This Cat Is Not Dead

But it was a close thing.

This is Rikkus.  He's the "foreclosure cat" we rescued a few years ago, when his owners moved away and left him behind.  We found out he had a microchip, but it was to the Seattle shelter he'd been adopted from in 1998, and his owners nevr updated the chip's records from that shelter address.  We think he might have originally belonged to an older person who passed away, and while the younger generation took him in initially, when they encountered their own troubles Rikkus became an option, not an obligation.

We don't know what his original name was.  "Rikkus" is the word for "lion" in the invented language our housemate Tabbi uses for her online persona and writing.  He was informally known as "Stalker Cat", because when our friend and back fence neighbor Anne was alive, he'd come up to the patio door or bedroom window ledge and get Anne's cats Aliera and Sethra all flustered and upset.  (We took in Aliera and Sethra when Anne died, so now they're actually all living in the same house.  They've never been friendly, but they don't fight or throw hissy-fits.)

Rikkus was a big ol' guy, fairly stocky under long black fur.  When he was still a street cat, he pretty much owned the street.  But about a year ago, he started losing weight, fairly drastically, and getting stiff and slow-moving.  Blood tests showed hyperthyroidism, so he's been on meds for that for about a half year.

But he's continued to decline, eating poorly and getting gaunt.  Recent developments included pulling out chunks of fur, treating the litter box as an option, and throwing up a lot of what he reluctantly ate.  He was being a pretty miserable kitty.

So we'd been thinking that it might be time to have Rikkus put to sleep, and made an appointment for earlier this morning to have it done.

Rikkus has never been an enthusiastic pill-taker, to put it mildly, and I didn't see any overwhelming need to continue his meds for the last few days before his final appointment.  So I stopped giving him the hyperthyroidism meds.

And... he began to improve.  He started eating again (and in decent amounts) and keeping it down, he seems to have stopped pulling out fur, and he's been using the litter box again.  He also seems more alert and engaged.

This made me wonder if the meds he'd been taking might actually have been part of the problem.  When I checked online for hypothroidism (underactive thyroid), the list of symptoms were almost a complete match for what Rikkus had been showing.

So it seems possible that he's been getting too high a dose of the hyperthyroidism meds.  I consulted the vet, and we'll try cutting back on that dosage and see how he does.  (Also start giving him something to try and help with his stiff and creaky old joints.)

I'm frankly relieved to be able to give him a reprieve.   Losing Tia and Gremlin -- bam! bam! -- one after the other was hard enough.  I really don't want Undulant Fever to be "All dead cats, all the time."  (I have visions of walking down the street and having people shouting "It's that guy with the Dead Cat Blog!  QUICK!  HIDE THE KITTENS!")


Will Shetterly said...


Don Fitch said...

It's always good to hear news like this, even though (with most pets, as with humans) it's only a matter of time until the eventual departure.