I am in a prison of my cat's making.
June 7, 2015 10:32 AM   Subscribe

I have an absolutely wonderful cat, Banana. I've had cats all my life and he's my favorite by a wide margin. He is beloved by both me and my husband. He is also ruining our lives.

Banana started having seizures a little over a year ago. After thousands of dollars of tests, it was determined there is no underlying cause of the seizures. He is just epileptic. He was started on phenobarbital twice a day, to which he quickly proved to be allergic. We switched him to a different medication that has to be given three times a day, every 8 hours. For six months he had no seizures at all. I had to be a little late to work every day and leave work a touch early to stay on the dosing schedule, but amazingly this has not been an issue. We also stayed up until 11:30pm every night to get the late dose in, but as the meds were working it didn't seem like too much of a hardship. We cancelled our fall vacation to Paris because of the expense incurred in figuring out what was going on with this cat.

Over Christmas, we kenneled him for a week at the only 24 hour facility in town that can give meds three times a day. He hid in the corner of his cage and didn't eat the entire time. He lost at least two pounds in a week. I'm surprised he didn't end up with fatty liver disease. So kenneling is out.

In February, two things happened: I was diagnosed with breast cancer and he started having seizures again. We have increased his meds three times. Right now he's getting two pills every 8 hours and is still having seizures every 2-3 weeks, which the neurologists consider unacceptable. There are no other single drugs that can control epilepsy in cats; any med change would be the addition of other drugs, all of which have to be given 2 x a day, which means we'd dose him four times a day with at least eight pills total.

The cancer treatment has meant I'm too tired to stay up until 11:30 so right now either my husband stays up, or I set an alarm and get up around midnight to give it to him. My husband getting up in the middle of the night is not an option because his alarm wakes me up, but not vice versa. This all sounds insane typed out but I guess it has been so gradual we've gotten used to it.

The cancer has meant we have not been able to travel all year, which is something we enjoy and normally do a lot of. But this weekend, with chemotherapy behind me, we went to stay at a luxury hotel and spa in a suburb of our city. The pet sitter who has known him his whole life managed the first two doses, but after that he became hostile and violent. I could hear him over the phone, hissing and growling. My husband and I had to take turns driving home from our relaxing weekend to give him his meds.

I don't have any friends I am willing to burden with this scenario when we are out of town. Most of my friends that Banana is familiar with have dogs; none of them have cats they regularly administer pills to. And he's standoffish with even the people he does know. He pretty much only likes me and my husband. But he REALLY likes us.

tl;dr, here are the facts:
1. Five year old cat with epilepsy.
2. Requires medication every 8 hours. Most nights I'm getting up in the middle of the night to make this happen.
3. Still has seizures anyway, during which he voids urine.
4. We love to travel and with a cancer diagnosis, even an early stage breast cancer with 90%+ relapse-free survival, I'm feeling like it's something I cannot put off.
5. Cannot be kenneled because he won't eat.
6. Cannot be left with a pet sitter because he turns into a hostile jerk.

I feel like #7 is the true issue. If this were any other cat - even his perfectly delightful sister cat, Papaya - I feel like we'd make the decision to put him down. But God, we are absolutely agonizing over what to do here. On one hand, it would be amazing to have even my normal day-to-day life back, able to get a full night's sleep and go out after work without running home to give a cat pills, etc. To not have to clean urine off my bed or kitchen countertops (!) post-seizure. On the other hand, between seizures he's pretty much fine, and I can't shake the feeling that if we did euthanize him, it would be mostly to make our lives better. Even though obviously his life is not the greatest, what with having to take a bunch of pills all the time and still having seizures anyway. (Note: I do have an appointment next week with his neurologist but I am very familiar with feline epilepsy treatment after a year of this and do not expect they'll be able to offer me a magic bullet from the medical side.)

Are we monsters for considering euthanasia? Is there some magical solution to the going-out-of-town aspect of the situation that we're not considering? What would you do here?
posted by something something to Pets & Animals (38 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1. I don't think you are monsters for considering putting him down.

2. I do think you had a particularly terrible kennel. I've only kenneled dogs, not cats, but one of the dogs was epileptic and difficult to pill and had a complicated medication schedule. One of the kennels we used clearly could not handle it -- the dog had seizures while we were gone and had that general off-his-meds air -- but the others were great, frankly better than we were. This is something kennels do.

So do professional pet sitters, if your cat really can't adjust to a kennel. We had a friend dog sit for us and it was a disaster -- we found the dogs pills all over the floor where he'd been spitting them out, in spite of our having shown the sitter the tricks for getting him to swallow them -- but professionals do this all the time. They are probably better at it than you are. You just have to find the right one.

3. We spent quite a bit of time with our vet working out a pill schedule we could live with. We had a baby on the way, not cancer, but we knew nobody was getting up at midnight to pill the dog. Our vet had a lower standard than your neurologists do, or maybe our dog's epilepsy was worse -- a seizure every two weeks was within our level of "acceptable," since medicating him beyond that point made him a zombie with no quality of life to speak of. If you have not brought this up to your vet, I would. Say this med schedule is just not doable and you are at a crossroads. He may have another suggestion. You may need another vet.

Again, I don't think you are monsters for considering this. But I also think you've had some crappy luck (beyond the crappy luck involved in having a cancer and an epileptic cat).
posted by xeney at 10:40 AM on June 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

You are not monsters for considering euthanasia. I only have one possible suggestion for vacation: do the techs at your vet do in-home pet care? When I worked at a clinic we all had sidelines in pet sitting, particularly for animals that required medicating or fluid administration. They may be better able to cope with a cat who WON'T be pilled.
But as a person who cares very deeply for the animals in her life, I am comfortable telling you that with all that you are going through and the frequency of the seizures, you are not bad people for considering euthanasia. It's a terrible position to be in and I hope you can be at peace with whatever choices you make.
posted by PussKillian at 10:41 AM on June 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

I would try to make arrangements with a a pet sitter by consulting a cat specialist of some kind and working with the sitter and the specialist to plan some techniques for dosing a hostile cat. Hostile cats can be given meds. Does the pet sitter stay at your place? Basically, my feeling is that an expensive pet sitter may be a solution - someone you can pay to deal carefully with your poor freaked-out kitty. Honestly, I have pet-sat several cats who didn't have medical conditions and most of them - even the ones I knew well - were angry and scratchy because I was not Their Hoooman. I'm not saying that poor old Banana isn't extra angry, but I think a lot of pet sitters are going to be ready to deal with fierce cats.

It just seems like euthanizing a cat over this would be something that you would always have to live with.
posted by Frowner at 10:42 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I wonder if there isn't some other treatment or drug, like an anti-anxiety drug, that could help him feel more comfortable with other people. That would free up some other options for you, if he could deal more smoothly with pet-sitters or even being re-homed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:46 AM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would try kenneling at a vet's office that provides that service. I imagine it will cost more than a regular kennel would but it sounds like it would be a welcome expense to be able to take a break from worrying about him.

Other than that, no, I don't think you are a monster for considering your own health issues to be more important than your cat's.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:47 AM on June 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

I would try kenneling at a vet's office that provides that service.

Just to be clear, that's what we did. He stayed at the 24-hour vet that has provided us with excellent care. But they kennel the cats in the treatment area, so it is noisy and people are around all the time. The nicer pet resort-type kennels aren't open to give him the late night dose. And even the other 24-hour vet hospitals I've called don't keep the boarding areas open 24 hours. Our own regular vet doesn't, either.

The problem with the pet sitter this time is that he quickly recognized her as The Pill Giver and wouldn't even allow her to get close to him. She can get the pills in him when she can catch him, but by the third visit he was running away the second she walked in the door, even though she ignored him and carried on with feeding them and petting my other cat. She tried to catch him but that's when the growling and hissing kicked in and she (fairly!) feared for her own safety. I'm concerned that even the best pill-giver would still be viewed by him as The Enemy, and what do we do if this situation recurs with another person while we are legitimately out of town with no way to come home? I don't want to ask someone to put themselves at risk of getting bitten or clawed to all hell.
posted by something something at 10:54 AM on June 7, 2015

Euthanasia. I'm sorry for the troubles in your life. Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:57 AM on June 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Chiming in on "you're not a monster," from a vegetarian and fellow pet-lover: If your cat were causing this level of interference with your KID's cancer treatment and quality of life, there would be a pretty clear and guilt-free answer. It's okay to love and care about yourself/your spouse that much too.
posted by cogitron at 11:01 AM on June 7, 2015 [33 favorites]

he quickly recognized her as The Pill Giver and wouldn't even allow her to get close to him

Yeah, I was thinking this will always be the caveat - you could have the greatest most amazing petsitter in the world but this is a cat. They are extremely mobile and surprisingly strong for their relative size and basically not motivated by an urge to please or a fear of authority like a dog. You can't *make* a cat do much of anything.

I would think very hard about putting the cat down, even without the cancer. Unless another vet can offer you a solution that is low-maintenance, I would call this the best possible effort a person could make for a pet, and consider that this is a shitload longer than he would have lived as a stray or in a working-cat capacity, or with most people in most parts of the world. With seizure disorders that severe, this is always going to be a question of when, not if (unless he happens to die unattended, for which there is no guarantee that it will be peaceful).

The cat will not know he is dead. He has no concept of good days and bad days and no math to calculate how many of each he might have left. Have a couple of amazing blowout weeks with him and then help him go more pleasantly and peacefully than he will under any other circumstances.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:05 AM on June 7, 2015 [29 favorites]

Your cancer may not be the worst kind and it may be survivable, but one of the things that matters in beating cancer is getting adequate rest so your body can recover from treatments. You are not a monster for considering your own needs over that of your cat under these circumstances.

It's an awful, awful, traumatic choice to have to make, but it's not simply an issue of convenience so you can go jetting off around the world -- you have legitimate personal concerns here.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:05 AM on June 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

So this wouldn't solve all the problems and I'm guessing if it could work you would have mentioned it, but ... our friends' late cat loved road trips. Any chance Banana feels similarly?
posted by feral_goldfish at 11:17 AM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

You have done your due diligence and have tried every possible option. Your health and your quality of life matters more than your cat's. I think people have a great responsibility towards their pets and should not take this responsibility lightly, but you have gone above and beyond here.

You are not a monster for considering euthanasia. Given what you've typed here, it seems like the right choice.

Good luck in whatever you decide and I wish you the best in your recovery.
posted by Blissful at 11:21 AM on June 7, 2015 [8 favorites]

I don't know much about cats, so if this is unrealistic advice I apologize. That said, would it be possible to build up a relationship with a potential cat-slash-housesitter? Maybe if your cat could get used to the sitter coming over to hang out or play every once in a while (with you or your husband still acting solely or partly as Pill-Giver), and if the sitter could live at your place while you're gone, then your cat might not associate them with their pill-giving responsibilities.

Actually, re-reading your question I see that your cat already knew the sitter you used, but it seems like they only dropped in every few hours, right?
posted by mail at 11:24 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can you talk to your vet about having the medication compounded so that it can be administered as a liquid along with food? Or, have you tried pill pockets? (Those don't work on my cat, but they might work on Banana.) You might also want to talk to the vet about changing that medication schedule. Every eight hours is not realistic for most people. It's not a sustainable medication schedule. That said, if it could be compounded, you may be able to get an automatic feeder or treat dispenser with a timer that could take care of this for you. Also, I would recommend getting a second opinion. Annette Wilson at Ark Mobile Vet is a great vet in the area and she will come to your house to see Banana.

All that said, no, you're not a monster for considering euthanasia. Sometimes the best thing we do for someone we love is help them die with dignity and care and love. Banana is incredibly loved and has had a great life, and I know that you would not be considering this if you didn't know deep down that it was a serious option that might actually be the best one for everyone involved - not just you and your husband, but Banana too.

Best of luck. I'm really sorry that you have to deal with this tough decision.
posted by sockermom at 11:29 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

If your decision-making is clouded by worrying that you're monsters, here's one way to think about why euthanasia might be appropriate for Banana:

he's getting two pills every 8 hours and is still having seizures every 2-3 weeks, which the neurologists consider unacceptable. ... any med change ... means we'd dose him four times a day with at least eight pills total.

So ... the (highly qualified specialist!) vets are telling you his situation is unacceptable. There's a treatment that MIGHT improve things, but that treatment isn't possible for you, due to scarce resources. This happens ALL THE TIME. The scarce resource may be time, or money, or both. You've already pumped in a lot of both.

If Banana's current situation is unacceptable (presumably due to his intermittent but severe suffering), and difficult or impossible to fix, then euthanasia becomes a logical and responsible act. Maybe the only logical and responsible act.

In February, two things happened: I was diagnosed with breast cancer and he started having seizures again.

Cats are pretty sensitive to household stress. Sadly, Banana may be collateral damage from the breast cancer. There's now a feedback loop: caring for him is causing constant, ongoing stress, and ramping up the treatment means ramping up the stress. You may be locked in a cycle of mutually assured destruction. If the situation isn't sustainable, and Banana's quality of life has taken a nosedive, it may be time to let him go.

I know you love him SO MUCH. It's really really hard.
posted by feral_goldfish at 12:02 PM on June 7, 2015 [15 favorites]

FWIW, I think Banana is not having a good time. Having to fight and be force-fed several times a day has got to be traumatic. Our cat needs pills too, once a day, and he's learned to relax and be relatively chill about it, if not love it. He's having a pretty good cat life otherwise. If I had to make him live his life in fear/defense mode all the time, I'd be considering the same thing.
posted by ctmf at 12:23 PM on June 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

N-thing that you are not monsters. A few months ago our Wings suddenly developed what the vets think was a brain tumor. Went blind, bumping into things, walking like a drunken sailor, yelling at us quite a lot. We consulted two different vets and finally made that heart-rending choice. We actually had a third vet, a mobile one, come to our house and do a quality of life evaluation. Her objective opinion helped us realize just how different he had become.

Like Lyn Never said, Banana doesn't know or care about good/bad days/weeks/months. Ultimately, as his human you have to make the decision for him.

I'm sorry that you're going through this additional pain and stress during treatment, when you can least tolerate additional stress. He knows you love him. If/when the time ultimately comes, I highly recommend having a mobile vet come administer it. It was so much less stressful to have them come to us in a warm, comfortable, familiar environment.

You're doing the right things. You are not monsters.
posted by zrail at 12:26 PM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is so hard, and I'm sorry you have to deal with it.

I've been in similar situations, and the thing that helped me was to remember that when you take on the joy and responsibility of a pet, making these hard decisions is part of it. You owe it to yourself and your pet to make good decisions, and not avoid making them. You can't ask your cat, so you have to make the choice.
I think you might know what to choose, but still feel sad about it. That's normal, and doesn't mean you are making a mistake; it means you are in a sad situation and are making the best choice available.
posted by librosegretti at 12:38 PM on June 7, 2015

I'm going to suggest a different approach from what has been mentioned so far.

Take Banana off the medications entirely. While the seizures are problematic and life-threatening, most of the stresses on you and the cat are related to the medication protocol.

What's the worst that would happen if you stopped medicating Banana? Is that "better" than euthanasia?

You are not a monster.

You really need to focus on your own medical needs right now. Hopefully Banana can be a comfort to you -- at least for a while -- rather than a burden.

Good luck.
posted by yesster at 1:04 PM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Dude. Your cat is SUFFERING. His condition is not curable and is worsening. The medication process is stressful to everyone in your home. From his perspective you are doing things TO him instead of FOR him. And you can't explain any of this to him.

It's time to let him go.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:17 PM on June 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

Since you are already at the point of considering euthanasia, why don't you first try adding a medication to help mellow him out so that he can be cared for by someone else? I'm specifically going to suggest Zylkene. I learned about it from a friend who is a behavioral veterinarian and uses it to great effect on her own dogs and with client dogs. It is specifically used for situations like the one you're facing. One of my dogs is very anxious and irritable and I tried it in her and the effect has been wonderful. She's not sedated, she's just relaxed. It supposedly is fine to use with other medications. If it doesn't work, or causes problems with the other medication, then you're back where you are now. But maybe it will work, or another medication that your vet can suggest. It may be that reducing his overall stress will help with the seizures as well. I think it's worth a try.
posted by HotToddy at 1:28 PM on June 7, 2015 [8 favorites]

Meant to say that I buy mine on Amazon.
posted by HotToddy at 1:28 PM on June 7, 2015

Oh, sweetie. I'm sorry.

Before you seriously consider euthanasia, I'd say think about re-homing. Hopefully you can find him another home, with somebody who can handle all of his medical needs. Barring that, I think it's time to look into euthanasia. I know how agonizing it is to think about, but you are fighting for your own life here and this kitty has major problems that are really wearing on you.

The people who say he is suffering aren't wrong. If you were in an ideal situation, and could dose him at the right times without any problems, it'd still be kind of a rough life for the little guy. And you're hardly in an ideal situation.

If you can re-home him, I think it will be less traumatic for you. If you can't re-home him, I hope you can put him down without too much guilt. You don't have anything to feel guilty about. This is just an awful situation.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:29 PM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

For me, the primary consideration is quality of life. Quality of life for Banana and you and your husband and your other cat.

I recently had to make this decision for my cat, Pumpkin. Late last July, we had to euthanize our other cat, Pookie, because some tumors cut off the circulation to his paw. He had numerous and chronic health issues for several years and we did the best we could for him. He was the alpha cat and had a job to do and wanted to live. He had had a good day when he came limping up to my daughter with a hugely swollen paw. It was time to let him go.

Just a few weeks later, Pumpkin was diagnosed with large cell intestinal lymphoma because we insisted on pursuing a diagnosis when he started frequent vomiting. Up until that point, Pumpkin had been astonishingly healthy. At 12, he was still a kitten in many ways. Because we just couldn't bear to lose him so soon after losing Pookie and because we could afford it, we chose to have him treated by a veterinary oncologist. The most we could realistically hope for Pumpkin to live, with treatment, was about a year.

We are fortunate to have an excellent veterinary oncologist in our town. They agreed with us that the only standard to judge by was quality of life. They do their own blood work and ultrasound which saves their clients a lot of money. With cats, the main oncologist adjusts the protocol based on the cat's response to therapy. She adjusted Pumpkin's treatment more than once. One of our big issues was that Pumpkin was impossible for us to pill. He was a big cat with a big mouth and hated to have his mouth touched. We never successfully pilled him.

His cancer was very responsive to chemotherapy up to a point, and they changed the protocol and that was better. All traces of the inflammation of his intestines was gone and his lymph nodes were not enlarged at all. Technically, he was in clinical remission. A month later, at his follow up appointment his lymph nodes were showing signs of the cancer again. We tried one more short course of chemotherapy. Again, clinical remission.

He was feeling well enough to let us know very clearly that he wanted no more shots or visits to the clinic. He growled at the vet tech who took his vitals. He demanded attention from us and from the vets and vet techs.

Again at his next follow up appointment, he was out of remission. He had had enough of the poking and prodding and trips to the vet. We elected not to pursue a very aggressive and risky chemotherapy.

It didn't take long for him to decline. He was crashing once and we took him to the emergency vet and that was good. Less than a week later he was declining again. At the same time, my daughter and I were stressing out over other issues in our lives, the constant vigilance required for Pumpkin along with knowing we were unable to keep him comfortable. It was not fair to keep him alive for me. I called on Thursday and made the euthanasia appointment for the following Tuesday. It was really hard. And it was the right decision. We were able to have a good weekend with him. Only one day was really uncomfortable. Tuesday was a good morning, but he wasn't eating and drinking and eliminating, so he would have been in extreme pain on Wednesday.

When we brought him in, the vet and her cat whisperer agreed that he was ready. Over the months he had become a favorite at the clinic, and it was almost as difficult for the vet tech as for us.

Her technique was flawless and Pumpkin did not resist slipping away at all. We will always miss him, but we don't regret our decision. We did not let him get miserable and wretched. And we considered our quality of life as well as his.

I think the idea of re-homing Banana is very sweet, and I also think it is unrealistic. A cat that sick is a lot to take on. I believe that when we take an animal into our lives, we take responsibility, including responsibility for the hard decisions.

Only you can really know, but I think asking the question here is it's own answer.
posted by Altomentis at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

Hi. It seems like you're asking permission for something here, so I'm just going to chime in with a personal anecdote on the theme of "I love this cat; this cat is ruining my life."

This is Kiki. She's a rescue cat that we adopted from a local shelter. The staff kind of hinted at some stuff with other 'foster' families that, reading between the lines, told us that she had been adopted and then brought back to the shelter a few times. When we got her home it took a few months to figure out that 1.) she had a lot of serious, strange medical issues (mystery 12-hour nosebleeds, constant but random explosive diarrhea, suddenly acting like she couldn't move her hind legs or lower body for a day at a time, bouts of distressed incontinence, etc. etc. etc.), and that 2.) we loved her so much that we'd twist our lives, routines, and finances into a pretzel to help her.

The only definitive diagnoses we could get from our vets were that she was probably closer to ten years old than the five that the shelter had thought, had bad arthritis in one hip, a bunch of food allergies and maybe IBS, and probably had something spinal or neurological going on that would cost thousands more than the thousands we had already spent on diagnostics and ongoing treatment. The bad times were cyclical; a good week followed by a bad week, on the outside maybe a solid month without incident followed by four weeks of hell. A few years in, I was kind of in your position (minus the serious personal health issue): I loved my cat SO MUCH, and my cat was also ruining my life. MeMail me for gross details if you want to hear some of the worst of it.

It took me a long time to come around to the idea that being responsible for a pet doesn't always mean doing everything in your power to help them regardless of the personal cost, and that sometimes even though you feel like an animal has a lot of life and love left in it, relieving them from suffering can truly be the best thing for everyone. As plenty of people have said upthread, you are not a monster for considering euthanasia.

After another few months of soul-searching, we tried a some medical Hail Marys, looked into re-homing and were told that she was essentially unadoptable, and ultimately held her in sadness and comfort while she was put to sleep. It was one of the harder things I've ever done. I don't regret it.

For the compassionate, euthanizing a suffering animal without a terminal diagnosis feels like a personal failing, but sometimes I think you realize that it's the right thing to do, it just takes more emotional strength than you're prepared to give. As someone who's been there, I'm really sorry about your cat, and I hope you can find the strength to do what you need to, however it goes. For whatever it's worth, you have my permission.
posted by drumcorpse at 2:59 PM on June 7, 2015 [11 favorites]

Your very considerable other issues aside, you are not monsters for letting Banana's go. He is suffering from an incurable condition and the best you can do is (hopefully) minimize his discomfort while prolonging a less than ideal life.

There are millions of healthy cats who are suffering simply because they lack a home. If it helps you cope with this decision, take one of them in.

More important - take good care of yourself and your people.
posted by she's not there at 3:06 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

My kitty, Stephen, is also epileptic. I know you've probably been over all this a million times with your vet and the specialists and are doing the med regimen you are based on their advice, but our vet tells us that kitty epilepsy is not really super well understood, and there is no definitive treatment that is the gold standard, so just in case it's helpful to you to hear what's working for us, here's Stephen's deal: our vet currently has Stephen on two pills twice a day, which is a pain in the butt but manageable (he gets pilled before breakfast and before his dinner, it's just part of the feeding routine). I cannot imagine how we would make 3x/day work. He's on zonisamide and gabapentin. We get the gabapentin compounded (because they don't make cat-friendly does commercially), but get the zonisamide at Costco for cheap. It took a while to get the combo and dosages figured out right (he was on zonisamide alone for a while, and that wasn't working; then, when we added the gabapentin in initially the dose was way out of whack and he was stumbling around like a small furry drunk) but as of now his seizure activity has been greatly reduced from being a weekly/every couple days occurrence, to being a every couple of months occurrence. We're super happy with his treatment at the moment. Maybe discuss with your vet whether this med combo (or some other) might be worth a trial period? (Apologies if this is ground you've already covered)

Going away from home is complicated when you have an animal that needs meds. Believe me, I totally feel you on this one. For us, having a pet-sitter that just stops by twice a day does NOT work, since Stephen comes to only associate them with getting pilled. However, when we went away for over a week at Christmas, we had our (wonderful, amazing, godsend) petsitter stay at the house the whole time. Initially, he was resistant to her and gave her a really hard time when pilling him (and she's a pro at this), but after a few days of seeing that she was ALSO potentially a source of snuggles and play and FOOD and TREATS (these were important factors, methinks) he became much less resistant to taking his pills from her. It's obviously pricier than having someone just stop by a few times, but honestly it wasn't hugely more expensive than boarding him would have been in our case. Perhaps with the addition (like others have mentioned above) of some sort of anti-anxiety thingy, a live-in pet-sitter might be able to overcome his resistance?

Anecdata aside, however, you are not a monster for considering the option of letting your pet go. Not even a little bit. If you can't (through no fault or failure of your own) give him the kind of life you'd like him to have, or if providing that life is ruining yours, than choosing to remove the obligation to do so is not monstrous. It's compassionate. Re-homing is a wonderful option, if you can make that work. Euthanasia is a hard choice to make, but your life and happiness and your husband's life and happiness need to be your priority.

I'm sorry this (all of this) is so hard. Wishing the very, very best to you.
posted by Dorinda at 3:45 PM on June 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

You obviously love your kitty a lot. Any decision you make now will be okay.

I also have a very difficult to medicate cat, who has a number of health issues (though not as serious as epilepsy). What has worked for me is a professional cat sitter who is willing to give medication at home. The cat needs to be confined in one room of the house where he doesn't have anywhere to run. Not his favourite thing, but it has worked out okay. The sitter is a vet tech by day, and doesn't approach him without gloves for the pills. This is not a cheap option, but if you can afford it, it may be worth a try.

A live in cat sitter plus kitty valium has also worked pretty well, but it's more difficult for me to find someone to do it. My friend with a sick kitty has a student who lives in her house when she's away, so finding someone like that could help.

Best of luck to you.
posted by frumiousb at 4:24 PM on June 7, 2015

We registered with trustedsitter.com and were promptly contacted by a local retired nurse who was willing to cat/house sit (for free, reg on the website was $100/yr) and give shots to our diabetic cat. We actually were contacted by several local retired couples who like pets but don't want their own. If you don't find a sitter you get a refund, so it's worth a shot!
posted by jrobin276 at 4:36 PM on June 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Ok, yes a trusted sitter assuming you can find a way to get him his meds without ruining his life. If we had to fight ours multiple times per day we'd be considering putting him down too - and he WOULD fight is over pills! Ironically, the shot in the scruff of his neck every time he eats doesn't bother him at all. A liquid or a shot might help.
posted by jrobin276 at 4:43 PM on June 7, 2015

I've done rescue work for dogs for years and one of the things I've learned is that sometimes the right decision is to let the animal go. Re-homing a cat with the kind of medical issues that Banana has is not terribly likely, sadly. Realistically I doubt you would find a home for him that would do half the things you have done for him.

You are not a monster if you put the cat to sleep. You have loved Banana and cared for him. Sometimes loving an animal means taking the responsibility to make sure they don't suffer any more.
posted by winna at 6:05 PM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

This may not be germane but I didn't see this mentioned anywhere. Have you tried splitting the cat's food into separate meals, then grinding up the medication into the meal? I do that for our cat occasionally, she doesn't seem to notice the stuff in the food. Best if you use something scrumptious like fresh tuna.

You really have to consider your well being first. If your cat is truly ill and incurable, perhaps getting worse, you simply have to be willing to put the animal down, mourn them properly and get on with your life. Think like a farmer. They try not to let their animals suffer needlessly, neither should you. Be very practical about it and do not shame yourself for choosing to do so.
posted by diode at 8:19 PM on June 7, 2015

How miserable is Banana in general, between the hell of pilling and all of his seizures? Is he a happy kitty at this point or not?

Given your own health issues, I think it could be considered justifiable to put him down. The odds of someone else wanting to take on the heavy burden of his (not terribly successful at this point, is it?) treatment are slim to none, and it's probably hurting your own health as well, and if he's not so happy on top of that and living in fear of pilling...maybe it could be for the best.

I'm sorry for your situation. That really sucks.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:03 PM on June 7, 2015

I am so sorry that you're in this situation.

I would not re-home a cat with significant medical issues. I would have him put down.

Cats don't think of time in the same linear fashion as us humans. All he knows is that he has had a great life that's been full of love and happiness! He does not know if his life is short or long.

Take care of yourself ... it's OK .... you've given him a good life and it may be time to let him go and that does not make you a bad person at all. He has been lucky to have you as his humans.
posted by Ostara at 12:11 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Take care of yourself first. Your pet is at the end of his road, which is natural. You can reward a loving home to a needy cat again when you are well again.
posted by zaelic at 2:31 AM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thank you all, for your compassion. It helps to know we are not the worst pet owners in the world for considering this. The problem with epilepsy is that it's more an intermittent issue than chronic - he is absolutely fine in between seizures, which makes it harder to figure out his quality of life. Every 2 o r 3 weeks he has a seizure lasting a minute or so plus post-seizure weirdness that lasts anywhere from a half hour to half a day, but otherwise he's his sweet, hilarious self.

So, I am going to speak to his neurologist next week about trying Dorinda's cat's regimen before we throw in the towel. Twice a day dosing would solve 90% of the issues here - I'd be able to sleep, and we could board him at a nice, quiet facility with big windows and a kitty condo big enough to share with his sister, which I think would go a long way to reducing his anxiety about being there. He is pretty sensitive to meds so I'm not sure how it will go, but I certainly think it's worth a shot before jumping to the nuclear option.
posted by something something at 5:15 AM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yall have tried a lot. I think there is a few more things to try, yes, but at the end of the day, if you really can't do anything else, it is ok to euthanize. Hard, of course, but some times the right option, sadly.
posted by Jacen at 1:44 PM on June 8, 2015

One of our cats used to have seizures. I say used to because we finally figured out they were associated with a transition from hot to cold. Keeping the AC turned a bit higher and not ever letting her outside in the winter has reduced her seizure frequency to something indistinguishable from zero. Or maybe she just grew out of it. Or maybe she is having mini-seizures we just can't see. Who the hell knows?

All I do know is that she's as half feral as ever (I'm pretty much the only person who can touch her without her getting very angry) yet seems quite content to chill on the couch or in the corner or wherever all day.

The point is that the seizures could be environmental, so you may consider seeing if you can find commonality between the episodes.

If not, and you are at a point where you cannot care for yourself and Banana, there is no shame in considering euthanasia. Sometimes it is for the best, and that's OK. I think it's a damn shame we don't allow the same dignity for humans, as sad as it is to have to go through. It may be hard, but it beats the hell out of watching your cat seize and die in agony before you can do anything about it.
posted by wierdo at 6:38 PM on June 8, 2015

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