Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pearl is also an Asthma Kitty

Pearl's diabetes was kicked off by prednisone being given for asthma. She was most likely predisposed to diabetes because the pred pretty much kicked in the BGs immediately. But it took me about 3 months to figure out that it was the pred. Many cats that have steroid induced diabetes may not become full diabetics. So we got her off of pred and I ordered an aerokat. It's based on the idea of a child's mask and chamber to deliver inhaled meds. A great great resource, and the first place you should visit if you find out your cat has asthma is Fritz the Brave's site. Dr. Padrid is the noted vet that helped pioneer using inhaled meds. His protocol is located on the site and you can print it out for your vet. That's what I did. They were happy to try something new. There is also a great message board for Feline Inhaled meds that you can find there and subscribe to (it's a Yahoo group). I took a period of time getting Pearl used to the mask.

While I was waiting for it to be delivered, I took an empty toilet paper roll and would place it over her nose and mouth and remove it right away and give a treat. I would increase the time I held it and always treat. She looked at me like I was nuts, but the treat was A-OK so she cooperated. When the Aerokat came, I first put the mask in a bag of catnip hoping to get rid of some of the plastic smell. I would lay it on the floor by her food dish each meal so she got used to seeing it in connection with FOOD. Then I smeared food on it and let her lick it off. Then just as with the toilet paper roll, I would put the mask over her nose and mouth, briefly, and then treat. This was a bit scarier than the empty toilet paper roll, but we extended the time over a couple of days and she became fairly relaxed with it. Hey, she got a treat so, whatever, she thought.

Then I tried the flovent. For the first few days, I would shake the cannister (always shake before you puff) and hold my hand over the open end of the mask, puff it into my hand and then move the mask onto her face. Probably didn't get full doses doing that but it made the transition more smooth. She got used to the smell of the flovent and didn't have that puff sound quite so close. After probably 4 days, I just started putting the mask ON her to puff. We now puff once a day. Pearl is a moderate asthmatic, so she does well on one puff of 110mcg Flovent a day. I keep albuterol on hand in case she does have a cough, but we have not had to use it often. She did get wheezy on me in the cat box the other day, so I used it, but normally the flovent keeps her well controlled. Miss a day and not so much.

Here is a little video of Pearl getting her flovent puff. I wish I had a better video camera, but I think you get the idea.

If you take the time too desensitize your cat, you will do fine, and your cat will have MUCH better controlled asthma without nearly as much danger of systemic steroid troubles. Personally, I believe even mild asthma should be treated. I got Pearl when she was 6 years old and she had a habit of coughing with no hairballs EVER, and sometimes heaving up a clear mucous after a coughing fit, after she ate, but with no food coming back up. This happened a couple, three times a month. I just didn't know. 2 years later we went to get xrays because it became more frequent. The lungs looked ok, but we got distracted by finding arthritis in her knee. I didn't pursue the coughing. Fast forward to two years ago. One Sunday, Pearl had 5 coughing fits between 8 am and 3 pm and by then I could hear a wheeze. I took her to ER where, because she was having attacks THAT DAY the xrays showed pretty classic signs. She started on pred and the coughing wheezing stopped pretty much immediately. I took the xrays to my vet the next day and she agreed it could be, but she also saw something with the heart she didn't like. The ultrasound guy was coming that afternoon for a cat with a thrombosis (who sadly didn't make it). He found Pearl did have a mild mitral insufficiency in her heart chamber. Her heart was FINE in the first xrays I got when she was 8 and she had been coughing since before I got her, so we do not believe the asthma cough is anything but asthma. However, we did put her on 1 enecard pill and 1/4 lasix a day. Who knows if it helps, but it doesn't hurt.

Pearl got the really short stick on the genetics draw. But we are coping pretty well.