Could we catch a break, please?

I think I’m feeling a little woe-is-me right now. I know that senior kitties bring challenges, but I feel like we’ve been hit fairly hard with all of our kitties, young and old.

In July 2010 Riley was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. I did a lot of research, and with the help of my friend, Dr. Pierson, Riley’s disease has barely progressed in the eighteen months since diagnosis.

In October 2010 Sue was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a harrowing 5 weeks getting him regulated and off of insulin, but I did it, again with the help of Dr. Pierson.

In November 2010, Chicken was diagnosed with Vaccine Associated Sarcoma, caused by one of her many Pfizer vaccines (most likely Defensor 3 Rabies or Leukocell 2 FeLV).

In November 2011, Chicken is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and underwent I-131 radio iodine treatment on December 9 to cure her. She sadly passed away one week later of a saddle thrombus which was completely unexpected.

Four days later, Riley was also diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She underwent the I-131 radio iodine treatment and seems to be doing well.

Today we took Monroe in for a routine dental and get a phone call back that she may be hyperthyroid and may have some heart issues. A cat’s normal resting heart rate is 120-140 bpm. Monroe’s heart rate today at the vet was between 220-270 bpm consistently as he checked throughout the day. Needless to say she didn’t have the dental. I called a cardiologist to make an appointment. That appointment will cost between $500-800. We are going to start her on a beta blocker in a couple of days. The doc said she either has hyperthyroidism, a heart condition or nothing.

Beyond the obvious financial strain all of this has placed upon us, the mental and emotion strain is tolling as well. I just wish all of the kitties could be well and stay well.

Chicken and Monroe were always good buddies!

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10 Responses to Could we catch a break, please?

  1. Jeff says:

    I forgot to mention in my post this morning. In addressing the hyperthyroidism environmental issues, to be on the safe side, I also changed the cat litter from BJ’s clay cat litter to Swheat cat litter. The BJ’s cat litter was very dusty and thus they were breathing it. Sweat is also a bit dusty but it is just 100% wheat and thus should not have the PBDE’s in it.

  2. Jeff says:

    Greatings: I have tried many times to successfully post a response to WordPress but their system seems to have difficulty. I am guessing perhaps because of the length of the post. Thus, I will try to separate it into separate posts.
    Here is post number 1
    Hi, I was very moved by your blog of Chicken the Cat and subscribed.
    I have 4 cats myself. Two of them are 16.5 yrs old; the other two are 5.5 yrs old. I was working in Tokyo for 8 years and moved my cats back home to Massachusetts in the beginning of October 8. The cats had annual physicals and were basically in great health (one of my senior cats, Ms. Tiger, also had sarcoma due to a vaccine in her left hind leg in 2009 and the cancer was removed right away without taking the leg). After the cats arrived in my house in Massachusetts, both the senior cats began to develop health problems. Within 1 month, my senior cat White Socks’s weight plummetted. She was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Ms. Tiger developed another lump in her left hind leg again and this time higher up in the leg than before.
    Both hyperthyroidism and sarcoma are rare in Japan and much less rare in the U.S. Now this provides some insight into pausable causes and preventative measures that can be taken.

  3. Jeff says:

    1. Sarcoma: Rabies does not exist in Japan. Thus, there are no laws requiring any vaccines of any kind to cats. Thus, vaccines are uncommon in Japan. In the U.S. Rabies does exist and laws exist requiring vaccinations. Thus, there is a percentage of cats that get Sarcoma which your family and my family very sadly suffered from. According to the Tufts Veterinary School Oncologists, sarcoma develops long tentacles and local surgery will not remove it because cutting the tentacles forms several new sarcoma cancer centers. Thus, they recommended that her entire left hind leg be amputated as high up as possible and then for us to keep our fingers crossed. So, I had that done. They also suspect IBD digestive disease or possibly worse some kind of leukemia. I am hoping that it is IBD which would be the better of the two for her prognosis.

  4. Jeff says:

    2. Hyperthyroidism: Ok, here there may be a chance to look around your home for preventative measures to protect the other cats from developing it and possibly for your cats diagnosed with it for their condition not to worsen. Reason is, why would White Socks have so suddenly developed it right after arriving in Massachusetts after having a stellar bill of health in both August and September 2011. I strongly believe that it is very unlikely that this is just a coincidence and strongly suspect something in the new environment in Massachusetts that set off her thyroid to develop the masses. The most revealing source that I found was the Wikipedia page for Hyperthyroidism. (I had the link here but I deleted it because the WordPress system did not accept the post with it. Thus, perhaps this is why I had not been able to post before.)
    In the section “In other animals” and then “Cats”, it says “recent research published in Environmental Science & Technology, a publication of the American Chemical Society, suggests that many cases of feline hyperthyroidism are associated with exposure to environmental contaminants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are present in flame retardants in many household products, in particular, furniture and some electronic products.” Now, this appears to be MUCH more likely to be why she suddenly developed it. Thus, potential sources:

  5. Jeff says:

    A. Blue Tarps: Our house that we just bought was built in 1905. The room that we set up for the cats when they initially arrived had blue tarps down because the room is being re-done and in process (obviously not being worked on while that cats were there). There is spackle between the cracks in the floor. White Socks likes to lick plastic. Research of blue tarps yielded that blue tarps are coated with fire resistant chemicals — thus PBDEs which cause hyperthyroidism. I thus removed all the blue tarps and am now using that room only for storing things with the door closed until we are able to finish renovating it.
    B. Water. Our house uses a well. The water tested fairly well except that it has 300 units of radon in it. Thus, we all drink and cook only with bottled water until I can have a water cleaning system installed. I had initially used just a Pur filter and gave the cats the well water. I could imagine a possibility that PBDEs entered the water from the old pipes in the house.
    To remove that possibility, the cats now too only drink bottled water.
    C. Cat Food. I believe that this is a lower chance possibility. There are articles that PBDEs are found in some types of cat food with the fish varieties being more prevalent (tuna, salmon, etc.) as well as some in turkey to a lesser degree. The canned cat food appears to be more prevalent than dry. Here I cannot do much about this possibility. I chose the new Hills y/d Thyroid diet as the means to address White Socks’s hyperthyroidism. I will explain more about that below. Ms. Tiger was vomiting a massive amount (approximately 200 ml per time) of bile. IBD is suspected. I switched her from Science Diet Senior cat food to Innova Senior cat food and she no longer vomits like that. Differences between Science Diet and Innova: Science Diet is manufactured in China. Innova is manufactured in U.S.A. Science Diet contains animal byproducts such as animal heads and feet. Innova contains only the normal type of meat that humans eat when we buy poultry and fish. Science Diet is concentrated in whatever flavor you choose (e.g., chicken, tuna, etc.). Innova mixes a variety of different types of food together thereby reducing the concentration of any one.
    D. Cat Litter: Unlikely but was using BJ’s clay cat litter which is very dusty whenever used. I tested many alternatives and chose Sweat which is 100% wheat. It also becomes dusty a bit but should not have PBDE’s because it is just wheat.

    Why I chose the new Hills y/d Thyroid diet instead of oral medicine or I-131:
    1. White Paws initially was on oral medication. Her thyroid T4 values returned to the normal range. However, her liver values became a concern. Thus, she was determined not to be a candidate for oral medication.
    2. I just moved my family back home from Japan to get AWAY FROM radiation including I-131 which CAUSES thyroid cancer as well as unforeseen other health problems. I did not want White Paws to have the stress of being secluded in a hospital for the treatment for so long. I did not want I-131 back in our house (I have 3 young children). I did not want her secluded in our house while waiting the 80 days for I-131 to completely dissipate (Half life is 8 days and it takes 10 cycles for it to disappear. Thus, 8 x 10 = 80 days).
    3. Easiest for her. She just eats her food when she wants
    4. I preferred to spread out the extra cost for the treatment rather than facing the $1,500 I-131 bill all at once. Though the Hills y/d Thyroid diet is double the cost of other cat food and she eats a lot of it.

    I recommend thinking through what you have in your home that could be exposing your cats to PBDEs and to do your best to remove those sources. Hope this info is helpful.


  6. Jeff says:

    I had written: “There are articles that PBDEs are found in some types of cat food with the fish varieties being more prevalent (tuna, salmon, etc.) as well as some in turkey to a lesser degree.”
    I meant: “There are articles that PBDEs are found in some types of cat food with the fish varieties being more prevalent (tuna, salmon, etc.) as well as some in chicken to a lesser degree.”
    The difference is that I had meant to write “chicken” and typed “turkey”.
    Also, please note that sometimes I call White Socks, “White Paws”. I use both names because I find them both cute for her: she is brown with white paws and white dots and stripes in other places. Thus, in the post, both names were used but it is the same cat.

  7. Jeff,
    I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Chicken was a super special girl and loved more than anyone will know by thousands of people! We have seriously been considering what could have caused three of our cats to all become hyperT in such a short period of time… The main things that have been changed in the last year are diet and litter. Our cats used to eat dry kibble, but after Sue developed diabetes, the kibble had to go. I sometimes make the cats’ food using organic turkey and supplements, but usually feed them Fancy Feast or Wellness canned. They never eat any fish flavors: only turkey, chicken and beef. I have heard of a link between hyperT and BPA linings in canned food. I think we will switch them back immediately to raw food. You can read more about feeding raw at .
    We are going to switch their litter to Swheat litter immediately.
    I would encourage you to really research the Hill’s Y/D diet. I do not think it is quality, but in the end, you need to do what you think is best. Some food for thought:

    Thanks for all of your comments!

  8. Allison Nicolas says:

    Hello again 🙂

    You have definitely had some horrible luck when it comes to pet health problems. As have I. I spoke with you a while ago about my dog Trixie who developed a large lump from what we thought was the rabies vaccine. It turned out to be the lyme vaccine. Merial sent me a cheque for $500 and said that was the max they could pay. I spent over $2000 on veterinary services. Merial is no better than Pfizer! The Lyme vaccine is also useless. I fostering a dog with Lyme disease and the treatment is antibiotics for 2 weeks. Trixie went through a major multiple lump removal surgery and steroidal treatment and is still developing lumps. I would have rather her had Lyme disease!

    Next I wanted to let you know about pet insurance. I work for Petsecure and have policies for my pets. Paying $30 a month is a lot better than paying $3000 straight out of your pocket. I would have a look at policies for your future pets 🙂

    I also believe in raw food diets and/or grainfree high quality food. I very highly recommend Merreck Before Grain for cats. It has a high level of protein and has amazing results and is also priced amazingly for it’s quality. I’ve had cats with digestive issues, urinary issues, diabetes etc switch to this food and have no further problems!! It’s a dry food which is a good idea when you are looking to avoid dental problems which is the only real issue I find with raw.

    I hope things start going better for you and your pets. Take care!!

  9. Allison Nicolas says:

    This is an awesome website to learn more about certain ingredients in pet food 🙂

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