Last Updated: 9/27/07
Photos are from newest to oldest.
Samantha on 7/28/07. This is her last photo, a month before she died.
Samantha sleeping on 7/24/07.
I took these two photos on 3/31/07 only because I thought Samantha was going to die that day
(see below). She survived. You can see the diarrhea she had on her which I cleaned off later
when she improved.
Samantha the morning after her possible
stroke on 7/10/06.
Samantha the morning after her possible stroke on 7/10/06.
Samantha laying on the rug on 2/19/05.
Sam's whole body on 1/25/04.
Sam's head on 1/25/04.
Picture of Samantha walking by my pond (lower right) on 4/22/01.
Picture of Samantha in her box in the bathroom, January 10, 1996.
Samantha died on 8/27/07. The next day, I went through her story and put it all into past tense which is part of my saying goodbye. Hopefully, the text below still makes sense since I changed all the tenses.
Samantha's age was unknown. We had her since January of 1994 at which time her age was guessed at five. I touched her for the first time on 2/18/94. Saman showed up out of nowhere, thin, and full of knots. She was a longhaired calico (gray, white, and tan; also called a dilute calico). If you ever wanted to meet a people cat, this was her! She did not care who you were; she loved you. Since she never had babies while with us, it is almost 100% certain that she is spayed (the vet could not tell). Sam loved to hunt when she was younger. Tootsy and Kisty detested her. Polky liked her though. When Saman first arrived, she ripped a hole in Kisty. Kisty had costly, painful surgery for the largest abscess the vet had ever seen. After that Kisty was scared to death of going outside or to the vet. We only used to bring Saman in to the bathroom in winter when it was cold. Actually, she went into the bathroom and my mother's bed quite often then and got spoiled.
A trip to the vet to determine why she was so thin yielded a battery of tests (9/98). She had a urinary tract infection which was treated with antibiotics. They thought she might have stones somewhere in her urinary system so they took x-rays. Guess what? She did not have any stones but she did have two pieces of metal in her hip. The vet said they were buck shot. That means Saman was shot sometime. Since I do not recall her ever bleeding, I assume it occurred before we got her. I wonder if that is why she was not with her original owners. We also are surrounded by irresponsible gun happy people who shoot innocent animals without a license (I know there is no cat hunting license) and while trespassing (as well as on their own land) all the time for "fun." Anyway, the shot was doing her no harm then, and her condition remained a mystery.
Saman had her yearly checkup on 3/23/00. She was down to 7.1 pounds. For some reason, she had a poor appetite. The vet said to bring her in later if she did not improve.
When I began bringing Sam inside in the fall of 2000, she was urinating 2 to 4 times a night (versus none before). I put her in a dog crate with litter, bed, food, and water to keep her away from the other cats. Of course, I thought, "Here we go again." Did she have diabetes, kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, or just a UTI (urinary tract infection)? I took her to the vet on 11/24/00, and she had a full panel of tests on her blood and urine. All they found was a slight amount of bacteria in her urine, and one of her kidney enzymes was very slightly elevated. So, it was just a UTI. She was put on Bayril and stopped urinating in her litter pan. She just held it at night and went when I put her outside.
Saman had her yearly checkups again on 3/26/01 and 3/26/02. On 3/26/02, a blood test revealed early kidney failure. It was not enough to start fluids yet (lactated ringers) but it was just a matter of time. It was a good thing that I was a pro at it!
Sam had her yearly checkup on 3/27/03. Her BUN was down to 45 from 47 and Creatinine up to 3.2 from 2.7. I started giving her about 100 mL of lactated ringers in the back twice a week to hopefully ease her discomfort and get her to eat more. With kidney failure (Tootsy and Kisty had it too before they died) though, things just get worse and worse. Sam seemed happy enough but slept a lot and meowed like she was lost sometimes. Her other blood and urine work were normal thankfully.
Saman had her blood checked again on 11/7/03. Her weight had gone down a small amount. Her BUN went down a little (the vet did not give me that number). Her Creatinine was up to 3.57. The vet suggested giving her lactated ringers three times a day now which I did. It did not flow in as easily at first as with Tootsy and Kisty. Samy slept in one spot most of the time, sometimes getting up to wail or to go upstairs and pee in my room. I bought a black light to try to find where the spots were. Her urine really stunk! At night, I locked her in a large dog kennel so we could sleep since she wailed so loud. Plus, you would think then she would pee in the pan but sometimes she must have hung her rump over as urine got under the pan and made a mess. These things were to be expected with an elderly animal so I could not be mad at her. I did not think cat diapers would work.
By late 2003, Samantha was inside almost all the time. She slept on a ferret blanket on the couch during the day. At night, I closed her into a metal dog cage/crate. It had a litter pan, food, water, blankets, and a timed cat bed heater under the blankets. We closed her up not so much anymore because she liked to pee where she should not but because she wailed a lot which kept us up if we heard it. When we just put her in the basement, she would go to the door sometimes and wail which would wake me up. She was really loud. I think that was because she was then nearly 100% deaf. She never noticed me until she saw me. Loud noises got no response even right next to her unless they generated air movement. Aside from sleeping a lot, she liked to join me watching TV where she purred loudly. I could no longer take her (sorry, I am trying to put it nicely) stench so I squirted her weekly with no water cat shampoo so she did not get wet but it cleaned her some (it is for geriatric and sick cats) and made her smell much better so we could cuddle! I gave her lactated ringers in the back three times a week, and she tolerated it well. She seemed pretty happy and was doing good for then.
Saman's yearly checkup was on 3/16/04. This time, the vet said she has a heart murmur. A full blood panel only showed problems with her kidneys which we knew. Her BUN was 43 and her creatinine was 3.2. She was pretty stable it seemed. Her fecal float check showed no parasites. So aside from failing kidneys, being deaf, and some dementia, Samantha was doing fine. She was up to 6.7 pounds too.
The morning of 7/14/04, Samantha had blood in her litter pan. She went to the vet who thought it was in the urine from a urinary tract infection. They made me wait an hour while they waited for her to pee. She did not oblige but peed a big one as soon as she got home. I gave her Baytril for a few weeks (half a pill once a day was all). She had lost a lot of weight. She only ate about every third day. I had her kidney enzymes checked: BUN 32 and creatinine 2.83 so they were down! That was a surprise considering her deteriorating condition. When I asked about her arthritis (her legs were stiff and creek; she limped some), the vet mentioned Cosequin. I looked into it. Here is the manufacture's page on it. It does not even require a prescription. It is really just glucosamine and chondrointin sulfate (with Vitamin C) which was in some of her food in lower dosages. The Cosequin is supposed to be sprinkled on the food. A lot of good that does if she will not eat. I bought some on 7/19/04. She was eating some food.
Here is a link to cat Cosequin at Drs. Foster and Smith. You do not need a prescription to get it. The photo is of the dog version but, if you click, it goes to the cat version.
I had Samantha microchipped on 3/13/05 at a clinic.
Samantha had her yearly appointment on 3/15/05. She still had her heart murmur, perhaps a bit louder. She was down to 6.3 pounds from 6.7 pounds a year earlier. She got distemper and rabies shots. A few weeks earlier, she had cut herself below her lip with her own canine teeth. I had kept an eye on it but when we went to the vet, and I casually mentioned it, it looked swollen. The vet stuck a needle in and got some blood. We put her on Clavamox antibiotics pills twice a day for 10 days to deal with any infection there. She had a full body function blood test. Her calcium was a little high, probably from her bad kidneys. Her BUN was up from 32 last July to 52! Her creatinine was up from 2.83 last July to 3.4. So, she was getting worse. I increased the frequency and quantity of subcutaneous fluids (lactated ringers) that I was giving her.
On 7/1/05, Sam's BUN was down to 38 (from 52) and her creatinine was up to 3.5 (from 3.4). So, she seemed pretty stable. She was also still 6.3 pounds.
On 12/19/05, I brought Saman to the vet for a routine blood test. The vet says it was good timing. Her kidneys were failing. Her BUN was 83 and her creatinine was 5.7. I had a "renal profile" done which included those tests as well as CBC and urinalysis. The urinalysis showed lots of bacteria in her urine and high white blood cells. The vet thought maybe she had a kidney infection. He suggested a culture on the urine to find the best antibiotic and 2 days of hospitalization. I opted for the test and one day of 24-hour-a-day IV fluids and antibiotics at first the emergency vet (overnight 12/20/05) and then the regular vet (12/21/05). As usual, they did not give me her weight. She spent 8 am to 6:30 pm at the regular vet on 12/21/05, and then, I picked her up. They tested her right before she left but I did not get to record the values as they were too fast. The creatinine was down a tiny bit and the BUN down to 53 I think so that was better. At home, I was giving her half a Baytril and 100 mL of lactated ringers each night. She had eaten some chicken and even the KD Science Diet food which has the gross ingredients of pork liver and by-products. I buy my cats human-grade natural canned and dry foods without by-products, etc. but the vet said the KD would really help her (that was if she ate it). Sam seemed to be doing fine. Her behavior had not changed that much through this whole thing but now she seemed to wander and cry less so perhaps those were symptoms of her poor blood chemistry. We were waiting on the culture to learn more.
The culture results came on 12/27/05. The bacteria were not killed by enrofloxacin (Baytril) but were by amoxicillin and Clavamox. Because Clavamox can reduce appetite, and Saman was already anorexic, I opted for amoxicillin. She got 1 mL twice a day. It is like Pepto Bismol and smells of bubble gum. She hated it. She was eating the KD diet but other stuff too. [Note added 8/29/07 - Sometime in early 2006, I stopped giving Samantha the KD because she did not eat it.] They never gave me Sam's weight but I heard something around 5 pounds. She was so skinny but otherwise doing well.
I had Saman's blood and urine re-tested on 2/8/06. Her BUN was 80 and her creatinine 4.9 so she was not better. Her kidneys were failing. I gave her 100 mL of fluid each night. Her urinalysis came back on 2/10/06 and showed no signs of infection, red, or white blood cells so that was good.
Sam had her yearly checkup on 3/17/06. Aside from her anorexia, muscle loss, arthritis, and general decrepit nature, the only thing the vet commented on was I should clean her left ear a few times as it is waxy. I had a body function blood panel done. Her BUN was down to 63 and creatinine down to 3.8 so that was better! Yay! All her other values were basically normal. She was 5.5 pounds down from 5.6 on 2/8/06. She had had CRF for 4 years at this point and was slowly wasting away but still got around and did what she needed to do.
On 6/30/06, at around 6 pm, I was looking for Samantha to give her her lactated ringers. I had been home an hour but had not looked for her. Now, she was gone. I asked my father who said, oh yeah, your mother let her outside this morning. He had last seen her at 9 am! I searched around the house and under all the bushes. I planned to mow so I mowed parts of our 5 acres for 2 hours, keeping an eye out wherever I went for Samantha, under ever bush and so forth. She could barely walk and had dementia. I told my mother over and over never to let her outside. My mother got home around 7 pm and looked for a while as well. Saman was gone. I was up half the night thinking about how the hawks or foxes would tear her to bits.
The next morning, I had been awake since 2 am but waited until 6:50 am to go outside to look. I should have looked sooner. I went under the bushes and around the house. Then, I headed out front through the weeds. Part way down a gully, as I scanned left to right and back, there she was. She stuck up her head and squeaked. She could not get up. Flies were all over her. I picked her up. There were literally thousands of fly eggs on her. They knew she was dying and wanted to get a head start. I brought her in to the laundry tub and spent half an hour cutting almost all her fur off. Many eggs were planted right at the skin. With her bad arthritis, she stiffened out her legs when I held her by the scruff so it was hard to trim her by myself. I accidently cut her three times, just minor skin wounds. Considering I opened and closed those scissors probably 300 times, that was only a 1% failure. After cutting off all the eggs I could find, I gave her a shower with cat shampoo. She had some poo smeared on her rump but not enough to illicit all those flies. I towel dried her and dripped 150 mL of lactated ringers into her. I then put her in her cage. I put out food and water and put a regular heating pad on low under her bed. When she still shivered, I set up a space heater for a while and blow dried her. While doing that, I found a mass of maggots that I had missed, already hatched. I washed just that spot again. My mother said I should ask the vet for advice. They, of course, wanted me to bring her in and would not give us any advice without paying for their new car or perhaps luxury vacation first.
I brought her to the vet at 9:20 am. She was still at 5.5 pounds (remember though that 150 g of that was fresh water I put into her). I found a mass of eggs on her tail I missed but they did not find any more masses. They shaved around her three little cuts and put glue on them to close them as they say the maggots will run for those spots. They gave her a shot of ivermectin which should kill any maggots we missed that feed on her. The vet said it takes effect in a few hours and lasts a few weeks. She got a prescription for amoxicillin (antibiotic). She got 0.5 mL twice a day for 10 days. The concentration was 50 mg/mL. I gave her another 100 mL of fluid at 2 pm. I wrote this the same day, and she was just sleeping a lot. We had to keep her caged until any remaining maggots died from starvation or the ivermectin. She wanted out but was exhausted. Her back legs were falling out from under her more and more. I did not know how long she could hold on but I sure did not want her cause of death to be being eaten alive by maggots.
As of 7/7/06, Samantha was back to her usual self and recovered from her ordeal.
Sam did well up until 7/9/06. I gave her her lactated ringers at 8 pm, an hour later than usual due to family visiting. After she got the water, she vomited some fluid which was not unusual for her so I did not think much of it. I went up and did e-mail for an hour. When I came back down, my father was cursing that she had puked all over the place. He had already cleaned it up but said it was white foam. So, I picked her up to put her up early into her cage. When I set her down, she went totally limp and unresponsive. My cat, Kisty, did that when she had a stroke and died within a few hours of that. I went to my mother to tell her that Samantha was dying. While there, I noticed that I had dark, tar-like diarrhea down my entire side. She had evacuated when she either had a stroke or seizure of some sort. I changed and also had to clean up the fecal trail from where I picked her up down to the cage. I checked on her a few minutes after I had put her down and expected her to be gone but she was breathing so I picked her up and moved her to her bed with the heating pad. She responded and wanted to stand up. Her eyes had kind of sunk in, and she did not seem to be all there which I have seen before with cats right before they die. I did not think she would make it through the night but she did. The next morning, she ate a little and washed her face. I left her in the cage in case she had more problems. I had to change out her towel which was soaked with foamy vomit. I took a few photos of her (see above). I did not know what I would find when I got home from work.
Well, Samantha made a miracle recovery! As of 7/13/06, she was basically back where she was before her "fainting" spell the night of 7/9/06. So, she was still half dead but she was also still half alive. She actively climbed two flights of stairs and jumped up on the coach, ate, and climbed onto me when I am watching tv. I have said she is immortal, and she kept proving me right!
As of 7/20/06, she was still doing well.
On 10/9/06, I took Samantha in and had her BUN and creatinine checked. The BUN was down to 42 and the creatinine down a tiny bit to 3.7. How could she be doing better? They also did a hemocrit which was a little low but not below 20 when they would give her injections. She was up to 5.9 pounds.
Update, 3/8/07: Yep, she was still alive. I do not know how! Unless she was confined to the dog cage, she dumped her wastes all over the house so it was constant clean up. She had blood in her stool and remained anorexic. Yet, she ate well and walked all around the house (while looking where to leave a "present"). She, of course, slept a lot but had not been calling as much. That was where she stood on her bed and made these pitiful meows over and over while staring at the wall. My niece loved her and liked to pet her. Saman lapped up any attention she could get.
On 3/21/07, Saman went in for her yearly checkup. She was down to 5.4 pounds (from 5.9 on 10/9/06). She now had a Grade 1 heart murmur (not much) which was new. They shaved her chin and cleaned it. Her canine teeth rubbed there so it was sort of infected. The vet said we would not bother with antibiotics unless her urinalysis came back with a urinary tract infection (UTI). It did. She had the renal profile blood work with urinalysis. It was not until the bill when I saw "cystocentesis" that I realized they had done that to get her urine instead of expressing her bladder. She always seemed full of pee to me, leaving about half a dozen pees on the floors during the day. Her creatinine was up to 4.6 (from 3.7 on 10/9/06). Her BUN was also up to 77 (from 42 on 10/9/06) so she was getting worse. Her phosphorus was actually normal. Her white blood cell count was a little high. Her urine was dilute and alkaline with struvite crystals and lots of bacteria. They had never seen crystals in her urine before. The vet says the urinary tract infection may be causing the cystitis, increased pH, and crystals. Since before her UTI was treatable with Clavamox, that was what she is going on again for her UTI and the sort of infected chin. She got the liquid suspension for a few weeks. Hopefully, it would not make her sick (digestively).
On 3/31/07, in the morning, I found Samantha in her cage with diarrhea and vomit all over her and the cage. She was not really able to stand and did not look good. I changed her bedding and kept her in the cage for the day since she was messy and weak. I took some photos above which were very unflattering. I think the Clavamox made her sick so I did not finish the course of antibiotics. I gave her no more. I thought this was the end. I should have known; Samantha is immortal after all. Later in the day, she was eating and squeaking to get out of the cage. She perked up enough that I felt okay giving her a butt bath. I washed and trimmed out as much diarrhea as I could. I changed her bedding again and put her in the cage. By morning, she was back to her usual self! I let her out, and she continued her routine of sleeping, wandering, and excreting wherever she wanted.
Samantha recovered from the problems above pretty well and was her usual self for a few months. Then, beginning in early June, she no longer could climb the stairs out of the basement due to her arthritis and general weak condition. She preferred to sleep on her blanket on the living room couch where I had put in pet stairs for her to get up there. With her unable to climb stairs, I cleaned up the couch for the first time in years and moved her stuff to the basement. She had trouble with her rear legs for a few weeks, often getting "stuck" in one spot. Then, that got better. She mostly slept in the big metal dog cage (her cage) with the door open during the day but also wandered the basement, depositing urine, feces, and sometimes vomit wherever she was at. Her feces had blood on the outside of it most of the time now. At night, I closed her in the dog cage so she did not wander. She ate dry cat food but hardly any canned cat food. She did not eat enough. Yet, she was functional and continued to refuse to ever die. She was so immortal to me surviving all sorts of things that should have killed her that if she ever does die, I will not believe it. I was not taking her to the vet because they would have just said she was dying and was beyond help (she could not tolerate medications in her weak state either). She just proved them wrong every day. "Me, dying? No, I'm just getting my second wind!"
Samantha had more and more trouble moving around. She would fall over and seemed to be stuck only to move on. The last time she could really walk on all four feet was 7/29/07. At that point, I thought she really was dying as she was nearly unresponsive for a few days. Then, I started to put food right in front of her mouth, and amazingly, she scarfed it up. She went back to meowing when she saw me and moving around some using her front legs. I had to change her bedding twice a day since she could not get up to pee. I mixed in Felovite goopy vitamins and mortar and pestled dry vitamins as well as her Cosequin into her canned cat food. I mixed it all up and put it next to her mouth, and she ate. I gave her some time and then cleaned up. I also gave her water in her mouth via plastic syringe and her usual 100 mL a day of subcutaneous lactated ringers. While most people would probably have paid a vet to kill her, I did not do that, and she wanted to live. She grabbed onto my hand and the spoon of food with a good amount of strength. Her legs may have failed but her spirit was still there. She was feisty. I did not call her immortal for nothing.
When I left for work on 8/27/07, Samantha was still breathing but her spirit/mind was gone. When I got home at 5 PM, she was completely gone. We buried her next to Kisty.
See my cat health page for a section on renal failure and some links.
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