Aby-a-Day – 11 Februari: All clear! (Medical Monday)

A couple of weeks ago, I got the following email from Dr. Cecilia: Hi Koshka!
I just got the results back and all cats are free from Tritrich! Great job!
Hope you haven’t waited too long for the results. They appeared in a weird place in the journal, so I hadn’t seen them before.
No more restrictions. Hope Jakey is doing fine. Otherwise get back to me to discuss treatment with prednisolone.

I wrote back: I knew it! There’s been no diarrhea and he’s gained weight. We’ve been feeding him sensitive stomach food and kitten food, but he is still a little growly.
It took me a while to get all five cats’ poops. Angel is a very stealthy pooper. So no, I didn’t wait too long at all!
Great news! What do we do about the prednisolone?

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She responded: Hi! If he’s had no diarrhoea and gaining weight I wouldn’t put him on pred for now. The best would be to put him on a hydrolysed feed. There are a few different ones, but I recommend them in this order of priority (based on protein and fat content): Purina HA, Hills z/d, Royal Canin Hypoallergenic, Specific CDD Allergy Management Plus.
Also I’ve written a prescription for folic acid and B12. He should be on it for 6 weeks, then off for 2 weeks. After that I recommend a revisit to check his B-vitamin values, evaluate the feed and recheck his albumin and proteins, which were abnormal before the treatment.
Is that an OK plan for you?

My answer was: It’s a great plan! to which she said: Super! I’ll put him up for a revisit in 8 weeks. We’ll call you to make the appointment.

But what AWESOME news! We have successfully conquered both Giardia and Tritrichimonas Foetus. I am earning my cat-parent merit badges!

Aby-a-Day – 21 Januari: Tritrichomonas Foetus (Medical Monday)

You may recall that Jacoby has been having some sort of vague mysterious ailment. We spent much of the summer shuttling to the djursjukhuset in Jönköping to try to figure out what the problem was. But we have finally gotten to the bottom of it. It took a while because I needed three separate fecal samples from Jake…and I was having a devil of a time catching him in the act! But finally the first week of September I got that third sample, and a week later Dr. Cecilia emailed me with the result: “Today I’ve finally recieved Jacoby’s fecal sample results. We have significant findings that may well explain his weight loss and (quite possibly) also his change in behavior. He has the parasite Tritrichomonas foetus that in chronic cases may induce chronic intestinal inflammations. He also has toxin-producing Clostridia in overgrowth.”

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TriTrich is a protozoan parasite that can infest multi-cat households. But it’s good news, right? At least we know what the problem is. I mean, we have already dealt with Giardia, which is a huge problem to deal with, and we managed to survive that…so TriTrich is at least better than that, right?

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Well, yes and no. Whilst Giardia is harder to kill in the house because the protozoa are shed encased in cysts which are hard to destroy, the medication is readily available in any Apotek. The TriTrich protozoa have no such protective “shells,” but the problem with treating TriTrich is that the medication for it, Ronidazole, is toxic. Like, wear rubber gloves when giving the pills (for four days), and also wear a face mask when cleaning the litterbox during medication and three days after the last pill has been given. Dr. Cecelia had to get specific licenses from Läkemedelsverket (the Swedish bureau that deals with prescription medication) for each cat based on their weight. This was delayed a bit because, as usual with Swedish government agencies, the instructions on the paperwork weren’t entirely clear, and there was an error on the original paperwork so it needed to be redone…and Läkemedelsverket only sends the denial notifications by snail mail.

But we finally got ahold of this highly-regulated, super-toxic medication, which I had to give to five cats once a day for fourteen days…yeah, good times. The exact written instructions were as follows: “All cats are treated with 1 capsule per day for 14 days. They are prescribed and will be sent directly home to you. The drug is toxic and is excreted through feces and urine. Therefore, you need to use disposable gloves and masks when you’re cleaning the litter boxes. The most common side effects (still uncommon), are neurological. Contact us immediately if any of the cats show any neurological abnormalities or other symptoms.” Now, that’s not at all daunting, is it? At least I’m not the only person who’s been through this! And hey, this time I didn’t get bitten, either!

I also had to bathe all the cats. I wasn’t sure when during the medication timeline I should bathe them all, so I emailed some researchers at North Carolina State University for advice, and was pleasantly surprised at their quick and helpful response! They told me: “To my knowledge, no one has looked at the optimal time for performing a disinfection during treatment for T. foetus (ie. at what point during the treatment, on average, is T. foetus no longer being shed by the cat). The good news is, the T. foetus organism is not particularly robust once outside the host. We have observed the organisms in feces are no longer viable 24hrs after being voided into a litter pan, in the absence of litter; the presence of litter likely speeds the process up via desiccation of the feces.” So, towards the end of the dosage period, we cleaned one room, washed all the cats, locked the cats up in the clean room and then cleaned the rest of the house. We used liberal amounts of Virkon (which is actually better than bleach for sanitizing – and without the smell and turning things white).

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Another importan part of eradicating TriTrich is to thoroughly clean all the litterboxes, since it is mainly transmitted in feces.

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It wasn’t easy, cleaning six litterboxes, but between the two bathrooms, I managed to wash them all.

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We got all the freshly cleaned boxes back in their places…

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…and filled them up with clean, fresh litter. We use two types, PeeWee pine pellets, which are wonderful, and Cat’s Best Öko, which is a plant-based wood fibre clumping litter. Both of these make collecting fecal samples very easy – much easier than clay litter.

This is important, because once we were done with the medication and the bathing and the cleaning, we needed to test all five cats’ poops. Which involved catching each cat “in the act,” so to speak. Izaak and Lorelai were easy – just catch them when we’re at a cat show. Jacoby, as well, was simple: he eats in a room with a box in it, so just catch him after he’s been fed. But Alfred and Angel…it took me weeks to catch them, especially Angel! I finally managed it, though…

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So now, we are TriTrich free…no diarrhea at all, and Jake seems happier and less growly, although he still hisses and growls at the younger cats…but I think now it’s just become a habit to be a grumpy old man towards them more than an actual medical symptom.

(And yeah, I wasn’t going to post a photo of anyone actually using a box, so have a shot of Jake having his perfect teeth checked instead.)

Aby-a-Day – 12 March: Takes a ticking and keeps on licking (Medical Monday)

Disclaimer: This post contains images of a disgusting, blood-sucking parasite…no, not the one currently occupying the White House…I am talking an actual arachnid. If you’re squeamish about creepy crawlies, you might want to scroll quickly.

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The first summer we lived in Sweden, Jacoby went out on several outdoor expeditions in the tall grass on the slope near our apartment.

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A day or two after one such outing, I petted Jake and felt…a lump. I inspected it more closely, and…EWWWWWWWwwwwwwwwwww!

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It was a tick! A big, nasty, swollen, blood-engorged tick! I don’t do exoskeletal, multi-legged things (except lobsters, crabs and shrimp), but Björn grew up next to a lake in Sweden and has dealt with ticks many times. He even had the appropriate extraction tool at the ready.

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Between cringing and making “ew” noises, I wasn’t much help.

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So I just held Jake still and took photos.

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I am so glad that Björn knows how to handle these monsters. It was hard enough just taking and editing the photos!

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All I know about ticks is what I’ve read in the Warriors books, and I was fresh out of moss and mouse bile.

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Of course, I could have always looked online for instructions on tick removal…but there was still that whole “I don’t do bugs” thing, so…

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…it’s a good thing I have Björn.

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Because…Ew! Ew-ew-ew-ew! EWWW!