Pipps – A Story to Warm your Heart

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Pipps prior to her health issues & weight loss

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Pipps is a 13 year old cat with a new lease on life.  Pretty amazing is a great way to describe her for more than one reason.  Let’s start her story in April of 2013 when her owner brought her in because she wasn’t eating and she suddenly had lost a lot of weight*.  Pipps was jaundiced and had mild dehydration.  Dr. Barb Eatock suspected she had fatty liver and went over the options with her owner.  It was decided that she would return the next day for an ultrasound by our in-house diagnostic ultrasound expert Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe.  Ultrasound confirmed a diagnosis of fatty liver.

In a nut shell fatty liver is a form of liver disease where too much fat has entered the kidney too quickly and the body can not process it.  When cats end up with this form of liver disease they often will not eat so the next course of action for Pipps was to place a feeding tube.  The options were to place a tube in her esophagus (through the neck) or directly into her stomach.  Dr. Liebe discussed the options with Pipps’ owner and it was decided to proceed with the esophageal tube.

Although the surgery (performed by Dr. Tracy Fisher) went well, when Pipps breathing tube (from the surgery) was removed she turned blue and stopped breathing.  She was immediately intubated again, CPR was performed and she was given epinephrine.  Once Pipps stabilized the tube was again removed however Pipps was still not well oxygenated so an oxygen mask was kept on her and her chest was xrayed.  Her left lung lope looked as though there could possibly be a tumor.  Dr. Fisher contacted Pipps owner to discuss and it was decided to not proceed further with investigating the potential tumor.  Fortunately Pipps began to stabilize on her own and was steadily improving.

Pipps was kept overnight in clinic on IV fluids.  The following day she was very yellow (more jaundiced then when she first came in), depressed but responsive.  She was fed Recovery and given water through her feeding tube.  Her owner came and took her home with a guarded prognosis.. she anticipated that Pipps may not get better and it could be the end of Pipps time.  However, Pipps had other ideas!  Nine days later she was doing well  – well enough that she was eating again on her own!  It was recommended to change her food to i/d, a diet that is easy on the digestive system.   She came in, had her feeding tube removed and was looking great.  She was no longer jaundiced and she had gained a bit of weight.  Yeah Pipps!  Her owner was thrilled and relieved.

By November, however, Pipps had gained a bunch of weight on the i/d.  Definitely not good as overweight cats are at higher risk of fatty liver and her owner certainly did not want a repeat of the problem she had miraculously overcome.  Pipps’ owner had a consultation with veterinary technician Brianna and together determined it best to switch her over to Metabolic – a diet that works to increase a pet’s metabolism.  By April of 2014 Pipps had not lost any weight, although fortunately she was no longer gaining.  While in for her annual exam she was measured to determine exactly what her daily intake of Metabolic should be and she entered our Biggest Loser Challenge.  At this point Pipps owner described her as a pretty laid back cat.  She couldn’t jump up on to the counters (her owner thought in part due to her age and in part due to the weight).  She didn’t really play much, seemed like the kind of cat that just wanted to spend the day lounging – an older cats prerogative, right?

Over the course of the 6 month challenge Pipps weight lose initially was non-existent, however after 3 months she had lost 0.4kg and by the end of the challenge she had lost 0.7kg (a significant decrease for a cat) clinching the winning spot for the biggest body fat percentage lost by a cat!  Well done Pipps.  Another great success in her health challenges.

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Now Pipps has a renewed lease on life.  She is energetic and playful and surprises her owners daily.  She can get up on the counters, loves to look out the window and in fact, aids the dog in stealing food by knocking it off the shelf!

Even though she is behaving like a kitten, her owner would never complain.   Two years ago she didn’t know if Pipps would still be with them.  Her owner feels it is important for people to realize that just because your pet is older doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be playful and energetic.   It could, in fact, mean that something medically is going on that may be causing them pain or other health issues.  She recommends consulting your vet to be sure your pet is in their peak health so they get the best quality and biggest quantity of life.

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If you have any questions about your pet, if something seems maybe not quite right, please don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

*Quick weight loss in any pet is not a positive, regardless of whether they are overweight or not.  Just like in people weight loss should be intentional and slow.  If it occurs quickly and unexpected it is a sign that something is wrong.