Dolly is such a health challenge. She is definitely hyperthyroid. That was diagnosed within approximately the last year and she gets meds (methimazole) for that. Dr. Slade suspects she has inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Definite diagnosis comes from an endoscopy, which would totally freak Dolly out, so we've been trying to avoid that. She gets meds (prednisone, a steroid) based on symptoms.
But she is not gaining weight! And we are trying to plump her up. She free feeds on dry food. She has her own stash of gourmet dry food. In addition to her 2 squares of wet food a day, she gets extra feedings of cat food, as well as treat food (chicken, turkey, sardines, etc.). Before being diagnosed hyperthyroid, she lost approximately 2 lb., going from 9 lb. to 7 lb. Now, she's never been a big kitty (unlike her tubby littermates, Archie and Smudgie), but a 2 lb. loss on a 9 lb. cat is significant. (Actually, a 2 lb. loss on any weight cat is significant enough to warrant causal investigation. A 2 lb. loss on me is just dumb luck.)
Feeding her is a challenge in several ways. First, the physical location of her food: She eats in what we call her 'loft'. It's a small area overlooking the stairs to the 3rd floor that, due to remodeling and safety codes, had to be railed off. She's the only one who can fit through the rails (although Slimmie could when he was alive; she did not know what to make of his presence in her loft, especially when he took it upon himself to sleep in her tweenybed). She eats there so that the others won't outcompete her for her own food. Also, Clara can be a real bitch to Dolly, so it's sort of her safety zone, too. That was the easiest challenge to deal with.
Second, it's impractical to try and pill her. At 11 years old, she remains as agile and quick on her feet as a kitten. When I need to grab her for a vet appointment, I have to make good on the first try; otherwise, she remains wary and even more likely to escape my evil clutches. More importantly, she will just learn to avoid us altogether. Bottom line: pilling her on a long-term basis would drastically reduce her quality of life.
Third, so she gets her meds crushed in her breakfast and dinner squares. But she doesn't always eat it all. I feel like I'm always adjusting her food:med ratio. If I put the meds in too little food, the prednisone upsets her stomach and she yaks it up anyway. If I put it in too much food, she doesn't eat it all. And even if she has some of the leftovers later, she doesn't always do so and she doesn't always finish them off. We've given sick cats baby food in the past, so that's on the grocery list to try next. The other thing we're going to try is to give her a little Pepcid, either in the food along with her meds or in an appetizer before getting an entree with her meds, so as to give the Pepcid some time to prep her stomach for the prednisone. See? It's like a dance, trying to figure out what will work best. If I give her something too yummy - to get her to eat the meds in it - she snarfs 'n' barfs (snb). If I give her too much food so she doesn't snb, she doesn't finish it, so she's probably not getting all her meds.
We track pretty much anything unusual about the cats' behavior, health, etc. Now, it's certainly not unusual for a cat to yak or produce a hairball once in a while. And very occasional, isolated instances of diarrhea are acceptable. But Dolly's been having diarrhea for about a week now. She's had some vomiting, too, but the diarrhea's been the more prevalent symptom.
If she does have IBD, I dread hearing that she's developed lymphoma. IBD is often a precursor to lymphoma. The late, great Archibald died of lymphoma last August; you just can't win against it. There are things you can do to slow it down (and we did everything for my favorite kitty), but, it's incurable in cats (not so in people, though). One reason I especially dread hearing that diagnosis is that, because Dolly is difficult to handle, pill, etc., we most likely would be unable to give her all the treatments we gave Archie (who was a total and complete Momma's boy who let me do pretty much anything to him and didn't hold a grudge against me).
Dr. Slade was set to come on Tuesday anyway to check up on Dolly and Smudge and also give Clara her annual exam and booster shots. Well, maybe I should try not to worry about what might happen wrt Dolly's health and wait to hear what is the case. That's what I'd usually do, but it's kinda hard when my cats' health is a concern.