but I was hoping the vet was right about it being fleas or allergies or something.

They poked and prodded her all over this time. Judging from the pattern of when she yowls and when she doesn’t (as well as the one time she jumped, hissed, and bit the veterinary assistant) — something she is apparently far better at doing than I am — her pain is in a particular part of her mid-spine area, and then radiating out from that where the nerves from that go, including to that leg that she’s been picking at a lot.

So I got a long discussion of neurological diseases in cats. Apparently, they don’t have MRIs or CAT scans for cats anywhere closer than Maine or Massachusetts. And apparently, that’s both very expensive and unlikely to result in any useful information in terms of treatment (the main thing that is treatable, which this probably isn’t, the treatment is a surgery that can be worse than the actual condition).

They said that it could be something inflammatory like arthritis, and it could be a temporary injury. They want to put her on prednisone and see how well she does on that. She did chase and bully the dog a bit when she got home, which is a good sign. (She’d been too tired to even hiss at the dog before.)

I also got to learn that feline pain management… basically sucks. They apparently have fewer negative reactions to steroids like prednisone than humans do. But at the same time, they have really bad reactions to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (like ibuprofen in humans), and there’s only a few they can take, and those ones not long-term. And of course, this may be neuropathic pain, which is hell to treat in any species. (As I’m well aware from having the human equivalent.)

She’s been acting really unusual — unusually cuddly, with everybody. She normally does like cuddling except with me, and then not as often as she has been. She even followed me into the shower the other day. When I came home from Thanksgiving dinner, she started prrrrr-yowling at me and then jumped on my chest and wouldn’t get off. She’s slept on top of me every night. She’s turned into cat-Velcro.

So… I’m really hoping this is temporary, but if it’s not, it looks like I have a whole new species (literally) of pain management to find out about, a species that’s even less well-understood than humans. :-/

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

11 responses »

  1. Poor kitty. I hope it’s treatable, or at least managable.

    About the contact thing, could warmth have anything to do with that? If it’s an injury, she could find the warmth soothing. Human body-heat is good for warming up cats with hypothermia, I know. It could be a generally soothing temperature, like a hot bath for humans.

    Or it could just be stress. Sometimes domestic animals react to stress like that.

  2. Sounds like my kitty, a bit. He had been unusually lethargic for a bit, and I took him to the vet. Found out he is FIV+. He’s obviously hurting, too, in some ways/places. He used to despise the familiarity of the lap and insisted on having his own chair next to me. Now he wants the lap all of the time.

  3. This summer I had a similar experience with one of my (two) cats. The “cat-velcro” issue lasted about two weeks. She groomed her sister continuously, followed her everywhere and insisted on sleeping on top of her. The veterinarian said her recent movement issues (missing targets when she jumps, swaying when she walks) are likely due to arthritis. I was surprised there are few effective treatments for pain in cats. She also had a bowel obstruction (the original reason I took her to the vet) and developed a rectal cyst immediately after the first of three office visits. Together with the new experience of various medicines (oral antibiotics, which she hated and oral laxative, which she loved) her very uncharacteristic cuddling was maybe a result of extraordinary pain and stress. She’s now her usual very distant and skittish self.

  4. I feel for you, and your kitty, and mine, Ma’am. I remember when my kitty got his head bitten pretty badly by a dog, and nearly died from it. I could tell that he was hurting. The vet blew me off when I asked for pain-killers. I’m still grumpy about that.

  5. Oh, yikes… I really, really hope that the problem is manageable. Most of the seriously ill cats I’ve had did shift over to being really clingy — I think that maybe we give them comfort, but I often think (usually during major crisis) that they might be asking us to fix whatever is wrong.

    There are groups of people that will transport cats in need for very long distances by car, each person driving a different part of the trip as the cat reaches their area… There might be one willing to help you if you want to consider that option. I think that I have at least one person on my friends’ list at LJ that participates in one of those, and could post asking about it if you want.

    I learned a bit about feline pain management over the years… Yeah, they can’t take NSAIDs — but they have a lot of other pain medications. It’s kind of like with a human with severe chronic pain: the NSAID category won’t help, so they’re put on more serious kinds of drugs. They’re often in a transdermal or transmucosal form, though hiding them in canned food isn’t too hard IF the cat wants to eat.

    In the feline cases I’ve had here: Fluffy usually got pills for the days right after tumor removals, and those worked well enough that it transformed her from being in obvious pain to being pretty much normal (but drunk). I can’t remember if the oral goo that Damien got last year was an antibiotic or if it was a feline-safe anti-inflammatory. (I’ll check my vet records.) Bastian got a great pain reliever called Buprenorphine that was absorbed through his gums when we thought he had end-stage liver cancer.

    As soon as you can find out what the problem is, check YahooGroups for a relevant group… The ones I looked at for various serious ailments were all very informative and friendly, so if there is a major problem, there should be a group of people that will be good guides.

    I do read both here (via RSS) and LiveJournal… I’ll see if I can find any information on her symptoms, and then on whatever her diagnosis is — hopefully I’ll be able to find something helpful. I’ll either comment with it, or put it in a locked post at LiveJournal for you.

    I hope she keeps doing better…

  6. Oh, yeah, there’s stress, too. I think he hates this golf-geezer-condominium-barracks we live in right now even more than I do. The vet told me not to let him outside, but he’s a free citizen and I am not his owner, but his sponsor. So, I just let him out. It ain’t near as nice as where we used to live, but he gets to be free for a bit, even though there’s no game to speak of, here. Owhell.

  7. “Or it could just be stress. Sometimes domestic animals react to stress like that.”
    Recently my dog, Sasha, died of cancer, and my cat Katrina, who was very close to Sasha, became more cuddly afterwards. I remember she hung around as we buried Sasha and when I took a break from shoveling I went to pet her and she snuggled up to me. I think she wanted comfort, and got it by cuddling.
    Now, we have a new kitten and Katrina absolutely hates him as is cranky a great deal of the time. I hope she gets used to him soon, because she is certainly not very happy, and not fun to be with either.

  8. I really hope you can find a good treatment for your cat.

    Re NSAIDs for cats – I think there may be some new ones that are better tolerated by cats (not sure if they are indicated in the long term though). I just had my 7 month old kitten neutered, and, suprisingly, the vet gave him a shot of NSAID and followup oral medication to be given for the next week or so. It seems to have worked very well – from all appearances kitty barely noticed anything was wrong! (Brand name Metacam; technical name Meloxicam; the label says it is for acute or chronic pain in dogs, apparently it has recently been approved for acute pain in cats; not sure about chronic.)

  9. Amanda: I am guessing that your cat is being more cuddly because she knows that you are aware of, and concerned about, her condition. Somehow she can tell that you care, even if there are no outward signals. Cats, like us, are good at picking up on that stuff…….and maybe being solitary and avoiding much contact just isn’t cutting it for her anymore. I say this because I think it sucks to be in pain “alone” (not necessarily meaning by yourself, I just mean alone without any kind of comfort whatever it might be. thoughts, books, words, another person, food, anything. and speaking of food I read your entry about food and I am so glad it was there. I might use some of the words verbally to explain to others my situation if I ever have to.)

    something totally unrelated to the post or above comments: I HATE how I end up feeling during final exam time…………I know even NT people feel stressed but………..this is more than that……..

    I get “aspified” all the time………….even diagnostically speaking……….as long as I can get what I need with this diagnosis I feel like well okay whatever they say……….which I know is not really helpful to others but……..I don’t have energy to study and remember to eat and stuff and then battle over that……….would require a lot of explaining about myself that I have neither proper words nor desire to do………..to specialists………heck I can’t even get those words into blog entries……….and I know in the back of my mind I am upset with myself that I cannot get them typed and out of drafts………I need this to see my words and know I’m not bsing or defective in some way (sorry, no better word to describe so bad word will have to do)

    just 2/3 of me writing this (Ivan) the other third is more or less out of commission during final exams………….

    Ivan

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