Princess came into our home about four years ago when we began pet sitting her for two weeks. Four years later, we’ve accepted the fact that she’s not going anywhere. When we first took her in, her old owners said she had mild muscle spasms, but they were nothing to worry about. We discovered less than a week later that her muscle spasms were actually seizures, and she had her first grand mal seizure at 2am on our dining room floor that lasted close to an hour. I felt so helpless watching her six pound body twitch, seize, foam, and shake, knowing that there was nothing I could do about it. Since then her seizures have decreased in intensity thanks to medication, and now most of her seizures are under two minutes.
Over the past four years my wife and I have learned a lot from this journey with Princess. These are the top ten things we’ve learned…
1. How to cut, slice, dice, and divide medication
Our vet said to us once “you’ll feel like a drug dealer most days, I know I do.” And this statement is oh so true. Cutting pill tablets, opening pill capsules to get the white powder out, and lacing wet food have become part of our daily routines. Before Princess came along neither of us had experience doing any of these things, and now a life is depending on our knowledge. We’ve become very skilled in these things and have it down to under a minute most times (unless a certain somebody is howling at us because she wants her “special treat”).
2. Monitoring weather patterns and weather pressure
We’ve come to realize that her seizures have a lot to do with the weather — including barometric pressure. So we’ve started to monitor these things. The last time I learned about weather was in grade 10 science, but the both of us have become skilled in learning the highs and lows so we can keep a better eye on her.
3. The power of calm
Our house needs calm energy. This doesn’t always happen, but we both know it’s important, especially after a seizure. Cats are sensitive to human emotions and, if there is too much negative energy floating around, it impacts the epilepsy. During, and after, a seizure the both of us have to calm ourselves down, even if the both of us are worried about her.
4. Schedules, schedules, schedules
When you have a pet/human/creature that requires medication to be administered twice a day, you learn pretty quickly how important schedules are. When one half of the parenting duo works shifts it becomes more difficult to stick to a schedule, but you learn to make it work.
5. Never give up
My wife and I have been to so many different vets for answers over the past four years — trying to find answers and the right medication for our girl. We were told by one vet that it would be best to put Princess down. However we haven’t given up, and we won’t give up. Right now we have her stabilized and have an amazing vet that isn’t giving up either.
6. Trust your gut
There have been several times where the both of us have known something was wrong, or that something was going to go horribly wrong, and 99% of the time something did go wrong. Most of these times was when we knew that Princess was going to have a seizure. One horrifically memorable moment was when we both getting ready to leave for a day trip out of town. We both stopped outside our apartment door and went back in to find Princess stumbling around, about to head into a lengthy seizure. I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t gone back in.
7. Other cats can sense a seizure coming on
We have two other furbabies and our oldest (Tuffy) has become somewhat of a seizure alert cat for Princess. If Princess is about to head into a seizure Tuffy will do whatever it takes to get us to Princess or to get Princess to us. There was one time where Tuffy would not let me leave the apartment (and I mean she would not let me leave. She kept biting, nipping, and howling at me if I tried), and it’s a good thing I didn’t because Princess went into a small seizure five minutes after I was supposed to leave. Both cats will also watch over Princess during and after a seizure to make sure she’s okay.
8. Cats are tough as nails
There are days where I can’t believe how tough Princess is. She’ll go from a seizure to a hellion in under five minutes flat. I’ve seen her jump back up from a seizure and beat up one of our other cats less than three minutes later.
9. If you find a good vet, stick with them
After taking Princess to roughly five different vets we’ve finally found one that wants to find answers and get Princess stabilized. Dr. Julia is the first vet that actually mentioned stopping the seizures for good, and will run the proper blood work. It’s been a rocky road, but we’re near the end of it.
10. Love, pure unconditional love
I’ve learned true unconditional love through all the pets I’ve had growing up, but Princess has reinforced it. Having a cat coming out of a seizure purring, and looking at you with those huge eyes, just kills me. I know that look in her eyes is love, and it pulls on my heartstrings.
Patience, medical skills, the value of therapy… What have you learned from your chronically ill pet?