Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Quality of Life - A Cat Story (why not a people story too?)

Our little Miracle Kitty (otherwise known in these parts as 'Senior Cat') has bounced back once again, thanks to a little tweaking of his diet after recent a blood test revealed his kidneys appeared to be shutting down.

Senior Cat has been 'doctoring' since August of  2013 when he developed a bad case of pneumonia which didn't respond to antibiotics. After several refills of antibiotics our vet gently suggested we try a low dose of prednisone. She couldn't say with certainty if he had asthma or cancer but the prednisone would alleviate his symptoms and make his life comfortable either way.

Thankfully he responded well to a low dose of this steroid and he went about his days in a quieter, less playful mode. He started to purr and socialize again and he even cuddled for short spells.

In the mean time, Junior Cat's delicate digestive system guided us toward a special gastrointestinal cat food regimen (I fondly refer to as 'Gold Nuggets' because that is about how much I invest into our cats' special diet). This food is truly worth its weight in gold because it not only calmed Junior Cat's stomach issues but both cats have a lush, shiny coat of hair that (in my mind) can only be attributed to their special diet.

Our cats padded along just fine and dandy until a short while ago. Senior Cat's symptoms started gradually and I was convinced that he had a cancer which was starting to take hold and (I guessed) his current dose of medication was not capable of handling. So we took him back to the vet to adjust his medication.

The word cancer was not even mentioned. Our previous vet was on maternity leave and our replacement doctor read Senior's file and referred to our cat's asthma as a firm diagnosis and went forward from there. After assessing his blood test, she suggested we adjust Senior's diet and I purchased some Renal Health food especially for him.

Sure enough, he started responding to his new diet almost immediately.

Our cat must be the ideal prototype for each of his health conditions. His asthma (?) responded immediately to his low prednisone dosage and his kidneys responded just as quickly to the change in his diet.

One little pill, snapped in half and ingested every twelve hours and one little bag of Renal Health cat food have our Little Black Kitty back in good form.

My mom follows my stories about our cat family and each time she comes to visit us, she comments that if she didn't know better she would assume Senior Cat was in perfect health. She refers to his healthy coat of fur and his general overall appearance. She has said, "If I get sick, I want to be sick like your cat!"

Mom said a mouthful when she uttered that sentence.

A diagnosis and a 'cure'. Even if the cure does not make the disease go away, it has alleviated all symptoms and life-as-we-know-it has not changed.

One tiny little pill. A change of diet. Two small changes have not only prolonged Senior Cat's life, but he has a quality of life which we don't take for granted.

How many people out there wish for exactly the same thing? A diagnosis and if not a cure, at least a medication &/or diet which could allow a person to retain their dignity and quality of living.

Another choice we have for our adored pets is the opportunity to make choices about their life and death situation when there is no cure, they are in pain and there is nothing more that can be done.

Why is there such a disparity between what I see happening within my own little 'animal kingdom' here within my home and what I hear with people who are doctoring for various reasons?

Our cat has not been referred to this, that and the other specialist. He has one doctor who looks at the 'whole picture', knows our family and our cats well and makes decisions based on the tests we decide (and can afford) to administer.

When one patient gets referred to too many doctors do they lose sight of the 'whole person'? When a specialist is looking for one specific thing, can they miss what another could see if they were looking at an entire body? Does the fear of lawsuits and policies, procedures and protocol within the medical field make it an entirely different scenario for the doctors in each case?

There are probably a million more questions to ponder about the disparity between our specific case scenario (with our cat) and the multitude of other factors which others who are faced with their own unique set of health concerns.

I guess we are just lucky in the whole scheme of things. We are so lucky, in fact, that I think I will inquire about adding glucosamine to Senior's diet to see if we can help him with some of his arthritic discomfort.

I just want him to feel as good as he can possibly feel. That is all I hope for and want for anyone. Is that too much to ask?

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