About three or so years ago I started to noticed that my cat Weasel started to drag herself up onto the sofa every now and then and do a couple of false starts when jumping onto other things. She's never been the most adventurous cat and I put it down to being unsure or possibly lazy.
When we were visited by Vicky Halls a year ago for an aggression issue between Weasel and Jazz (see blog post below) she spotted Weasel dragging herself up onto the garden wall and said: 'That's not right. I suspect she has mobility problems'. She explained that this wouldn't have been spotted in her yearly checkup and wouldn't show in any x-rays, only video footage would help get some sort of diagnosis.
Everything suddenly made sense, her disinterest in cat toys and chasing things that Batman and Jazz found irresistible, her slight struggle with her weight. I immediately felt terrible for not thinking it could be a medical reason and for putting this behavior down to laziness. Cats are designed for jumping and getting onto a sofa should not be a problem, even for the laziest cat.
I immediately booked her into the vets and started trying to get some video footage of her jumping. This proved to be very difficult as when I was filming she would jump with ease, and when the camera was in another room she would have difficulty. Despite having no footage the vet suggested putting her onto metacam, a drug used to relieve stiff joints. We noticed a slight improvement in her mobility and her weight dropped ever so slightly.
This year we came back from a five day holiday to find her condition had got really bad. She could barely walk and seemed to be in a great deal of discomfort. I also noticed there seemed to be so much more wee in the litter tray than normal.
I took her to the vets and he prescribed a course of injections to relieve joint pain. It was a vet I hadn't seen before and he annoyingly seemed disinterested in what I had to say about her general behavior and dismissed the information about the wee in the litter tray. He was bemused and doubtful to hear how despite being very overweight I was adamant I was feeding her considerably less than the amount he recommended and that she was also on Hills science diet.
That evening she started howling in pain and I rushed her to the emergency vets and insisted something major was wrong and expressed my annoyance at the vet who dismissed her earlier.
She was admitted to hospital and ended up there for five days. The vets were great in updating me on her progress, and on her second day I was informed she had diabetes. The vet who broke the news seemed to think that that meant all our problems were solved and that she could be sent home once stabilized. I quite forcefully explained that something was definitely wrong with her mobility and I insisted that more tests must be carried out to find out what had caused the weight gain and diabetes.
I received a call from an Orthopedic vet who said he agreed there seemed to be a problem with her spine and that perhaps more tests should be carried out. The next day another vet called Alex called me and said she agreed with me completely. She was not a fat cat with diabetes, she was a cat with mobility issues that had got diabetes as a result. She said that there was a chance she could stop being diabetic and that was only possible if she lost some weight. She understood that it would only be possible if we found out what was causing her mobility problems.
We started her on a strict diabetic cat food diet and I also have to administer an insulin injection at 7am every morning.
Countless blood tests and one CT scan later we have finally found out that she has severe problems with the discs in her lower spine causing her great discomfort. It obviously started a few years ago and has recently deteriorated quickly.
We've just started her on another drug along with the metacam and she is finally walking easier and seems to be pain free. Her jumping is still terrible, I have to lift her up onto the bed in the middle of the night. I hope that if she loses some weight she will be able to jump better and lead a relatively normal life.
It's an ongoing process and I am continuously having to monitor her quality of life as the last thing I want is for her to be unhappy. Luckily Alex the vet is also dedicated to helping Weasel achieve good health.
It's always worth noting that pets behave differently at the vets. The adrenalin can mask some problems and make them appear brighter and more active.
If you think there is something wrong with your pet and feel dismissed by your vet, be sure to get a second opinion. Have faith in your knowledge of your pets character and behavior and fight your corner with passion. If your pet is insured then you must insist for all options to be explored if you feel that the problem has not been resolved. If you find a good vet, stick with them. If you aren't happy with a vet, be sure to let the practice know.
**UPDATE** Weasel had a sudden deterioration in health which saw her develop chronic arthritis in her front leg (what seemed to be over night). I also tried to get to the bottom of her chronic apetite and another scan revealed that her adrenal glands were enlarged. It seemed likely that she had Cushing's Disease which is very very rare and has very specific symptoms, of which she had every one! With no cure and a terrible prognosis we saw Weasel's health deteriorate so rapidly and quickly that I was forced to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep. On a sunny Friday morning outside in the back garden we said goodbye. I miss her terribly.