Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Cat Had Acupuncture

My cat had acupuncture.

Yes, you read that correctly.

My cat had acupuncture.

Jerri went back to the neurologist on Thursday. (If you need to catch up, read my last post.)  We get there and I tell the resident that the medicine they gave her (Lyrica/Pregablin) really didn't do much for her. Honestly, we feel like she's been pretty bad in the past few weeks. We're almost at the point where if she's awake, she's having episodes and if she's asleep, she doesn't. We've been locking her up a lot overnight because she keeps us awake a good portion of the night having episodes. We feel bad locking her up, but it's the only way we don't hear her. So, I gave the guy my speal and off he took Jerri to get looked at.

45 minutes later (!) they brought her back with the neurologist. And he informed me that he did a 20 minute electrical acupuncture session with her and he thought she may have liked it!  He said she "complained" while he was feeling for where to put the needles, but was totally fine with the needles going in. And he said she actually relaxed quite a bit during it. Go figure.

So our game plan is to try a new medicine with her. Something more similar to Prozac (which helped decrease the number of episodes) but with less side effects. It's called Buspar. And good news-the pharmacy already called me and I should have it next week I'm guessing. In the meantime, he wants me to watch her and see if the acupuncture did anything for her. Here it is Saturday night so it's been 2 days and really there hasn't been much change to her unfortunately. He did say we could do monthly acupuncture with her if it worked.

The bad news? If this medicine doesn't work, then he's thinking of doing an MRI and spinal tap on her to see if something else is going on that we're missing. My thoughts....cha-ching! How much will this cost? I hate to sound like a bitch heartless, but how much do you spend on an animal before you say enough is enough? Yes, she's our pet. Yes, we love her. Yes, we want to help her. But...she's a cat. We got her for free. We've already spent a lot of money on her in the past 2 months trying to figure this whole thing out. I just hope it's a decision that we don't have to make.

Please, keep your fingers and toes crossed that this medicine works for her!

In regular news, Easter is tomorrow and Avery is on Spring break. She started it with a bang by getting strep throat!  Here's to everyone getting and staying healthy!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS)

I know I've been MIA for awhile now.

I keep debating whether or not to keep this going.

Life has been busy-the holidays followed by Cassie's birthday followed by me taking a big test for my job (which meant studying since December in any free time I have). Throw in a crazy cat (you'll see what I mean) and 2 kids and that's been life the past few months. Things have been pretty status quo for the most part I guess which is why I haven't really updated much. Not to mention I just don't feel like taking the time to do it! Haha!

But I thought this was worthy of a post....mainly to maybe help someone else out there going through the same thing as us.

So around the second week in January on a Friday night, I was on the couch studying and our cat, Jerri, was in the room with me. All of a sudden, she growled, hissed and ran around the room. This cat only hisses and growls when another cat is outside. Or if we really piss her off. I went and told Gabe what she did and he remarked that she had done the same thing the night before. About 10mins later, she did it again.

Saturday morning we wake up and she did it again. We called the vet and they got us in around 3pm. Everything checked out normal and they drew some blood to see if there were any answers there.

Saturday night was terrible. Gabe and I literally slept for 2 hours. All Jerri did was hiss, growl and run around the house. If she wasn't sleeping, she was having these episodes repeatedly. The worst part was cats are quiet sometimes so we wouldn't hear her come in our room and then from under the bed you'd hear this loud growl/hiss and it would scare the crap out of you!  Gabe ended up video taping her around 4am  so we had evidence of what was going on. From that, we figured out that she was hissing and growling at her tail and then would try to attack it and run away from it.

Monday we heard from the vet that all of her bloodwork came back normal. I told her about the tail involvement so she wanted us to bring Jerri back on Tuesday to have her anal glands checked. So Gabe took her in and all was normal. The decision was made to try a pain reliever to see if anything improved. So maybe Wednesday that week we started that for 3-4 days and there was no improvement. (And giving a cat pills is terrible-they are really good at spitting them out. Repeatedly.)

The episodes kept happening and there were nights we had to lock Jerri in the basement so that she didn't keep us up all night long. They weren't as bad as that first night (thankfully!) but she was still doing them for hours at a time sometimes!

Since the pain reliever didn't help, the vet suggested trying Fluoxetine (Prozac) to see if that would help. She also suggested a consult with a cat neurologist (who even knew those existed?!).  We called the neurologist and since the guy travels in from Cornell, we were put on a wait list for March (yep, 2 months away)-and we weren't even guaranteed an appointment then!  So we started the Prozac out for a 2 week trial.

The Prozac did pretty well at controlling Jerri's episodes. Most days she was only doing it once or twice which was a huge improvement. However, the Prozac made her a not-so-nice cat. She wouldn't come within a 5 foot radius of us. No sitting on our laps or sleeping in our bed. If you tried to pet her, she'd swat at you and hiss. She just wasn't our usual Jerri. Just before the two weeks was up, we decided to stop giving her the Prozac. It was helping in one way, but harming her in another. It just wasn't right. We called her vet and told her about the Prozac and she was fine with us stopping it. Now we just had to wait for the neurologist appointment, which could be another month or two from now.

About a week after we stopped her meds, the neurologist office called and had a cancellation! Hooray! So we took Jerri to see him. They spent about 45 minutes with her in another room doing all sorts of tests with her. Afterwards, we met with the doctor to go over his results/findings. He told us that she seemed normal except that along her spine and tail, her skin is hypersensitive. Whenever he touched her there, the skin all over her back would "jump". We agreed, as Jerri really doesn't like being touched on her back or tail.

So he gave us a diagnosis of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome. Unfortunately, it's a syndrome so they don't know exactly what causes it. He described it as Jerri experiencing some sort of pain (could be a tingly feeling, a burning sensation, an itching sensation-they are all sent to the brain via pain receptors) on her tail area, which is causing her to have these episodes. He suggested trying a different medication (Lyrica/Pregabalin) to see how she responds to it. He said it may take several medications to control it and it could take trying different doses as well. Sounds like a lot of trial and error.   The medication has to be compounded at a vet pharmacy in AZ too. So, we got her prescription sent and scheduled another follow up with him at the end of March.

Well, the medication process took quite awhile. The one he prescribed is a controlled substance so it had to get delivered to the pharmacy via snail mail. Then get made and shipped to us. It took 2 weeks for all of that to happen. So over the course of those 2 weeks, Jerri's body rid itself of all of the other medications we tried. During this time, her episodes became more numerous again, especially in the evening.

Her medicine finally came and we ordered it as a liquid this time, hoping it would be easier to give her. The bad thing? She has to take it twice a day. I will say, the liquid is way easier than the pills were though because she hasn't figured out how to spit it out. Yet. I think as of now, she's been on the medicine almost 2 weeks. Honestly, I don't think it's working. She is still having quite a bit of episodes and we haven't seen a decrease in number at all. She is still acting like herself which is good. She's back to coming around us and sitting on our laps a lot which is good. She seems "normal" in that respect. So, she sees the neurologist again in about 3 weeks. She'll be due for a medicine refill before then, which I don't know if we'll refill it or not. It's a lot of money to spend if it's not doing anything for her. Unless this medicine just takes awhile to kick in, which may be the case. Right now, we're just going day by day until her next appointment. Hopefully then we'll get some more answers!