I’ve been posting a lot about the cat today over on Twitter – and getting a number of questions in response. Rather than try to answer a few dozen people in 140 characters or less, I thought I’d go ahead and do a blog post; so if you’re tired of hearing about the kitty, feel free to bail now. But apparently a good number of folks out there have aging felines with similar problems, so this one’s for you.
Meet the patient: a 16(+/-) year old female cat, who has lost half a pound since Thanksgiving and has gone from “occasional midnight yowler” to “24/7 Caterwauling Champion of Chattanooga.” Thyroid problems are suspected, but at her age, it might be an issue of “senior feline cognitive dysfunction.” Which is to say, she might just be getting old and senile.
Meet the course of action: Vet visit, general exam, blood drawn – and we’re still waiting on the labwork verdict. Also received a Sentry Calming Collar and some kitty Valium.
Night #1: Treated the cat with the calming collar alone. (We saw such a difference during the day, that we thought we’d give it a shot by itself.) Noticed some improvement, but still were awakened half a dozen times by wildly hollering feline.
The next day: Continued improvement in cat demeanor, for we heard not one single instance of her wailing around the house – something which usually happens at least once an hour. (None today, either. Hot damn!)
Night #2: In addition to the collar, we gave her a quarter pill of the kitty Valium. Result: WIKTORY.
Ladies, gents, and the otherwise affiliated – last night for the first time in [literally I do not know how long, but at least a year] the cat let us sleep through the night! [:: tee shirt cannon ::] [:: confetti gun ::] [:: pom-poms a’waving ::]
And now for some details (via the FAQ on Twitter).
Re: the collar – as linked above, the item in question is this one right here. Reviewers either love or hate it.
Basically, this is a purple collar that’s much like a flea-collar, coated in a white powdery substance to protect it. [The pheromones permeate the collar itself, and won’t flake off.] It boasts a “lavender and chamomile” scent, which you might or might not dig; but FWIW, the scent on ours is pronounced but kind of pleasant – and it’s faded over the last 24 hours or so. Like any non-break-away collar, you need to make extra-certain that it fits right – especially if you have a cat who doesn’t take kindly to wearing such things. So far, our cat isn’t experiencing any of the skin irritation some people reported.
As with everything: Follow the directions, listen to your vet, use your judgment – and your mileage may vary, for all things do not work for all pets. God knows we had a thousand and one people recommending Feliway when we added the dog to the family, but we spent a fortune on that stuff and it didn’t do squat.
This collar, however … it’s making a world of difference. Within minutes of having it applied, our cat relaxed. She hasn’t been groggy or loopy – just chill. She’s been her old self, really – laid back and easygoing, a tad chatty but not yowling in distress every hour on the hour.
And now for a word on the kitty Valium.
I was reluctant to try it because she’s always taken these kinds of meds hard. When we’ve tried to sedate her for travel or anything like that … she’s been miserable, groggy, and even more upset than before. (That’s why we started with a quarter dose, as per vet’s suggestion.) But we sucked it up and gave it a go – crushing the pill and mixing it with a teaspoon of vanilla ice cream.
The cat was 100% down with this, by the way. She licked the spoon clean, settled into bed with me … and didn’t make a peep until 9:00 a.m. – when she wanted to know where the hell her breakfast was. [:: fist pump ::]
Best of all, she didn’t spend the night knocked out and drooling. In fact, at some point after midnight I woke up to an odd noise and went looking for her. I never did figure out what the noise was, but I found the kitty hanging out in the den, sitting on her condo – staring out the window into the night. Later, I heard her getting a drink of water and using her litter box. She was obviously not incapacitated. (A prospect which worried me.)
So there you have it! Today I bought a little mortar and pestle so I can smash her pills without using the back of a butter knife in a cereal bowl, and tomorrow or the next day, we’re likely to get the results of her blood work back. Obviously I’m hoping that everything turns up clean, and she’s just getting old and batty; but if that’s not the case, we’ll do whatever it takes to keep her happy and healthy for as long as possible.
If I didn’t cover your question, feel free to ask it here and I’ll respond. Standard disclaimer: I can only tell you about our experience, and I make you no guarantees. But if you’ve been living with a stressed and unhappy feline, and you haven’t tried this combo yet, then I STRONGLY recommend you talk to your vet about giving it a go.