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For an 18-year-old boy cat with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, both the vet and the vet tech were very impressed with him--and he's reasonably healthy, considering.

The vet did a physical exam where everything was healthy and normal except for Skittles' heart and teeth. She said the heart had an "abnormal gallop." I guess that means the heart murmur's back, thanks to the sporadic dosing of Atenolol. (When Skittles went to the vet in May, his usual vet detected no trace of a heart murmur, and Skittles was getting his pill every day as prescribed.)

Skittles' back teeth are in bad shape with bad gingivitis and red, swollen gums. Yesterday's vet recommended a teeth cleaning... which... we have to consider the pros and cons because of the heart murmur. Skittles gets put under anesthesia, and there's a chance he could die. Yeah, there's always a chance anyone (human or animal) could die while under, but the heart murmur ups the risk.

And it happened to Tailless Cat. A week after Zora passed in 2011, I took Tailless Cat to the vet for her flea allergy. (The cats are indoor only, but the rare times fleas have been brought inside the apartment by humans, if they get on Tailless Cat... she'll get inflamed skin on her butt and hind legs.) My usual vet was like, "If it's all right with you, I'd like to give Tailless a lion cut. I think it would make her feel really better, getting all that fur off." (She's a long-haired Manx.) I was like, "Sure." He explained the procedure--how she'd have to be put under--and I was to leave her there, and they'd get her lion cut in in between their scheduled surgeries.

5:00 rolls around; no call from the vet yet, letting me know I could pick up Tailless Cat. So I call. Dr. L gets on the phone; I ask how he's doing and he said, "Better than I was earlier today." He proceeded to tell me that Tailless Cat had briefly died after being put under, and that he had to perform CPR on her. Turns out, she has a heart murmur--that wasn't detected on the physical done prior to the procedure. She ended up having to stay overnight, so she could be on meds to help strengthen her heart.

So with Skittles... I'm not exactly jumping up and down going, "Yay! He's going to get minty fresh breath!"

I told the vet tech about what happened with Tailless Cat, and she again explained that the risk of anesthesia problems increases with kitties with heart murmurs, but that we really should consider having the dental done. (Every time Tailless Cat and Callie goes in for lion cuts, I'm like total nazi stressing over and over that they can't be put under, or they could die. [Callie is my long-haired calico, who within the past couple years, has developed this problem of her fur matting badly once a year... and just last year... she too was diagnosed with a heart murmur.] Thankfully, the vet and the staff respect my wishes, and the cats behave beautifully during the lion cuts where they don't need to be put under, but there's no way a dental can be done on a cat without anesthesia.)

The point is: If Skittles doesn't get the dental done, the gingivitis worsens, which then could lead to aggravating and worsening his heart disease; or it could develop into a bacteria infection and then he turns septic. If he gets the dental done, then he gets put under. In all three scenarios, he could die.

Oh! The whole point of the trip, his claws: Yes, he did have three ingrown claws. One was infected. The vet tech was able to trim all of his claws, and clean and disinfect the wounds. He got an antibiotic shot, instead of pills since I've been having difficulties pilling him. As for the Prednisone and Atenolol, we're going to try compounded medications now. More pricey--I don't know how pricey; the compounding pharmacy is going to call me with a quote--but I'm figuring it might not be an on-going thing. Skittles gets in this mood where he refuses Pill Pockets, but more often than not, he usually eats them. So I'm thinking he'll be taking Pill Pockets mostly, and then the compounded meds when he doesn't. (Unless the compounded meds have to be refrigerated, and has insanely short expiration dates.)


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Allison Kelsey

December 2015

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