We brought Gertie to the vet this morning and they admitted her to the kitty hospital right away. She hasn't been eating or drinking since Monday, and has been very lethargic. We were certain something was wrong when Couga curled up next to her, and Gert—the self-proclaimed alpha cat—didn't kill him.
The doc looked at her for about 30 seconds and pronounced the situation dire. She was very jaundiced. I didn't know how to look for jaundice in cats, its difficult because they're covered in fur. But her nictating membrane (third eyelid), gums, and inside her ears were yellow. This indicates a liver problem, which is consistent with her not eating for a few days.
Cats can't fast, they need to eat regularly or their bodies will begin to do things that lead to total failure. One step along the way is hepatic lipidosis, which is a buildup of fats in the liver. Because of her fragile state, he wanted to immediately put her on fluids, get some bloodwork done, and perhaps start alternative feedings.
We don't know what caused this. She's been on a low-calorie diet for about a year. All the cats have been on the same diet, how does one give just one cat out of four a special diet? The others have shown some weight loss, but not Gert until now. Her weigh-in today was 12 lb. and 14 oz., compared to 17 lb. a year ago. We haven't weighed her in the meantime, but she never felt any lighter. In fact, in recent months she was starting to feel heavier. If she has lost 4+ pounds in a week or two, that's serious.
The doctor said this could be due to liver disease, or diabetes, or gastroenteritis. Hopefully we'll know more tomorrow after all the tests.
These pictures were taken this February. I really hope we can get her looking all happy and healthy like this again.