The other two didn't really find these wheezing episodes alarming.
Recently, he had two in a week, and both times the other boys were very concerned about him. Now cats are good at hiding illness from humans, but not so much from other cats. When the other cats get worried, that's when I start to worry.
I did some research, and "cats wheezing" had two main causes; feline asthma and cardiomyopathy (yes, the same thing Pippin had, although he never wheezed like Colby does). And Colby does have that heart murmur.
So I decided to bite the bullet and have Colby tested for both. The first is a chest xray and the second is an echocardiogram. We went to Pippin's old doctor, Dr. Cousins, today. (She remembered me. I found this odd. I only went there once a year with Pippin for checkups, and surely in a year there are tons of people coming through her office.)
|The Evil Soap Dispenser|
Colby jumps up on the counter and tries to go behind the sink. He activates the motion sensor on the soap dispenser, which makes the normal sound of a soap dispenser and deposits soap on his neck. The sound panics him and he twists around, leaping off the counter. In the process he pushed the handle of the sink on full-blast, and water even splashed me.
This encounter completely dampened (get it?) his enthusiasm for exploring and he went and laid down beside the empty carrier as the best of a bad deal for a hiding spot.
|Colby is NOT a happy camper|
Now my nerves were on edge simply from being back here at this office. My last memory of being here was not a good one.
While normally I try not to laugh at a cat who's done something like Colby just did, I simply couldn't help it. I was laughing at him while I tried to clean him up, adding insult to injury.
And that's when Dr. Cousins walks in. I'm on the floor, my back to the door, with Colby hidden in front of me between me and the wall and the carrier. I explained what happened to the poor fellow, giggling the whole time.
She also found Colby's antics very amusing and said that they had some dry pet shampoo there for when a pet was there and needed a bath but couldn't be gotten wet, and she would use some of that to help get the human soap off him.
We did the talking thing where you tell the vet what you've observed and why you decided to come here (which was made longer by my tendency to go off on conversational tangents all the time). Then they were going to do an ultrasound (an echo-cardiogram, it's called, when you do an ultrasound to look at someone's heart) and x-rays for his lungs. But someone else was using the ultrasound machine and Colby and I had to wait for that person to be done. We almost fell asleep. He was on the metal "pet" counter and I was leaning over him, my arms around him, and my head on my arms (he indicated he wanted me doing this, so that's what I did).
Colby roused right before the doctor came back to get him. She carried him out with his leash around her wrist (just in case). The tests didn't take too long, and a tech brought him back with a towel while the doctor was looking at the results.
|Colby on his towel after his tests|
The towel is because when you do an ultrasound on a human or a pet, you have to use a goo to make the contact between the skin and the instrument a good one. Then they wash the goo off. This means Colby was now damp on his chest and on one side of his neck (from the soap dispenser incident).
He wasn't shaking or outwardly frightened. More just tired, annoyed, hungry, and wanting to go home.
Hungry was because they wanted me to bring him in with an empty stomach. This morning I woke up with all three cats on the bed, wanting to know where the food bowls went. "Mama, the food disappeared! Make it come back!" Because of course there's no way to not feed Colby while the other two still got food.
Dr. Cousins came back in and gave me the good news first. Colby doesn't have cardiomyopathy. His heart's just fine. They did see this (and I quote) "trivial" backflow thing which is where the murmur comes from, but his heart walls are within normal specifications and he's all good there.
But his lungs show signs of feline asthma. Except she said they just recently decided to call it feline airway disease since the symptoms can come from a lot of sources, not just traditional asthma.
Oh. I had to ask her to repeat what she was saying because my brain had kind of turned itself off after "he doesn't have cardiomyopathy" and while the words were registering in my head, they weren't being retained.
Colby's future: it could stay the same, or it could get worse. Worse would mean more wheezing episodes and more severe episodes. It doesn't get better and there's no cure. There's medication that can help, as well as air filtration in the house. (Well, given my own breathing problems, Colby's living in the best house possible for this disease--I've got three separate air filtration systems including HEPA filtration.)
The medication is ... wait for it ... inhaler based. Seriously. You get an inhaler. For a cat. Um... how does this work exactly? I'll wait while you picture it in your head and giggle at the mental image, the way I did.
Okay, what happens is you get this device that has a little mask that goes over his nose and mouth; the muzzle area. There's an air chamber attached to the mask with a one-way valve. When he breathes in, the air comes from the chamber; when he breathes out, it goes into the air. The inhaler goes on the other end of the chamber. You press the inhaler and push the aerosol medication into the chamber. From there you wait until the cat breathes in a certain number of times (seven was a number mentioned on the website) and then you can release the cat.
|The inhaler would go in the green end|
And you just train them to get used to it, one piece at a time. (Start with the mask and give treats after; extend the time the mask stays on and give treats after; add the air chamber to the mask and give treats after; extend the time the mask and chamber stay on and give treats after, etc etc.)
Colby's asthma is mild. As far as I know, he goes for weeks without an episode. (Of course I'm at work or asleep a lot of the time.) So he doesn't have to have medication yet. It's a steroid, so if you can hold off on giving it to them, that's better; but of course you don't want to compromise their health either.
I'm just supposed to get the mask/chamber device and work on getting him used to it so I'm prepared when he does need an inhaler, and he also has to come back for x-rays once a year to monitor the situation.
Okay, I suppose this could be worse. He could have had both cardiomyopathy and asthma.
When I brought him home, Thimble was happy to see him, but not particularly concerned. They were both happy to see their food dishes. Apricot, on the other hand, went in the room with the sofa the minute I opened the door and went under the sofa and hasn't come out since. I don't know why. Possibly they used the same waterless shampoo on him in the shelter and he recognized the smell and it brought back bad memories? I don't know. I hope he comes out soon.
So there you have it. I have anxiety disorders and a cat with anxiety (Apricot). I have breathing problems and now I have a cat with breathing problems (Colby). Any bets on what Thimble's going to manifest?!