Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Henry's Intensive Care

First day with me, he's obviously very sick.

Head up, food down, starting to discover what works.

Feeling so good!

In case anyone ever runs across a cat like Henry, perhaps I should detail his therapy. This is what I figured out works best for him based on my experience with Darling and my other cats and human babies:

I weigh Henry every day at the same time and keep a record of when and what he eats, his meds & supplements and notes, if needed.

He gets 1/4 Pepsid AC (10mg tablet) every 12 hours ON THE DOT!!! One minute late and it's extremely obvious because he get severe reflux and regurgitates and swallows over and over and over and it sounds like choking.

I feed Henry 5-6 times a day in small amounts. He gets ready-to-feed KMR (kitten formula) because the powdered stuff is too chalky and not as sweet, but it's costs a LOT, finely ground raw homemade food based on the recipe at catnutrition.org, calorie gel for cats and added most recently, digestive enzyme supplements, which have made a huge difference. He hasn't needed the calorie gel for two days since he's been gaining so well.

I put his bowl on a folded towel so he doesn't have to dip his head down to eat. This helps keep the food in his stomach.

After meals I hold Henry upright with his side against my belly and I burp him by patting his ribs on his side. Until I started the enzymes, I did this after each meal for a long time, 5-15 minutes. Now, I he stops burping much sooner and I've even not had to burp him after his milk, just the food.

Henry sleeps with me, with me on my back, his rump in my armpit on the bed and his front legs and head on my chest. This upright position keeps his food down in his stomach. Once the food is well-digested (even faster now with the enzymes), he can curl up like a regular cat or lie flat on his side.

The homemade raw food was the biggest turning point after the Pepsid. The food is super easy for cats to digest and its very slippery. Henry's esophagus I'm sure was burned from stomach acid and it was painful for him to swallow so he has oral aversion. Once he tried the food and it didn't hurt, he liked to eat it.

Henry absolutely cannot have any grains or vegetables. Because the food sits for so long in his stomach (I believe the opening between his stomach and small intestine is constricted) it's imperative he not have any grain since it bloats up by absorbing fluid. Henry was amost always dehydrated because the water in his body was soaked up by the grain in the food. Likewise, he shouldn't have produce of any kind because it's too fibrous and tangles and balls up in his stomach. Once the food stays in his stomach, he makes too much mucous, and this also requires much needed body fluid (water) and also causes dehydration. Henry used to have to vomit the mucous to clear his stomach so there'd be room for food.

The vets were not helpful. They didn't recommend anything at all. Before he was mine, I had my friend insist on an x-ray and it showed fluid in his lungs. This was from aspirating into his lungs the regurgitated fluids from his stomach. He tried two antibiotics before this cleared up.

How did I know the food wasn't clearing from his stomach? I could see what his vomit looked like, and I could smell it and smell his nasty burps. Without the Pepsid, his belly rumbles non-stop louder than a grown human man. It's alarming.

How did I know he was in pain? He did the "pain crouch" all the time, never folding his legs underneath him, never curling up or laying long and stretched out. He cried pitiously at each meal, while swallowing and afterward. His eyes were showing obvious pain because he always kept his head down and looked upward at us with only his eyes.

How did I know he wasn't getting enough nutrients? Obviously he's not growing, but also his fur is awful, fuzzy and brittle and short, not like fur, but like cheap polyester.

What made me think to add digestive enzymes? Since the food sat so long in his stomach, I thought if the digestion process could get further along there, he'd absorb more nutrients from the broken down food and it would also pass sooner and easier into his small intestine where it would also be broken down to such an extent and the nutrients would be more readily absorbed. The dose was common sense. I give it to him as each meal, enough to lightly dust his food or milk. He's still on his first capsule!

Does he like the burping? Not really, but now that I've found a position that's comfortable for him and he realizes it helps, he relaxes until I'm finished.

Is all this worth it? Of course! Now that Henry feels well and has some energy, he is running and playing and able to do all the things a healthy cat does. He and Poppy and particularly good friends since they are close in size and he plays more gently than the healthy cats. He might out-grow this or get large enough for surgical treatment, if possible. If not, he can live a healthy life like this.

Is it a lot of work? Not really. He and Poppy both come with me when I'm gone for more than six hours. I put Poppy's nursery on my large red wagon and they both like it in there.

I LOVE having 10 cats. Of course in my apartment it would have been crazy, but I did think it would be awful to have TEN cats. I'm truly in cat heaven!

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