They were the best of tabbies, they were the worst of tabbies. She had the best of care, he had the usual care. Stripe and Dr. Frick were both very loving cats; they had good relationships with their people. But both had the same chronic diseases. One lived an extraodinary nine years after diagnosis; the other lived less than the standard prognosis of two years after diagnosis. What was the difference between the two cats? Stripe, who lived nine years after diagnosis, had regular health care for her lifetime along with early screening and monitoring of her disease process. Dr. Frick was adopted from a local shelter that started the diagnostic process and provided initial care. Unfortunately, no one knows whether he had regular veterinary care before he was dropped off at the shelter.
Both cats were cared for under the recommendations from the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). Both cats had the same chronic conditions that are also common to many senior cats. The only difference was when in the course of their disease the protocols were started. That “when” can make a very great difference in the lifespan and quality of life.
Stripe’s “when” was at a relatively young age (9 years old) and with very minor physical changes due to disease. This allowed small changes in diet or medication to be started before significant damage was done. The regular rechecks in the clinic, both laboratory and physical exam, were very important to indicate what changes were needed. In all, Stripe lived a good life for most of those 9 1/2 years with several conditions that in humans are considered debilitating. With careful management and care, she outlived the expected lifespan of the first disease diagnosed by 7 1/2 years.
Doctor Frick’s “when” was after several disease conditions had already had a very noticable effect on his body. The same medications, the same foods, the same monitoring as Stripe had were unable to improve his condition. For a few months, the conditions were slowed, but one year after diagnosis, the debilitating toll that they had on Dr. Frick’s body was too great and the decision to euthanize was made.
Regular examinations and testing can find these early signs of disease. The disease can then be managed and the cat companion can have a long, enjoyable life. This is what the AAFP recommendations are meant to bring about.
Dr. Pam Cuevas
La Grange Park Cat Clinic
3075 S. Wolf Rd.
Westchester, IL 60154