Today I took Willis, the last of my original "Seattle cats" -- the ones who moved with us to Montana in 2000 -- to see our specialist in Missoula, Dr. Dave Bostwick, for a check-up. Willis has been suffering from lymphoma for over a year. But cancer isn't all he's got. He also has heart problems, high blood pressure, and a thyroid problem. Every day he gets a multi-drug 'cocktail' served up in some canned food. The cocktail consists of Prednisone for the lymphoma, Propanolol for his heart, Norvasc for his blood pressure, and Methimazole for his thyroid.
Six months ago I would have told you Willis would be dead in weeks, just judging from the way he looked then. Yet Willis has really hung in there. He's down to 6 pounds, is skinny and looks awful, yet is still happy, affectionate, and purrs when held.
It was a good thing we did the check-up: Willis' blood pressure had zoomed out of control again, this time literally off the charts. In the second photo Dave is measuring the blood pressure, which is done at the base of the tail. The pressure is reported out on the dial Dave is holding in his hand. The scale goes up to 300 units of mercury.
Willis blew the needle right to the 300 unit mark, and presumably he would have gone past it if the scale allowed. That's almost three times normal! Dave was surprised that with blood pressure that high, Willis hadn't already ruptured his retinas or burst a blood vessel in his brain. Yikes. So we're doubling his dose of Norvasc, starting tonight!
(In case you're wondering what Willis is doing in the photo, he's licking the gel off his chest that was on the ultrasound probe. I have no idea what that tastes like, but apparently he liked it.)
Dave called this evening, right after I got home, to say that Willis' blood work had come back and his thyroid had also deteriorated. We'll double his dose of Methimazole, too.
Meanwhile, just after I got off the phone with Dave, Alayne walked into the kitchen holding Wobbles, our little guy with cerebellar hypoplasia. She had just brought him in from his cottage, where she'd gone out to feed him and his new girlfriend, Claire (a.k.a. Mrs. Wobbles). Alayne noticed he didn't look right, and he wasn't interested in his dinner, which is unusual. And Wobs (as we call him) hadn't moved from the same spot on his bed all afternoon.
I took one look at him and could tell something was wrong. His breathing didn't sound right ... a little raspy ... and he seemed out of sorts. I took his temperature and it spiked to 105.9. Uh oh. (Normal range in a cat is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees.) I called our other vets in Helena and spoke with our specialist there, Dr. Britt Culver. Britt had me inject Wobs with 1/2 cc of Baytril, give him a very low dose of aspirin, and then gave me directions on what to do tomorrow. We'll continue to take his temperature every four hours.
The photo shows Wobs on a dog cot in the living room, where I put him to take his temperature. Almost immediately Widget climbed up to be with him. (She loves cats.)