Weas got very sick in the winter of '95.  At first, we thought he had an upper respiratory infection, but x-rays showed that his lungs were full of fluid.  We put him on a diruetic for a while and then on steroids, but we never figured out what caused the problem.  The symptoms never returned, even after we finally took him off steroids.

When he first got sick, the vet ran a Feline Leukemia test as a precaution, even though he'd tested negative before.  To our horror, it came back positive.  Subsequent tests over the next several years were all been negative, though, so it appears that the result in 1995 was a false positive.

The cause of all these problems was a complete mystery until January of 2003, when Irene displayed similar, but more severe, symptoms.  We're pretty sure she had a very severe version of calicivirus, which usually causes fairly mild, cold-like symptoms.  I now think there is a good possibility Weas had the same thing.


In late December 2000/early January 2001, Weasel began vomiting repeatedly, didn't want to eat, became dehydrated, and lost weight.  He went to the vet several times for bloodwork, x-rays, and fluids, but the tests didn't show much of anything.  We were very concerned about the possibility of intestinal cancer.

One vet noticed a slight fuzziness around the pancreas on his x-ray and suggested he might have pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas that can be quite serious.  The symptoms fit that diagnosis, so we gave him fluids and antibiotics and held our breath.  It took a while, but he made a complete recovery.

I've had experience with pancreatitis in dogs and it is fairly easily diagnosed by running bloodwork.  As it turns out, it's a different story in cats, as they don't show the same results on labwork that dogs do.  As a result, diagnosis in cats is much trickier, which is why we still don't know for sure that pancreatitis was the problem.


When Weas was hit by a car, he may have sustained slight but permanent damage to his back legs and there may have been a slight deficit in his field of vision.  Or he might just have been clumsy.  He smacked into things and knocked things over a lot.

We noticed that when we dangled an object above his head but within his view, he appeared not to see it.  For the most part, he got around quite well, though.


In the summer of 2003, we noticed that Weasel, who had always been on the skinny side, seemed to have lost weight.  We took him in and had bloodwork done, but it didn't really tell us much.  A month later, we switched all the kitties to a feline-only vet and took him there, since we were still concerned.  They took a look at his records and noticed that he'd actually been gradually losing weight since the suspected pancreatitis incident a year and a half earlier.  They also, alarmingly, picked up a heart murmur.

Hyperthyroidism and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy were immediate suspects.  The former was ruled out with bloodwork, so next, we took him for an ultrasound.  That showed that his heart was somewhat larger than normal, but didn't give us a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy.

We put him on a medication called Pancrease for a while.  It replaces the digestive enzymes normally produced by the body.  In some cases of pancreatitis, the pancreas can be damaged to the point at which it no longer produces these enzymes like it should.  It appeared to do nothing for him, however, so we discontinued it and started Prednisone.  That seemed to help a little bit and he gained a small amount of weight.


Quite suddenly in November 2004, Weasel got lethargic and just didn't seem to feel good at all.  Concerned about his heart even though he wasn't displaying cardiac symptoms, I took him in.  Instead of heart problems, bloodwork revealed that his kidneys were failing.  Kidney failure is quite common in older cats, but somehow, out of all the cats I've had, Weasel was my first experience with it.  Often, cats with kidney failure can survive for quite a long time - sometimes even years - with the appropriate treatment.

Weasel got very sick very quickly and had to be hospitalized for some time, then after he stabilized a bit, we continued medication, subcutaneous fluids, and force-feeding at home.  At first, we didn't think he would pull out of the acute phase of his illness, but after a couple of weeks, he perked up and started eating on his own and acting like the Weasel of old.  He was often the first one out the door for Supervised Outdoor Playtime.  We were surprised and delighted!

He stayed on a potassium supplement, aluminum hydroxide, 100 ml of Lactated Ringers daily, and a special kidney diet and for two months, he did better than we ever expected he could.  We knew it wouldn't last forever, though. 

On Thursday evening, December 30, he stopped eating and drinking.  I increased his aluminum hydroxide and he perked up for a while.  Early on Saturday afternoon, January 1, he went outside during Supervised Outdoor Playtime and rolled in the dirt, which he loved to do.  He also asked me to pick him up and hold him, so we did that.  Later that afternoon, he started getting very ill very quickly.  We knew there was nothing left to do for him, so it was time to say goodbye.  We're very glad we had those two extra months with him.