Caring for senior pets-and the owners who love them
An aging cat taught this doctor how to show compassion to clients with older pets.
One aging cat taught this doctor how to show compassion to clients with older pets.
"Me-ow, meee-oooooow, me-ow!" I could always recognize Muffin's crackly voice before I entered the exam room. Muffin, already 16 years old, was one of the first patients I met when I began working at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital.
Muffin, pictured above, is still an inspiration to Dr. Julie Schell's clients. She proved that age isn't a disease.
As she aged, Muffin began to urinate more often and drink more water. Some days she didn't have an appetite. Blood and urine analyses and an ultrasound revealed kidney disease. Fortunately, Muffin's owners knew her well and had brought her in at the first sign of illness.
As Muffin's kidney function slowly deteriorated, her dedicated owners did their part to provide supportive care. They worried a bit about administering the twice-weekly subcutaneous fluids, but I demonstrated the techniques and gave them written instructions to follow at home. I even had them give Muffin weekly vitamin B injections.
I printed out Muffin's lab results so her owners could keep their own records. And I e-mailed them information on kidney disease so they would know what to expect. Their children monitored her progress and reported any episodes of vomiting or decreased appetite, and the family brought Muffin in promptly if they had any concerns.
Sometimes Muffin's owners were in tears in the exam room because they thought I might tell them it was time to say goodbye. But I tried to stay positive and encourage them through the low points. During all the exams, discussions, and prescription refills, my team and I built a strong bond with Muffin's owners. They trusted us completely. Muffin got used to the visits and was less anxious during her subsequent exams.
Although we finally said goodbye to Muffin awhile ago, she's still a great inspiration to my other clients. She proved that age is not a disease and that with dedicated treatment and love, even an old cat with a serious chronic problem can live many years of quality life. If client and doctor together can enable a pet to live one more happy year, that is a great success.
Dr. Julie Schell is the owner of Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital in Calgary, Alberta.