Okay, so my last post ran the risk of becoming a very long one, so I stopped it and figured I'd just pick up from where it left off.
Madame appeared on our doorstep (literally) back in March 2009. The vet that we took her to back then surmised that she was about a year old. Our current vet thinks that she may be older than what we thought. If she was born in 2008, she'd be thirteen now, but we're all thinking that maybe she's a year or so older than that. Either way, her health has declined somewhat over the last year.
Regular readers may recall that she was diagnosed with kidney failure last year. She's on a special diet and seems to be doing well. However, she began coughing about seven weeks ago. We figured it was a fur-ball, although she's never coughed one up. Quick trip to a nearby pet store and the vet there suggested a very small dose of laxative, to help work the fur through her system. The vet suggested I got to the nearby pharmacy and buy a bottle of laxative. She told me to get a brand that comes in a green and orange bottle. The cat would require 0.5 of a ml. Well, I headed over to the pharmacy and asked for a laxative with the green and orange label. The pharmacist asked me who it was for.
My cat, I replied. The vet suggested I give her half a mil over a couple of days, I added.
Well, the chemist was now reluctant to sell me this laxative. Oh, I don't think it's made for animals, she said. I informed her that the vet suggested it, saying that the pet store normally carries it, but they are out of stock.
No dice. They wouldn't sell it to me. I thanked her and headed back to the pet store.
I spoke to the vet again; They wouldn't sell it to me. I can get heroin easier!
The vet kept a straight face on hearing that line. Oh dear, did she think I was serious? I wasn't born here.*
She reiterated that this laxative would be safe to use on pets, so I went back to the pharmacy, grabbed the bottle of laxative and headed to the cashier. Paid for it, and got the hell out of there. I gave the cat a couple of doses over the next few days. About four or five days later, she was still coughing. Okay, it wasn't a fur-ball. Time to go back to the vet.
They took a blood sample and ran some x-rays. She has asthma. Two options; a course of steroid tablets or an inhaler. We tried the first option to begin with, which I wasn't crazy about because these tablets have to be broken down by the liver, whereas an inhaler would go directly to the lungs. Half a tablet per day for the first week, then half a tablet every other day for the second week, then monitor the situation from there.The tablets appeared to work, but I didn't like the idea of their long-term use. So, I began getting her used to having a mask against her snout. I used a small plastic container and gently placed it over her nose and mouth. Of course, she resisted this. There's a YouTube video of a lady in Sweden or Denmark showing how she trained her cat to get used to the mask. It takes about a month, with lots of food rewards thrown in, because cats don't do anything for you unless there's something in it for them.
Tudor Black Bay 58 continues to get a lot of wear, despite the not-100% perfect fit on my wrist.
Anyway, back to the cat. I ended up purchasing the inhaler from my local pharmacy, since it's the same medicinal version as what we humans would use. Next, I needed a spacer. A number of years ago, it was found that using a spacer with an inhaler would provide a more effective dose. Being a mild asthmatic myself, I would use a Ventolin inhaler like anybody else. Give it a few shakes, put the mouthpiece in your mouth, press down in the inhaler tube and a dose of the medicine would be aerosol-sprayed into your mouth. You would take a deep breath as you press down on the inhaler. Nowadays, doctors and pharmacists highly recommend using a spacer. In layman's terms, let's say you have an aerosol can of, oh I dunno...fly spray, for the purposes of this explanation. Now, if you hold the can about six inches away from a wall and you spray it, you end up with a moist patch on the wall. If, however, you stand back and spray it from three or four feet away, you instead create a light mist on the wall.
The spacer works along the same lines. Using the inhaler in your mouth, it's a very short distance from your lips to the back of your throat and this deposits much of the medicine onto the throat area. Apparently, you only get around 40% of the inhaled dose delivered into the lungs. Using a spacer, which is about the size of a soda can, but narrower, means that the spray is delivered inside the spacer canister as a mist, which you then inhale, thus providing a higher percentage of the dose.
So, for cats and dogs, you use a spacer. The better one is called AeroKat. It has a tiny plastic flag inside it which dips down when the animal inhales. Because, a pet isn't gonna tell you that it breathed the dose in correctly. They're funny that way. This spacer comes with two different-sized masks. They're made of soft rubber and they resemble the mouthpiece off a trumpet. I used the smaller one, since cats have a very short space between their nose and mouth, and this one covers both. Madame doesn't inhale with her mouth open, so her nose would be doing all the work.
First, I practiced with the mouthpiece over her face for a week or so. Followed by the signal word Prinzi , and a few dry treats as a reward. I used the word Prinzi (hopefully, it's a made-up word, but I'm sure it's probably a surname as well. Ha! I just Googled it. It's a suit hire place in Carlton. I've probably driven/walked past it a million times) because I didn't want to utter any actual word that she might here at any other time. Well, as long as she never has to hire a suit...
Anyway, I've been using the spacer with her for about a week. I weaned her off the tablets and introduced the inhaler. If she can get seven or eight inhalations out of it, that should do. Although, she does begin to turn her head to the side, and I'm reluctant to hold her down by force. And she'll also try to swat the mask away from her face with a paw. Her breaths are shallow. The little green plastic flag inside the spacer flutters rather than dips definitively, but it's a start. Anyway, all I can do is try. The rest of the family will also be getting familiar with doing this.
After all, why should I have all the fun?
* My wife once told me that when the stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce told a joke on stage that didn't get a laugh, he'd remark; I wasn't born here, but I'm gonna die here, referring to the comedian lingo of 'dying on stage'.
So, whenever she or I make a crack that doesn't get a laugh (usually from our kids), we'll say; I wasn't born here...