About 9 months ago Alaska, my 15 year old cat, was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure (CRF), an all too common disease of older cats. Most everyone who has had a cat reach a ripe old age has had to deal with this. It’s not fun. You start to see your beloved pet and friend shrink and shrivel up before your very eyes. Alaska, in his prime, used to be 12-13 lbs. Now he is barely 8 lbs.
Alaska has always been a very lively cat. He has a hard time staying still, unlike his feline roommates who can sleep in one spot for hours at a time. If he were a person, I’d probably suspect he had a touch of ADD. He’s the popular one, the one who will come out and charm the guests. Who cares if he leaves a trail of white fur everywhere he goes, he’s so damn charming people don’t mind.
He’s been sick twice this year. And is befitting his big personality, he does “sick” in a big way too. He doesn’t hide or become withdrawn. No, he puts on a big show of his misery. He stays close and his movements become very deliberate as if he feels so fragile that any abrupt movement will cause him to break. So, of course, I rush him to the vet expecting the worse. I love my regular vet – he’s very common sensible. His first take is usually -“huh. I don’t see anything serious, let’s just watch and wait for a few days before we order tests.” And 9 times out 10 he’s right. Last month he did hospitalize him for observation and hydration and to run a test or two. I expected the worse. But, nope, the tests came back that it wasn’t his kidneys, so let’s just wait and watch. And yes, within a few days, Alaska was back to his old self. Yesterday, however, poor Alaska seemed to be getting worse by the hour, so I managed to get an end of day appointment, but not with my guy, but with the other guy. I should have known better.
This vet goes for the worse case scenario everytime, complete with medications and expensive tests. He said it looked to him as if Alaska was going into end stage renal failure. To me, it looked like he had a sore throat or maybe mouth ulcers, but I don’t have a DVM after my name, so what do I know? He wanted to run some expensive tests to confirm his diagnosis. I was reeling so I just agreed.
Today I get a call from my regular vet with Alaska’s results. His kidneys are weak, but otherwise fine. His bloodwork is normal for a cat his age. When I described Alaska’s symptoms to him, he said “huh. Sounds like a sore throat. Let’s just watch and wait – if doesn’t improve by Monday, let’s talk.” Of course I’m greatly relieved, but I am slightly annoyed at the other vet for his alarmist diagnosis.