Cleo's Progress

One Cat's Struggle with Feline Hepatic Lipidosis

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

You can't keep this cat down!

I took Cleo in to the vet again this morning, and this time — finally — they were able to get enough of her urine. It turns out that the urinary tract infection is completely gone now; the vet told me to finish out her antibiotics — about a week's worth — just in case, but she’s fine.

The vet also said that a recurrence of hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver, is rare, which I am relieved to hear. Seeing that the condition is more common in overweight cats, it's probably because once they've recovered they're not overweight anymore. Still, the vet recommended that I have blood work done on Cleo again in a few weeks, to make sure that her liver enzymes have returned to normal. I had already been thinking of it myself, so I readily agreed.

I should also mention that Cleo is now hopping the baby gate regularly. She still gives the dog a wide berth, but she seems to be fairly comfortable being in the same room as the dog.

Cleo says, "You can’t keep this cat down!"

Cleo's full recovery from fatty liver disease


Monday, December 19, 2005

Worries about a setback and a vet visit

On Wednesday or Thursday Cleo threw up two huge hairballs. I was really nervous because she didn't have an appetite for several hours afterward, but then in the evening she suddenly had an appetite again.

Cleo's vet appointment was Friday. I kept her from peeing overnight so that they could do a urine draw, but then she peed in the carrier on the way there. Saturday morning we tried again, but that time I didn’t keep her from peeing for long enough, and they couldn’t get enough urine. On Tuesday we’re trying again.

It took a couple of days, but Cleo is now scratching her castle instead of my rocking chair. She sleeps inside it or on top of it a great deal of the time — sometime I can’t get her to come out so that I can take her to bed with us.

Cleo's full recovery from fatty liver disease

Last night she spent in the study for that reason; in the morning, however, she hopped the baby gate while the dog was outside, and came searching for someone to give her breakfast.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Cleo's castle and other news

There is no doubt in my mind now that Cleo is better — she is back to her naughty ways. She has started scratching my rocker in the study... Today I had to take her out to the cat tower in the living room so that she could scratch. So this evening, one of my errands was to pick up a smaller scratching post for the study.

Of course, me being in a pet store is almost as bad as me being in a bookstore. I ended up getting Cleo a cat castle — literally.

Cleo's full recovery from fatty liver disease

At first she was a little wary of it, and took her time checking it out.

Cleo's full recovery from fatty liver disease

But then I got out the catnip. As I was sprinkling it in the top, Cleo jumped up there and batted at my hand to make me spill some. I sprinkled some inside, too, which helped Cleo to get acquainted.

Cleo's full recovery from fatty liver disease

I put the castle underneath the study window so that she can sit on top and watch out the window. She seems pretty pleased with the arrangement, as you can tell.

Cleo's full recovery from fatty liver disease

She was also pretty darn high by this time.

This afternoon while we ran errands, Michael and I left Cleo out, sitting on the cat tower. She was still there when we got home, and probably hadn't moved much, but we are hoping to reintroduce her to the household gradually. She seems to be dealing with the dog much better now, although that may be because Emma isn't as pushy about checking her out — I guess over a month of watching her in the study behind the baby gate, like a fish in a fish bowl, more or less satisfied her curiosity.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Full recovery from hepatic lipidosis

Cleo's recovery from feline hepatic lipidosisMy apologies for not having posted any updates recently. Cleo is still eating and drinking on her own — in fact, she'd probably eat more than her daily quota if I gave it to her.

Cleo is obviously feeling like her normal self, and her behavior shows it. She is starting to resist being picked up and carried again, struggling to get out of my arms when our destination is in sight. She gets lonely being in the study, and demands our attention when we're home; when she's being petted, she gets excited and gives little nips or love bites like she used to. In particular, she seems to enjoy her little love-fests with Michael — she's even started sitting in his lap when he's seated at his desk. And she lets him take some of the best pictures. The little traitor.

Cleo's recovery from feline hepatic lipidosis

Cleo is also playing more... again, I think, because she is getting lonely in the study by herself.

Cleo's recovery from feline hepatic lipidosis

Cleo spends every night in bed with us now. In the morning I carry her back to the study, and the first place she goes is to her bowl to look for leftovers – even before going to litter box after being away from it all night long. Yep, that’s my Cleo!

This morning I left Cleo on the bed and let the dog out first thing when I got up. Cleo waited a few minutes, and then went to the litter box on her own (albeit hesitantly). Afterward I took her food to the study, and she followed me through the living room. I stepped over the gate and started dishing out her food, while she looked through the gate, wide-eyed. Finally, with some verbal encouragement from me, she jumped the gate, rather clumsily. She was rather pleased with herself for it, and held her tail straight up while she ate. I'm hoping that she’ll show a little initiative now that she knows she can get in and out on her own.

Aside from all of the behavioral signs of improvement, Cleo is also looking much less yellow, particularly on her belly.

Cleo's recovery from feline hepatic lipidosis

For comparison, you can look at the picture of her belly from week 1 and see how yellow her skin was then from the liver failure.

Well, that's it — Cleo is doing wonderfully. Hopefully the bacteria in her urine will also have cleared up by the time she visits the vet again on Friday. Then she really will be all better!

Cleo's recovery from feline hepatic lipidosis

For a while, we plan to leave the baby gate up in the study doorway, to give Cleo a haven while she gets stronger. I'm hoping to gradually reintroduce her to the rest of the house, and hopefully instill in her some confidence in dealing with the dog. Prince — my other cat — seems to be somewhat disappointed with Cleo's reemergence — he was avoiding her when she was sick, and seemed quite content being an "only" cat. He was sleeping on the bed every night, all night long as far as I could tell; now he's taken to walking around howling at night again (he's deaf and can be quite loud as a result). Emma, of course, is quite interested in reacquainting herself with Cleo — much to Cleo’s dismay. Cleo seems to feel safe on the bed, though, even though Emma can technically reach her, so that's an improvement. Hopefully eventually they can all be friends.


Thursday, December 8, 2005

Cleo's first meal since getting feline hepatic lipidosis

I have terrific news! At about 9:15 tonight, shortly after I posted Cleo's update for the day, she ate her first meal!

Cleo's first meal since getting feline hepatic lipidosis

I decided to try to interest her in some food before I force-fed her, so I got out one of the cans of Fancy Feast that I'd tried to tempt her with before taking her to the vet for the first time. I wasn't expecting much, but she started eating it as soon as I put the bowl down! I had to keep giving her more, until she'd eaten almost the entire can. Now, these cans are the really small ones, so in about ten minutes Cleo ate almost a third of her daily quota. I also checked the protein content, and it’s actually higher than the special prescription diet they had me giving her, so it should be even better for her.

I started crying when I saw that Cleo was eating, and proceeded to take pictures and a video of her eating. Here's the video:

I guess that means that Cleo is definitely out of the woods. I'll call the vet tomorrow to let him know the good news, and I'll continue updating Cleo’s site so that you know how she is progressing!


Cleo is sleeping with us at night now

Cleo has spent the last couple of nights in the bedroom with us. Tuesday night, I was up most of the night working on my paper for my class; I worked in bed, so I just kept Cleo in there with me. When I finally went to bed, I decided to keep her in bed with me. I was awakened in the morning by a scuffle and Cleo jumping back up on the bed — I think she probably tried to leave to go to the litter box, and Emma chased her back in. I put her back in the study and went back to bed for a couple more hours.

Cleo and the big bad dog

Last night, I decided to try keeping Cleo in bed with us all night. To my knowledge she didn't try to leave but stayed on the bed all night; in the morning, she was lying against my legs, looking up at me with her wide yellow-green eyes.

Cleo in bed with us

I haven't given Cleo a fluid injection for several nights now. She's still using the litter box, and the level in her water dish seems to have changed, so I'm wondering if she’s drinking when I’m not noticing. Either that, or she's getting enough water in the mixture of food that I feed her. This morning when I returned her to the study, she went up to the water dish and sniffed it, acting like she was going to take a drink, although she didn't. I'll have to keep an eye on that. I'd like to make sure she's started drinking again…

It's also been almost a week since Cleo threw up anything at all, even just mucus. And she's been getting a can of food every day. And pooping, and cleaning herself all over now. And she played tonight, too! It seems my little darling is most definitely on the mend.

Cleo after playing


Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Signs of recovery: Cleo is washing herself now

I felt so bad last night when it came time to take Cleo back to her room so that I could feed her and go to bed. She was half-curled up, half-stretched out, with that luxurious air that only cats truly achieve, and she looked completely content. I got up to do something shortly before feeding-time, and when I came back, Cleo had snuggled up against Michael's leg and was cleaning her belly, which has grown a short coat of down since she was shaved for her ultrasound.

Recovering from feline fatty liver

So, Cleo has progressed from just cleaning her face and paws, to cleaning as far down as her belly. She seems to be grooming the fur nearer to her hind end, too, as some of it has stopped looking as scraggly. Some, though — not all; I guess she hasn’t felt well enough yet to give herself a full-body bath.

Today was kind of a strange day. I slept late and had to rush out of the house right after feeding Cleo, and then I was gone a good portion of the day. I was so busy that I didn't eat all day, so by the time I got home, I felt starved. Therefore, Michael and I and went out to dinner before I gave Cleo her second feeding of the day. As a result, her third feeding will be at 10:30pm, and her last feeding will be at 1:30am. (About as close together as I dare administer her meals is three hours.) I've been up late and gotten little sleep the last two nights since I’ve been finishing up some major assignments for the online class I'm taking this semester, so already at 9:30 it feels late. Hopefully I’ll make it, but the fact that I'll be finishing my paper in that time certainly doesn't make me feel any more motivated to stay up! At least I’ll have Cleo to keep me company while I work.

Recovering from feline fatty liver


Monday, December 5, 2005

Getting better...

Despite all the various signs of improvement that she shows, Cleo is still different in many ways. She is still much more compliant than she ever was before. For instance, the very fact that I can bring her to bed with me, put her under the covers, and she stays — that's a big difference. Cleo didn't used to stay anywhere you'd put her, like she had to make a point of her independence. Also, it used to be that when I'd pick her up she would hold herself as rigidly as possible, so that she was dead weight and you simply couldn’t miss the fact that she didn't like being picked up. Now, however, when I gather her up in my arms, she leans into me. It's sweet and cuddly, but so unlike her that it's kind of scary.

However, she still seems to be doing much better. This afternoon I put her on the bed with me as I was working on homework, but this time on top of the covers. She hissed at the dog a couple of times, but she didn't try to run or hide — just stayed on the bed. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad sign. I'm hoping that means that she is either viewing the dog as less threatening, or that she knows I won't let the dog get her, or that she considers herself safe on the bed (where the dog isn’t allowed).

This evening Cleo spent another considerable block of time on the bed with me as I continued to work on homework. Although she always seems rather stiff and uneasy when I first put her there, she eventually settles in, curling up to sleep.

The day has gone pretty smoothly. Cleo hasn’t thrown up a meal in a while now — I can't recall the last time, actually. Possibly a week since the last rejected meal. However, I have noticed her gag and visibly struggle to not vomit, so apparently the nausea still plagues her from time to time. With the yogurt success in mind, I tried to interest her in some tuna tonight, but she only sniffed it, so apparently she’s not consistently feeling well enough for treats.

Well, it's late, so I will feed Cleo one more time (making a full can again for today) and go to bed.


Sunday, December 4, 2005

First treat since getting feline fatty liver disease

This morning when I woke up and went to the study to check on Cleo, I found her sitting at the gate, waiting for me! Apparently she liked all the attention she got yesterday, and was wanting some more. The dog was outside, so I lifted Cleo over the baby gate (I still don't think she's strong enough to jump it) and let her have the run of the house for a little bit. She strutted around with some of her old attitude, but apparently the excitement overcame her, and she dry heaved until she threw up a miniscule amount of mucus. By that time the dog was anxious to come inside, so I lifted Cleo back over the gate into "her" room, and we let the dog back in. Before I gave Cleo breakfast, though, I brought her into bed with me for about an hour while I worked on homework.

I'm thinking of moving Cleo's gate to the bedroom doorway, at least at night; I had her in bed with us for a little while last night, and she seemed surprised and disappointed when I woke her to take her back to the study. However, I’m concerned that she'll start hiding under the bed again; it's really hard to get her out from under there, and I don't relish the thought of dragging her out 4 to 5 times a day to feed and water her.

Recovering from feline fatty liver disease

Another of Cleo's accomplishments for the day: Cleo ate some yogurt! I had some yogurt and gave her the lid, and she purred as she licked it clean. Really, I haven't seen her eat it so fast before! She wouldn't lick the container when I was done, though, so I gave it to Emma, who also loves yogurt.

Emma likes yogurt too
It is also encouraging that Cleo seems to be able to somewhat control her nausea now. While I was sitting with her after a feeding earlier today, she gagged a couple of times, but each time she seemed to fight it back. She succeeded in keeping down her meal, even though it was larger than her usual quarter can.

All told, Cleo seems to be doing much better now, and each day she shows improvement in so many little ways.


Saturday, December 3, 2005

Recovering from feline hepatic lipidosis

I almost forgot to mention something rather funny that happened a few days ago. Often when I'm syringe-feeding Cleo, a little air gets into the syringe. (Sometimes I think it's this that makes her throw up after being fed.) The other day, I was petting her after having fed her, and she burped! And I mean a real, person-sized burp. I’d never heard a cat burp before, let alone that loudly. I was afraid she'd throw up, but she didn't; I guess the burp released all the air in her stomach.

Today has gone relatively well. I've just been lounging around working on homework, so this afternoon after feeding Cleo I brought her into the bedroom with me. She always used to like going under the covers when I had my knees up, like a tent, so I put my knees up and she went under! She slept on my feet for probably over an hour while I read. She seemed pretty happy, and even stayed there for a while — like a lump in the bed — when I got up to eat. Eventually, however, she crawled out, and the dog just happened to look through the bedroom door right at that moment. Cat and dog froze, looking at each other for a long moment, before Cleo went under the nightstand on my side of the bed. Emma tried to go into the bedroom to check her out, but Michael and I headed her off so that I could rescue Cleo and return her to her normal domain.

I've been trying to spend a lot of time with Cleo today, since she seems to be enjoying the attention and companionship. I'm sitting in my rocker doing homework, while she sleeps on the floor next to me. So far it seems to be a convenient arrangement, although not as comfortable as the bed.

Cleo has also been having frequent little love fests with Michael. She purrs and purrs while Michael pets her, scratches her, whatever she seems to be requesting by rolling, rubbing against his hand, etc. When Cleo gets super affectionate like this, she tends to give little love bites – gently but firmly biting your hand to let you know she wants her face scratched.

As promised, here is a picture I took yesterday of Cleo up and about:

Cleo recovering from fatty liver

She sits out like this often now, just looking at the door, and I think she probably wants some companionship. Being secluded in a room all by yourself is probably pretty nice when you don't feel very well, but I’m sure it’s getting lonely now that she’s feeling a little bit better. Which is why I'm trying to give her a little more attention.

Although the day isn't over yet, my goal is to feed Cleo a full can of food. She'll also get her fluid injection later this evening, which I am not looking forward to. I'll be so glad when she starts drinking on her own again...


Friday, December 2, 2005

Cleo's fatty liver seems to be improving

Cleo's visit to the vet today went smoothly. I didn't give her any breakfast beforehand, as she threw up a small hairball and some liquid right before I was planning on feeding her; as a result, her weight was down to 8.6 pounds (from last visit's 8.8 pounds, but that was after a meal).

Cleo shows that she is feeling better in funny little ways. She has always hated going anywhere in the car, and she now hates the vet as well. With this as motivation, she has developed a new strategy for resisting: instead of forcefully resisting when I try to put her in her carrier, she goes in quickly and turns around, so that by the time her tail is all the way in her head is on its way out again before I can get the door shut.

She acted a little more alert at the vet's office, too. In the waiting room, I opened the door of her carrier, and she peeked out until the receptionist came out to show us to an exam room. (She doesn't trust anyone in the office, so she ducked back into her carrier as soon as the receptionist appeared.) She also seemed relatively relaxed in the exam room, and sat on the table while I pet her until the vet came in. And then, once again, she disappeared.

The vet thinks Cleo is doing a little better. He said her urine is no longer discolored — the first time I had a urine analysis done, it was a brownish color from her liver failure, and the next time it was orangey, but now it's becoming a normal yellow color. He also said that her urine was a normal concentration, so giving her fluids every other night is working out fine. The vet was also pleased that she is cleaning herself more frequently now, and he thought she might look a little less yellow than she has looked before.

As I expected, I only got 1/4 of a can of food into Cleo today. Tomorrow I'll aim for a full can again. I’ve been force-feeding her for several weeks now, so hopefully in a few more weeks she’ll be well enough to eat on her own. I've been expecting anywhere from a month to two months of force-feeding her, but it may be that I need to start the count from when I started force-feeding her a normal amount of food each day, which is what she needs to recover. If so, that would be up to two months from last week — which means it could still be a while. Only time will tell, I guess...

I took some pictures of Cleo tonight, but I’ll post them another time — it's getting really late now, and I'm heading off to bed.


Thursday, December 1, 2005


Cleo has always loved foods that cats shouldn't like. When I got her from my neighbors at 5 1/2 months, she had obviously been fed a lot of table food, probably mostly fast food, and she had horrendous table manners that took me a while to retrain: She would try to eat my food right off my fork, as I was lifting it to my mouth. The first few months were a power struggle to keep her out of my food while I ate.

I'll never forget the night that I discovered she liked pineapple: I was in my bedroom in the apartment I shared with my roommate about a year ago, eating a fruit cup from Wendy's, and Cleo started begging. (Even though I retrained her to give me space while I ate, she was still adept at begging when she thought I had something she might want.) I gave her a little piece of pineapple, expecting her to stiff it and walk away, but she licked it and licked it until I put it on a surface where it wouldn’t slide around so much, and then she ate it. I tried other fruits, but she wouldn’t eat anything but pineapple — yet that fruit, she loved with a passion. From then on, any time I had pineapple I had to give her some.

Another of Cleo's favorites is fruit-flavored yogurt. One of our little rituals is that when I sit down to eat a yogurt, the first thing I do is hold the foil lid for her to lick. When she's done, I eat my yogurt, and then give her the container to lick. She manages to lick the entire upper half of one of those Yoplait containers clean, despite the narrow opening.

I was hoping to use Cleo's love of yogurt to get her to eat on her own — something, anything. Yesterday I went into the study with a yogurt; Cleo was sitting beside the rocking chair. When I opened the yogurt container (she knows the sound), sure enough, she stood up so fast that in her weakened state she almost fell over. I held the lid down to her, but although she sniffed it, she wouldn't lick. I guess she’s not even feeling well enough to eat her absolute favorite snack. It was a disappointment, but at least she showed some interest.

Although Cleo had thrown up sometime during the night, leaving a nice surprise for me to clean yesterday morning, she didn't throw up again all day. I was able to get 3/4 of a can of food into her without incident. I'm trying for a can today, since she’ll be into the vet again tomorrow for another checkup, and I may not be able to feed her as many times throughout the day.

I still haven't resumed giving her the anti-vomit pills, and it certainly seems like she throws up less without them. Isn’t that an irony?

I have taken to giving her water injections only every other day. I'll ask the vet about it tomorrow, but I think that since she gets water in her food, she should be okay. She has started getting so upset about the fluid injections that it makes them difficult to do.

Cleo is consistently cleaning herself on a daily basis now, after almost every meal. It’s such a relief to see her doing normal cat stuff now. Hopefully visit to the vet will go well; with any luck, her urinary tract infection will have cleared up, and she’ll have only one more week of antibiotics.