Friday, January 17, 2014

bloodwork 1/16/14

Phenobarb level done by Antech - for a ridiculous price of $140, when it could have been done for $70 at Hemopet.  Result was 23, which is good and pretty much his regular level.  Therapeutic blood levels are 15 to 45.

Bloodwork was done in office, which I'm not crazy about, but compared to what Antech charges for it's basic bloodwork, it didn't matter much.  I haven't been getting the Keppra levels done at Auburn for the last year or so because I thought that they were doing it in order to help establish the feline levels for the drug.  Apparently not; every report included levels based on the human numbers.

Here's the report:

ALB      3.9       range - 2.2-4.4
ALP      27        range - 10-90
ALT      153*    range - 20-100
AMY     819     range - 300-1100
TBIL      0.3      range - 0.1-0.6
BUN      23       range - 10-30
CA++    9.3      range - 8.0-11.8
PHOS   4.0       range - 3.4-8.5
CREA   1.2       range - 0.3-2.1
GLUC   102      range - 70-150
NA+      140*   range - 142-164
K+         3.7      range - 3.7-5.8
TP         6.9       range - 5.4-8.2
GLOB   3.0       range - 1.5-5.7

QC    OK
HEM 0, LIP 0, ICT 0

I was expecting the ALT, which is always elevated because of the phenobarbital, to be even high than normal, because for the last month or so, he hasn't been getting the Marin twice a day.  The company is no longer making the Marin tablets, and the "sprinkles" which have replaced them aren't appropriate for a cat who's as reluctant an eater as Milk is.  I bought a liquid milk thistle, and got suggestions from Cody, a friend on the Feline EpiKitty Board as to dosage, but for some reason, I can't bring myself to give it to him.  I was avoiding starting him on Denosyl because it's so expensive, but maybe that's the only resource.

Other than the bloodwork, the vet felt that he weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces.  I have this wonderful and terribly expensive Japanese scale that Hope sent me a couple years ago, and the cats NEVER weigh the same at home as they do at the vets.  I haven't weigh Milk at home for several weeks, so I'm not arguing about this one, but I'm not sure I agree with 9 pounds, 6 ounces.

Still some indications of conjunctivitis, although his eyes are so much better than they were before I started giving him the tetracycline drops that the emergency hospital gave BooWeenie.   Other than the eye stuff, he doesn't really have any leftover stuff from the horrible epidemic of 2013.

Poor little cat is absolutely catatonic from the minute I put him in the carrier.  I guess we should be grateful that he only has to go to the vet every six months..........

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Still losing weight and a black lump

I've been weighing everyone I can get my hands on for the last couple months - particularly Busy and Milk, who are the most at risk.  Fortunately, they're the most cooperative, too.  Once in a while, you luck out.

Took Milk to the vet today for bloodwork to check his phenobarb level, and to have his other bloodwork done for the first time in quite a while.  I had wanted the vet to do it the last time we were at the office - months ago - but he didn't take enough blood, or didn't remember, or whatever.  Anyway, today he got plenty.  I don't have  a copy of the actual report from his Idexx machine in the office.  I always wonder/worry about calibrations, but.....  Anyway, he called after we got home and said that the only value that was out of order was - as usual - the ALT.  110.  Very close to the upper limit of normal, which is unusual.  Milk's weight was down, according to the vet's records,  a half pound.  He weighed 9.25 pounds on the office scale, another of the places I always wonder about calibration.  And I have this wonderful scale at home that Hope gave me a couple of years ago - I have more faith in it.  Just a couple minutes ago, I weighed him here in the dining room, before he ate dinner, and he was 9 lbs, 1 oz.  Pretty much what he's been fairly consistently since I stopped giving him the cyproheptadine.

Dr. G. was concerned about Milk's weight. He's afraid, if he does end up with some death-dealing illness (which seems to be happening with sickening regularity to my cats) that he won't have any reserves to fall back on;  he's a very tall, long cat, with next to no body fat.  Not all that much muscle, either, to be truthful.  I hadn't told Dr.  G. that I had discontinued the cyproheptadine back in June or whenever because of the increasingly bizarre behavior.  Today, when I mentioned that, he seemed to feel that, regardless of the behavior, he needed the weight, and therefore the appetite stimulant.  I forgot to mention the B12 injections, which are continuing on a weekly basis, and I did think they seemed to be making Milk a little more enthusiastic about eating.  The recommendations for cats and B12 injections is to give them weekly for six weeks, and then to continue them either weekly or bi-weekly.  Much as I hate giving both Milk and Busy the shots (God only knows why it didn't make me a wreck in four years of shooting Scruffy, probably because he could have cared less, I guess.)  I think it's worth it to continue the injections for both cats.  So, we came home and I dug out the bottle of cypro, and gave him the first 1/4 tablet tonight.  He'll probably be up all night making me crazy while he looks for food.

Milk has a chewed area on his neck that is the largest he's ever had.  Apparently Busy's illness has made him even more aggressive than before.  (He waits until I go to the bathroom, and then he starts chewing on Milkshake or Pinky or OneBun.  Quite the little planner, he is.)  And Milk has continued to be aggressive with Oney, especially.  OneBun never bothers anyone.  I don't know why they're both picking on him.    Anyway........  The other area of concern was this black lump that showed up on Milk's lower gum a week or two ago.  He didn't want me to mess around with it.  I don't want to see ANY black spots on a pink and white cat.  It was quite alarming.  Dr. G. looked at it and began discussing melanin, and meandered onto melanoma, while I was standing there dripping with sweat (IT WAS HOT!) and with this horrible aching in my stomach.  He noticed, though, when he looked more closely that there was a hair sticking out of the black lump.  (I should have taken a picture of it.  Rats.)    That made him think that it was most likely just a little chunk of acne-like stuff, and eventually he just picked it off Milk's gum.  A relief.  I had already told him that if there was something deadly in Milk's bloodwork, he was NOT allowed to mention it.  Too much trauma and disease already.

He should call about the phenobarb levels tomorrow.  I just realized I forgot to tell him how many hours post pill it was.  Rats.  I'm not sure what to expect this time - the last couple times, the phenobarb level has dropped from the 30's to the low 20's, as his weight has also dropped, which seems paradoxical.

Another $200+ for bloodwork.    Hemopet (where I'm sending Busy's blood now) makes Antech look  like they're really overcharging for their services, especially since Homepet farms out all of the non-thyroid bloodwork to their local ANTECH!  They must get quite the discount.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Is Vitamin B12 a "miracle drug"?

I spent some time recently thinking about giving Milkshake Vitamin B12.  He's done all right since the end of the cyproheptadine pills, but his weight has dropped noticeably  - all of the weight he had gained is now gone again.    And the unfortunately behavior that was of concern has pretty much continued unchanged.  He has become very aggressive with OneBun.  All that time Busy spent chewing on Milk's neck - well, now Milk is doing it to Oney.  He's much more vocal now than previously.  He frequently will meow plaintively, even when he's alone and just sitting there.  I don't know.

I have methylcobalamin pills.  (Cherry flavored, unfortunately, but I wrap them in half a pill pocket, so he doesn't have to taste them anyway.)  They didn't seem to produce much effect.  And he really doesn't need any more large pills to swallow....

When I decided to try B12, injectibles seemed like a good way to go.  (I hadn't thought about how long it's been since I was giving injections to Scruffy on  a regular basis.)  Busy has become what appears to be permanently hypoThyroid since he had the I131 radiation treatment, so I want to give him B12, too.  Neither cat has had the bloodwork to detect any B12 deficiency, although they both are in the very likely category, due to Busy's previous hyperthyroidism, and Milkshake's liver problems with the long term phenobarbital medication.  B12 is a water soluble vitamin, which makes it a little less worrisome.  At some point, I guess I'll have the testing done - it's quite expensive, and with all of Busy's thyroid problems, the cost of bloodwork is enormous.  

So, anyway, I spoke to Dr. G about getting injectible B12.  He gave me a prescription, and then I sat down at the computer to find a good place to order it from.  Because of Busy's more immediate medical problems, I ended up just getting the stuff at Costco's pharmacy, but was told - surprisingly - that there is a B12 "shortage."  All they had is the 1ml size vial.  Since the dosage of B12 goes by weight, Dr. G figured out that Milk should get .25ml once a week for six weeks.  Which is a dosage I have seen in a number of places.  For dogs, the recommendation is to then do once monthly injections, and then to quit after a couple more months.    For cats, the recommendation is to continue giving the injections after the initial six weeks, on either a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.  

I got U100 syringes, short needles, 31 gauge.  Just like the old days.  And I suddenly was afflicted with a huge case of nerves.  I knew the mechanics (although I was a little vague on where exactly Milk's scruff is, to say nothing of the fact that he's so skin-and-bones that it's not a very comfortable place to shoot.  I had shot Scruffy's insulin in his flank/side for most of his life as a diabetic, and that seems like it would be a better place for both Busy and Milk.  Fewer obstacles - like bones - in that area, and not much to interfere with tenting.  Anyway, for the first injection, I just wanted to do it and get it under my belt.  So, I got the syringe ready, put Milk on the counter, and laid out a pile of Temptations for him to munch on.  Did my best to get a good grip on his scruff, and injected him.  I think.  His beautiful white fur suddenly took on an unfortunate pink hue.  Blotches of pink all over the back of his head, up toward his ears, and down over his shoulders.  I didn't know if any of the stuff actually got INTO him.  He didn't react until nearly the end of the injection.  I'm out of practice, and I was shooting such tiny amounts of insulin with Scruffy;  .25 in these syringes is actually a pretty large seeming amount, because the barrel of the syringe is very narrow.  I don't have much of a grip on how fast to shoot it.  I have read that the combination B vitamin injectible is uncomfortable for the cat because it stings.  B12 is not supposed to.  Don't know.  Anyway, I got some unknown quantity into Milk, and aside from the neon pink fur, he didn't seem to be particularly affected.

The next morning, I was awakened by Milk standing on my chest.  Actually, he was DANCING on my chest.  If I had to guess what he was trying to tell me, it was "FEED ME!  NOW!"  A very unusual  situation with him.  Although he occasionally acts mildly interested in food (and definitely wants ham anytime), most of the time, he dawdles about coming to see what's to eat until someone else has eaten everything on his plate.  Or he eats a couple nibbles and wanders off.  But yesterday, he was very interested in eating.  I assume it was because of the B12.  If it was, I wish I'd thought about using it months/years ago.  I don't know how long each injection is going to last, or how the effect will turn out, but so far, it's looking like it has potential.  I would really like it if he could gain a little weight, although that brings up the problem of  his blood phenobarb levels.  

Ultimately, I ended up ordering a 100ml bottle of B12 from a website called    It was an amazingly reasonable price of $4.97.  Plus $4.99 shipping.  I paid Costco $7.11 for a 1ml vial that I picked up at the store!  Amazing.  That amount, even shooting two cats, should last a huge amount of time.

Weight - down to 9 pounds on July 18.  Almost an entire pound since the last time I weighed him.    Bloodwork due sometime soon....

Monday, May 20, 2013

No more cyproheptadine, weight down..... :(

On May 13, 2013, I decided that I wouldn't give Milk the cypro any more.  With mixed feelings, because he was as as close to ten pounds again as he'd been in almost six years......  But the behavioral stuff was becoming more frequent and the thought of his having seizures again was too much.  His phenobarb levels have dropped significantly in the past year, from being in the mid-30's to the low 22's.  More weight would mostly likely mean even further reduction in phenobarb levels, which is a risk I'm hesitant to take. And the thought of beginning the whole phenobarb dose experimentation again is almost totally out of the question.

He doesn't appear to have any kind of reaction to the removal of cypro.  He seems mildly interested in eating, usually only for one meal a day, though.  He's more of a nibbler now.  And his weight has dropped fairly drastically already - I just weighed him and he's down to 9 pounds 8 oz.  He's unfortunately most willing to eat dry cat food/Temptations and anything that I happen to be eating - ham is right on the top of his life.  Canned cat food - not so much......

Friday, May 10, 2013

The odd behaviors continue.   Three days ago, Milk spend about fifteen minutes literally attacking his tail, and in between those attempts, he was doing a neck-stretching/twisting/eye-rolling/staring-at-the-ceiling thing that was frighteningly reminiscent of a seizure.  He has been waking me up several times a night for weeks now, meowing and attacking other cats.  There are what seem like aspects of hyperesthesia and compulsion that are much more pronounced than before.  It makes me so uncomfortable that I decided to decrease the cyproheptadine from 1/4 of a 4mg. tablet daily to every other day.

Last night, the meowing and jumping around all night was virtually non-stop. (Yesterday morning was a pill day.)  While I was trying to decide what to do, I remembered that the most recent phenobarb levels were the lowest ever.  The possibility that that change in phenobarb level, most likely related to the weight gain that I was so pleased with (!) , is behind the current behavioral changes seems very real.  I was always somewhat comforted by the fact that it has been so long since Milk's last seizure - almost five years! -  but I do believe that the next one could unfortunately be right around the corner.  And  I don't EVER want him to have another seizure.

I'm hesitant to do any sort of phenobarb increase because it does affect his eating negatively, and because it makes him so wobbly and uncoordinated.  But, the cyproheptadine is definitely expendable right now.  It's wonderful for Milk to be less skin-and-bones, to be able to stroke his back without bumping up and down on his spine, but I would prefer that he be wispy again to having seizures again.

I'm going to discontinue the cypro, keep an eye on his weight, and see what the phenobarb levels are when he has his next bloodwork.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My sweet Milkshake, in his favorite heated bed.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Still hanging in there........

Things continuing pretty much as usual with Milkshake. This week was the sixth anniversary of the arrival of the first seizure, back in 2007.  I still wake up sometimes in the middle of the night, thinking that I hear him having a seizure. The other day, I actually watched the video I had made that first year, and it still makes a knot in my stomach to see (and hear) it.

Toward the end of December, 2012, I started him back on the cyproheptadine.  He gets 1/4 of a 4mg tablet, once a day.  I had discussed it with the vet, who felt that there were no significant concerns about using it, and who agreed that keeping the weight on Milk was a good idea.  I give it to him in the morning, with his phenobarbital, Keppra, and Marin, and wait a half hour or so to let it "settle".   He grazes during the day - and attempts to hop up on the countertop for Temptations treats every time I go into the kitchen.  It doesn't seem to make huge difference in his appetite, but he does seem to be more motivated to eat small amounts on a frequent basis.  Which is good.

His last phenobarb level was somewhat surprisingly low - 22.5.  Instead of sending it to Auburn, we just used the Antech lab in New York that is the vet's regular resource.  I don't know if that's significant or not.  Another question may be that the blood was taken almost 9 hours after he got his pill.  He doesn't seem any more coordinated or alert or in any way different because of that lower level, but I don't know if I want to see it get any lower.   Otherwise, he still is showing occasional agression to the smaller cats, particularly if they're laying in what he considers to be "his" spot.  And he spends hours curled up on my right arm, which interferes with my knitting, but is just where I like him to be....

Friday, June 1, 2012

Where has all the poundage gone? Long time pass-sss-ing.....

Well,  I stopped giving Milks the cyproheptadine two weeks ago.  Tapered it for the previous week.  And, while he is still mildly interested in food, he is losing weight again.  I need to talk to Dr. G and see if he feels that there would be some problem with using the cypro on a fairly regular basis.

I have been noticing some odd behaviors lately, too.  Some things remind me of hyperesthesia - he is slightly resistent to being stroked down his back recently, and kind of shrinks from touching,  and he has started doing some really strange stuff with his tail....  It's almost like he doesn't realize that his tail is attached to him any more or something.  Very odd.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Still bizarre missing weights....

Came back here a couple minutes ago, and once again, there is no weight data since December 2, 2011.  I KNOW I added several when I made the last post.  And I just added a weight for today, and one for last month, and when I went back to look, they were gone!  The Haunted Blog  List......  I redid them, and they're still there, as of 6:34 PM, 5/2/12.    We'll see....  It'd be different if it didn't MATTER, especially since he is actually gaining weight.  Some of the missing weights were among the lowest ever - barely over 8 and a half pounds.

I am still giving him cyproheptadine - 1/4 tablet twice a day, shortly before he is fed.  I don't see any negative side effects from the medication, which is wonderful.  Occasionally, I skip a dose, and he seems somewhat less interested in eating, so I guess it's still working properly. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weight records?

I just went to add another weight (today's) to Milk's record on the side here, and discovered that all of the 2012 weights have disappeared.  I can't figure it out.  And I know, because I've been concerned about his weight for months, that I was recording them.  Very strange.  Even worse, two weeks ago, he had been eating so little on his own that I started giving him 1/4 tablet of cyproheptadine, and, although my perception was that he was still eating very little, the last time he was weighed at the vets, he was up to 9 pounds, 4 ounces!  (Although, I never think that the vet's scale is accurate.....)  Anyway, four or five days ago, I stopped the cypro, and once again, he's not eating much, particularly in the morning.  My only hope is,  the cats all free-feed, so maybe he's up nibbling at leftovers all night long.  I don't know....

Somehow - of course, I suspect Busy - Milk's got a quarter size wound on his lower back.  It appeared out of the blue a month ago, and unfortunately, it's in a location where he can actually reach it and lick and lick at it.  Unlike the gnawing that Busy used to do on Milkshake's neck, which at least had the chance to heal.  These sores are larger, and always red from being abraded by his tongue.  I have been putting vaseline on it, in the hopes of helping it to heal without using something that might hurt Milk if he licks it.  Ha, "if".  I tried putting a little sweater on him, but he was totally incapacitated for an entire day by the "weight" of the sweater - that dumb thing cats do when you try to put clothes on them:  "Oh, this is so heavy , I can't move."  It did heal up and disappear once for about two days, but it's back again.

I believe Milkshake is still missing Scruffy.  He hasn't resumed his usual habits - where he sleeps, who he snuggles up again, the eating problems.  It hurts my heart to think he's sad and doesn't understand.  

We had bloodwork done in the vet's office for the regular stuff, and sent samples to Auburn for phenobarb and keppra testing.  Although I haven't seen the actual results from the vet yet, he called and said that everything was absolutely normal.  The phenobarb level was down slightly to 26.8, which is very good, as the range is 15 - 45 for the mid-therapeutic range for dogs and cats, and the keppra/levetiracetam level was, well, it is what it is, and has been. It was 23.4.  The therapeutic range (established for humans) is 5.5 - 21.   The report said:  "The concentration of levetiracetam mid-interval is in the high therapeutic range most commonly associated with seizure control in humans.  The relevance of these concentrations to canine or feline epileptics has yet to be confirmed."  They talk about peak and trough levels, but, especially since Keppra (the brand name - it's shorter!) is actually intended to be given TID, I don't see the relevance of those levels because Milk's only getting it twice a day.  

 I'm not changing a thing with his anti-convulsants.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Milk's buddy is gone....

Scruffy left us on Monday, March 5, 2012.  Milk is plainly aware that he's gone, and seems kind of restless.  He has been spending a lot of time in the new heated cat bed I bought a couple of weeks ago, and on the kitty pi in the living room where he and Puffy would spend hours all curled up together.  We're all mourning.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Missed the anniversary!

October 1 - three years since Milk's last seizure!  Certainly well worth celebrating, huh?

Nothing much else new with him.  He's a little less adept at jumping up  on things than he was; I still can't decide if it's a perception thing, or if there's something mechanical/physical going on.  Sometimes he'll miss the jump twice, and the third time, hop right up there.  He does some odd stuff, too, like very obsessive tail-chasing/biting (when he's laying down only).  I've been feeding him separately from everyone else, in the living room where I can watch him eat and make sure no one eats his food until he's done with it.  He gets a handful of kitten chow with the canned food, and eats fairly enthusiastically.  He has developed the unfortunate (when there are 10 other cats eager to eat that dry food!) habit of eating for a couple minutes and then wandering away.  If I weren't sitting by his dish with my trusty squirt bottle, there wouldn't be anything left when he came back....

My sweet boy just came to sit on the keyboard and accept any and all tributes to his wonderfulness.  Happy anniversary, Milk, and may there be many, many more!

Monday, August 22, 2011

I have another theory......

I always have theories, I just never have any way to prove or disprove them......

Anyway, I have been concerned about Milk's weight loss for some months now.  Although I had planned to have his phenobarb levels checked back in June or July, other things happened, and we didn't get to the vet for the bloodwork until August 2.  (My birthday!  Some gift to myself.)  I have been having his blood sent to Auburn University for phenobarb and Keppra/levetiracetam level testing for two years or so.  My impression was that Auburn, which is apparently the only place doing Keppra testing for animals, was using their results to establish the norms for cats, who currently receive bloodwork results with the reference ranges for humans attached.  However, because there still don't appear to be any feline norms, I just thought this time I'd only have the phenobarb level done by Antech and have the vet run a "vetscan" on his in-office machine.  I have been wondering about Milk's liver functions for some time because of the phenobarb, and it's been a while since they were checked.  That said, I don't really know how accurate the vet's machine is....

The background of this concern is, Milk has continued to lose weight.   His appetite is variable; sometimes, particularly if there are Temptations or dry food involved, he's VERY enthusiastic.  Other times, I put down his dish and he just wanders away, without even sniffing it.  He's not assertive, and occasionally, one of the others decides to share his food, and he will generally just leave and find another dish.   In addition, he has had a paradoxical reaction to phenobarbital since he started on it - anorexia.  (Lots of stuff about this in the posts here from 2007.)

Hence, my current theory:
What's going on here is a "vicious circle".  The phenobarbital decreases his appetite, which causes weight loss, which increases the effect of the amount of phenobarb circulating in his blood, which further affects his appetite and his weight. There's a formula for determining the presumptive correct dosage of phenobarbital -   2 - 4 mg/kg.  So, by that formula, Milk's appropriate minimal dosage going by his current weight  (a puny 8 pounds, 8 ounces this morning) would be  7.7mg BID .  Which is pretty much exactly what he gets - about a half tablet twice a day.

The bloodwork done on August 2, 2011, had the following results:

phenobarbital level      29.3      (reference range:   15.0-45.0)

ALB              4.2            (reference range:     2.2-4.4)  
ALP              29              (reference range:     10-90)
ALT              234  *       (reference range:     20-100)
AMY            903            (reference range:     300-1100)
TBIL            0.3              (reference range:     0.1-0.6)
BUN            23               (reference range:     10-30)
CA++          9.3              (reference range:      8.0-11.8)
PHOS          3.1  *         (reference range:      3.4-8.5)
CRE            1.3              (reference range:      0.3-2.1)
GLU            92               (reference range:      70-150)
NA+           146              (reference range:      142-164)
K+              4.2               (reference range:       3.7-5.8)
TP              6.7               (reference range:       5.4-8.2)
GLOB        2.4               (reference range:       1.5-5.7)

QC       OK
HEM    0         LIP    0        ICT   0

I wish that the vet's machine had produced an AST level as well.  That said, I'm not all that worried about the ALT's elevation.  That value has been elevated since the beginning of phenobarbital administration; it's not horribly high, and bile acids testing, which is, I believe, actually of more value in determining the liver status, has always been in a normal range.  I have been giving Milk 1/2 a tablet of Marin (milk thistle) every day for more than a year.  After this bloodwork, I increased it to a whole tablet; we'll see if that makes any difference.  At this point, there is nothing more to be done about the ALT - I'm not willing to make any changes in his phenobarbital dosage, barring major worsening of liver functioning.  Most attempts to reduce phenobarbital dosages based on the experience of the Yahoo EpiKitty Board seem to result in the re-emergence of seizures that are even worse than they were before being controlled.  And we don't want THAT.

The next question - is there a significance to the low phosphorus value?  I have no idea.  The vet didn't mention it when he called to report the results.  I googled, and came up with lots of references to feline renal failure with HIGH phosphorus levels, but LOW - well, I saw IBD mentioned, with intestinal symptoms that Milk doesn't have, and lymphoma.  Which made me gulp.  I need to find out more about the phosphorus stuff, obviously.

In an effort to put a little weight back on my sweet Milkshake, I bought a ton of jars of baby food meat.  (Boy, that stuff is expensive!)  It's not a whole lot of calories added to give him a jar per day, but I think every little bit helps.  Hopefully.  And I'm adding a little bit  -  a tiny, guilt-producing, fear-inducing amount  -  of dry food to his canned stuff.  He eats the dry more enthusiastically, and  nuzzling around in the dish of canned stuff looking for it seems to keep him eating a little longer.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Feeling vaguely uncomfortable

I have been trying to convince myself that there's nothing going on with Milk.  Unfortunately, I'm just not sure that's true.  I weighed him this morning- you wouldn't think that just a few ounces (4!) would make a difference in his appearance, but he feels significantly more bony these days.  And his ability to jump - already severely not-what-it-used-to-be -seems to have diminished.  I can't decide if the problem is that his judgment of how high he needs to jump has become more impaired, or if he has some sort of rear leg weakness going on, or what.  It will frequently take two or three tries to get up on the kitchen counter to get his pills.  He always seems "surprised" when he falls, but gets back up and tries again.

He's scheduled for more bloodwork next week to check his medication levels.  I want to be sure THIS time to have the vet do his in-office blood analysis just to check the liver functions.   It's so traumatic to take him to the vet;  I don't know if it's worth doing another bile acids test or not.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Milk and his friends

My little Milkshake is sort of the Venus FlyTrap of cats - he just sits around, waiting until he sees one of the others getting ready for a nap, and KABOOM - he's there in a flash.

Milk and Busy

Milk and Burble

Milk and Baby Squits

Milk and Scruffy

Milk and Punkin Duncan

 Milk and OneBun

Milk and Cinnaminnie

Milk and Pipper 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

No News is GOOD news!

Nothing much new to report, and truthfully, that's such a relief!  Milk continues to  - KNOCK WOOD - be controlled on (approximately - the vagaries of chopping up pills make it somewhat uncertain) 8mg of phenobarb and 125mg of levetiracetam (generic Keppra)  BID.   His weight continues to be under 9 pounds, which doesn't make me happy, but he's an eager and willing eater these days.  I have noticed recently that he's not jumping very well - it frequently takes two tries for him to get to the counter for his pills, or to jump onto the bathroom sink.  He has been wobbly ever since he started on phenobarbital, so I assume that's just his natural state now, sadly.   

We have quite a few younger cats now (the Big Kittens and the Little Kittens - all under two and quite obnoxious).  Milk hasn't developed a relationship with any of them, although he will occasionally curl up with Stinky, the most feral of the kittens.  His primary attachment is to me, and then to Scruffy.  He loooooves his Scruffy!  He will drape himself over The Puffer at every opportunity.  It always makes me laugh, and feel glad that Milk has his kitty friend.  In a lot of ways, he reminds me of the elementary school age kid who doesn't quite fit in - he tends to stand around and watch while the kittens are thumping and bashing around, as though he'd like to join in.  He probably knows that he wouldn't be able to keep up with them, I suppose.  He stands safely on the sidelines, which is a good thing.

I keep thinking that I should take a video of Milk getting his pills.  This little cat, who made me cry out of frustration about not being able to give him his medication a couple years ago, is way beyond cooperative.  All it took was the generous offer of Temptations treats and a little Pill Pocket.  Now, I call him and shake the Temptations box, and before I know it, there he is, sitting in front of me, just waiting for me to poke the pills down his throat and give him his water before and after.  

I'm still surprised when I realize how long it's been since Milkshake had a seizure, and how fortunate his control has been.  I would like to credit the Yahoo EpiKitty group  ( for their support and friendship, if I haven't already.  It was really helpful to find that there were other people struggling with the nightmare of being awakened in the middle of the night by a beloved cat having a seizure. 

We celebrated the five year anniversary of Milkshake's adoption a couple weeks ago.  Five years of my sweet white kitty's presence and all the pleasure he has given me.  It was a lucky day that I stopped to look at that kitten in PetSmart, for both of us.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A milestone!

Yesterday marked a special day for Milkshake - it was his second anniversary of being seizure-free!  It brought back all sorts of memories of the nightmarish year of his suffering seizure after seizure - the frightening awakenings in the early hours of the morning, the horrifying noises, the violence of the muscular contractions, the vulnerability of this little cat to whatever was so horribly wrong in his brain.   It makes my stomach clench just thinking about it.  I was so superstitious about seizures returning that I could hardly bring myself to even mention how long it had been.  I remain nervous about it - the latest dose reduction of Keppra, while involuntary and seemingly effective - is still traumatic.  It's been two years and I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking that I'm hearing Milk seizing.    But, fingers crossed, he will continue as he has been for the rest of his hopefully very lengthy life.

Milk just turned 5 around August, I calculate.  His first year included serious malnutrition and life-threatening neglect of his health.  He was kept briefly in a shelter, and then in a cage at PetSmart, where I found him, sad and sick and frightened and yellow with urine stains.  It took months for him to reach a normal weight, to overcome the respiratory and eye infections he had.  But from the time I brought him home, he showed no sign of bad effects of the horrors he'd experienced as a tiny starving kitten.  He was so affectionate and so eager to snuggle up to me and the other cats.   And of all the cats we've had/have, I don't believe that there is one who would have tolerated being "pilled" four times a day as well as Milk has.  (To the manufacturers of Temptations and Pill Pockets - you have my eternal gratitude!)  At pill time, he hops up on the counter, I hold open his mouth, give him a squirt of water from his kitten bottle, pop in his pills, and give another squirt of water .  No fussing, no fiddling - he's totally focused on the box of Temptations that's sitting beside him.....

I feel very fortunate to have found my Milkshake.  I have had cats for years, most of whom I loved and enjoyed.   (Tootie and Cinnaminnie, cover your ears!)    But there is something special about Milk that reaches some deep part of my cat-loving heart.  I hold him there with pleasure and gratitude and joy that I have been given the privilege of caring for him and loving him.  My sweet white kitty.......

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There are recommendations, after all......

This email just arrived:


Auburn University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory

Updated results for Accession 2010-46053

Accession Informtion
Accession Number:   2010-46053
Internal ID Number:

Veterinarian:       Dr. Donald G
Date Received:      8/26/2010
Date Updated:       8/31/2010 3:21:22 PM
Animal Name:        Milkshake
Owner Name:        Species:            Feline

Test: Feline Phenobarbital,  (mcg/ml)
Result: 26.1
Normals: 15 - 45
Last Updated: 8/27/2010

The concentration of phenobarbital is in the mid therapeutic range (15 to 40-45 mcg/ml) most commonly associated with seizure control in dogs or cats.

The current concentration is about 25% less  compared to the last recheck.

If all is well, maintain the current dose and current drug concentrations.  Re-check at 6 to 12  month intervals, or in the event of therapeutic failure.

Thank you for your continued support of our laboratory. It is much appreciated.  August 30, 2010 DMB


Test: Feline Keppra,  (mcg/ml)
Result: 32.5
Normals: 5.5 - 21
Last Updated: 8/26/2010

The mid interval concentration of levetiracetam is in high to above the high therapeutic range most commonly associated with seizure control in humans (5.5 to 21 mcg/ml). The relevance of these concentrations to canine or feline epileptics has yet to be  confirmed.

The half-life of levetiracetam is short (1 to 8 hr) and may drop  > 75% during an 8 or 12 hr dosing interval. Consider collecting both a peak and trough such that a half-life can be used to predict the lowest concentrations that occur during an interval.

Accordingly, althouth the current concentration is approxiamtley 40% lower compared to the last recheck, these comparisons can not be made unless the previous sample also was collected at 4 hrs.  If only one sample can be collected, then consider collecting a true trough (just before the next dose) such that the lowest concentration to
which the patient is exposed during a dosing interval can be verified.

If all is well, maintain the current dose and current drug concentrations.   Re-check at 6 to 12  month intervals, or in the event of therapeutic failure.

Thank you for your continued support of our laboratory. It is much appreciated.  August 30, 2010 DMB

Additional Recomendations: Multi-Test Discount
UPS 1z5vx3572310064219

Comments:                  4hrs post.  Seizure free since 10/1/08.

Levetiracetam dosage (125mg) reduced to BID (from TID) on July 1, 2010. Current dosage 125mg (approx) at 10AM and 10PM. Phenobarbital given at the same time, approx. 8mg BID. Continuing weight loss despite very healthy appetite. Appears to have some balance/strength issues. No other drugs.  Controlled.


I'm quite happy with the phenobarb levels.   Dr. G, has felt for some time that I should be aiming for reduction of the amount of phenobarbital, rather than trying to lower the Keppra/levetiracetam dosage, but I'm really hesitant to even consider that, because it's my admittedly unscientific feeling that the phenobarb is what's working at this point.  I don't actually understand the recommendation about the Keppra and trough levels, even though I've reread it six times.  What difference would it make to know the lowest amount of levetiracetam available over the 12 hour period?  I must be missing something here.  Maybe they mean that knowing the lowest amount available/functional would indicate if further reduction might be possible?  I have no idea.

At any rate, I am (with fingers crossed!) feeling pleased that  #1 - most of all! - there have not been any seizures for 700 days!, and #2 - the dosages have been significantly reduced and still appear to be working effectively.  I don't know, at this point, what more I could ask.  Well, except for maybe Milk could gain a couple of pounds, and Busy could stop chewing on his neck,  and he could be just a smidge less wobbly......

Friday, August 27, 2010


At last, I managed to get Milk's blood sent to Auburn.  (I took both Milkshake and Scruffy to the vet for the same appointment and purpose.  Scruffy started spitting and hissing before we even started to drag him out of his carrier, where as my sweet little Milkshake, practically catatonic from the trip in the car, the traffic noises, and strangers trying to handle him, laid down on a towel fragment  - I forgot the kitty pi this trip - and just shivered uncontrollably non-stop.  Like two different species, they were!)

My intention was to have blood drawn also for the vet to use his own machine for analysis - I wanted to see what the liver values looked like, because I've been giving Milk Denosyl on a mostly regular basis for weeks now.  Unfortunately, I forgot to ask, and it's such an ordeal getting blood out of him, even from the vein in his neck whose name I can't recall right now.  Tiny little veins in his wispy body......

Anyway, here are the results from Auburn:

Date Updated:       8/27/2010
Animal Name:        Milkshake
Owner Name:         Guckert
Species:            Feline

Test: Feline Phenobarbital,  (mcg/ml)
Result: 26.1
Normals: 15 - 45
Last Updated: 8/27/2010

Test: Feline Keppra,  (mcg/ml)
Result: 32.5
Normals: 5.5 - 21
Last Updated: 8/26/2010

Phenobarb level is good!  Keppra level, well, considering that the Keppra dosage has been reduced by 1/3 (125mg),  I'm not particularly unhappy with that either.   Given that the Keppra  standards are based on human data, I'm not going to worry about it.

One of the options on the Auburn analysis application is "Do you want suggestions/recommendations?"  I checked that, hoping that maybe there would be some interesting suggestions.  (Aside from something like, "Wow, that's a lot of Keppra!")   What I got was just an email report of the results.  Maybe Dr. G. will get something more detailed because he's a professional?  I hope, I hope.

And next, to see what the bill turns out to be....... 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Finally dropped that 6PM dose of Keppra.....

Not intentionally - I probably never would have screwed up the courage to do it unless forced to by a crisis.  Which was, unfortunately, exactly what happened:  my mother had a heart attack on June 27.  With the ensuing hospitalization and the irregular hours I was spending at home, there was no way to get that 6:00 levetiracetam into Milk.  Actually, for more than six weeks, there has only rarely - almost never, actually -  been a 10:00 PM dose of phenobarb, either.   Without alternatives, I settled for twice a day dosing, whenever those two times might occur.  So, we're now down to somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 AM for the first two pills, and somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00 PM for the second two.  It seems to be working.  Fingers crossed. Because the keppra generic is a large chunk of pill, I appear to have stopped giving him the liver-protective Denosyl that I do think can be a benefit to him.  Seeing if using it had reduced his ALT/AST levels, which have been elevated since he started on phenobarbital was one of my goals in doing the bloodwork.  Didn't happen........                           

I had arranged to bring Milk to the vet for blood-taking to send to Auburn to check his phenobarb and keppra levels.  The University has some sort of new arrangement that requires that the vet's office have  special address labels or something; at any rate, by the time the stickers had arrived at Dr. G's office, I was into spending all my time at the hospital, and the bloodwork never got done.  Hopefully, within the next week or two, I will be able to get Milk there and get the stuff done. 

He has seemed wobblier in recent months.  I have seen him attempt to jump up on the bathroom sink or the kitchen counter and fall at least once a week. (Did he misjudge the distance?  Was he too weak?)   He seems scrawnier than ever, although I weighed him tonight and he was 8 pounds, 13 ounces - not a wonderful weight for a cat as tall and long as he is, but not as awful as it might have been.  His appetite is very sturdy.   He has also - to my sincere distress - been doing a good bit of aggressive chasing of OneBun and even mimicking Busy's gnawing on his neck.    (Despite the addition of  prozac to Busy's daily routine, Milk turned up with a new dime-sized scab on his neck last week.)

Anyway, as far as I can tell, there is no indication that any seizures have occurred even with the reduced dose of levitiracetam (generic keppra).  He still sleeps every night draped over my ankle, and he tends to be the one who wakes me in the morning, standing on my chest.  It is such a relief and pleasure to realize that we're coming up on two years since his last seizure (on October 1.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Going well.

Decreasing the phenobarb was apparently successful - now, if only I had the courage to drop one of the Keppra doses. But, I don't.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A scary experiment

Where has the time gone? I was shocked to see that I haven't posted about Milkle since Halloween......

Milkshake has continued to lose weight, although his appetite is excellent and enthusiastic. (Weight records are in the sidebar to the right.) On 12/15/09, I took him to Dr. G because Busy had gnawed another large area on Milk's shoulder. It was big, and deep, and I was worried about infection. At that point, he weighed 8 pounds, 11.5 ounces on the vet's scale. We discussed having the blood testing for phenobarb and keppra done then, but I wanted to send them to Auburn, which meant that the sample had to be taken at the beginning of a week. So, I put it off, and the vet gave me a tube of something or another to put on the wound. (It looks like it was something called Animax or AnimX ointment.) Anyway, the bitten area healed just as the others have, without further fiddling around.

On 12/21/09, I took Milk back to the vet. He hadn't eaten on his own for several days. His weight was down to 8 pounds, 9.5 ounces at the vet. He just literally got up one morning and refused to eat anything. I started bottlefeeding him - first Fancy Feast, and then I bought baby food meat and EVO canned. There didn't seem to be anything specific going on. It was my distinct impression, though, that he was in pain. He was spending ALL of his time in the meatloaf position, with his head hanging off the window ledge in front of him. Very abnormal behavior. We decided to do bloodwork - regular stuff on the vet's machine for immediate results, and to send away a sample for an fPLI test. Here are the results of the vet's testing:

ALB - 4.1 (2.2 -4.4)
ALP - 30 (10-90)
ALT - 202 (20-100)
AMY - 920 (300-1100)
TBIL - 0.3 (0.1-0.6)
BUN - 21 (10-30)
CA++ - 9.7 (8.0-11.8)
PHOS - 3.4 (3.4-8.5)
CRE - 1.5 (0.3-2.1
GLU - 91 (70-150)
NA+ - 151 (142-164)
K+ - 4.6 (3.7-5.8)
TP - 6.5 (5.4-8.2)
GLOB - 2.4 (1.5-5.7)

HEM - 0
LIP - 0
ICT - 0

As usual, the ALT was quite elevated, although not as high as it has been in the past. The assumption is, these results are because of the phenobarb's affect on his liver. (I had previously been giving him Marin, but somewhere along the way, stopped.) While I would sincerely like to try stopping the 6:00 PM Keppra dosage, Dr. G. thinks that lowering the phenobarb is the way to go. I have mixed feelings, because I am afraid that, while Keppra has clearly contributed something to his lengthy period of being seizure-free, I think it's the phenobarbital that has been the most effective agent.

Dr. G. gave me a prescription for buprenex. Since he didn't have it in his office, his technician made a huge effort, and located another vet office that would fill the prescription. (Drugstores don't carry it, and none of the ones I talked to were interested in ordering it for me.) It seemed to make an immediate improvement. He had three doses, and while he still wasn't eating, the meatloafing was sharply decreased. The fPLI results were returned on 12/30/09 - 1.3 (range .1-3.5) So, whatever was going on with Milk, it was apparently not pancreatitis. He began to eat normally again, on his own, on 12/28/09.

To get back to the "experiment" - on 1/6/09, I dropped the additional 1/2 tablet of phenobarb that Milk had been getting at night for quite a while. (Uneven dosing has not been recommended, but it seemed to be working.....) And so far, so good. I've added Marin back into his daily pill routine, also. As there seems (**antijinx**) to have been no seizure activity after the dosage cutback, I'm going to wait a while to have more bloodwork done - going to the vet is such a traumatic event for Milk that I don't seen any point in doing it again so soon. Just keeping the fingers crossed.

On the home front, one of MommyKitty's kittens, OneBun, was "adopted" back from Animal Friends a week ago, and Milk's not a happy camper. I can't figure out why - he wasn't bothered by the kittens before, although he had never made the attempts to snuggle with any of them the way he does with the big cats. And he doesn't seem to be reacting particularly negatively with Pipper or Stinky, the other two kittens. Maybe it's the Animal Friends/PetSmart/Whatever smells that poor Oney had when he came home or something. At any rate, they still have not managed to resolve their relationship.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It's Halloween! And, once again, my sweet Milk is a most cooperative feline model.

Things are still going along quite well for him, thank goodness. We've got another seizure-free month under our belts. (Well, since neither of us wears a belt, that's not a particularly apt image, but, you know...)

Although he's eating enthusiastically, his weight is still a minor concern. He's a very long, tall cat - particularly considering the early malnutrition - and when he weighed 12 pounds, he was a perfect size. None of this you-can-feel-every-one-of-his-ribs-and-veterbrae then. But that seems to be the only worry for right now. He does need to have both his phenobarb and keppra levels tested again, but I am feeling (surprisingly!) confident that he will be in a good range on both. Hopefully. Well, maybe "confident" is slightly overstating my attitude. "Confident" is not generally in my range of emotions. But maybe, just maybe, his keppra level won't be in the 50's and his phenobarb level won't be in the 30's. Oh, I hope......

One more picture. I just love the way he looks like he's laughing and winking in this one - it's rapidly becoming one of my all-time favorites. There are no words to describe how much I love this skinny little happycat.

Hi, Marianne!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Just slide your eyes to the right, and notice that the yellow box says, "365 days since Milkshake's Last Seizure" on his little calendar doohickey! ONE YEAR! Amazing and wonderful and shocking and stunning and just plain lucky!

We've had our ups and downs with this disorder. Phenobarb levels that were scarily high, a year-long battle with phenobarb-induced anorexia, continued seizures that seemed to be getting increasingly violent....... The addition of Keppra wasn't an instant solution, but seems to have made a very significant contribution to getting to this point. When I felt that the phenobarb dosage HAD to be reduced because of the anorexia and the rising liver values, it appeared that increasing the Keppra was the only alternative. The neurologist I consulted when the IM doctor here refused to consider increasing Milk's dosage said to give him "what it took", because Keppra and its functioning in epileptic cats were basically still pretty much a mystery. And we got up to fairly scary amounts of Keppra - every time I brought Milk in for bloodwork, a technician at my regular vet's reminded me that he was taking more Keppra than she did! Back in February of 2009, the last bloodwork indicated that his Keppra level was almost 53; despite the fact that there are actually no standards for cats on this drug, the high end of the human range is significantly lower than 53. It made me nervous. So, I started lowering the Keppra dosage. (I had been dosing him by using the "chunk method" - we had 500 mg pills, chopped in quarters for the basic 125mg dosage, plus a "chunk" of a quarter pill chopped in half. Very inaccurate method of selecting a dosage, but the best I could do without grinding and measuring and whatever else would have been involved in trying to be precise and exact with this medication.) Within a matter of weeks, all of the "chunks" were history. And then we changed from the Canadian generic Keppra to the American one, which was significantly smaller; I don't know if that meant that there were fewer fillers or what, but he's definitly getting less of whatever is in them than he was. And so far - knock on wood and do whatever else might protect my little white kitty and keep him seizure free - it's all working.

None of this has been simple. For the last year and a half, my life has revolved around Milk's medications - first twice a day, and then, for more than a year, four times a day. (I would desperately like to try eliminating that 6:00 PM Keppra, but I'm too afraid to make any more changes at this point.) We went through a horrible period where I would spend HOURS every day, attempting to capture Milk in order to pill him. The solution turned out to be simple - bribery. He discovered that he really really liked Temptations treats, and suddenly, with that amazing internal clock that cats have, he was around when it was pill time. No more tears of frustration (mine, not his!), no more multiple trips up and down the steps, no more trying to sneak up on him from behind. It was wonderful. We're not so good about sticking precisely to the schedule - sometimes his pill - that stupid 6:00 one! - is a couple hours late. But, so far, so good.

I will never be happy about the effect of phenobarbital on my cat. He is still wobbly and uncoordinated. If he's walking along and he decides to shake his head, he has to quickly get into a wide stance to keep from falling over. He falls fairly frequently because his body doesn't go where he thinks it's going to go. He is normally alert now, and doesn't sleep more than any other cat, but physically, I see the action of the phenobarb in everything he does. Would I sacrifice the absence of seizures if it meant that he could have normally graceful cat movements? Nope. He has other quirks - he eats huge chunks of the other cats' fur when he can find them like it's a delicacy; he's a gnawer - the corner of my desk drawer and the crank for the window have his teeth marks all over them. He loves toast crust. And he loves snuggling with Busy and Scruffy and Burble. (NOT Minnie and Tootie - he's terrified of both of them!)

I have a terror that I'm going to jinx things by talking about it, but I'm so thrilled and happy and yes, blessed, that Milkshake has been spared the horrors of those seizures that I guess I am willing to take the risk. He is my treasure, one of only three very special cats who went straight to my heart from the very first minute I saw him. Taking care of him has been scary and has demanded a lot of rearranging of plans and "life", but I would do it all again a hundred times. He was truly a gift to me, and I am so grateful to have him.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I knew it.

Brought the baby scale back home yesterday, and weighed Milkshake the minute I set the scale down. Eight pounds, ten ounces. Close to half a pound less than in April. What I can't figure out is, he's eating very enthusiastically at every opportunity. He cleans his plate, and makes repeated trips to see what everyone else has left. He has even starting eating bits of people food, which should probably bother me, but doesn't - I'm just delighted to see him enjoying any food. The one problem he has around eating - and it's a Tootle problem - she's so aggressive, and he's terrified of her. She will come and sit a couple of feet from Milk while he's eating, and within a matter of seconds, he will wander off and allow her to finish his dish. If I chase her away and put him back down in front of his food, he will eat until the next time she shows up. Moving the dish (and Milk) around to what may seem like safer places isn't much use; he's still the most vulnerable of the six cats and they all know it.

I could start bottlefeeding him once a day to see if he gains any weight, I suppose. Truthfully, I hate the thought of it, and I wouldn't want to do anything that reduces his own newly-functional appetite....

We are 20 days from his one year seizure-free anniversary. I can't believe it! I would love to try lowering the medication, but I'm too afraid to do it. This seems like a disorder where, if something is working, you don't screw around with it unless it's absolutely unavoidable.

I do want to make an appointment for bloodwork for him in the near future.

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's been a month + since the last post?

I'm shocked. I guess because life here has been careening along at a stomach-turning pace or whatever. Well, "careening" and "stomach-turning" are sadly appropriate, at least.

Not much new with my little Milkshake, who continues to eat enthusiastically on his own, but who appears to be distinctly losing weight. (I loaned my wonderful Japanese scale that Hope gave me to my daughter-in-law, thinking that she might want it to weigh our lovely new granddaughter, Gracie. Now I'm wishing I had it back, because I'm pretty sure she's not using it anyway...) He seems perfectly normal in all other ways. He needs to have his phenobarb and keppra levels tested again, maybe next month. I'm looking forward to seeing what the keppra levels are - if they've improved/been reduced significantly, because he continues to be on a reduced overall dosage, plus the US generic levetiracetam pills are significantly smaller than the previous Canadian ones.

Two days ago, I picked Milk up to put him on the counter to give him his pills, and discovered that Busy has apparently started gnawing on him again. There is a fairly large open wound - size of a dime, maybe - on the side of Milk's neck. Previous Busy attacks were on the back of his neck, closer to the shoulder blades. I don't know if this is a seasonal thing with Busy or what. He seems to be having his own problems lately - he is incredibly clingy. I think that we have just been in such a state of upheaval around here that none of the cats is living what would have been a normal life a couple of months ago. We need to get back to that state of what passed for "normality" as soon as possible - the commotion has hurt all of us.

I have been really surprised that Milk has shown so little interest in the kittens. Given his attachment to and need for physical contact with the other cats, I would have thought that he'd be spending a huge amount of his time sitting at the screen door to the bedroom, communing with the five little guys. Probably if they were out where he could get his paws on them, it'd be a different story.

We are just slightly more than 11 months from the last seizure. (Didn't get to see the Seizure CountDown box before typing this.) Hoping desperately that this streak continues......

*Hi, Marianne!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

so far, so good, part II

It has been more than a week - two weeks, maybe, since we started the American generic levetiracetam, and it seems to be working just fine! I'm very relieved. There are significant differences between the previous brand from Canada - the shape of the pills, the thickness, and particularly the overall size. The US one is much smaller, and a better shape for cutting. It does worry me a little, because it seems as though I must be giving him much less than previously, but there must have just been a whole lot of fillers in the Canadian drug. Going to continue to keep my fingers crossed that everything stays just the way it is.

Someday I'm going to write something about this subject and it's not going to make me shudder with superstition and the need to toss salt over my shoulder.....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

just stuff.......

I was sitting here at the computer the other night, watching while the cats ate. And I realized I was smiling to myself because not only was Milkshake, the "former" anorexic, eating willingly, once he'd finished his own plate, he had wandered oh-so-casually over to Minnie's dish and polished off hers, too. Until I had him, and feeding him was such a crisis for so long, I never really thought about the cats' eating. I put it down, they gobbled it up, The End. At any rate, although he's not gaining any weight - at least he's not losing any noticeable amounts, and HE EATS. Like he actually enjoys it again.

There are a mere 3 of the levetiracetam (generic Keppra) pills from Canada left in the bottle. That's twelve doses, three times a day - four more days. I'm nervous about starting over with the American generic. I know that it's not recommended that non-brand name anticonvulsants be used, in the first place. I don't know what/if there will be a difference - aside from the visual aspects - between the US and Canadian generics. The US one - which ended up to be more than $30 cheaper than the original quote from Costco (a mere $94.73 for 200 500mg pills - and $130 less than I had been paying for the Canadian drug!) is a different shape. It's got rounded ends, which I would think would be better in terms of chopping the pills in quarters. There is a score line across the center, too - another plus. I haven't cut one yet, so I don't know if there's going to be a lot of "dust" when these new ones are cut, or not; there were frequent tiny little bits all over the place with the Canadian brand.

Aside from brand differences, I'm nervous about the dosages, too. We're pretty much down to giving (approx.) 125mg TID, which is quite a reduction from almost a year or so ago. I'm terrified that this change might set off another series of s******s. (Phenobarbital dosages have remained the same - 1/2 tablet in the AM, 3/4 in the PM.)

Time will tell, I guess.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just one of my favorite pictures of Milkshake....


No particular reason for this, I just came across it tonight and thought I'd stick it in here. It does make him look kind of tiny, when, although he's skinny, he's really tall and long.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I didn't realize it's been a month since I last posted here. There've been a lot of not-so-happy things going on; I've been distracted, I guess.

I am seeing odd behavior from little Milk this spring. He's always been a shy cat - never around if the doorbell rings, or if the mail truck pulls into the driveway. And he's not the kind of cat who sits at the top of the steps to greet visitors. But, he's way beyond that this year, and I can't figure out why. He's even reacting with fear and withdrawing when he hears Rege open the garage door. He seems hypersensitive to noises outside. And the things he enjoyed last summer and spring (before the windows and door were closed all the time), like the turkeys gobbling and the birds at the feeder - a lot of the time, he sits on the window ledge, but he appears to be poised for flight, not to just watch the birds.

There really hasn't been much in the way of change for him. He's still not crazy about Cinnaminnie and Tootle - they're both too aggressive for him, and he tends to avoid them. But that's been the pattern for the whole almost-one-year that they've lived inside. Probably the big change has been the decrease in his medications - but you'd think that would make him more normal, not less. I don't know. His balance is still off; he's as likely to tilt over when he's walking along as not. And he's been spending a lot of time sleeping in the closet in Stephen's room. I miss having him beside me. Tonight, I looked for him for more than an hour, walking from room to room jiggling his treat bowl as an enticement. I still have no idea where he was. I crawled all over the place, looking under the furniture and in the closets, and there was no sign of him, until he showed up in the kitchen, yawning and stretching.

And the stupid feline acne has returned multiple times. Every time I think I have it cleared up, it shows up again. He really hates the medicated Stridex pads, and I'm nervous about them because they have salicylic acid in them, which is the same stuff (I think - but then, what's "acetylsalicylic acid"? Maybe they're not the same - anyway, I don't want to take a chance.) that's in aspirin and is toxic to cats. I try to be very careful not to get any of the liquid anywhere near where it might end up in his mouth, and I rinse and dry his chin after I clean it. Poor little guy - he never gets a break.

Burble's fourth birthday is next week, May 3, which means that Milkshake's around three and a half. (I never can remember this stuff. I think I'll just record it here periodically.)

Oh, and hi, Marianne!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Generic Keppra (levetiracetam) information

Generic Keppra - levetiracetam - is now available in the US. I normally order 200 500mg pills from Canada, so they last me quite a while, and I hadn't priced the new generic, until today. ****ETA: Blog entry for 6/09 shows the actual Costco price of $94.73 for 200 500mg pills!!!

I was picking up Milk's phenobarb at Costco this afternoon, so I asked for a price for generic Keppra. And was shocked! About $100 less than I have been paying from Canada, and I don't think that the AAA discount was applied. (Sometimes Costco says that their prices are already so low that they don't give the extra discount.)

This is the total cost the pharmacist gave me for 200 500mg levetiracetam pills at Costco: $129.70!

On-line, the prices apparently include the cost of shipping and handling - here are their generic on-line prices for 500mg pills:

30 pills - 28.71
50 pills - 43.55
100 pills - 81.91

(I don't know if doubling this price would be the actual charge for 200 pills or not, but that would be a whole lot more than $129.70! It makes me think maybe the pharmacist made a mistake, but I asked her to doublecheck, and she said the $129.70 was correct.)

I just opened the second Canadian bottle of 100 tablets, but it makes me feel like I should rush out and buy some more at Costco RIGHT NOW!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A day late.....

Last night, around 11:15 PM, was the moment of the second anniversary of Milk's first seizure. Not such a happy event, needless to say, but there is some comfort to be taken now, I guess, from the fact that he's still here, he's still sweet and loving, and it's been a good while - *anti-jinx* - since you-know-what. I had NO idea what to expect that first night, which was probably a good thing..... I want to thank all those who gave me moral support to get through the hard patches here.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

So far, so good.

I am, as usual, afraid to actually SAY anything about Milk's seizures. *anti-jinx* all over the place. I'm a little vague on the exact dates/times/etc, but since the return of the bloodwork a month or so ago, with numbers that I wasn't crazy about, I have reduced both his phenobarb and keppra by a small amount. We're still dosing by the "chunk method", which is an inefficient way to do it, I realize, but it seems to have worked for the last 7 months or so. He now gets:

10:30 AM - 1/2 phenobarb tablet (8mg.approx), 125mg (approx)levetiracetam (generic Keppra), and 1/2 Marin tablet. Depending on the size of the 125mg "chunk", sometimes I may add a smaller 1/8 tablet chunk, just for good measure. (Just as an aside, the phenobarbital is made by WestWard pharmaceuticals, which is located in, amazingly, that rich Arab country in Africa - oh, I hate my memory, or lack of it these days - where they built the indoor ski resort, and the giant hotel, and all the American universities have branches now? DUBAI!! Someone from there looked at one of these blogs... crap. When I remember it, I'll come and edit this. Anyway, these pills are better - although they're harder to find, and Costco charges more for them than CVS does for the other brand - but these are a flat, thin pill. The other ones are so small and tall/thick that splitting them into two, much less four pieces would be impossible. And the levetiracetam comes from in Canada. I haven't priced the new USA generic Keppra, but someone else said they were still $1 a pill....)

6:00 PM - 125mg Keppra, 1/2 Marin tablet. (Occasionally, I give him 1/4 tablet of Pepcid AC here, because the Marin can cause stomach upset unless there's food in there, and Milk's eating is a little erratic, to say the least. He does eat on his own, but very rarely the minute I put his dish down, and he's likely to graze most of the day from that first feeding. He's one of the most enthusiastic consumers of the raw chicken/supplements - he loves his chunks.

10:00 PM - 3/4 (approx. 12mg) phenobarbital

2:00 AM - 125mg Keppra + 1 chunk (approx 1/8 of a 500mg tablet). Now, my math is poor, but I think 500mg divided by 8 equals about 65mg, which seems like so much more than one of those little chunks could possibly be..... I don't know. At any rate, I am still using uneven dosages, which is frowned upon, but it makes sense to me because almost all of his seizures were in the very early morning - so, I want to make sure that there's plenty of medication keeping his brain in order during the night. It might not be correct, but until something happens to convince me that I'm wrong, I'm going with it, because, as I said above - "so far, so good...."

This is the Annual Spring Neutered Male Crazy Period around here. And this year, we've added the presence of Cinnaminnie - unspayed Feral Female Extraordinaire, and her slightly nightmarish - but at least SHE's spayed - daughter, the lovely but exceptionally grumpy and aggressive, Toot the Tortie. So, now, the battle is between crazy and mean, apparently. Tootle and Minnie are both quite fearsome to the boys; a significant part of their days is spent chasing shrieking males twice their size up and down the steps. Tootie has devoted most of her attention to Burble lately. He outweighs her by a good five pounds, and is three times her size, but she doesn't let that deter her. She butts him aside from his food, she growls at him any time he walks by, and she will sit in the doorway to the bathroom, where he likes to explore the closet, waiting for him to show up so she can launch herself upon him. Minnie's favorite target is poor Scruffy, who has never bothered anyone else, ever. I watch The Girls carefully to make sure they're not aggressive with Milkshake, because he's still wobbly enough that I don't want him falling off something whilst trying to escape their not-so-loving attentions.

I guess, as Johnny Carson used to say (or DID he?), And so it goes...... Maybe it was Red Skelton. (I touched Red Skelton once. Well, actually, I bumped into him coming down the steps into the formal entry in Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello. That was in the days before celebrities had entourages, I guess. Nothing like a little free association every now and then, right?) Or maybe it was Charles Couralt who used to say that...

The other day, a very interesting person who owns a bunch of ferrets, one of whom is diabetic, posted a picture on the Feline Diabetes Message Board. I don't know where she got it from, and I am frankly ashamed that I didn't ask her if I could "borrow" her picture, but it struck me as being SO funny, I could hardly see straight. So, on this note, I'm done for today:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Such a nice comment ( #2)

And this one, which came today from my too-faraway-to-hug internet friend, Linda:

"Those of us who have been truly owned by a cat do know that look that passes between us. Not ever having children I can't be sure, but I always think of it as the same kind of bond exists between a parent and a child, only better. To look at them and have so much love in your heart that you feel like your chest will burst."

I don't want to be sloppy about all this, although sloppy is one of my most well-developed attributes, sadly. But I've been really upset for two days about the story on the internet about the kid who put a video of himself torturing his cat on YouTube. I can hardly bear to think about the whole mess. The nightmarish kid, the poor cat, the parents who are going to have to try to "fix" this all makes me sick.

But - it makes me feel better about the world and all the sad and unpleasant things in it to know that there are people like Linda and Leeta and Hope and Marianne (and, I guess, me and a ton of other people on the Feline Diabetes Message Board, and the Yahoo Epikitty Board and wherever) who do care and who find love and satisfaction and reward beyond description from the sentient furry beings who share our lives. Sometimes things DO work out just right, I guess.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

such a nice comment........

There have only been a few comments to the blogs for my two cats. And they've been mostly from people who "know" the cats. Well, or who know me.... Anyway, tonight, there was the following really nice comment from "Leeta." It made me cry. Let me post it here, and then I'll explain.

leeta said...

I just wanted to tell you that I love your relationship with Milk. I don't even quite know how I managed to end up here (seems to me last conscious moment I was looking at something with Verizon billing and I guess I wandered a bit! LOL!) but I am glad that I did. So many things reminded me of so many days with my baby girl Miss Kitty. She didn't have epilepsy but that was one of the few things she didnt have. The last year of her earthly life she had two strokes and congestive heart failure but right through it all she wanted to keep going. Until well, I guess that one day or really a couple days before, she got tired or just didn't want to keep doing it. Its been 1 year and almost 3 months since I've gotten to see her little kitty face shining up at me, containing all the love in the world, and not a day goes by that I don't miss her. I hope that Milk lives another 20 years or so, long enough for them to figure out how to give them human lifespans so that you guys can grow old together. Relationships like that should never be apart. Thank you for posting your blog. It is beautiful.

March 4, 2009 3:11 PM"

I am so touched by this nice person's taking the time to make this comment. And for her to talk about her Miss Kitty's face "shining up at me" - sometimes you sort of think that the way you feel about your cat might just be a smidge over the top or something. The "crazy cat lady" syndrome. SO, it's nice to have someone else freely talking about her love and affection for her cat, and to think that we all are not (necessarily!) crazy or nuts or emotionally stunted or whatever. We just love them. Right? Thank you, Leeta, and I hope that Miss Kitty sends you another cat for you to love desperately and wholeheartedly, and to love you back...