The Wrah-Wrah and the Rutin. (Help!)

Hmm… I’m thinking it might be a good idea to create a “Cat Mom Blog” category so I can file these Ronnie James posts in one place….

Today, I have a question that I hope someone can answer: How do you get a cat to eat something he loathes?

This is a life-or-death problem we’ve been having, and we’re feeling like we’re out of options.

Ronnie James needs to take rutin. Rutin is not a medication. It’s a dietary supplement, and it’s evidently the only thing that cats can take with any degree of effectiveness for chylothorax. It can potentially stop or at least slow down the flow of chyle into the pleural cavity. It also tastes horrible, and Ronnie James will have none of it.

 

It smells like paint thinner.

It smells like paint thinner.

 

We’ve tried everything. We had Diamondback Drugs, our compounding pharmacy, formulate it into a liquid flavored with chicken. They warned us that he probably still wouldn’t like it, but we might have more luck mixing it into his food that way.

We mixed the chicken-flavored rutin into the Wrah-Wrah’s favorite wet foods, including his current most favorite of all (which, oddly, is one that was prescribed by his primary care physician), and he refused to eat it.

After his surgery, we tried again, to no avail. Finally, in desperation, we returned to the direct approach and injected the rutin into his mouth with the plastic syringe. He threw it up, along with his antibiotics and everything he’d eaten. He was abjectly miserable. We felt awful. We stopped trying and went back Dr. M. in defeat when it came time to remove Ronnie James’ stiches.

The following week brought us to Thursday night and our harrowing trip to the E.R. No one could understand how so much fluid had filled up Ronnie James’ little chest cavity so quickly. He HAD to take his rutin. While there was no guarantee that it would work, it would at least give him a chance at survival if it did. We had to try to give him that chance, and we had to somehow do it without stressing him.

Another order for rutin had been called in to Diamondback Drugs – tuna-flavored, this time. We were hoping we’d have better luck with the tuna, since Ronnie James loves tuna; we figured that strong-smelling fish might mask the rutin flavor well enough if we mixed them together.

Diamondback Drugs was closed on Sunday, so yesterday, Monday, Callaghan picked up the rutin. He stopped by my office on his way back to pick me up for lunch. We got home and went straight for the can of herring waiting on the kitchen counter. Operation Rutin was back in effect!

Two little plates of herring were prepared for the kitties’ lunch: Ronnie James’ contained the rutin. He tentatively sniffed his plate of herring, and then he walked away.

I knew that walk. It was the “I know there’s rutin in that food and I’m outta here” walk. It wasn’t that he didn’t like herring, or that he just wasn’t hungry, either. He went to Nounours’ plate and ate some of his herring. Nounours’ rutin-free herring.

We were beside ourselves. What was it going to take to get Ronnie James to eat the rutin?

Meanwhile, he needed something for lunch, so I fixed a clean plate of his normal, favorite food. (The other issue we’re having is that he’s not drinking enough water, so we’re giving him his favorite wet food at every opportunity.) I set the good stuff down in front of Ronnie James. He looked at it askance, then walked away again.

This time, it was the “I strongly suspect you snuck rutin into that food and I’m outta here” walk. He hadn’t even gotten close enough to smell it thoroughly! He was just convinced that the rutin was in there. We were now having trust issues.

I thought for a minute, then looked over at Ronnie James. He was sitting in the hallway at the kitchen entrance, watching me. Exaggerating my motions and holding his gaze with my eyes, I took an unopened can of his favorite food, waved it before me, and said, “Let’s open a brand-new can!” I reached for another fresh kitty plate, took a clean fork from the drawer, and brought everything to the kitchen entrance where he was sitting.

He kept his eyes on me as I made a big production of holding up the can and opening it, garnishing my actions with a little dramatic flair. He watched attentively as I scooped out a generous forkful, tapped it onto his plate, and set it down in front of him.

He started eating immediately.

He didn’t even sniff it first. He just knew that there wasn’t any rutin in it, because why? Because this cat is a brilliant genius. And we are screwed.

After the rutin-laced fish failure, Ronnie James had looked warily at the clean plate of his untainted favorite food and refused to touch it. But when he witnessed me opening a new can of the same food and filling his plate, he dug right in. He saw that the can was unopened, he saw that I transferred food directly from it to the plate that he saw was clean, and he saw that I put it down without adding anything to it… and the neurons in his brain made all the connections and arrived at the conclusion – food is safe – instantly. Callaghan was as astonished as I was. We’d known that we had an exceptionally smart kitty on our hands, but still, we were floored by this display of cognitive agility and capacity for comprehension.

 

Ronnie James is on to you!

Ronnie James is on to you!

 

It might seem like I’m just letting my proud cat mom colors show here, but really, I’m more just very concerned that there’s no way we’re ever going to get Ronnie James to eat his rutin. Even if we get it down his throat, he throws it up. We can’t outsmart him. Actually, we sniffed the rutin in its bottle, ourselves, and it doesn’t even smell like tuna. It smells like an industrial chemical! It’s atrocious. It literally smells like poison. I’d think that any sane, smart cat would instinctively reject it.

Isn’t there a better way? Has anyone ever had to give rutin to a cat?

We would greatly appreciate any suggestions or advice you could offer. Meanwhile, I’m going to call Diamondback Drugs again to ask if there’s any other way they could compound this stuff….

The State of the Wrah-Wrah.

Good morning! The purpose of today’s post is to update you on the state of the Wrah-Wrah.

For those of you who are new here, Ronnie James, aka the Wrah-Wrah, is the elder of our two little boy cats. We adopted them in France and moved them with us to the States, and now, after being here for about a year and a half, they’re both meowing in English… well, this is true for Nounours. Ronnie James does not actually meow. He talks. In English. He often says, wrahwrahwrahwrahwrah, wrah-wrah!

One More Thing you should know about the Wrah-Wrah is that his namesake is Ronnie James Dio:

 

Ronnie James with my headphones on the left. Ronnie James Dio with his mic on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James with my headphones on the left. Ronnie James Dio with his mic on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

One More Thing #2: in addition to talking to us, the Wrah-Wrah loves cuddles, kisses, being held and being with us – as in, physically right next to us – more than any kitty I’ve ever known.

Now for the update!

A few months ago I’d talked about how Ronnie James was diagnosed with asthma. His condition has been worsening despite his inhaler treatments, so the day after we returned from California over Thanksgiving break, we took him back to the doctor. A second chest X-ray revealed shadowy areas on his lungs that completely obscured his heart, whereas in his X-ray of three months ago, his heart was visible. This latest X-ray looked worse than bad. It looked horrible, and I spent the weekend talking myself back down from the edge of despair. But I kept hearing the doctor’s voice. It looks like it could be something attached to his heart, she’d said. Or growths….

It goes without saying that you never want to hear the word “growths” come out of the doctor’s mouth when looking at your baby’s chest X-ray.

So we were relieved to hear the official X-ray analysis and Ronnie James’ diagnosis two days later. He has “collapsed lung and consolidated lung,” a complication of his asthma, apparently. His right lobe is collapsed, along with part of his left lobe. The consolidation aspect means that there’s something in his lungs other than air – indicating, likely, fluid. While none of this is happy news, it’s certainly better than “something attached to his heart” or “growths.”

I don’t have the pictures of his insides to show you this time, so here are some recent photos of him on the outside:

 

Le petit Wrah-Wrah!

Le petit Wrah-Wrah!

 

Wrah-Wrah in his favorite dragon stance on his Mommy's foot.

Wrah-Wrah in his favorite dragon stance on his Mommy’s foot.

 

Oh, yeah… Ronnie James is a dragon.

 

Ronnie James on the left. Night Fury from "How to Train Your Dragon" on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left. Night Fury from “How to Train Your Dragon” on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

Ronnie James on the left, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James on the left, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

We were told that Ronnie James’ lungs will never be normal again. I read online that kittens and very young cats can have their collapsed lungs re-inflated in special chambers, but the Wrah-Wrah is ten, so that is not an option for us. What we’re doing is we’re minimizing the trauma with diligent, increased application of his inhaler treatments, and at the moment, we’re also going after any infection that might be present and causing the consolidation of his lungs. The day of his diagnosis, he received an antibiotic injection, and we launched a 14-day course of other antibiotics. I placed a double order of Fluticasone inhalers for his daily dosages (now twice daily), and he has his Albuterol inhaler for rescue situations.

We are lucky. We have a wonderful doctor at the University Animal Hospital, which is the best clinic in town. We have a wonderful overseas pharmacy that offers free shipping. Ronnie James has a wonderful Auntie to take care of him when we’re out of town (which we minimize as much as possible). And Callaghan working as a freelancer means that he’s able to be home with the Wrah-Wrah all day, which is a blessing because the Wrah-Wrah is the happiest when he’s with us, and if he needs his rescue inhaler, his Daddy is here with him.

One more thing… Ronnie James’ blood-work came back showing that his thyroid counts are even higher than before. He hadn’t tolerated his liquid thyroid medication well, so we had our local Diamondback Drugs –another amazing pharmacy! – compound his medication into a gel that we rub onto the inside of his ear once a day. This method of drug administration for kitties is revolutionary, friends, which you can imagine if you’re at all aware of the difficulties of giving kitties their oral meds.

That’s it for the update… thanks for reading and for your support. Ronnie James says “wrahwrahwrahwrah!!”

Happy Friday, All!

Inside the Ronnie James

Just when you thought it was safe to approach your computer (I know, you thought I was going to say “to go back in the water,” since this is shark week)… here’s another cat picture. But there’s a twist to this one:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-RonnieJames_x-ray

 

That would be the Ronnie James, aka “the Wrah-Wrah.”

Here’s how you’d normally see him:

 

Hi. You can call me the Wrah-Wrah.

Hi. You can call me the Wrah-Wrah.

 

Since the weekend, I’ve been kind of disheartened and distracted thinking about the Wrah-Wrah. We took him to the vet on Saturday, and he was diagnosed with asthma.

This is a controllable situation, but… but. I just feel like a bad kitty mommy.

He’s been uncomfortable for months. With his chronic cough and breathing quirks, we should have taken him in sooner. All this time, we could see and hear him breathing too quickly, too erratically. We could hear him wheezing now and then. We witnessed many of his coughing bouts, always in that same, telltale position, never hacking anything up, but acting as if he was trying to. Then I think back on that scary episode that woke us up one night not too long ago, and I think, why didn’t we take him to the vet immediately after that? Obviously, something wasn’t right.

We did schedule him to see the vet at some point, but at the last minute, something came up, and then he seemed to be okay again, so we cancelled it. It’s allergies, we thought. It’s a hairball, and he’s trying to eject it, we thought. It’s a mild upper respiratory thing. It’ll pass.

That was last month. Finally, after sitting with him through several more weird coughing episodes, we made another appointment. By the time it occurred to us that he really needed to be examined, the earliest appointment available (with the doctor that I wanted, though all the doctors at our clinic are excellent) was for 4:30pm last Saturday. We were heading out to Rage in the Cage, and we were almost late because we were at the vet with the Wrah-Wrah, waiting for his chest x-rays to come back. (Don’t worry… we did stop at home after the vet. We didn’t bring Ronnie James with us to Rage in the Cage, haha.)

When the vet went over the x-rays with us in the examining room, she showed us a frontal view of his chest and pointed at the ghostly white stringy-looking things in his lung area. This bolstered her suspicion of asthma, and the next day, the analyzing radiologist confirmed it. When the vet gave us the images on the disc, we weren’t able to get back to that first view, but you can still kind of see it here:

 

I CAN HAZ ASTHMA.

I CAN HAZ ASTHMA.

 

Apparently, only about 1% of kitties have asthma.

We discussed the available treatment plan options and decided to start with oral medication. It was a process of elimination decision: Ronnie James needs steroid treatment (Prednisone), and the injection option carries the risk of leading to diabetes later in life. There’s also a kitty inhaler we can use in the event of an asthma attack.

We get his Prednisone from Diamondback Drugs, a wonderful veterinary “compounding pharmacy” that prepares medications in a variety of ways. We asked them to make a flavorless liquid Prednisone formula (the liquid preparations are either tasteless or flavored) so the Wrah-Wrah won’t have to go through the daily ordeal of taking a pill.

Also toward the end of reducing his stress as much as possible, we bought a Feliway diffuser, which is like room deodorizer, except humans can’t smell it. Feliway is basically a synthetic version of the feline facial pheromone, and it works like aromatherapy for cats. We plugged it into an outlet in the bedroom, where he spends a lot of time. It actually works really well! The Wrah-Wrah’s nervous over-grooming habit has decreased dramatically since we plugged in the Feliway.

We’re also going to get a humidifier for the bedroom, since dry air can make asthma worse.

Yes… Ronnie James has a condition that’s exacerbated by dry air, and I brought him to the desert. =(

We have an asthmatic Wrah-Wrah, a special-needs Wrah-Wrah, and now we need to learn how to give CPR to kitties (which all kitty parents should probably know, anyway, come to think of it).

So that’s the latest in Ronnie James news, folks. Ronnie James, rockin’ on like his namesake, Ronnie James Dio. He continues to love snuggling up to any headphones he finds lying around.

 

Ronnie James with headphones, July 2013

Ronnie James with headphones, July 2013

 

 

Ronnie James with headphones, August 2014

Ronnie James with headphones, August 2014

 

Happy Friday!