A few times in the past several months, I've mentioned that Smokey has been experiencing some serious weight loss (he now weighs a mere 6 lbs) and hasn't been acting like himself. He went to the vet on Monday and it turns out that he has pancreatitis (inflammation/disease of the pancreas). Two very good references on the subject are at Doctors Foster and Smith's web site (http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1&aid=334) and Mar Vista Animal Medical center's web site (http://www.marvistavet.com/html/pancreatitis__feline_.html).
It's not clear exactly what the extent of the damage that the pancreatitis has caused, but signs point that his liver is okay and the problems appear to be limited to digestion. He's now taking yet another medication...
The new medication actually has an interesting story behind it: Smokey's vet has prescribed Ursodiol to help improve digestion and and give him some relief of the symptoms. Ursodiol only comes in 300 mg doses (in this case, a capsule), and the dose for Smokey is 30mg/day. So in order to give him the medicine, I have to open the capsule, divide the white powder inside into 10 fairly equal piles, and put each pile into a pill pocket (one for each day). For someone who didn't know what I was doing, I'm sure it looked like I was preparing to do lines of cocaine!! I'm sure I could get People's Rx (Pharmacy) to compound it into a cat treat, but that would be expensive and inconvenient. This is the first time I've used Pill Pockets, and I have to say that they worked really well (the price is a bit steep at $7 for 45 pockets, still cheaper than using a compounding pharmacy). With Smokey's medicine requirements these days, I have been having bad thoughts about how I'm going to get someone to care for him if I have to leave town in an emergency. I think that the pill pockets will be my method of choice for handling this (I'll have to see if he'll eat the treat whole or just eat the treat and spit out the pills).
I know that some of this may seem a bit over-the-top for a cat, and maybe it is. I'm a firm believer (and so is Smokey's vet) that quality of life is what should be the deciding factor for whether to treat these diseases or not. Right now he still seems like a pretty happy cat.