Check Your Pet’s Blood Pressure!

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Check Your Pet’s Blood Pressure!

But why? It isn’t routinely done, so what’s the big deal?  Well, let me say I found out the hard way. And it’s a tough pill to swallow, seeing every day what it cost my precious Mikimoto.

Baby Mikimoto

My little Mikimoto is a stunning Creampoint Himalayan. I’ve had him since he was 12 weeks old. He’s now 17 years old, a sweet and treasured little old man, but still my baby to me. My heart.

Mikimoto has always been a playful, inquisitive little fellow, rambunctious but gentle, tiny at only 5lbs, a mama’s boy. He loves to run in the grass of our back yard and chase butterflies or a feather on a chain as I run ahead of him. He has not one mean bone in his body. He is the poster kitty for sweetness.

No Warning Signs.

In early January 2017, when Mikimoto was 15 years old, he woke up one morning deaf and blind. It was very sudden, as if a switch were flipped and the lights went off. I snapped my fingers, waved my hands in front of his face, called to him, but nothing. I tried to get him to walk, but he wouldn’t. He just sat there not knowing what had happened or what to do. I called our veterinary eye specialist and got him in right away.

Before Blindness, Watching Me In The Mirror

The doctor said he saw some bleeding inside Mikimoto’s eyes and said it appeared he was having retinal detachments. He put Mikimoto on prescription drops and told me to bring him back in a couple of weeks or if any other changes occurred sooner.

It was a long couple of weeks. Mikimoto was completely confused and just pancaked to the floor. He shut down, he didn’t care if he ate, he didn’t try to find the litterbox, he just laid there. I was heartbroken to watch him this way, but I was also confident that the treatments would repair his eyes.

No Improvement.

At our follow-up appointment, the doctor said he saw the most minor of improvement in Mikimoto’s eyes and encouraged me that there was hope to recover his vision. I also took Mikimoto to our regular veterinarian for bloodwork and an exam to ensure something else wasn’t also at play. She gave Mikimoto a clean report.

Another week or so later, we went to the eye specialist for yet another exam. This time he wasn’t as encouraging. The meds weren’t working and he was concerned for permanent damage to Mikimoto’s eyes. I, however, was faithful and knew Mikimoto would see again.

King Of The Cats On The Frij, Before Blindness
More Follow-Up.

The next few weeks were packed with follow-up exams at both the regular veterinarian and the eye specialist. Meds were adjusted to hopefully gain some headway over any long-term damage to Mikimoto’s vision. Both doctors began preparing me for the sad outcome, but I remained faithful and urgent in my prayers for Mikimoto’s eyes.

After a couple of months of intensive treatment, and still no improvement, my regular veterinarian said “you know what, we should check his blood pressure.” Up to this point, neither of the veterinarians had apparently thought of it. It is not, after all, a routine part of pet exams. So she checked Mikimoto’s blood pressure. It was so high off the charts that the machine wasn’t even able to give an accurate reading. It didn’t go that high. I was shocked, but happy to know the cause finally.

Coordinated Efforts.

Now that we had finally pinpointed the apparent cause of Mikimoto’s sudden blindness, the regular veterinarian and the eye specialist started communicating with each other, and a new treatment began immediately. Several meds to bring down Mikimoto’s blood pressure and hopefully start seeing his vision come back, and we kept checking his blood pressure every week to stay on top of any changes.

I was thrilled at the new hope, until my veterinarian told me the window of opportunity to save Mikimoto’s eyes had passed and she was not at all optimistic for any success. Turns out we had at best only two weeks to reverse the high blood pressure before the damage to his eyes was irreparable. It had now been two months.  At our next visit to the eye specialist, that doctor agreed.

Mikimoto, Blind, July 2017
Sad Realization.

So, had either of them thought to check Mikimoto’s blood pressure right off the bat when he first lost his vision, they could have saved his eyes. But, because no one thought to check his blood pressure until two months later, the damage was now done. Both our regular veterinarian and the eye specialist told me this. Mikimoto would be blind forever. I was crushed. Mikimoto would have to live with this. His life was forever changed. Sadly, it could have been prevented.

It’s a year and a half now that Mikimoto has been blind, and still I pray for the gift of his vision to return. In the meantime, it’s my job to help him navigate this new normal.

Mikimoto’s New Normal.

In the beginning when this all first started happening, I scooped Mikimoto up in my arms and held him close to me. I carried him everywhere, I hand-fed him, gave him water through an eye dropper and subq fluids, put pet gates up to contain him in the pet room, removed all the pet stairs and cat trees to prevent his inadvertently climbing up and not knowing how to get back down, or perhaps even falling and getting hurt.

It was almost a year before I realized I was doing Mikimoto more harm than good by being so overprotective. I just woke up one day and realized I needed to teach him how to function in this “new normal” and how to rediscover his joy of life. I had failed him in that regard, and I felt like two cents. It was time to correct that.

First, I removed all the pet gates. This was Mikimoto’s home for 15 years before he lost his vision. He can learn his way around again. I knew that I already had at least two specific tools to help me — Mikimoto’s memory, and his whiskers.

Still In Treatment, Still Hoping, Feb 2017
Use The Tools That You Have.

I began teaching Mikimoto how to get around the house by using his whiskers to feel his way along the walls. And I put feeding stations and pee pads in every room of the house, positioned so that no matter where he ended up, if he followed the walls, he would always find food and water. I changed out the traditional litterbox for a Rubbermaid storage container that was 2-3 times more spacious and had lower sides so that he could easily step in without having to climb or jump.

Then I taught Mikimoto touch signals. His preference now is to just curl up and sleep most the time, and I have to encourage him to move around and stay active. So I walk along behind him and, if I touch his right shoulder, it signals him to turn left. When I touch his left shoulder, he knows to turn right. When I touch his lower back, he knows to go straight ahead.  And when I kiss him on top of his head or rub his tummy, he knows he’s arrived at his desired destinatIon.

Mikel Watching Over Mikimoto, July 2017
Guarding Over Mikimoto.

I always give Mikimoto a reference point that he’s familiar with, a starting point for the day sort of. When I have to leave for work, I make sure he has eaten, had a big drink, and pottied. Then I lead him to his bed, and he hops right in and curls up. He knows at that point he’s on his own for awhile now. He also knows his litterbox is about 10-12 steps to the left of his bed, and the food and water dishes are only two or three steps to his right. At night, he still sleeps on my pillow with me, as he has done all of his sweet life. He also knows to stay put. I have big cushy pillows on both sides of the bed, just in case.

I bought Verizon’s Canary for my cell phone, so I’m able to watch him all throughout the day while i’m at work. Only a couple of times has he gotten confused moving about on his own and ended up out in the hallway circling, but eventually he gets back to his bed again.

Mikimoto’s Progress Report.

Had Mikimoto been born blind, or lost his vision at a much younger age, no doubt he would have been able to adjust more easily to this new lifestyle without vision. But having lived a lifetime with vision, the adjustment to living life without its benefit has been a tremendous challenge for him, and I don’t blame him for not catching on easily. He may always be unsure of himself now, time will tell. And that’s okay. Whatever Mikimoto needs, I will give him. He is that important to me.

My Messy Face Boy Stalking A Feather Toy, Before Blindness

We’re working on toys now. Mikimoto is slow to engage in play anymore. I suspect because he’s afraid the other cats will join in and that frightens him. He’s become quite the loner. So I close the other cats out of my room while Mikimoto and I flop on my bed and I offer him his favorite toys. I’m hopeful at some point he’ll start showing interest and begin swiping at them. In his own time, no pushing, no frustration, just encouragement. This is his life now, and I’m here to support him however and whatever he needs.

Mikimoto’s Message To You.

If your pet wakes up one day blind for no obvious reason, like Mikimoto, get him to the vet ASAP and REQUEST A BLOOD PRESSURE CHECK! Don’t hesitate for a minute, and don’t take no for an answer. Remember: you have only a two-week window to get control of the high blood pressure and save your pet’s eyes. High blood pressure may not be the cause in your case, but then again, what if it is. Don’t rule it out without checking for sure. Don’t take chances with your furbaby’s wellbeing. Be his advocate, don’t waste time.

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God Bless and Happy Pet Parenting!

With love and good wishes,
jeannie.   ?

About jeannie:  I’ve been pro-actively involved in pet rescue all of my life. I founded Milagro Senior Pet Refuge© (Phoenix) in 1998, and BareFootPets (TM) in 2008.  Animal welfare has always been and will always be my heart’s work. If my only legacy is that I save a handful of precious souls that would not survive otherwise, I’m good with that.