We heard back from the vet yesterday with Butchie's blood test results, and it doesn't look good. While I didn't manage to jot down everything the vet told me, I did note that she said the globulin numbers were off the chart (the vet likes to see them in a 2-5 range and Butchie's was above 6) protein levels were high and also there were alarming results having to do with white blood cell count and changes. As the vet put it, "I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but it's something sinister."
It may not be a kidney issue after all, but something is definitely wrong. Cancer, maybe, or a systemic infection of some sort. She then asked how the eye looked, and I told her that it looked like if anything the swelling was worse since she was completely unable to open the eye. Not good, the vet said. Since she'd gotten an injection of antibiotics on Monday and we were using the antibiotic ointment as well, things should look at least a little better. Today it's the same.
Last night, while the kids were watching me put the medicine in Butchie's eye, BJ said, "Mom, she looks like a monster." He looked at me, worried, and I bit back a sharp reply. I can see what he means -- all the area around her eye is horribly swollen, to the point that she can't open her eye. The lower inner lid is puffed out and red and a little scabby. Combine that with the oozing and the greasy ointment in her fur, and it's not a pretty sight at all. But even so, I don't want to think of her as a monster.
(And even though I know my kid wasn't meaning to be hurtful, I'm still a little sensitive about how he reacted when I said that Butchie wasn't doing well. He asked, obviously thinking about Socksie this past summer, "Does that mean we'll have to bring her to the vet to die, Mommy?" And when I said that maybe it would come to that, he immediately switched from looking sad to looking excited: "And does that mean we can get a baby kitten???" Um, no.)
So it looks like we're in feline comfort care mode again.
With Socksie, we were there for several years before it turned so bad it was unbearable. I don't think we'll have nearly this long this time. I was grateful to have some good Cat In Lap time on Monday night. I asked S to take this picture from Butchie's "good side" with her affected eye away from the camera, but if you know what she normally looks like you can still tell that her right eye is all puffed out.
The good news in all this is that I really, really like our vet. She was never anything less than thoroughly compassionate while managing Socks's leg tumor. She was wonderful years ago when Butchie had a cancerous skin tumor on her shoulder that she removed. (The resulting scar, a diagonal across Butchie's back, only increased my friend M's assertion that Butchie really is an alien in a cat suit; after the surgery, it was as though you could now see the zipper in the costume.) She is great about giving us a range of options, sharing her opinion, and then leaving it up to us to decide what would be best -- without making us feel horrible about the fact that we simply can't spend thousands of dollars on our pets. Ethically and financially, it's just not something we can do.
(Important Aside To At Least One Regular Reader -- dearest M, you know who you are -- I know other folks make different decisions when faced with sick pets, and I make no judgments about that at all. I'm very much pro-choice when it comes to pet care decisions. All of it is heartwrenching, I know from experience. I believe that only the animal's caretaker knows best what should be done in each individual case.)
So we have decided not to run a bunch more tests (involving anesthesizing the cat to get a biopsy, doing cytology, etc). Gaining the knowledge that it's cancer or something else wouldn't be helpful for us, because we won't be doing any of the expensive, intensive treatments that would treat such conditions. She's 16 and has had a very full, feline life, and I'm not ready to say goodbye. But I don't think it's a kindness to put her through all that. We're continuing the antibiotics and today I took her in for a steroid injection in the hopes that it could help calm the inflammation and make her more comfortable. We're going to take it a day at a time and be grateful for the time we have.