Physically, his arthritis seems to be worsening. He spends a good deal of the day sleeping on the floor near my computer, and when he wakes and tries to get up, he's a bit wobbly on his feet. (Kinda how I feel when I wake up at 3:00 a.m. for a trip to the bathroom.) He still climbs up and down the stairs to my office, though, and this morning I was thrilled to see him give a long stretch and do some energetic claw sharpening on the carpet at the top of the stairs. It felt akin to watching an 86 year old human jump on a skateboard and fly down the sidewalk.
Shannon has always been a bit of a loner, but lately he seems to feel the need of more human companionship. He follows me to the bathroom and back on those 3 a.m. trips and then meows very loudly when we arrive back bedside. I've taken that as his request to be picked up and put on the bed. We have one of those "high-rise" beds, and six months ago he could still navigate topside, if only by using his claws as a grappling hook and clawing his way to the top. I've seen a little step-stool for cats in the Cat Fancy magazine and intend to order it for him. He doesn't spend a lot of time on our bed, but sits next to my pillow and I scratch his muzzle until his purrs put me to sleep.
A Second Opinion
I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Mike Richards, who answers questions for subscribers on his web site, VetInfo.com. His reply in part suggested AZT as an aggressive treatment. He further goes on to say to another subscriber, "Until recently, aggressive treatment of secondary infections was the most successful way to keep cats with FIV in reasonably good health and to help them with this disease. Now there is evidence that administration of AZT has been shown to help some cats with FIV infection, just as it helps humans with HIV infection. This is an option that might be worth considering after discussing it with your vet." Dr. Mike's reply to me as well as more information on FIV can be found on his FIV page.
Columbia Animal Hospital cautiously recommends AZT, with a few caveats:
Drugs used to treat Feline AIDS
1. Reverse transcriptase inhibitors such as AZT, PMEA, or ddC can cause clinical improvement in infected cats. However, as with people, severe side effects can occur. The effectiveness and safety of protease inhibitors, another class of AIDS drugs therapy, is unknown. Before administering these potent agents to your cat, be sure your local veterinarian has experience using them in cats.
What's Next? Because of Shannon's advanced age and general condition, I think I'll put AZT on the shelf, for the time being, but continue with the Alpha Interferon therapy and high protein diet, supplemented with vitamins, fatty acids and anti-oxidants. I also ordered a high calorie supplement to boost his weight, as he's gotten pretty thin. All in all, he seems to feel pretty good lately. Yesterday I was sitting on our deck, talking to my son and had a can of almonds open. Shannon is nuts about almonds, and I saw him making moves to jump on the table. Before I could warn him, he vaulted the three feet or so and made a 4-point landing. He seemed very proud of himself, as he sauntered over for his salted almond reward.
Shannon succumbed to CRF and complications of FIV on July 13, 2001. I had asked him to hold on for a year, and the gallant old cat gave me a week longer than I'd prayed for.