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Last July, I wrote here about adopting two 13-year-old cats which were orphaned following the death of my mother-in-law. I'm pleased to report that they have settled into the family quite nicely. And we recently took them to our vet for their annual checkup.

Last year, it was the male (referred to in earlier entries as Albert) who garnered most of the veterinary attention. He had never been "fixed" and we were worrying about all the usual problems humans tend to have with unneutered tomcats. He was also a very neurotic creature who used to cower behind the bed and snarl at anyone who dared to approach him.

But by the end of last summer, after he'd been snipped and had had the chance to settle in, there was a huge change in him. We awoke one morning to find him on our bed, purring loudly and looking for some attention and affection (and food, of course). He's also very spry for a 14-year-old cat and will leap up on people's backs or try to climb the wall when chasing the laser pointer or any stray fly or spider he spots. He still has a wheezy-sounding purr and snore and the irregular heartbeat thing is something that will probably always be with him, but meanwhile we'll enjoy him for as long as he's with us and seems reasonably happy and healthy!

The female ("Victoria") seems to have a few more health (and perhaps emotional) issues. She had lost a considerable amount of weight and while she had been very much overweight last year, the vet suspected that there was something else going on as well, particularly when we told her about Victoria's digestive problems - she had been throwing up quite regularly, sometimes 2 or 3 times in succession. So the vet decided some bloodwork was in order.

The blood tests confirmed two problems: firstly, a vitamin B-12 deficiency and secondly, hyperthyroidism. We're dealing with the first by weekly injections of B-12, which will gradually taper off to monthly ones. We were offered two options for the hyperthyroidism: tapazole tablets twice a day (probably for life) or radiation therapy (which usually is a cure rather than just a treatment, but comes at a cost).

The main drawbacks to the radiation option were: 1) it would have to be done in Carp, which admittedly is closer to home than St-Hyacinthe, but could still be quite an ordeal for a cat who doesn't travel very well; 2) it would require about a 3-day period of boarding out there; 3) we would have to deprive her of ANY medication for the condition for a couple of weeks before the therapy; after the therapy, she would have to have special food and litter for a while afterwards, which could not be shared with the other 2 cats in residence here; 4) the financial factor - we didn't go as far as getting a cost estimate since the option seemed impractical, but it would undoubtedly be costlier than the medication, and even if it did cure her (occasionally it doesn't, or needs to be repeated), how many years, realistically, are left on a 14-year-old cat?

The main concern we had about the pills was whether she would be able to keep them down. If she just brought them right back up again, the whole thing would be something of an exercise in futility. But we thought that our initial plan of attack should be the pills and B-12 shots.

Luckily, we noticed a change almost immediately. She's had 3 of her 6 weekly B12 injections and the process is much less problematic than I had feared. And the vomiting is no longer a daily event. Her coat is looking glossier too, and she seems to be putting back a little weight, though we hope she won't get severely overweight again. She's much more agile when it comes to jumping up on a bed or sofa, though I suspect she'll never be a leaper and climber like the other two.

The emotional issues I alluded to earlier in this post relate to her habit of wandering around the basement and occasionally yowling, as if she's trying to find her dear departed human down there! Or perhaps as if she feels something is missing from her life but she's not quite sure what it is. On the other hand, she's yowling less than she used to (and she would often yowl just before she threw up, which is happening less often now as well). She seems to be socializing a little more than she used to.

Tomorrow we take her for more blood tests to see if there's an improvement in her thyroid and B-12 levels. Stay tuned!

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