The amitryptiline may have eventually helped Mojo to be less anxious and stop peeing outside of the litter box, but trying to get those pills into him was a very trying experience for everyone, especially him. No matter how quiet I was about it, if he heard the rattle of the pills, he would bolt and hide under furniture, and we'd have to drag him out, pin him in our arms, and wedge half a bitter pill into his mouth. And then, at least half the time, I'd chase the cat-spit-soaked pink pill across the floor for a second try. A counterproductive way to administer an anti-anxiety medication, wouldn't you say?
I called the vet back after a few weeks of this, hoping for another way. Someone at work mentioned using antianxiety meds in a topical gel for his cat - just rub it onto the ears instead of trying to make him swallow it - and I asked the vet whether we could try it. He told me the medication didn't come in a topical form, so if the pills weren't working well, there wasn't much else he could offer us. When I pressed again for an alternative treatment, he suggested that rehoming Mojo might help him calm down, and some of his clients decide they can't deal with the soiled carpet problem and have their pets put down for incontinence.
Needless to say, I was shocked. I understand that not everyone sees pets as members of the family, but to end a little furry life because of some spots on the carpet? And that a vet, of all people, would suggest it as a solution, instead of looking for more ways to help?
Mojo saw a new vet a week ago, and the first thing she asked, after hearing his symptoms and his age, was "didn't your other vet run a thyroid test?" Thyroid problems are common in older cats, and a lot of Mojo's symptoms could fit hyperthyroidism. And, no, the old vet didn't run that test. All he did was a metabolic panel, looking for kidney and liver problems, and diabetes. No blood count, no thyroid panel, and no urinalysis (that last part pissed me off, because if you're telling me my cat has a UTI, and the antibiotics don't help, maybe you should check to confirm the UTI).
She drew the lab work and finished her examination, discovering some bad abscesses in Mojo's mouth. She was surprised to hear he'd had his teeth cleaned in October, because his mouth looked so bad. It just broke my heart to see how bad his gums looked - he must have been in so much pain. I came home with a strong antibiotic (Flagyl), and instructions to bring him back in a couple of weeks for a checkup (and bring a urine sample). But she called two days later to tell me his thyroid levels are elevated - little Mojo has hyperthyroidism.
We're going to start with medication, to see if it will help. The peeing, the licking, and the increased appetite can all be signs of hyperthyroidism, so hopefully once we fix that, he'll be back to his old self. If we get the thyroid hormones under control and he's still having issues, the vet recommended a topical antianxiety medication, which, despite what the first vet said, very much exists.
I wish I'd ditched the old vet sooner. I feel like maybe we could have saved him a few months of discomfort.