FRESH STEP® CAT LITTER TOXOPLASMOSIS WARNING:
We would like to remind our customers, especially pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons, that cat feces can sometimes transmit a disease called toxoplasmosis.* Therefore, always remember to wash hands thoroughly after handling used cat litter. For further information, consult your doctor. Unused cat litter poses no toxoplasmosis threat.
*Toxoplasmosis, an illness characterized by cold or flu-like symptoms, can be transmitted by cat feces. It is especially serious in pregnant women because it can cause birth defects. Immunosuppressed persons may also be susceptible to toxoplasmosis.
May 5, 2015 – Tuesday
I was not expecting to update yesterday’s post on my cat’s toxoplasmosis for quite some time. But this morning at about 8:00, Mister C had his third seizure—or at least the third I have witnessed. And if this had been a typical day, I would have missed this one. But I had trouble sleeping last night and got up hours earlier than normal today. And that’s when it happened.
This seizure was not as bad as the first and not as easy as the second (of those I observed). This time, although the seizure itself lasted less than 60 seconds, for a few minutes afterward C seemed to want to walk around in slow circles, following his own tail. Otherwise, he recovered fairly quickly with no residual effects in hearing, sight, orientation, or appetite. As noted yesterday, the vet said we should monitor C over the coming months. But considering that this seizure was a bit more severe than the last, and especially because I have no way of knowing whether he has seized when I haven’t seen him, I aborted the monitoring plan.
I called the vet, and he readily agreed to start C on phenobarbital, which he will have to take this for the rest of his life. So I went and picked up the pills, not needing to take C with me—no need to put him through that.
The green label on the blue pill bottle says “BLOOD WORK REQUIRED BEFORE NEXT REFILL.” The vet said that it may take four to six weeks to build up the needed level of medication in the brain, so we will do a blood test next month to see whether the dosage needs to be adjusted. We started with a low dose of 15 mg (1/4 grain) tablets, which are scored—and very small. Fortunately, I have a pill cutter that slices through the pill when it is placed properly in the trough. The photo shows the remaining half of this evening’s initial dose sitting in the cutter’s blue tray. He’ll get the other half in the morning.
As I learned during C’s thyroid treatment last summer and his antibiotic treatment last month, getting foreign objects (pills) into a cat isn’t one of life’s easier tasks. But this is important medicine, so I pulled out my mortar and pestle, which did a fine and quick job of pulverizing the half-tab. This was easy to mix in with his wet food. The problem is that he gets dry food for breakfast. However, he loves milk and cries for it when he sees me making my tea, so I think I’ll try sprinkling the powder in his “tea” tomorrow morning.
My dearest hope is that I will not see any more seizures. They are quite upsetting, and it is heart-wrenching to see a beloved pet in the control of what seems to be a malevolent force. However, the vet warned that because we are starting on a low dose that may not achieve the desired therapeutic level at the outset, I could still witness more seizures until the medication is stabilized.
But for tonight, I think I can rest more easily knowing we have C under good care.
As for the little man himself, he is sleeping peacefully, quite unaware that he is ill.
Final Cautionary Note
At the beginning of today’s post, I repeated the Fresh Step warning about the potential for certain vulnerable humans to contract toxoplasmosis from handling used cat litter, especially if it has been soiled for three or more days. At risk are pregnant women and immunosuppressed people. Of course, I have a less than zero-percent chance of becoming pregnant following my hysterectomy for endometrial adenocarcinoma,* but as a cancer survivor I may (or may not) be immunocompromised. I had internal radiation and no chemotherapy, so I probably am not at any particular risk. Nevertheless, I urge pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system to be particularly careful caring for pets who venture outdoors and who may get into who-knows-what kind of mischief.
*For more on my story, see the Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer–My Story & More page.