Chuckie Jerrell – Mesa, Arizona
Male, Domestic short hair
August, 1999 – January 25, 2015
Diagnosed with IBD in November 2007
First Entry: January 24, 2009
It is early 2007 when I see my Chuck have diarrhea for the first time. I immediately began to worry. I had already lost two male cats to IBD and had another 14 year old male cat that was battling it at the time and had been since he was a kitten – so you see, I already knew the battle that would ensue if this was the beginning of yet another kitty with IBD. I continue to watch Chuck. He has no symptoms of pain or vomiting and the diarrhea wasn’t too terrible. But a few months go by now and I can tell it’s not going to improve or just stop. I give him a 10 day course of metronidazole which makes no change in his diarrhea. I try putting fiber in his food which he refuses to eat. I know what the choice drug of veterinarians is for IBD – it is prednisolone. I used this drug on my two male cats that passed and they both became transitory diabetics shortly after taking it and that meant that I would no longer be able to treat them with the prednisolone because that steroid and diabetes do not work together – prednisolone causes problems with regulating blood sugar. I also had a male cat with stomatitis who took Depo-Medrol shots – he also developed diabetes from steroid use.
My plan would be to try everything natural I could and wait for a new drug to come along – anything but prednisolone – this drug had been very bad for my male cats – it helped with the diarrhea, oh yes, but with a potentially fatal diabetic result! I have to say though that I had a female cat that used prednisolone for five or six years for allergies and arthritis and she did very well on it.
It is May of 2008 and my Dusty just passed away from his 14 year struggle with IBD. And Chuck was beginning to have a lot of pain. He would stretch and cry from cramps. He began to vomit more and more – sometimes at the litter box because he was in pain from the diarrhea coming out. There was a lot of gas too. He was losing the ability to get to the litter box on time. I would hold him on my lap and the diarrhea would just come out! He was losing his pride and he was no longer himself. It was killing me to watch!
I went online and found the IBD group. I saw information on B12. It said that IBD cats became depleted of this essential to life vitamin due to the watery diarrhea. They recommended B12 shots. However, when I did some research I found B12 was best supplemented on a daily basis. So I decided to go with oral B12 – the brand I bought is TOTAL sublingual and .10 cc a day is what I gave him. I did notice an increase in energy initially but that would not last unfortunately but I kept giving it to him.
There was a lot of information on the site about foods to try. Luckily there was a store 10 minutes from my home that sold all these special foods. They were expensive and Chuck did not like most of them so I threw a lot of money into the trash. But I kept on and found one food that slightly improved the diarrhea and he liked it, EVO Turkey (not as well as his normal food which is Fancy Feast and Friskies canned). I have a multi cat household so I also feed Science Diet Oral Health, Science Diet Hairball (for the fiber), and Iams Maintenance dry foods mixed together for the cats to free feed. I was ever so careful to make sure that EVO turkey was the only food he ate – a lot of work considering he wanted what all my other cats ate.
In September 2008 I asked my friend, who is a veterinarian I used to work for, what he used for his older cat that developed IBD and he said budesonide, in liquid form, orally twice weekly and he said it worked great. But his cat died a few months later from complications from upper respiratory disease – so he only used it a short time. I put the question to the group and received all kinds of positive information about this steroid. Plus, to my confusion there were so many different ways to take it. But I did some research and found that the drug has a coating on it called beaded that would protect the stomach and keep the drug from working until it reached the intestines and that very little, if any, of the steroid would enter the bloodstream. So I was confused because people on the group said they used it in a liquid from and it worked for them. So I set an appointment with my veterinarian. It turned out she never heard of the drug and looked at me like I was a nut for bringing up the thought of using this drug she never heard of in place of prednisolone. She did an exam on Chuck and said his intestines were not thick yet from the IBD. He had begun to lose weight – which I and all my family had noticed. I left a stool sample with her and she said she would research the drug and get back to me with what she could find out on it and with his stool sample results.
She called back and said she found giardia in his stool and to start him on 1/4 of a 250 milligram tablet of metronidazole twice a day. I told her I used this before and it did nothing for Chuck but I said I would try it again anyway. Well you see Chuck would fight you nearly to the death if you tried to pill him. I put the metronidazole in a gel cap so the taste would not make the pilling worse. It was a huge, huge battle over the next ten days but I stayed the course and he took all the medication. Unfortunately it did not help his stool at all. It made him feel worse as a matter of fact and he was very, very angry at me to top it all off and the stress from fighting him over the pills had us both exhausted and me in tears. I read that IBD cats may not start off with giardia when their IBD begins but somehow despite no known outside exposure will develop giardia anyway. I suspect this with Chuck because he is an inside only cat and came to me with normal stools that stayed normal for many years before getting the IBD.
She called me back about the budesonide as well. She said she didn’t find much but she had found a little information that the drug is showing much promise in the treatment of IBD. And since it is used in the intestine specifically and because it is beaded that very little would get in the blood stream and greatly reduce the chance of this steroid causing diabetes which was my main interest in the drug. I asked her would the liquid form work and she said she did not know but would call it into the compounding pharmacy for me to try. I picked it up and gave him one dose of the liquid form and he became very, very ill over night! He was vomiting non-stop, wouldn’t eat and had watery, blood-tinged diarrhea and his vomit was blood-tinged as well. I was so upset. What had I done in the process of trying to help!? I put him on Pepcid and immediately started LRS SQ. Within 24 hours he was almost back to normal. Liquid was not the way to go for him.
This drug has no generic form here in The United Stated and it is about $8.00 a pill here and is called Entocort. Each pill has 3 milligrams which would make three doses for me. Cats are to have one milligram of this drug a day. On the IBD group someone recommended getting this drug in Canada which would work for me because they could get it in the generic form from Barbados and this would make getting this drug affordable for me as well. I had my veterinarian call in to Wal-Mart Pharmacy for three pills to hold me over until the drug from Canada could get to me – it would take 1 to 2 weeks for it to get here after my veterinarian phoned the prescription in. It would take two weeks for it to get to me. I found gel caps in size #4 and divided the capsule into thirds – not an easy task! The beaded budesonide rolls everywhere and because I was using the smallest gel caps I could find I kept dropping them and would have to start all over. After five or six pills being divided though I did develop a system that works pretty well and have the 1 milligram capsules made up in no time.
It is November 2008 now – I wanted to start out conservative so I began Chuck on 1 milligram every other day instead of every day. I did start to see he was in a lot less pain. There was no stomach trouble in this form and he was not having accidents outside the litter box. So I kept this going for two weeks until I started noticing an accident here and there and noticed there was only a very small improvement in his stools. So I started him on the recommended dose. I noticed there was now absolutely no pain and no accidents and he was starting to run around and play a lot more like before the IBD got bad in May. But I had a big scare about a week into this new dose. He started vomiting bloody bile like vomit and started having very mucousy, bloody diarrhea and I was so very scared. But within 24 hours this passed and he was better than ever and having formed stool about a week later. It was sort of the consistency of toothpaste. I would scream CHUCK YOU DID IT! I was so unbelievably happy for him! He still has moments of runny stools but that is probably because I now have him back on the food he really likes – Fancy Feast and Friskies and the same dry as before and sometimes he overeats a bit or gets something out of the sink that he shouldn’t.
January 2009 – The drug did take longer to work than I thought it would but I am extremely happy with how well Chuck is doing. I was almost at the point of giving up especially with the bloody vomit/stool episode but I am so glad I stuck with it. Today Chuck is gaining weight, he is eating the food he wants, he has no accidents outside of the box, and he is not being exposed to the risk of diabetes as with prednisolone. He looks so healthy and he runs around like a kitten at times. He is exactly how he was before all of this begin in 2007. We still battle over a pill every now and then but because I am using such a small gel cap (smaller than what I had to use for the metronidazole) and some yummy butter it is going much better! I don’t know Chuck’s exact age because he came to me as a young adult stray but I would estimate his age to be 8 1/2 years now. He is a domestic short-hair neutered male. He has always been very healthy with an excellent appetite and very energetic. The only thing he has ever needed was a dental when he was five years old.
March 17, 2009: Chuck is doing fantastic. He is stilling having an episode of runny diarrhea with gas every great now and then but he rebounds from it so fast that it really is insignificant compared to the entire picture. Nothing has changed with his medication and he’s even gained about a pound and a half.
July 1, 2009: Chuck looks fantastic. He still has minor bouts that pass quickly. He has maintained all the weight he gained back. He has a beautiful coat of healthy fur. He is playful and silly. He still gets a little painful gas from time to time. But that does not seem to affect his appetite which is great nor does it affect his energy level. He is very happy. He is a bright light for me!
October 2, 2009: Recently we had company, my dad was staying with us. Chuck was very stressed and had a bad relapse after my dad left. I tried giving him an extra dose of budesonide twelve hours after the first to settle his intestines. He still had a little trouble so I opened one of the capsules I usually give 1 mg in and filled it with about eight more beads. I started him on this new slightly higher dose and now he’s doing so great, I can’t tell his poop from the other cats. It’s also MUCH easier to make the pills because I just fill the one longer half of the capsule all the way up, so no more measuring to make sure three capsules have just one milligram in them. Now Chuck is doing fantastic! He has been jumping up on my shoulder for rides, going outside with me and rolling in the dirt – he is awesome!
November 23, 2009: Chuck went to his vet for his one year check since starting budesonide (the wonder drug)! The vet was amazed at how well he looked! He had put on an extra pound and a half. She said his coat looked amazing – shiny and black and she said he looks like a panther. I told her his bouts are fewer and fewer and last shorter and shorter. His appetite is awesome and he rarely vomits. He is pain free except for when he is having a very short bout and even then his pain doesn’t even compare to his days before budesonide. He is able to eat whatever he wants – which makes Chuck a very happy man! The vet says she will now start using this drug on her other patients since Chuck has done so very well! I believe with all my heart this drug saved Chuck’s life and I can’t think of one draw back since he has started using it. It has given me back my cat and has given Chuck his life back!
March 7, 2010: I had to start experimenting with Chucks dose of budesonide. After the last vet visit he went into a bad bout and drug changes HAD to be made. So I started with an extra mg capsule every other evening on top of his regular dose everyday which is slightly more than 1 mg. He did very well at that point. I tried to wean him off of the extra dose but as soon as I stretched the extra dose to every three days the diarrhea returned. So now he is regularly on the extra dose every two days in the evening. On this dose he is stable and pain free. When his diarrhea first began he always went potty in front of me – litter box is in the bathroom – so when I went potty so did he.
Now that he is doing much better I rarely get to see him go potty anymore. I actually miss the opportunity to constantly see how his stools look but I am taking it as a very good sign from him that all is well down there. I do believe he may have put on another half pound as well! To me budesonide is still Chuck’s lifeline. He would not have quality of life without it because the special foods (I tried them all) made very little difference and he really did not like them. He is very happy and plays with my new kitten, Little “V”, all the time! He mostly enjoys running out the front door every chance he gets so he can make me chase him all over the place begging him to come – he really has quite the sense of humor LOL!
August 15, 2010: Overall I would say Chuck is doing well. About four months ago I tried the Eaglepack Holistic Solutions powder. I actually tried it on several of my cats. Chuck did extremely well on it. You could not tell he ever had IBD from looking at his stool. The same reaction for my other cats too. At first, I used it everyday – just a sprinkle – for about a week and then went to twice a week. It was like a miracle solution. Chuck had been on an extra dose of Entocort every three days but he was doing so well he went to every four and quickly to every five days an extra dose. About three months into using this product all my cats experienced bad diarrhea – especially Chuck. I immediately stopped the Eaglepack. They all seem to improve after a week but nowhere as good as they were before this reaction to the Eaglepack – when the Eaglepack was working. I waited a month and decided to try the Eaglepack Transition Solutions. Chuck didn’t care for it at all and the other cats who didn’t mind it showed no improvement in their stool. Chuck just would not eat it. So we are back to our slippery sliding slope.
He has had to go back to the extra dose of Entocort every three days. He also seemed to be a little less playful and energetic so I am increasing his B12 back up to 1 ml every week. He is stable and no vomiting but his stool is not solid – some days are better than others – sometimes it is like pudding others like toothpaste. I am ordering a new probiotic 8 plus product from Canada. I am so hoping to get his Entocort back down and hopefully my long term goal is to get him off the extra dose. I am afraid of reaching a point where I max the dose of Entocort for him so I am always trying to lower how much he takes. But he is happy and energetic and playful and has a good appetite. I would like to see about one more pound of body weight on him but he looks good and his coat is shiny. He is not gassy and does not seem to be experiencing any cramping. I am happy at this point because of all that but always room for improvement with unpredictable IBD.
February 27, 2011: I tried flagyl again with very bad results! Chuck can’t take it anymore. He becomes very sick on it, vomits, almost stops eating and his diarrhea gets worse! I used to do an extra dose of Entocort instead of adding more to his daily dose because I didn’t want to make him take a larger pill, he’s difficult to pill to begin with. But I went ahead and got the bigger capsules and just increased his daily dose and he began having solid stools. It took several days on this new protocol to see improvement in his stool though. He was not happy, I could tell he was in some pain and his diarrhea was steadily getting worse – so things could have been worse – but things were not where they should have been by any means. Oddly, when I put him on B12 weekly he did worse but this can be coincidental so I’m up in the air on B12 protocol for him now.
He is stable for now. I have him on an increased dose of Entocort just once daily now with no extra doses. I have him on Eaglepack Holistic Solutions every three days (just one capsule which I make myself). His coat is very full and shiny and he seems happy most of the time too so I have to say at the moment I am pleased with where we are! Thank Goodness! But I know things can change at any time, I am trying to enjoy this good spell as long as it is here.
January 12, 2012: Chuckie doesn’t like me like he used to because I am constantly trying to pill him with something and he absolutely hates to be pilled. He will not be tricked into sprinkling anything on his food (except for Proenzyme) and if I even remotely think he will eat it with something hidden in it I must be crazy because that will not happen. We continue to have good days and bad days with me trying every combination imaginable. I use B12 injections, Entocort, Eaglepack and another product called iFlora Multi-Probiotic. I have not tried pilling him with Proenzyme but am occasionally able to sneak it into his canned food but only occasionally. I have tried increasing his Entocort but like with all steroids more is not better when not needed. Too much leaves him in pain with very watery diarrhea. Not enough leaves him in pain with diarrhea but not as runny as with too much medication. I have tried adding an extra dose of Entocort every so many days and it seemed to work but only for a very short time. I have tried increasing his dose to 1 1/2 mgs of and had wonderful results but after a week he ended up with horrible runny and painful diarrhea. So I am back to the old dose of just about 1 1/4 mgs of Entocort and then I am trying an 1/8 teaspoon of Eaglepack in a gelcap along with an 1/8 a tsp of the iFlora in a gelcap given to him together once a week and then just Eaglepack every other day.
We are now stable once again but I am sure it won’t last long because it never does. I have also tried Tylan and had horrible results with that as well (by the way had to put that nasty powdery stuff into a gelcap too). I can no longer use Flagyl because that makes him very ill. I tried sulfasalazine and had wonderful results for the first three days and then downhill he went and I had to take him off of that too. Sigh, I will never give up though; no matter how discouraged I get. I’m thinking about trying to divide the dose of Entocort into an am/pm dose (yay more pilling, as if he didn’t already hate me enough as it is). Cats have a very short intestinal tract so maybe the Entocort is out of his intestines too quickly? It’s always a guessing game. I know him so well so I know from the look on his face when I am gonna once again have to try a different combination of products or different doses. It’s happening a lot more often lately. He weighs 7 pounds now and I would definitely like to see more weight on him but as long as he doesn’t lose any more weight I will be happy with that. I have put off writing this update because frankly its just distressing putting it down in words. I just wish I had something better to report. The worst part is running this scenario through my mind; Should I have kept our relationship super close and very loving and he have a shorter life or do what I have done which is pill him against his will and now he really isn’t close with me anymore and he has a longer life – one filled with one bad bout after the other in the hopes that one day I can find the perfect combination that can keep him happy, pain free and stable? He doesn’t vomit very much. His poop goes from looking perfect to runny within hours and back to formed again. And sometimes even if his poop looks great he still feels painful.
February 2, 2012: I know budesonide is a 24 hour treatment for people but with cats having such a short digestive tract maybe it just is not in there long enough. So I decided to try doing it twice a day – so maybe increasing the dose is not the answer but instead lowering the dose and doing it twice a day. Now that I’ve started him on the new dose (twice daily instead of once daily), he’s running around like a kitten – seriously like a kitten. I haven’t seen him act like this for at least two years!!!!! He did one of those mad dashes through the house and knocked a bowl of the counter and shattered it lol. I didn’t even care because I was so happy to see him happy! I took him outside and he ran after a bird – I’ve never seen him do this! I’m scared to be excited, but I am. He has never done so well for such a long period of time; usually he does well for a few days and then he slides back down again. I’m feeling encouraged! It figures the budesonide would work better in two doses because their GI tract is shorter and the budesonide is out quicker than in a human. I hope this lasts!
February 17, 2013: Well it was looking pretty bad for awhile; but I’ve stumbled on another routine that is now working for him – YAY! Here is what we are currently doing. I give him 1mg of budesonide daily until I notice his poop is getting runny or even worse bloody. I try to intervene before it gets to that point and then what I do is give him .5mg of budesonide every 12 hours. Then as soon as I see his poop is getting too watery I start him immediately on 1mg of budesonide at the very next 12 hour interval which gives him an extra boost of the budesonide since he is getting 1mg instead of .5mg. I have discovered Chuck will get very bad bloody diarrhea from too much budesonide. As with all steroids too much is just as bad as too little. It is a very fine line – luckily I am very good at walking this line now. I don’t give him any probiotics – none of them made a difference unfortunately. He has had this so long that only a strong steroid seems to make any difference at all.
However, my vet gave him some Baytril for his teeth (kind of pulse therapy for cats too old for dental surgery) and the Baytril completely made his poop normal. I was so excited but as always it didn’t last long so then I tried to replicate the Baytril miracle and was unable to. So I don’t think it was a fluke. I believe it did help rid his intestines of some bad build up of bacteria but when I tried to replicate it, it didn’t work because there just wasn’t a build up that was causing his bout at the time. Chuck has developed a heart murmur. He is older and seems to have some arthritis but with the warmer weather coming he is starting to feel better; in fact, he climbed a tree when I took him outside with me for a few minutes this morning – higher than he has ever gone. He hasn’t done that for a long time. I continue to use B12 injections when I see his energy is low or during the times when his poop is more watery than usual. I worry about him all the time. He is on the thin side but older cats often are even without diarrhea. He has a lot of spunk – throws a fit every time I try to comb his hair. I love this man so much – we have been in the trenches together for so long battling this! So I guess this is good news! He is stable and climbing trees – not bad for a mature little man!
October 14, 2013: About two months ago Chuck was at the end of his rope. Severe weight loss. Terrible pain and lethargy. He had watery, bloody diarrhea. It was the worse he had ever been. I had tried everything – almost. I started giving him .5 mg of budez three times a day. Its like a miracle, I got him back. No pain, no vomiting, firm to pudding like stools, he is gaining weight again, playing and again able to enjoy his life. This is the only way he can take 1 and a half mg of budez – which he needs. To take it all at once burns his intestines and brings on pain and bloody diarrhea and the same happens when taking it two times a day.
October 19, 2014: He has lost a tad more weight, now barely 5 pounds. Budesonide does not work now so I put him on 2.5 mgs of pred twice a day. He has wet fart explosions all day and usually doesn’t use the litter box. I give him fluids every two days to keep him hydrated cause his poo is from watery to toothpaste consistency, never really formed any more. His appetite is still good. I give him b12 injections (that stuff is hard to get and expensive). Fluids are getting hard to find too. So it’s not great news about chuck but he hasn’t given up by any means. Pred was my last option because I worry about it causing diabetes like it did in three of my boy cats. But I had to try something different. Maybe after awhile alternate between pred and budesonide, I don’t know. I try everything with him. I’ve had to start giving him baths to get the poo off and he does not like that at all. But it’s not good to have that stuck all over him. But he’s still hanging in there.
January 25, 2015: I had to let Chuck go today. He couldn’t sleep. He was getting jaundice. He was so tired but just couldn’t sleep. I was hoping he would pass in his sleep but that just didn’t happen.