Feline health update

A brief update for those of you who were following the saga of our cat Sugar’s brush with death and remarkable rebound early last September.

At the time of Sugar’s episode of acute renal failure and emergency hydration, our vet told us we’d be lucky if she survived another six months. The good news is, that was just about seven months ago now and she’s still reasonably healthy, happy, and affectionate. This wouldn’t be anything to take for granted even without that brush with death, given that she’s just over 19 years old now. That’s an uncommonly long lifespan for a cat.

The bad news is, her latest bloodwork shows indications of slow-motion progressive renal failure. This is not a surprise; given her age and history we’re quite fortunate that it’s not rapid renal failure. She yowls at night sometimes – not with nearly the frequency she did before the nephritis was diagnosed and cured, but enough that we know that not all is quite right in Sugar-land.

Other than that it’s not easy to tell that she’s a geriatric cat. Eyes continue to be bright, coat continues to be glossy and full, the purr is ready and resonant, and she still clearly considers it an important part of her duties to greet humans at the door and charm all houseguests into worshipping her.

We’re trying to keep her hydrated, making sure she always has plenty of water and getting a subcutaneous hydration needle into her when we can manage it – which isn’t often as, while she doesn’t seem traumatized by it or particularly fearful of it, she definitely doesn’t like it.

Ah, and Sugar has materialized at my feet, making greeting noises. This is not as coincidental as it sounds; when she’s not asleep she has a tendency to oscillate between Cathy and me, emitting happiness and (usually very polite) requests for attention. Which we are generally quite pleased to grant.

Time out for cat-petting….

Not much news beyond this. We’re enjoying Sugar’s company, and letting her enjoy ours, as much as we can. Maybe it’s silly to imagine that keeping her happy and well-loved is extending her lifespan, but – hey, it seems to be working so far.


  1. Just a cat lover stumbling on this blog. I don’t know you nor your cat but this blog entry just made me smile. Our cats are 3 years old and we hope that they will reach the same respectabele age as Sugar. I also hope she will stay with you in good health for another couple of years. Regards, marcel

  2. I sincerely hope that the extra innings don’t get too hard on her.
    And due to the kind of hormones that affectionate behaviour seems to make many mammals emit (Haven’t seen about the cats, so can’t say for sure), it might be just fine to imagine that, along with the hydration, affection is helping.

    I’m pretty sure Cathy’s ma would be more than proud of the work you two are doing. Even when we all know it’s all Sugar’s work, coaxing you into being unable to love her.

  3. Maybe it’s silly to imagine that keeping her happy and well-loved is extending her lifespan, but – hey, it seems to be working so far.

    I don’t think that is silly at all. Old folks with friends and family around them generally make it longer than those in geriatric cattle pens.

    My girlfriend’s cat had to be put down a bit ago, but had a good seven months because of her taking good care of him. He was 21. They let you know when the time comes.

  4. Good affection-sponge. Good. Make sure that affection doesn’t ruin the carpets. Be proactive in cleaning up any spillages by being around the clumsy monkeys.

    This kind of sugar is not a hepatic poison. :)

  5. Good for Sugar that she is hangin’ in there.

    Speaking about water, my cat did not seem to much like the water in his bowl. Too stagnant maybe. He was always wanting me to turn on the water in the bathtub to drink that.

    So I bought him a cat fountain. This is a bucket with a pump in the bottom that circulates the water and keeps it fresh.

    He seems to like it much better.

  6. I keep Sugar’s water bowl full of fresh water. Fortunately for me, she likes water and drinks quite a bit–certainly more than she did before her kidneys began to deteriorate. “That’s the best thing she could do for herself,” says our vet.

  7. Maybe it’s silly to imagine that keeping her happy and well-loved is extending her lifespan

    I don’t think that’s silly at all. Psychological states have a powerful effect on the body. I have little doubt that the affection and companionship you provide Sugar is helping her immensely.

  8. > I don’t think that is silly at all.

    A big second to that. Enjoying her company, and letting her enjoy the company of her humans, is the whole point, after all, isn’t it?

    Subcutaneous fluids are amazing; they added more than a year to our cat’s life after he was diagnosed with progressive renal failure. (That plus lots of affection, of course.)

  9. For what it’s worth, my hospice friends tell me that renal failure is a pretty good way to go.

  10. I don’t think it’s silly.

    This is what I know… I learned a lot about honor, love, duty, being a man and being a decent human being from Robert A. Heinlein. I’m pretty damn certain that he would approve.

  11. Sugar sure is lucky to have such fine human caretakers.

    If cats could count, she would be counting her blessings.

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