Elderly kitty care decisions

I have two littermates who are 19. One has been declining a bit more - at his prime he was around 12 lbs, he is down to 7.75. He doesn’t eat as much. But generally he is bright and happy.

His appetite has gone down the last two days and he started sleeping under the bed which is unusual. I took him into the vet to get diagnostics done. Generally I see these as helping know when it is time to say goodbye because I don’t plan to treat anything - so it’s more is he hiding it and things are worse than it seems.

But man the vet makes me feel so guilty. He has high blood pressure and she wants him on meds. He is very agreeable but I travel a lot and don’t want a pet sitter worrying about it. She said it is “very treatable” and made me feel bad for not wanting to treat it. But if we treat everything we find he could be on 3-4 daily meds and subcue fluids and that’s not what I want.

So am I a monster for not treating things I know about? Or is it ok to say I know, I’m aware, and this is information to help know when to say goodbye but it’s ok to not treat?

Why can’t these situations be easier or more clear?

In a past life I worked in an emergency vet clinic and frequency had conversations with owners who either were unable or for whatever reason decided not to pursue the most aggressive treatment for their pets. I would always reassure them that you do not need to “do everything” for your pet to be a good custodian to them. It is always ok to say no to treatments that are unaffordable or a poor fit for you or your pets’ lifestyles.

What is important is that you are willing to take a realistic look at your pets quality of life and make decisions that protect them from suffering. It’s ok if this means earlier euthanasia instead of more aggressive treatment. Animals live in the moment- quality over quantity should be your priority.

I’m attaching a link to a basic quality of live evaluation tool that I would often share with clients- some people find it helps make the evaluation process more concrete. I think it can also be helpful to identify “stop points” before you find yourself in a crisis. For example, decide ahead of time that if will be kindest to euthanize Fido when he stops eating, or no longer wants to go for a walk, or is too painful to get up and down stairs. This kind of thinking isn’t right or everyone but for some people it helps avoid the urge to just go a few more days, and then a few more weeks until things have gotten truly bad and your animal friend is suffering.
Hugs to you and your kitty. It’s so hard to watch and worry as they age and start to decline but he is lucky to have you thinking about what is best for him.

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I think there are two ethical paths - start making end of life plans or treat to the vets recommendation. I think the easiest option and least ethical path is to let them slowly wither away because that’s emotionally the easiest.

With an aging cat dropping weight and becoming more reclusive, Id be strongly inclined to choose sooner rather than later, especially if you travel often. Cats hide so so much. If he’s noticeably worse to you then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume he’s quite uncomfortable. When we have the option to ensure that their last day isn’t their worst day, I think that we owe them a comfortable and dignified passing.

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I think I was hoping to have that end of life plan discussion with the vet but it didn’t seem like she wanted to go there. I guess it’s not her job to be my therapist here. And I really don’t want to be the person who waited too long, I guess it’s all of our burdens to figure out that balance.

I think at least for the next 24 hours I feel comfortable with not sending him home with any medication yet and wait and see what all the diagnostics say (blood work and urinalysis) and then see which path to go down.

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I’d be suspicious that it’s kidneys, with his age and the hiding/weight loss.

I treat what I can. If my cat needs something to be comfortable and healthy, we do it. I would treat the blood pressure IF that’s the only thing that’s wrong. The full diagnostics will let you make an informed decision. I try not to go down the rabbit hole - I need to know what the expected outcome is. For example, when my Beth kitty was in heart failure, we tried diuretics first. When it was clear they weren’t working, I let her go. But I knew the diuretics were only a way to make her comfortable, really. They work for some cats, but not for her. The bottom line is: what is best for this animal? It can’t be about me. It has to be about what’s best for them.

Your vet should be willing to have this discussion with you. Mine is always honest about what we can and should do.

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He’s definitely had kidney function declining for the last year. The vet also noted his breath was very bad, which I thought was just because of dental disease (too old for dental cleanings) but she thinks it’s worse than that and a sign of kidney disease. I think the bloodwork will help us know how far it has progressed.

Thinking on it I think if it is just the blood pressure I’d be willing to do meds for that. But if there are multiple things that have started declining more rapidly I’ll have to reconsider overall.

Of course, now all three of my cats seem to be on hunger strike including the healthy “youngster” (13) so maybe they are just being persnickety. :roll_eyes: They all enjoyed their tuna but aren’t interested in the regular wet or dry food.

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I am absolutely the worst person to comment here. If you thought the vet made you feel guilty, come sit by me. First off, is this a money issue? I get it if it is. If kitties teeth are crap, you got way behind the curve here. Cats need yearly dental care and it is costly but bad teeth are hard on seniors. Teeth cleaning, extraction, antibiotics , fluids and blood pressure meds and allow kitty to turn around if they can. I’m sorry but a cat sitter can give meds. Not wanting to inconvenience the cat sitter means you need a better sitter. Try Gerbers meat baby food to try to get kitty to eat but health concerns need to be made better so kitty feels better and wants to eat.

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I agree - and my vet and I are agreed that my cats are too elderly for the risks of anesthesia that a dental cleaning would require.

Thanks for the idea on Gerber baby food!

On the pet sitter, it’s more a concern that kitty who can be shy will hide, and won’t come out to eat (or will hide and not eat after getting meds).

Get the meat Gerber, like chicken or beef. Our elderly cat had a new lease on life when I opened a jar for the first time.

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I am sorry about your poor cat. At some point you start to feel like you are running some kind of little kitty rest home. Or skilled nursing as it may be. Just so what you can. The pills are usually so tiny they never argue about them, some you can even smush up and hide in food.

If you do decide to give bp meds and they prescribe amlodipine, let me know. I have a bottle of 29 that I got about a week ago for my kitty that passed away.

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I’m so sorry for your loss :cry:

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