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Senior cat started pacing

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  • Senior cat started pacing

    Our cat, Sammy, just turned 16 years old. At the beginning of March I noticed he had walked around the family room at least 10 times. Over that week, sometimes he would just walk around in a circle over and over. I took him to the vet and she seemed to think he might have had a stroke and now has a sort of "cat dementia". She said there is nothing to give to a cat to help them but I want to be absolutely sure. Maybe someone out there had a senior cat that started pacing and found some sort of medicine to help? I have to constantly keep my eye on him for he's gotten himself into some real predicaments, like falling behind the washer and dryer at 3 AM and getting trapped inside the couch. I've been putting him in a small bathroom at night and was happy to see him resting peacefully when I would go to let him out in the morning, but this morning was a different story. There was litter all over the floor. I realized that he had walked through his water bowl and then through the litter box, tracking it all over. Who knows how long he had been pacing. I realize that the only way to get him to be still is to hold him. If there is no sort of "cure" for cat dementia I know that I can't let him live like this. It will be hard to say goodbye but I know it's best. I'm still holding out hope that there is some sort of medication out there. Thanks for any help/advice.

  • #2
    Oh I'm sorry to hear about your beloved senior kitty. I'm afraid I don't have any advice or thoughts for you, but there are so many cat people on here with a lot of experience. I think it's highly likely that someone will be able to offer you some really good advice soon.

    I hope it all works out for you, all the best from me, Pip
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    • #3
      I'm very sorry to hear Sammy is not doing better. There isn't anything else you can do for him but consider his quality of life, and give him the Final Kindness.

      When my little senior girl got to the point you have described in Sammy, after her third stroke, I let her go. Yes it hurts like heck, it's been almost a year and I still miss her so much I cry.

      But better me being sad and hurt, than her suffering a life of staggering around and never knowing where she is or when she is going to fall down and seriously hurt herself, or falling into her water bowl and drowning, or unable to stay still long enough to use the litter box and having incontinence.

      In fact the last thing I did before I took her to the vet was to place a paper towel over the litter (her feet kept sliding when she tried to squat) and held her still so she could pee. I didn't want her to suffer the indignity of messing on herself.

      I'm very sorry your Sammy has come to this point, it's the hardest part of living with them, letting them go when life is no longer pleasant for them.

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      • #4
        Although I have made peace with the fact that I might very well have to have Sammy put to sleep very soon, I have done a little digging and found a drug called Anipryl to be very promising. It is currently prescribed for dogs with cognitive dysfunction but is also being prescribed off label for cats. I think I'll take Sammy to another vet and get a full exam with blood work etc...(first vet just did a physical exam and based her conclusion on the symptoms I described) and if it is indeed cognitive dysfuntion, I'd like to give Anipryl a shot. I found a message board online and a vet whose cat also had this had taken Anipryl and greatly improved and lived another 2 years. It's worth a shot, however I am prepared for the worst.

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        • #5
          That sounds hopeful! I wasn't aware that Sammy had not had a more complete examination. I guess I assumed blood work had already been done, with thyroid checked (be sure to ask for thyroid testing, not all vets do it) and also have his blood pressure taken, as it seems like it would be common sense for a vet to do those things.

          I'm glad you are going to another vet. Be sure to let us know what you find out, and how the Anipryl works, if the new vet thinks it is something that may help your beloved Sammy.

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          • #6
            Here's an update on Sammy: it is confirmed that he is blind although he might be able to see light/dark. I took him to vet #2 and they took blood and did an exam. His blood pressure was VERY high (vet #1 didn't test his bp and told me because his heart rate was fine, it most likely meant his bp was also fine) and the high bp most likely caused his blindness. She felt the circling was due to blindness, not a neurological problem like the result of a stroke like vet #1 thought. Vet #2 does not think he had a stroke (although only an MRI would rule that out). She gave me a prescription for his blood pressure and once the blood work comes back, we'll have a better idea of what is actually causing the high bp; possible causes are hyperthyroidism or kidney problem among other things. The bad news is his vision is gone and probably won't come back once the bp is reduced. The good news is I can give Sammy time to adjust to his lack of eyesight and he can live a little longer. I don't think I need to put him to sleep over this. Going to just see how it goes. I want him to have a good quality of life. I've been reading many encouraging stories from others who have blind pets.

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            • #7
              that is so wonderful to read! Hope for Sammy I am glad you got a seccond opinion, it sounds like vet #2 did their job much more thoroughly.

              I remember how heartbreaking it was when my MIL's papillion had a stroke, he had to be PTS, he walked into walls, didn't know where he was going what he was doing, wouldn't eat, would just lay there staring off. It was horrible. It's nice to hear the same thing isn't happening to your sammy, and that he'll more than likely be okay.

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              • #8
                Well, that's really uplifting news! Since you have been researching you have learned that cats can adjust to blindness, and with your reading you probably already know what to do to keep Sammy safe and comfortable as he adjusts.

                The norvasc is good medicine, and yes hyperthyroid and/or kidney disease are likely with HBP, but both are manageable with treatment.

                Thank you for keeping us updated!

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                • #9
                  ANOTHER UPDATE ON SAMMY: Well, poor Sammy still does an awful lot of pacing and walking in circles so I took him in again to talk to the vet about my concerns that there is a neurological component. The vet agreed that it is most likely a neurlogical problem (possibly a brain tumor) because she also discovered that he has one pupil larger than the other, which apparently is a sign that something neurological is going on. If all the blood work comes back normal, than we'll just have to assume it is a brain tumor. The only way to know for sure is an MRI and they are very expensive. I'm at peace if I have to put him to sleep for I know I can't let him live like this. It is no life for him to constantly be pacing and walking in circles. Poor little Sammy!

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                  • #10
                    It's very clear you love Sammy and want only what's best for him. I know how hard it is to let a beloved pet go, but it's harder to watch them suffer. My thoughts are with you and your beloved Sammy.

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                    • #11
                      YET ANOTHER UPDATE ON SAMMY: After the last vet visit, Sammy's blood work didn't show any particular reason for his symptoms. The vet said we should try one more thing, a steroid called prednisolone, which would help decrease any swelling in his brain. She told me that he might show improvement after a few days, however if his symptoms were due to a brain tumor there would be no improvement. The first few days were tortuous for Sammy was getting worse. He was having trouble eating or drinking because he had that compulsive need to walk in a circle. I had to literally hold him still and push his head down towards the food/water. After 48 hours and no improvement, I knew that he would have to be put down. That was a Saturday night. Sunday morning, I didn't even bother giving Sammy his pills for I knew it was his last day. But then I noticed he wasn't walking in a circle. I didn't want to get too excited but he seemed better! I quickly gave him his pills because they obviously were working. Sure enough, he went that whole day without circling! It's been 3 days now and still no circling. He is not back to his old self. He's back to when I first noticed something was not quite right in that he seemed to pace around the house a lot. But he seems so much more "with it". He's interacting with the other cats/dogs. He comes to me when I call him. He purrs like crazy when I pick him up. My guess is that he had a small stroke that caused some brain damage so I know he will never be 100% but he is comfortable and not suffering. Who knows how long this will last but I am soooo grateful for every day that he is still here!

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                      • #12
                        That's wonderful news, I'm so pleased for you! Pip
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                        • #13
                          I am so happy to hear that Sammy is doing better and you & he can be together as long as he does well! What happy news.
                          ATTITUDE! Life is 10% what happens to one and 90% how one reacts to it! sigpic

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                          • #14
                            FINAL UPDATE: On April 19, I had to put Sammy to sleep. He had made it to his 16th birthday on April 1st. The prednisolone had improved his quality of life and had reduced the amount of circling but it slowly returned. The doctor felt that he most likely had a brain tumor and the prednisolone was helping the swelling but as the tumor grew, the pacing increased. On Friday, April 16, he basically spent his day walking in a circle. The prednisolone I gave him that morning had absolutely no effect. I'd hold him and he'd purr and he occasionally would lay down. But, for the most part, he was circling. Saturday and Sunday were the same so I knew the time had come. I loved him so very much. It was incredibly painful to say goodbye but I had told myself that I wouldn't let him continue like this. I wanted to post this final update just in case anyone else out there has a cat with similar symptoms. The one thing I had a hard time with during this ordeal was finding information. So hopefully this post will be of some help to someone in the future.

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                            • #15
                              I'm so sorry for your loss of your beloved Sammy. You did well by him, the best.

                              I know how much it hurts to say goodbye, and make that final choice. I hope you can take some comfort in knowing you did all you could for him, and did not let him suffer.

                              Thank you for letting us know, and yes, it may very well be that your experience may help someone else.

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