Adam and I like to give our cats a lot of backstory. Penny is a wrestling champ in her extra-large weight class. We call her Penny “The Hams” Pennington. She mostly just sits on socked toes and inconveniently parks her bum in places that make us uncomfortable. She’s really sweet and doesn’t actually beat anyone up, but she’s so big she can just sit on something and win a match. She’s got big hams, that’s all there is to it. So here she is in a fetching Lucha Libre outfit.
This week was just THE WORST. I woke up last Wednesday morning with my cat Pants on my head (as usual) and since I am always around cats I am very well aquatinted with cat breath. This morning however, instead of the normal stinky tuna breath of a heathy kitty, I noticed a very strong smell of ammonia coming from Pants. I am no doctor to be sure, but I am a strange receptacle of all things medical. I remember weird medical factoids and never forget them. I think there me a special part of my brain that is always harboring an unfulfilled desire to go into medicine. So right away… my spidey sense blares alarm bells, goes through my memory bank and comes out with “ammonia breath= kidney failure”. With that thought my normal morning turned into a freak out as I google-fu’d my diagnosis and confirmed my worst fears- yes, kidney failure does indeed make ones breath smell like ammonia.
EMERGENCY though? It’s kind of hard to tell with cat’s, and Pants was acting mostly fine- maybe drinking more than usual, but still purring, playing and peeing. It was early and I didn’t know where to go. So I took Pants to this vet that he hates, and I am not particularly fond of right down the street from me. I wasn’t aware that this vet didn’t have on-site lab results and had to send away for Pant’s blood values. He said I would have to leave him overnight because he seemed dehydrated. So I said okay and came back later in the evening to say goodnight. When I came in at 6pm later that day Pants was squashed so far into the corner of his cage I think he was trying to merge with it. He wouldn’t look up at our voices and was hooked up to an IV. I didn’t know what to expect, but maybe he just really doesn’t like the vet.
The vet called us the next day at 10am and said we needed to come in so he could talk to us. So when we got there we had a feeling bad things were afoot. The vet told us our kitty was very sick, showed us his blood values and. specifically, the values pertaining to kidney function (BUN and Creatinine). In healthy kitties, the range for BUN is 35 and creatinine is 0.6-2.5. Pant’s blood values for BUN were 198 and Creatinine was 20.7. That’s bad. Very bad, that’s dead kidney’s bad, that’s your cat is going to die bad. So the vet says that we need to euthanize him and he’ll give us a few minutes to decide. HELL NO. I guess I was not prepared for that outcome, I thought maybe he had some crappy kidney values or IBS I didn’t think I’d have to put my best friend to sleep right then and there. With very little information from this vet OR further testing I just was not having it. He told us there was no hope of recovery, that Pants was too sick and that “yes, we could do an IV at home, but it’s expensive” As if money would preclude us from tying to save our friend. Crazy. So we took Pants home where he ate like a maniac and drank a bunch of water. I made an appointment at another vet that our friend Beth, and really about 6 other friends told us to go to.
I want to mention this pet hospital because they’ve been so wonderful- So shout out to Los Feliz Small Animal Hospital! They took Pants in and calmed Adam and I down. Dr. Meriwether was super sweet, told us “yes, those blood values are really terrible BUT, Pant’s is acting alert, active, eating and drinking which leads me to believe that this could be an acute kidney issue or perhaps an infection.” They retested his values and 20 minutes later we were somewhat relieved to know that his numbers were down by half of what they were- at the very least moving in the right direction. The doc said he’d probably be in for a 5 day hospital stay so that they could hydrate the crap out of him and flush his kidneys, and hopefully he could bounce back. The doctor told us that despite those scary values, cat’s are very resilient creatures and to think of the now- Pant’s is doing okay now, we don’t need to think about euthanasia unless he’s not responding to treatments. Besides, there are more tests to be done before we could know what was really happening in his body.
They shaved his belly and did an ultrasound on his kidneys. He has a giant kidney stone in his left kidney which seems to be the cause of all this upset, and unfortunately the right kidney seems to have succumbed to the fate of kidney stones some time ago. So while he is a very sick guy, it doesn’t totally mean he’s going to die tomorrow. He is on a special diet for sad kidneys and the same formula will help disolve the stone over time. There isn’t a great test to see how much kidney function is remaining in Pants, so it’s really just a wait and see process at this point.
So 7 days after I smelled ammonia breath is kidney values are back within a manageable range. They’re still high with BUN at 43 and Creatinine at 3.5… but no where NEAR where they were. So our best friend came home last night with a bag of IV fluids, a new diet and some antibiotics. He’s SO happy to be home! purrs, love, head-butts and snuggles all night long. I am in heaven. I don’t think I have ever been so worried about anything, I have an emotional attachment to that hairy little shit-rat like you wouldn’t believe. He slept on my head (as usual) and all 4 of us- Adam, me, Pants and Penny passed out in the glory you see illustrated above.
Pants has the worst haircut ever, he’s probably mortified. Belly shaved, neck shaved, front legs shaved… oh man it’s hilarious and I can’t stop scrambling his pink cat boobs. And of course am totally fine with them draped across my eyeballs while sleeping. Even shaved cat belly is better than no cat belly.
So we check up on his blood this Friday and we’ve got everything crossed that his kidney values can be managed at home. Putting a giant needle in your cat’s neck at home first thing in the morning is weird. Just saying. I don’t care, I love him too much to not try everything I can do to help him stick around for a while longer.