Friday, February 4, 2011

Gadjo update

It seems that Gadjo has either an injury and/or FHS (Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome).

I'm really hoping it's not the latter, but unfortunately, all signs seem to be pointing to that. It's not a common or well-understood condition, and it happens more in male cats and in Oriental breeds. It seems to be a neurological problem in which some combination (a lot of "and/or") of things come together: nerves in the lower back/tail are deformed/too many and/or overly sensitive and/or don't convey impulses in a normal way; possible seizure activity in the brain; a form of feline OCD.

These are the symptoms: "dilated pupils; twitching of the tail; appearing to be annoyed with the tail; biting at the tail, sometimes to the point of mutilation; behavior change from loving to scared and depressed; staring into space; hiding and isolating self; persistent, loud meowing; dashing off madly and aimlessly around the house or yard; visibly rippling, twitching skin on the back just above the tail; finding being touched, especially along the back, sometimes unbearable; compulsive, excessive grooming, sometimes to the point of self-mutilation; sudden, random aggressive behavior; possible seizures and/or intermittent muscle spasms in the thoracolumbar epaxial muscles." It's like invisible monsters are biting him in the back and freaking him out.

I'm especially worried because if it occurs, it usually manifests in cats ages 1 - 4 years. Gadjo's only five months old, which makes me think he's going to have a very severe case of it. Cats can have from very mild to very severe cases. In the worst cases, cats have seizures and can die or become paralyzed from them, and/or they self-mutilate uncontrollably. Episodes can happen every few days, every day, or virtually constantly.

At the moment, the vet still wants to rule out the possibility of a simple injury, and/or an injury which may have set off otherwise normal nerves in his back. So he's on pain meds which, if he has FHS, are suppressing some of the symptoms. But I really have a sinking feeling that he has FHS. I've been doing a lot of reading about it and it sounds exactly like what we've been witnessing.

If he does have it, we'll be trying either antiseizure meds or antianxiety meds. Some cats benefit from one or the other. It's terribly scary and I am so afraid for him and so sad for us, because it seems that starting at one sudden moment a few days ago, his constantly sweet, loving, calm, gentle, bold personality disappeared. He won't even purr.

I want him back.


Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear. The medication may work- but I am sure you know not to prolong suffering.

loriann said...

Oh dear, my heart goes out to you and Gadjo. I don't know FHS, but it sounds like he is having a very tough time. It must be so confusing for Gadjo, he must be so mixed up and hurting. Take care, all of you. I send you healing light.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Oh dearest Jala, this is terrible. I so hope for him to 'come back'.
I will pray for you all and hope it's some aberration. It's too soon (merely 12 weeks or so but who's counting) for you to have animolecule heartache again.
hugs, Mary

SamArtDog said...

Poor little gypsy.

Bonnie Luria said...

Such a horrid list of potential symptoms- they seem to include everything. It's so unfair for this new little guy to be facing such an uncertain cat-hood.
And horrible for you. You've had a few hits to the head lately with kitties and I know how deep your feelings for them go.
He has a friend in Rumi.
I'm so sorry.
He's so damn beautiful.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Jala, I know this sounds like a stupid question….but are you sure that it is just not fleas or biting lice? Our cat has very similar symptoms…she is almost eight now, and the vet thinks it’s a flea allergy (on allergy to the flea medication)… that keeps recurring. The symptoms do sound almost the same as my little one. Does one of her pupils have a black mark to one side, which looks like the pupil is spreading out?
I really hope that it is nothing too serious….

Jala Pfaff said...

Hi Don - Thanks for your visit and your concern.

Hi Loriann - Do you have enough healing light to spare right now? (Of course you do, you're made of light.)

Hi Mary - Thank you, please do pray for it to be something else (like a temporary injury).

Hi Sam - My little Gadjo Dilo.

Hi Bonnie - Thank you. You are right on all counts.

Katherine - My sentiments too.

Hi Maggie - not at all a silly idea. In fact, part of the vet's job in this case would automatically be to rule out things like fleas or biting lice, that would in fact cause similar symptoms. Here's the interesting thing (that will probably make everyone want to move to Boulder now): those pests don't live here. Everywhere else in the U.S. I've lived, it's been the most horrible problem. In Boulder there simply aren't any. Some say it's due to the altitude, I don't know, but... Pet owners' dream!

Jala Pfaff said...

P.S. Maggie again - What do you mean about the eye??

Anonymous said...

Jala, That’s it then…. I’ll have to move to Boulder (lol)…..NO Fleas!!!!!

I should explain more about the eye……. In the last couple of years I have noticed a pronounced black spot on one side of the cats iris. I’m absolutely sure it was not there from kitten hood...she doesn’t seem bothered about it and it’s not floating or getting bigger…. just kind of disfiguring the roundness of the iris. The nearest animal hospital with a vet ophthalmologist is a considerable distance away so I have not pursued that angle yet. It might be coincidental, but the tail biting and pulling out great tufts of fur and incessant grooming and meowing for no apparent reason is happening also. Guess I should really go back to the vet, but our little cat is traumatised for days whenever she has to leave the house. Just wondered if you had any ideas about this.
I do so hope your little one will be OK…..

Jala Pfaff said...

Hi Maggie - Your poor kitty who gets traumatized about leaving her lovely safe house! :) I've had kitties like that too. I poked around the internet just briefly and it sounds like it could *maybe* be a small tumor? Not necessarily malignant but should be ruled out. Here's just one site to maybe look at the photos and see if it looks anything like one of these:
I think it might be worth taking her to the vet opthalmologist. One idea about her trauma would be to get a kitty sedative before you go to the vet. You could call your vet and they could probably tell you where to get the sedative that they would prescribe (most likely through them but sometimes it might be a human one avail. at a human pharmacy). I don't like giving anyone drugs unless it's really necessary, but that kind of stress on an animal's nervous system can definitely be ameliorated with a bit of kitty sedative.
As for the incessant grooming thing, it could be fleas, allergy to flea bites, allergy to flea meds, allergy to cat food...or maybe even a nervous or neurological disorder like FHS (which cats can have mild or severe cases of).
Good luck and let me know, please, what happens!

Shelley Smart said...

Jala, my heart is breaking for you and Gadjo. I hope Gadjo makes a quick recovery.

When I lived in Boulder and my cat had no fleas, I was told it was because it was too dry for fleas! But here at the beach, bunches of fleas abound. Darn it!

And for Maggie -- my daughter's cat had an eye that looked kind of like you describe. It never bothered her, just looked weird. BUT then, 10 years later, she developed a tumor in that eye and had to have the eye removed. She did well and for a 16 year old is remarkable. My daughter's cats also hated to go to the vet. So she found a mobile vet that came to her home. Cost a bit more, but the cats were less stressed. I don't know if we're talking same symptom and if taking your cat to the opthalmologist would make a difference. One hopes.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Just checking in on the Little Gadjo. I just love that so many of the bloggers are cat people. We just love them so much.
Thinking of you all.

Jala Pfaff said...

Hi Shelley - Too dry for fleas. Huh. Wonder if they have fleas in places like Utah, Arizona, etc.? I never thought to ask anyone. In any case, BOY do I love having no fleas!!!!!
Thanks for checking in on little Gadjo and for the Maggie info too.

Mary - How sweet are you! I am so appreciative of you all coming by to check on my boy. Wonder if anyone's ever done a study on how many artists are cat people vs. non-artists. In my own experience, I've definitely seen artists with cats!

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Oh, Jala... I'm hoping this is NOT the case. Please keep positive and hope for the best. I know it sounds stupid, but I did some energy healing on my asthmatic, orange boy Harry - he was having episodes of despondence and having his mouth hang open and drooling, shallow breathing and staring off... the vet gave him a shot of antibiotics, but really was baffled... but Harry did recover, and is his irascible, lovable (to me), nosy, bossy self now. Good luck and hugs from my kitties and Paco...

Jala Pfaff said...

Hi Kelley - Thank you. We are trying to stay positive (especially since the vet told us not to panic). Gadjo had some time today that seemed almost symptom-free. Just seeing that possibility was very helpful for my stress levels.
Isn't it amazing how obvious it is when a cat is not feeling well? Their whole personality changes. And only the cat's people can tell; a stranger would never know. Ah, we know them so well... :) Thx.

Leecia Price said...

Hi Jala, I've followed for a long time but not written. But I must write now and thank you for sharing your experiences with your cats (and pics) as well as your art; and to say I've been in a very similar spot to where you are. My cat, after suddenly not being able to walk, was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis which is quit rare in cats. I'll just say it was an ordeal for both of us.

When I started blogging and following I never realized how much I would learn, not just about art (or farms that I follow) but about life and challenges unrelated. I am so grateful. From this hopeless animal lover, my warmest wishes go out for Gadjo's improvement.
Leecia Price

Gwen Bell said...

Oh NO! This news breaks my heart. I am praying he doesn't have it! Please keep us posted.

Jala Pfaff said...

Leecia, thank you so much for your visit and your words. I am so sorry to hear about your kitty.

Gwen - Thank you. I'll keep posting updates about him on my posts, thanks very much.

71square said...

He is a gorgeous cat. I hope you see some improvement soon!