|Alex's Medical History
|This page gets much deeper into Alex’s history with her disease and I’ve tried to detail her illness as best I could.
It was incredibly difficult and time consuming but because I kept all of her medical records, I could look over her
history and remember parts I’d just as soon forget. I feel she went through some things that could have been
avoided completely or treated before it was too late and more naturally. That’s the reason I went into such detail
with this page, to give you as much ammunition and knowledge as possible. Having an overweight cat is serious,
serious business and I will never let that happen to any of my pets again.
Alex was always a vomiter, at least from the time that I took her in. She was severely overweight due to her
previous owner free feeding her junk. I had gotten her to lose some weight but looking back now it was probably
done too quickly. I had never had this issue with any of my other pets before and had no idea about the dangers
to their system if they lost weight too fast.
In the fall of 2006 I took her in for a checkup because of her vomiting and at 17 pounds, I learned of the severe
consequences of her being overweight. She needed to be on a strict diet and monitored very carefully. I bought
a baby scale and agreed to email the vet weekly with updates on Alex’s weight and progress. It seemed to be
going well but there were a few snags. If she didn’t lose any weight, the vet got frustrated. If she lost more than a
few ounces, the vet got upset and I got nervous. It was a difficult process but it was going okay.
In the spring of 2007 Alex seemed to be gaining weight again and had a small, two day bout with vomiting. I took
her to the vet where she was given the proper tests and checked over well. I was told to give her Pepcid A/C to
calm her stomach and see how the tests came back. When everything came back normal she seemed to be
doing alright again and we kept going with her diet the way it was.
Keep in mind that I was oblivious to the damage that numerous grains and sugars in pet food could do to their
systems. This was all new to me and even though she was eating less, she was still gaining weight. This was
also at the time of the massive pet food recall due to melamine poisoning and we could never be sure if that was
a contributing factor to her getting so sick, this quickly. So even though I thought I was feeding her better food,
she was never going to lose that weight as long as she was eating it. Of course by the time I figured this out, the
damage was done.
All was fine for many months and she hadn’t vomited in quite awhile. But in late February of 2008 everything
changed. She had a severe bout of vomiting that lasted three days, and because she couldn’t hold her food
down any longer, she stopped eating almost completely. I finally took her to the vet after three to four days of not
eating anything but hand-fed boiled chicken. After running the normal blood and glucose tests to check for
diabetes, parasites, etc., she was given some fluids and a mirtazapine as an appetite stimulant.
At first she reacted well to it and came home to eat a hardy meal for the first time in days. I thought this was
wonderful and felt pretty relieved. Within hours that changed to hysterics as Alex began to have a bad reaction to
the drug and I ended up bringing her to the ER. Mirtazapine is actually a human anti-depressant and tends to
make people crave food and eat voraciously. One rare but possible side effect of the drug is called seratonin
syndrome and Alex had it. Her heart rate was up, she was restless, pacing and crying, hiding in the corner of the
room. Her pupils were huge, she looked like she was stoned and her breathing was rapid. I raced her to the ER
where she was given the antidote, which happens to be another appetite stimulant, cyproheptadine (Periactin).
It turned out that one dose wasn’t enough and I had to take her back to the vet the very next morning for more
and to be checked over. She was okay but I was given a prescription for the cyproheptadine in place of the
Mirtazapine. I was told that this was a rare reaction, but it scared me so much it was the beginning of my desire
to research and ask a million questions about every little thing we did for her. Even that turned out to not be
enough as there were more problems to come.
In early March they did an ultrasound on her and found her liver to be inflamed, but not yet hepatic. Her
pancreas looked okay, all other organs and lymph nodes looked normal, but her small intestines had some
problems and she was diagnosed with IBD. She was immediately put on metoclopramide (Reglan) for motility
and to stop vomiting.
The Reglan and Pepcid (famotadine) helped greatly but she was now incredibly sensitive and would still vomit
every couple of days. She was losing weight quicker now and by March 19, 2008 was down to 13½ pounds and
was vomiting bile. I began to have my chiropractor make house calls and give Alex adjustments. It seemed to
give her immediate relief but within 24 hours she would actually get worse. We decided to try Prednisolone and
after the first dose she ate voraciously for a week or so. Then her appetite decreased again so we decided to try
metronidazole (Flagyl). I was also taught how to give her lactated ringers (fluids) at home to help flush her
everyday and keep her hydrated. I was now giving her Reglan and Pepcid through injections.
Again, for the first few days, she seemed to be doing well on it. On the night of April 7th, Alex suddenly had a
seizure. I had never seen an animal have a seizure before and I was never so scared in my life. She was lying on
the bed with me, her eyes were staring at me but she couldn’t seem to see or hear me. She was twitching all
over the place and I didn’t know what to do. I put her on the table and gave her some fluids to try and snap her
out of it. I never went to sleep that night, first thing in the morning I raced her to vet’s office where Alex was now
jaundice in her ears, eyes, throat, nose, her stomach, everywhere. She was now severely hepatic and needed
The usual treatment for this is to hospitalize an animal for at least three days on a slow IV drip of fluids and
antibiotics. Because this isn’t an all night hospital I would have had to bring her there, pick her up, drop her off
somewhere else, pick her up in the morning, bring her back to the vet, etc. etc. This would have been enormous
stress on her and I couldn’t afford it. So I opted to drop her off at the vet in the morning and leave her for the day
for three to four days. That first day I left her, I came home and prepared myself for the worst. I thought for sure I
was going to lose her. When I went to pick her up that night she looked a lot better and she was actually talking
up a storm in the back room. Everyone said she was snapping out of it and was giving them a lot of grief. Which
in the vet’s eyes is always a good sign, it means they’re still fighting.
By the end of the fourth day we had her back on prednisolone and now on amoxicillin (antibiotic) in addition to
the Pepcid, Reglan and Cyproheptadine. I had to switch her food around constantly to try and find something
that she either wouldn’t vomit back up or she liked and would come back for. The trouble is that if a cat vomits a
particular food enough times they aren’t going to want to eat it again.
By May of 2008 she was eating Fancy Feast and Royal Canin Recovery. She was doing well on it but still losing
weight and was now over-grooming herself. She was still jaundice and even though she wasn’t particularly
constipated she began vomiting right after going to the bathroom. By June 2nd, 2008 she was vomiting so much
that her weight was now at 9½ pounds. Instead of dragging her to the vet in the car I requested the vet do a
home visit, which wasn’t cheap. But Alex was already vomiting enough and she threw up in the car every single
time I brought her out.
During the home visit I requested they do blood work for B12 deficiency and pancreatitis. They also suggested I
start her on FortiFlora for probiotics. The new regimen was to be a .25 mgs B12 injection once per week, folic
acid, some B complex, thiamine and Denosyl, which is used for the liver. When the results came back her liver
enzymes were again elevated, she did have pancreatitis and even though her B12 came back normal I not only
kept her on it but I increased the dose to .50 mgs per week. On June 11th we decided it was best to insert a
feeding tube into her stomach via her neck. I feared since she was already so thin and having problems that
maybe she wouldn’t make it through the surgery. Not only did she make it through but she was doing great.
Using the feeding tube took some getting used to on my part, but she was okay with it, doing very well. When I
took her back into the vet for a recheck the vet showed me how to change the dressing on her neck and said
that everything looked very good.
After a couple of weeks she was still losing weight and at this point she was literally ripping her fur out all over
her body. At first we thought maybe it was allergies or her immune system being compromised but the vet said it
was most likely a sign of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) usually associated with pain. So on July 2nd I
took her in and asked if we should put her on something called Actigall (ursodiol), which seemed to work well for
other cats. The vet was so impressed with her coloring that she didn’t want to “rock the boat” and said in her
opinion we shouldn’t do it. She said her jaundice was drastically improved, her coat was luxurious and soft and
her eyes looked brighter. She had already taken on Buprenex for the pain after surgery so we put her back on
that as needed.
After that she started vomiting once every day, mainly fluid and hair. On July 10th she woke up and ate her
breakfast, seemed to be okay. Within four hours time she began to have rapid breathing, her third eyelid (the
filmy covering in their eyes) was visible, she was very much in pain and seemed distressed. I raced her to the
vets where she told me she didn’t look good. She was now down to 9 pounds and in a lot of pain. They put her
on an IV hookup and she just lay there, she didn’t care anymore. The vet didn’t understand it either but she had
a high fever and it looked as if she had developed an infection somehow.
Within an hour her temperature dropped and she seemed to be stabilizing. The vet didn’t want to make any
decisions about care or what was going to happen because she had bounced back so many times before. I was
advised to bring her to the nearest hospital for this kind of thing in animals but that was over 50 miles away. She
would never had made it. I promised to do what I could at home and then bring her back first thing in the
morning. I brought her home and she continued to decline rapidly. She was lying on my bed, breathing rapidly.
Every time I tried to move her she moaned in pain. As a last ditch effort I put her in the carrier and started to race
to the ER. She passed away in the car on the way there.
For a kitty who was so sick, she fought very, very hard and seemed many times like she was going to pull
through. When she passed it was a shock and it devastated me more than I can say. In hindsight there are many
things I wished I’d done differently. Although all I did was research these diseases on the Internet, there is still
not enough information out there about these conditions and it was incredibly confusing. I would have
immediately put her on Denosyl at the first sign of the inflamed liver and got her enzymes levels down before it
had gotten out of hand. By waiting to start the treatments almost six months later, the damage was already done.
She was already hepatic and it was too much stress on her body to try and turn things around at that point. Her
liver had affected her pancreas and she was producing too much bile.
I also would have gone with my gut and given her the Actigall instead of waiting on that as well. It’s a drug that
helps with liver enzyme levels and can also help alleviate some of the symptoms of pancreatitis. I also would
have tried giving her Entocort (budesonide) instead of Prednisolone or Flagyl but I didn’t know about that drug at
the time. Even today Entocort is not known as widely yet in use for cats with IBD. We have several cases on this
site where Entocort has literally made the difference in the recovery of these cats with IBD. This drug takes much
less processing through the liver and I think it would have been better suited for Alex than prednisolone. All drugs
have side effects and she certainly had her share of problems with medications.
I would have started her immediately on B12 injections from the moment she lost her appetite. What I believe
now is that B12 is just about a miracle, is non-toxic and in higher doses than what’s recommended can greatly
increase absorption of nutrients and hunger levels without the use of appetite stimulants. It’s hard to look back
now and say what I would have or could have done. But the purpose of writing this is to give some idea of how
dangerous a hepatic liver is and that some of these steps should be considered and discussed with your vet at
the very first sign of this disease. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start these treatments.
My vet is a very good vet and did the absolute best she could for Alex, I truly believe that. But just like being your
own health advocate, you need to be your pet’s as well. Even more so as they can’t tell you what they want. My
vet absolutely did not want me to try a raw diet and now I wished I had. Some vets are very concerned of
salmonella poisoning, as was mine. I now have the education to know that handled properly, a raw diet can
actually be more safe than some dry foods. That still doesn't guarantee that it would have worked for her or that
she would have even eaten it.
A raw diet isn’t a cure but it has certainly done wonders for many cats to alleviate the symptoms and improve
their condition and health. There are many of us that wished we’d listened to ourselves and tried it. These are all
teaching moments in life and my goal is to teach you that there are more choices available to you than your vet
may suggest. I hope that Alex’s history and the education I received from it can help you make better choices for
your cat if need be.
|Alex Provost - New Hampshire
Female, tortoise shell Tabby
August, 1996 - July 10, 2008
Diagnosed with IBD in February 2008
Diagnosed with hepatic lipidosis in April 2008
Diagnosed with pancreatitis in May 2008
Diagnosed with triaditis in May 2008
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