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There was a recent article in the PetsMatter monthly newsletter about living with blind pets, and Homer and I were proud to be featured in it.

Judging by some of the emails I've been receiving since the article came out, many of you reading my blog are coming here because you saw the article and have questions about living with a blind dog or cat of your own.

blind black cat

Just wanted to let everyone know that Bones, the blind black kitty in SC at the high-kill shelter, has found a "furrever" home.  He should be on his way there now, if he's not there already.

So many of you have either left comments or sent me emails recommending using baby food to get Vashti to eat/take her medicine.

You guys are freaking GENIUSES!!! I have never seen my cats go nuts for anything like all of them--including the recently food-shy Ms. Vashowitz--have gone nuts for the baby food.  Not even over the prime rib!

URGENT Blind Cat Greenville SC Animal Control

This cat is URGENT - Kill Shelter!!

blind black cat

Greetings!  Hope everybody had a great (and relaxing) weekend.  Things were more or less okay here.  Vashti continues to hold her own, although she's clearly losing interest in her prescription kidney food--which I can understand, because who wants to eat the same thing all the time?! It's frustrating as it's clear that Vashti's hungry, just not interested in any more of the Science Hills, even if I mix it with some of her favorite treats that have gotten her to eat it in the past.  So I have a call scheduled with her doctor for this morning to discuss alternatives; prescription kidney diet or not, I am not denying food to a hungry cat!

As nobody who's lived with a CRF kitty will be surprised to hear, we've been having some food issues lately.  Vashti's appetite is good, actually, but she's completely unwilling to eat her Hill's Prescription Diet k/d formula for cats with kidney disease.  The food itself is supposed to help her kidneys, plus we mix in a powdered medication called Epakitin that's also helping her kidneys (it's entirely possible that the powder mixed in is giving the Hill's a funny taste, in fairness).

So Vashti went in yesterday for her two-week follow-up after having been released from the hospital.  The blood tests came back today and they're...the same.  Her thyroid and kidney values are almost exactly the same as they were when I first brought her in three weeks ago, convinced she was about to die.  She's also still anemic.  Just about the only good news we got was that she's gained half a pound and that her potassium levels are much better (which I had already surmised, because Vashti was having awful muscle spasms, which have now almost completely subsided).

Vashti continues to have her good days and bad days.  And while we no longer assume that a good day means Vashti will be “well” and her old self exactly the way she used to be for the next several years, we also no longer assume that a bad day means Vashti is at death’s door and that her days are numbered.  She seems very happy for the most part—her appetite is good, and she spends long hours in bed lying on either Laurence’s or my chest, with her little nose just inches from ours as she purrs like a motor and stares lovingly into our eyes.

Homer with some of the get-well cards and gifts we've received...

Homer with some of the get-well cards and gifts we've received...

So yesterday was a bad day only as far as the fluids go.  Vashti would NOT take the needle, despite having felt so much better after Sunday night's fluids.  I'm going to try heating up the fluid bag a bit in some warm water as some of you suggested (and THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the useful information and websites about CRF so many of you continue to send me--they are saving my life, figuratively, and Vashti's, literally).

Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday were bad days--so bad that I couldn't bring myself to blog about it.  I even forewent my daily "morale-booster" phone calls with my mom.  I'm pretty sure I put the needle for the sub-q fluids in upside down on Saturday night, and I think I broke a capillary because Vashti bled a little bit--and between the (admittedly minor) bleeding and her not feeling better AT ALL after Saturday's fluids (because I put the farking needle in wrong!), I was positive that a) I'd killed my cat and b) even if I hadn't killed her, if her well-being was dependent upon me long-term, she didn't have much of a chance at feeling good again.  She hid in the closet all day, wouldn't touch her food, and looked so miserable that I would have gladly given the blood out of my own veins to undo whatever I'd done wrong on Saturday night.

...and it isn't very good.  I had Vashti's records sent over this morning to the top cat internist in New York.  She and our vet both agree that while Vashti has been feeling better because of the treatment she's receiving, her kidneys have actually continued to deteriorate markedly over the past few days.  There doesn't seem to be much that can be done about that.  Their consensus is that she has a few months, or perhaps as long as a year.  It will come down to how well she responds to treatment, how quickly her kidney failure progresses, and that ever-moving target, "quality of life."

I haven't yet gotten a chance to write individually to everybody who's sent me emails or commented here over the past few days.  Maybe that's not technically true--it's more that I haven't yet found the words to express how deeply grateful I am.  I don't think I'd be holding together right now if not for all your thoughts, prayers, encouragement, and good wishes, or all the wonderful humor and profound wisdom in every single one of your messages.

So today we learned that, in addition to Vashti's kidney failure, she also has hyperthyroidism.  In fact, the hyperthyroidism is "masking" her kidney problems to a certain extent, which means that once they start treating her for the hyperthyroidism it may turn out that her kidneys are worse than they thought.  We should know more in a day or so when they get the lab results back.

Of course of course of course.

Vashti on Laurence's lap during yesterday's visit.

Vashti on Laurence's lap during yesterday's visit.

I will reply individually to your comments and emails over the next few days, but in the meantime I wanted to say a heartfelt "thank you" to everybody who has emailed me or commented on Vashti's blog post.  Some of you have sent me incredibly useful information about CRF and alternative treatments, and all of you have said things that were wise and compassionate and more helpful to hear than I can express. 

Vashti Cooper-Lerman

Vashti Cooper-Lerman

Yesterday morning, I left Vashti at the veterinary hospital where she will spend the next several days receiving intensive treatment for her kidneys, which are failing.  There’s a range of scenarios for her eventual prognosis, some very positive and others, obviously, far less so.  We should know more in a couple of days.

From our good friend Dorian Wagner at Your Daily Cute (as a side note, if I were still in Miami I'd take these guys in a heartbeat!  They look incredibly sweet...):

"At my local rescue shelter there is a blind cat and his brother who only has one eye -- Lenox and Diamond. They are both the most lovable, friendly cats, and have no idea they're missing anything. Lenox had both eyes removed much like Homer, and Diamond had one removed to prevent future infection. They're both purrfectly healthy now!

Happy New Year!  I hope you all had wonderful holidays--they were certainly festive here at our house!  Photos to come...


I’ve received hundreds and hundreds of reader letters since Homer’s Odyssey was published, and the one question I’m asked most frequently (other than, “How’s Homer?”) is: “Would you ever consider coming to my town to do a reading?”