Pandora has a Seizure

Our cat Pandora had a seizure last night.

(Update below.)

It’s not too surprising, really. She’s 21 years old, with advanced kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, and heart murmur. She now requires Methimazole for her thyroid twice daily, Famotidine to control stomach acid levels that her kidneys can no longer regulate, and subcutaneous fluid injections twice weekly. The latter is most difficult, since it means sticking a needle into a cat and keeping it in for ten minutes, all the while holding her down while she struggles against both the pain of injection and the alien sensation of having 100mL of liquid drip into a fluid pouch under her skin.

Pandora Cat Meowing for Treats

Pandora’s usually pretty cool about the process, struggling only a little, but last night was especially difficult, with more fighting than usual — possibly because I hadn’t warmed up the fluid bag enough before the injection, so the drip was much colder and uncomfortable for her. I had to hold her down extra tight while she squirmed.

As I removed the needle she suddenly went rigid, one arm awkwardly raised at the shoulder, and collapsed in that position on the couch, drooling freely while her eyes took on a glazed, faraway look. She then went limp, her bowels releasing a bit of feces (fortunately we have soil-proof baby pads over the cushions for incontinence issues) and stayed unresponsive for over a minute.

I was yelling at her and rubbing her chest, thinking at first that the subcutaneous needle had accidentally punctured her pleural cavity and flooded her her chest with fluid, sending her into cardiac arrest, but as another minute passed, the drooling stopped and she became responsive again, if a bit weak. She even started meowing a bit. And then pooped on the couch pads some more.

Just in case, we packed her into the car (it was about 10:30PM) and brought her over to the local emergency vet clinic, where they took bloodwork and x-rays. The vet thinks it may have been a mild cardiac event from the stress of being held down during injection, but Pandora’s BUN and creatinine levels tested abnormally high even for her kidney condition, which can result in calcium, phosphorus and potassium imbalances, which can also lead to seizures, among a host of other complications, previously mentioned. More remote possibilities include blood clots causing temporary arrhythmia, and even less likely, (but not uncommon in very elderly cats) a brain tumor.

Southpaws Animal Hospital

We were waiting at the vet till about 1:30 AM.

For now Pandora is under observation at the emergency clinic, and undergoing fluid diuresis and IV therapy to help clean out her blood a bit. The nursing, blood tests, x-rays, and treatments don’t come cheap, but if we can squeeze a few more twilight years out of this cat and make them comfortable and painless for her, it’ll be worth it, because she’s still a sweet kitty.


Update, two days later:

We took Pandora home from the vet this morning.

Southpaws Animal Hospital

Not much appetite, but she may have just eaten before leaving the animal hospital. Poor cat is tired and grumpy and stressed-out so we set her down on her favorite towel, removed the bandage after a half-hour, and gave her a few treats. She’s calmed down and is napping on the couch.

Pandora, home from the vet

The animal hospital gave us her blood test results and the slides from her x-rays. Posted here for posterity and general veterinary interest: (Note the really high BUN and Creatinine levels, which are markers for chronic kidney failure.)

Pandora's Bloodwork
Pandora X-Ray (side)
Pandora X-Ray (top)

(We were also refunded a portion of the original veterinary bill, which softened the financial blow a bit. They normally charge for the high estimate on the bill, then refund from that deposit later on if costs are lower than estimated.)

Vet said Pandora had no further seizures in confinement, but it’s clear from the blood work that her kidney failure is getting worse. At this point I don’t know if she has weeks or months or years left but we’ll still see the veterinary cardiologist, keep giving her fluids, and try to keep her as happy and comfy as we can.

Bandage removed, Pandora takes a well-earned post-vet nap