Rudy’s Battle with Congestive Heart Failure

“This is a very, very serious situation…”

That is what my wife Laura said was one of the first comments that Dr. Tobias, our veterinary cardiologist at Blue Pearl, said about Rudy’s condition. I was too much in denial to remember hearing those words, probably because they are the kind of words that no parent ever wants to hear. I do, however, remember seeing Rudy’s first ultrasound image– his heart looked like an enlarged flaccid balloon that was about to rip. Laura and I cried deeply after that visit.

Honestly, I didn’t think Rudy would last more than a few weeks after that first visit. I searched the internet for days looking for more information about feline congestive heart failure and came up virtually empty. Never would I have imagined that– despite all the heartache and tears– Rudy would still have ten more happy and energetic months still to live! They certainly weren’t perfect months, but with so much love to share, Rudy wouldn’t have wanted to live a day less. And we were absolutely committed that Rudy would enjoy a great quality of life.

While Rudy was struggling with congestive heart failure, I kept detailed notes of his course of treatment. I really wish that I could have read another patient’s story– and learned from their successes and their mistakes in caring for their animal.

I apologize that these notes are coarsely written and not fully descriptive. If you are a caring parent, you may find these notes uncomfortable to read because Rudy seemed to be unhappy much of the time– a quality that, in retrospect, really reflects my frustration with Rudy’s fluctuating condition. Yes, there were a few “not so good” days but the vast majority of his days were really very good. Up to the very end, he played energetically, jumped high onto counters, chased bugs that got into our house, and loved watching birds on our outdoor feeders– a typical cat’s life! And, of course, he had so much love to share. He also knew that everything unpleasant (e.g. pills) were for his benefit because he always came up to me afterwards with love in his heart. Rudy certainly knew how to show anger or hold a grudge when he wanted to– and I can honestly say that he never did that to me during his course of treatment. I also never imagined that I would be sharing these notes with the world. But please understand that cleaning them up is simply too painful to endure.

Over the coming months, as I write this blog, I hope to set forth the ideas in my notes in much better detail. In the meantime, I hope that a careful reader may learn about important medications like torsemide and supplements like Azodyl in making your pets happier and healthier as they live with CHF. I also will describe a bunch of tips and tricks that I learned only after months and months of caring for Rudy.

Congestive heart failure is an awful disease but it certainly isn’t a death sentence. Also, Rudy’s condition was far more serious than most cats. With love and care, a cat with CHF can have lots of happy months or years still to live.

Hearing the words, “your cat has congestive heart failure” may feel like a dagger through your heart but don’t give up hope. You can still fight for him and make his life awesome. There are medical options and supplements that you can ask your vet about to give your kitty a better life even when it feels like she is at the end of her rope. It certainly won’t be an easy struggle but trust me– you can do it and it will be well worth it.

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