Sunday, December 31, 2017

Willow update

2017 ended for us with some very devastating news.

Saturday, Willow did really well. She slept soundly on one of us for most of the day. She ate generally well, was perky - it was a big change from Friday.

Dec 30, 2017

Then came Sunday. She arose early in the morning and started showing signs of discomfort. No interest in food. She was hunched in, not moving. I hung out with her for a while, noticing that her breathing was becoming more rapid. History told us where this was going, so we made the decision to take her to the specialty clinic emergency room (about 20-mins away). We had exhausted the resources of our local emergency vet and needed a neurologist and better diagnostic options.

We got everything ready so I could just put her in the carrier and run out the door. She was laying on a fleece blanket, looking miserable, out of it, and breathing hard. I just bundled her up in the blanket and placed her in the carrier. I completely freaked when she flopped over backwards in the carrier with no attempt to correct. She was like statue that had just fallen over. This was one of the scariest moments of my life, I feared she might be dead. I immediately closed up the carrier and literally ran as fast as I could to the emergency vet across the alley.

Dec 30, 2017
They immediately attended to her and we waited, overwhelmed with fear and sadness. A few minutes later, the vet told us Willow was having seizures (without the convulsions), which was why she was so unresponsive. It was helpful to hear that it was indeed seizures, and not death. The vet called down to the specialty clinic and they discussed how best to stabilize her for the car ride.

We made it to the specialty clinic ER without problem and they immediately took her back to stabilize her. Meanwhile, two good friends met us there for emotional comfort, as we waited many hours to be seen. So grateful to have such good friends. The general ER vet was fantastic, she had amazing ability to convey a lot of complex information with great clarity, kindness, and compassion. We elected to have Willow seen by the neurologist who suggested we start with a MRI, to find the origin of the seizures.

A few hours later we got the call - Willow had done well with the MRI and was waking just fine from the anesthesia. That was the good news, the bad news is, she has a non-cancerous tumor on her brain, a meningioma. The neurologist noted there are several treatment options that we can discuss more extensively once Willow is more stable. For now, we focus on getting her stable using steroids to reduce the tumor inflammation and some anti-seizure medication. If we just go the palliative care route (which would be just using those medications), she said we might have 6-9 months of quality life left. The other options that we'll discuss more when we pick her up, are surgery, radiation, and chemo.

Dec 29, 2017
This all still feels surreal. Is this really happening?? My Willow? My little girl? She's only 8, she's perfect. It's so hard to believe that we don't have much time left together. I'm numb. Exhausted. My heart is overwhelmed with sadness. Pain. Some gratitude in there too, for knowing what's causing her so much misery. Not knowing is hell. We'll pick her up on New Year's day and find out more then. We have a whole lot of loving to do on her in the time left.

Hold your furry family members extra tight, each day with them is a precious gift. We are grieving this New Year's eve and soaking up the love of the other cats and friends. Peace.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

more Willow

For the most part, Friday was a good day for Willow. After coming back home, she was super lovey. I don't think she's slept all day. It was non-stop pursuit of being petted. She continues to share her affections for Oliver.

Hello, Oliver? What time coming inside?

Yahoo, I'll see you when you get here!

Then this evening, Oliver had some time inside time which is quickly becoming the norm. Willow went right up to him to cuddle in. She never attempts to cuddle with any of the other cats, this is very atypical for her. Oliver's not quite sure what to do with her, but eventually he settled into the cuddle. I love seeing this side of him, he's been the aggressive one outside, fiercely territorial, fighting neighborhood cats day in and out, but he's mellowed out so much. Inside he's not territorial at all, he's quite passive and chill. And now, he'll cuddle with the Willow!

About thirty minutes after this last picture was taken, Willow was hanging out in my lap when suddenly she started convulsing. It started on her left side of her face, her eye twitching, then the rest of her face, drool and more convulsing all over. It was terrifying to witness - we bundled her up and ran her over to the emergency vet. Of course, in the minute it took us to get there, she had stopped and was just scared.

The vet thinks she had a seizure. This would be the second one we've noticed since all this trouble started a few weeks ago. It was terrifying to watch her go through this, and next time we are supposed to get a video of it happening for the vet to see. I'm trying to imagine how I'm going to have enough emotional togetherness to take a video in that moment. 

I have no experience with seizures in cats (or any other species for that matter). I would love to hear from others about their experiences, if you care to share (comments or send me an email). A little background on her - she's about 8 years old, and has never had any head trauma (or any other trauma), she's generally quite healthy. She had bad URI as a kitten that started her asthma when she was young, but after steroid treatment it got better over time and has not needed treatment for years. Other than that, she's had clean bill of health for all these years. She has had a number of chest x-rays both back when she was first diagnosed with asthma and more recently with the recent stuff. She definitely has asthma, but there is also something else going on that remains a mystery for now.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Theo's Gotcha Day!!

Today marks 8 years of Theo! He still keeps us on our toes, as he continues to scavenge for any food possibilities! So grateful to have him, he brings constant love and silliness. We would laugh a lot less if we didn't have this clown living with us!

Special dinners for the cattery tonight to celebrate!

Willow update:

After a steady decline, we took Willow to the ER last night, where she spent the night. She looked so miserable, with her labored breathing, it looked like she was moving toward dying. The emergency vet said cats in her condition can go down to death very quickly, so she talked with us about CPR and end of life directive. I was not prepared for such a conversation, somehow I figured there was more they could do. After they brought her into oxygen chamber, gave her albuterol and a relaxant, they said they was nothing more they really could do, it would be up to Willow to see how she responds. When we left her in the oxygen chamber, she was open mouth breathing at super fast rate. I left feeling numb, in disbelief - I might be losing her.

I kept my phone close all night and didn't sleep much, anticipating a crisis call. Thankfully, the only call that came, was this morning with good news! Willow settled and returned to normal breathing after a few hours in the oxygen. She was stable, perky and ready to return home. Yea!!!!

Willow's home again and very perky. She's back to her usual spunky self, eating, cuddling, head-bonking, and milling about. It's crazy how quickly she goes from normal, perky to death's door. We are going to try some inhaler asthma medications in hopes that works. Part of her problem appears to be asthma related, but the progression that starts with not eating remains a mystery.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


We had a lovely White Christmas! Not something that happens much around here, but it started snowing on Christmas Eve and by morning we had a coating of snow!

Oliver spent the majority of the day inside, even got special foods to celebrate!

It was lovely to see Willow feeling more of herself.

Willow still seems to like being near Oliver. 
I can understand, I like being near him too!

Christmas was a relaxing day.

Sadly, in the days since Christmas, Willow's become symptomatic again. She's back to not eating and looking extremely uncomfortable. Her breathing has become a little faster than usual but so far not as extreme as it was a few weeks ago. Laura talked with the vet this morning and we are going to up her steroid dose to see if that makes a difference. I plan to keep close eye on her and run her next door to emergency vet if she worsens. 

I am very worried about her. She looks so miserable and I feel powerless to help her feel any better. Once again, I would appreciate your purrs and prayers for her healing and for us to figure out what it is that keeps causing this.

Friday, December 22, 2017


Most of the inside cats are still pretty cautious around Oliver. Not Willow! 

She's getting quite friendly with Oliver.

Christmas is coming!

Meow-y Christmas!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

joy of heat

Mr. Oliver's been enjoying some time on Willow's heating pad. He soooo loves being inside!

Meanwhile, Willow's looking quite comfy warming her tummy.

She's feeling better! Yah!!

And then she came over to reclaim her heated spot, only Oliver wasn't leaving...

hostile takeover!

After a while, Oliver conceded. 

 Willow got her heated spot back!

Willow power!

Oliver moved over to the other side of the couch and continued his nap.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

healing progress

Good news!

Willow is doing better today.  She's not conmpletely back to normal just yet, but she's moving in that direction.

We learned from the vet today that the results from her bloodwork indicate that her pancreas is fine after all. So, that leaves us with no idea what happened to start us down this road (lack of eating, appearance of intense pain and misery, and labored breathing). I believe the second part of her distress was a bad reaction to the Mirtazapine.

After not sleeping for several days, she finally settled enough to get some sleep. She remains very hyper alert and thus startles very easily, but slowly, she keeps settling. She's gotten comfy enough to want her scrumptious tummy rubbed! Yah!!!

Thank you for the purrs and prayers - this was a very scary time. Hopefully we are out of the woods.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Willow needs purrs

I've been traveling a lot lately, which means a lot of time away from the kitties. I don't mind a little travel, but it's been feeling like I'm away more than I'm home, which I know it not really true. I was gone all of last week and got back home on Friday.

Dec 6, 2017

Willow had stopped eating on Thursday. By Saturday, she was having to work really hard to breathe and she was breathing very fast. She also moved very slowly and looked miserable. She was acting a lot like Buddy right before he crossed the bridge. When we got her to the vet, she was open mouth breathing, so the vet tech quickly whisked her back to the oxygen chamber. 

After some bloodwork and x-rays, the vet was thinking inflammation of the pancreas. We decided to leave her overnight so they could stabilize her. On Sunday evening, she was doing better and starting to eat, so we thought we might bring her home.

She spent the time pacing, very agitated and unsettled. She was in zombie state - completely out of it. She never stopped moving. After a few hours, she started convulsing and struggling to breathe. We ran her back across the alleyway to the vet (thank God for living across the alley from our 24-hour vet). And again, they put her in the oxygen chamber and were able to stabilize her. The emergency vet didn't really have any ideas about what might be causing all of this.

Willow's home again and spent most of Monday pacing. I haven't seen her sleep at all. She's eating again and seems more present than she did, but still not back to her normal self. She's starting to settle more, spending a little time on the couch next to me. Her breathing appears to be more normal.

When she was hospitalized they gave her an appetite stimulant - I'm wondering if they gave her too big a dose or maybe she had adverse reaction. She's was acting like she was super-stimulated and couldn't stop. In time, she seems to be slowing down. It's been very scary to watch her not be herself and to see her struggling to breathe. We are still waiting to talk with our vet, who treated her on Saturday. 

Please join us in praying and purring for her continued healing.