Our beloved Corey the orange cat is a fighter. We’re astounded at how far he has come in a year. We didn’t think he would make it this far.
This whole ordeal has been stressful for our mental health.
A year ago, he had been losing weight and part of his fur was thinning. We thought the fur issue was just because of him getting older. The weight issue though was perplexing.
At times, we knew that Corey would not care much for his food and would stop eating it. In this case, we tried buying new bags, switching things around, and nothing seemed to be working. For a time, he would pick back up and then all of the sudden things would reverse.
Nothing Was Working
As the days went by, nothing we were trying was working. It wasn’t like there were strong signs of anything being wrong. So much of what was happening was so subtle, and spending every day with him didn’t feel like anything was significantly wrong.
Finally on Valentine’s Day in 2019, we took him in to our vet. The vet ran blood work on him.
Not long after that, the results came through a phone call.
That is when our whole world stopped. I will never forget sitting there in a daze and stunned at the diagnosis.
There were two issues. One was that Corey had heartworm and it might not have been his first heartworm infection. When we rescued him, he had some respiratory stuff happening. A different vet claimed it was feline chlamydia.
We were given medications to treat Corey back then, and he soon recovered. At the time, though, he was very sick and we weren’t sure if he was going to make it. He pulled through. Corey the orange cat is a fighter!
We didn’t think much more of it until the blood test a year ago when it showed this might not have been the first heartworm infection. Our cats are 100% indoor cats. They don’t go outside at all. I’ve since learned that of heartworm infections, 25% of them are in indoor cats.
No Cure For Heartworm In Cats
There is no cure for heartworms in cats, unlike with dogs. Once cats get it, they’ve got it. If they are younger, sometimes they can fight it off, but the older they get, the harder it is to fight. If they have had a previous infection, it is even harder to fight.
I believe everything I’m saying on feline heartworms is correct but if someone with scientific knowledge of this sees it, let me know if my facts are not correct.
If my understanding of heartworm in cats is correct, it is the dead heartworms that remain, which reduces the effectiveness and capacity of the respiratory system. There is not a lot of literature out there on this and so I have struggled to fully understand it.
Respiratory System Compromised
Even though Corey the orange cat is a fighter, I know and can hear how his respiratory system has been compromised. I try to make sure the air quality in our house is good and that we don’t have too many wide fluctuations in temperature so as to create extra stress for him. I try to make sure it doesn’t get too dry or too humid.
He has improved lately, but we can still notice the effects on him. He didn’t respond well to medications to alleviate some of the respiratory symptoms so we had to stop those.
And even with all of this and knowing that Corey the orange cat is a fighter, there was one other diagnosis that gave us a one-two punch when we heard it.
Diagnosed With Hyperthyroidism
He was also diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. The blood tests showed a T4 level of 19.2 which is considered very high. The T4 normal range is from .8 to 4.0. He was 5 times the normal high.
The vet instructed us that we needed to start him on Felimazole twice a day at 2.5 mg per dosage. This was an ongoing medication, not a short term thing. Our vet also told us there was a Hill’s Science Diet Thyroid food (Y/D food) that should work too, but at that point, I wasn’t prepared to try it. I wanted the sure thing to get this under control.
We started on the lower dosage of Felimazole and while it began to help, it was not bringing the levels down to normal far enough. The vet had us increase the dosage.
Corey The Orange Cat – The Good Patient
Corey was a good patient. He worked very well with me to take the medication and although we saw an improvement, we were still not getting everything stabilized. Plus, when you have to give this every 12 hours, it made it difficult to do things. It does impact your life. I’m not complaining because I would do anything for my cats, but everything we did had to be planned around these times.
Then I started to read more about Felimazole and the Hill’s Science Diet thyroid food, and saw many people saying that the medication stopped working. I was horrified at the thought. While Corey the orange cat is a fighter, I knew there were limits to what he could do.
After investigating the Hill’s Y/D food, and conferring with our vet (who spoke to the Hill’s rep), we agreed to give the food a try. I realized that we had been feeding him a diet with iodine in it, and giving him meds to reduce iodine-thyroid levels. It didn’t make sense to me because it felt like we were defeating what we were trying to accomplish. So that’s when we made the switch to Hill’s.
The Switch To Hill’s Science Diet
At first, he didn’t take to the new food very well. We struggled to get him to eat it. At the same time, we had to stop the Felimazole and so it was crucial for Corey to get over to the new food and off the other. However, if he didn’t want to eat it, that would be a problem.
Finally in frustration, because Corey was so thin from all of what he was fighting through, we started feeding him more of the Hill’s Thyroid wet food. He definitely liked that more. However, from what I read, he would have to eat a lot of that to make up for the dry food because the calories were in lower amounts in the wet food. So, while he was eating, there was no way he would eat enough of the wet food to make up for it.
Finally, through a balancing act and much encouragement, we started to get Corey to eat part canned Hill’s Thyroid and part dry food. Every few days I’d try to increase the dry Hill’s Thyroid food and decrease the wet food.
Today we still give him wet food along with his dry food and it seems to work well. He’s beginning to put on a little weight. His fur is looking so much better. Energy levels have increased and he seems to be much happier. It has taken some time for all of this to happen.
Last June, he got to a point where he didn’t want to eat at all and I thought we were approaching the end. However, I got some wet food in a syringe and fed it to him that way through the mouth (no needle of course). It gave him enough energy to start eating again. Soon after that, he was doing much better.
Pushing Forced Advice
One of the rough things through this whole ordeal was the forced-advice-pushing of well-intentioned people. Some the advice they forced on us made me quite angry because I knew it wasn’t correct. Some of it I researched and found that it could actually be harmful. Everyone had the answers without knowing the full story.
I do not get people that do this. It is flat wrong and insensitive to give advice when you are not qualified to do it and don’t know the whole story. I wish everyone would wake up and understand this. Some of the most well-intentioned friends were the worst offenders. I say that with loving kindness and respect, but they caused us great pain in this process.
I even had people tell me to put him to sleep. Now, this is where my blood gets boiling. Corey the orange cat is a fighter. He wasn’t ready to give up and neither were we. To suggest that we had to think about this was beyond disrespectful. Why anyone – why anyone would do this, I have no clue.
My Animal Science Background
I have an animal science background. I’ve treated hundreds of thousands of animals in some of the early jobs I held. I have a little clue what I’m doing. We have an excellent vet that I fully trust and he knows what he is doing. Why people thought I was so stupid that I didn’t know anything, but they and their unfounded treatments did, I’ll never understand.
Those moments when that happened hurt so much. They made it much more difficult. We were already slammed with grief at the prognosis of our beloved Corey the orange cat. It was difficult at best on most days and with forced advice that is harmful, it made it much harder to make it through this.
If I have offended someone with what I’ve written, I’ll not apologize. People need to keep themselves in check and if you are not my doctor or not seeing the whole story, please don’t give me unfounded and unproven treatments that may harm my cat.
Corey The Orange Cat Is Doing Well Now
Corey the orange cat is doing very well now. He’s come a long way. While we recognize this may not last, he’s happy and playful and eating well. We could not ask for anything more. He gives us so much love and he looks after us.
There’s no way I could have given up on him and he is glad we didn’t. I know the difference between an animal that has fight left in them and one that doesn’t. I’ve worked with vets and saw the animals that had to be put to sleep. Don’t assume that everyone out there is stupid and you have to tell them what to do.
We didn’t think he’d make it through the summer the way he was a year ago. Yet even as hopeful as we were, he surprised us. A year later, the vet is happy with his progress and so are we. We cherish every moment we get to spend with him. Corey has enriched our lives and shown us how to fight through the worst of situations that come our way.
Adopted Kitty Onyx
In the process, we adopted Onyx on May 23, 2019 from the Orlando Cat Cafe. I should say Onyx adopted us. Both he and Corey have become good friends. Onyx doesn’t know how to let Corey rest and Corey can only do so much before the respiratory system is stressed. So we keep helping Onyx learn to respect Corey. They are great friends though.
We were looking at some old pictures realizing just how far Corey has come in the past year. This is when he and Onyx were first meeting. Now they are best friends (except Onyx sometimes won’t let Corey rest and Corey has health limitations now). pic.twitter.com/Rl3qwMmnhj— Don Shetterly (@mindbodythought) February 10, 2020
Onyx, I believe, helped Corey heal. He brought the kitty energy into the house and it helped Corey push farther. It helped Corey become alive again.
Corey The Orange Cat Is A Fighter
Corey the orange cat is a fighter and a survivor, and he is thriving! He is a lesson to all of us that no matter what we face, we are much more than we realize. We love him with all our hearts and no matter what happens, he will have a permanent place in our hearts.
At one time I thought foods like Hill’s Science Diet were expensive ploys to get rich. Now I can see how their foods have been a significant part of Corey’s recovery. I’m completely sold on the Hill’s brand.
We now have all three cats on Hill’s and we use the automated Surefeed Microchip Pet feeder so they each get their own food to eat. Corey can only eat the thyroid stuff so it was essential to find a way to feed him at the same time as the others, but separate from their food.
I celebrate the extra year we got with Corey the orange cat. May I be able to say the same thing next year.
For more updates on Corey, check out his Facebook Page, Corey The Orange Cat.
Corey’s Automatic Feeder
Without this feeder (SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder), we would not have been able to easily feed Corey the Hill’s Science Diet Thyroid Food. It is the ONLY food he can get in a day because anything with iodine in it (most of the food) would defeat the purpose and make the treatment ineffective. The vet and Hill’s stressed to us that we really need to make sure he gets this iodine-free food ONLY.
With three cats in the house, this was the only way we could find to make this work. It took a little bit (using some enticements) to get them trained on this feeder. Corey was much better than Topanga. We started Onyx from day one and he breezed through training on the feeder. It took a lot of patience though with Topanga.
One good thing with these feeders is that we now know what each cat eats in a day. We can control it so each one is getting the proper nutrition and amount they should get. Before this, Corey was hogging the food and Topanga was far too timid.
The only thing I had to add to the feeders was the hood that attaches to the backside of them. I’m not sure why that didn’t come standard with them because the other cats would just reach in over the back of it and eat. The hoods made all the difference.
Click on the pictures below if you want to find out more about them. They can be purchased through Amazon.
While this may not seem like it belongs on this blog, it really does. Corey the Orange Cat is such a big part of our lives and when he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and heartworm, it was a shell shocker. We were stunned and for a few weeks, I felt like I had the deer in the headlights look. Time seemed to come to a standstill.
We went through so much turmoil knowing our little friend was so sick, and worried that any day might be his last. It was gut-wrenching and made for this last year to really be a challenge. I’m not sure how we got through it, but I’m glad he is doing so much better.
I still feel like my mental health took a big hit and I’m still recovering from it. This is why I wanted to write this blog post, not only to celebrate how far Corey has come but mark what was the beginning of a very challenging and stressful year.