Unfounded, as it turned out. He took his tablet twice a day and didn't claw our faces off, although sometimes he did get a bit bored with the whole thing and try to make things more interesting by spitting the tablet out, hiding it in his cheek until he got a chance to spit it out, or pretending to swallow it, concealing it where we know not and then spitting it out several minutes later.
For the first couple of months, the steroids didn't do anything. He kept losing weight, fifty grams here, fifty grams there. And then, all of a sudden, he started putting weight on again - at one point in a massive hundred-and-fifty gram gulp. Although one side-effect of the steroids was that he started losing hair - after a month or so his backside was entirely bald and the places where they'd shaved him in the hospital barely grew back. But we didn't care because he was finally responding to the medication and putting weight on.
A couple of weeks ago he stopped eating the recovery pate and biscuits we'd been feeding him. This wasn't entirely surprising; he's always been a faddy eater and easily bored. We gave him other stuff and he picked at it. What he really wanted was a brand of very fishy biscuits, to which he has been occasionally addicted. We gave them to him because he had to take his tablets with food and it was better that he eat something. Unfortunately, the fishy biscuits constipate him, and inevitably they did so this time. Cue application of feline laxative.
Last week, one of his eyelids started to swell up. Again, this isn't unknown - he had an eye infection when we first got him and has had a couple more since, and we keep eye drops for just this eventuality. However, the lid kept swelling and swelling. We took him to the vet. The eye was too swollen for her to tell what was wrong, so she gave us some ointment and antibiotics and said to bring him back on tuesday, when hopefully the eye would have subsided enough for her to examine him.
And it did subside. However, on sunday he seemed a bit out of it, and on monday he was a bit wobbly and very huggy, which is unusual for him. Tuesday morning he had a little fit, and we took him back to the vet, who immediately referred him back to the Veterinary Hospital.
When they examined him they found an abcess just below the eye that had been pushing the eye up and out and making the lid swell. It was caused by two rotten teeth. He was also anaemic again, but this time he was big-time life-threatening anaemic, so anaemic that they didn't dare give him a sedative so they could give him a scan, let alone sort out his teeth and the abcess.
And so, on tuesday evening the doctor looking after him phoned us and said he was so ill that it might be kinder to him to put him to sleep. She laid out how ill he was, how they could give him a transfusion but it would only be a temporary measure and might not even work, and even if they did sort him out his quality of life, what with the megacolon and the inflammatory bowel disease and the thing with his liver and the thing with his pancreas, wouldn't be so good. Really it might be cruel to put him through anything else. So what did we want them to do?
What the doctor didn't know was that we'd been living with the megacolon for eight or nine years and managing it, rather successfully, with diet. As for the IBD and the liver and the pancreas, they're all really part of the same thing and he was starting to respond very positively to the medication.
So we said, no. Give him the transfusion. Give him a chance. The doctor wasn't too convinced about this, but she said okay. She said he was very very ill and might not make it through the night and she'd phone us if anything happened.
She phoned at midnight and scared the living daylights out of us, but it was only to tell us he'd settled down in intensive care and was comfortable.
Next day - yesterday - they transfused him with a blood substitute, sedated him, extracted the rotten teeth, drained the abcess, and did a whole bunch of tests.
And today? He's eating contentedly, has made friends with the doctor, and his haemoglobin count is up a little. He's still not well, obviously. He's still anaemic and we need to find out why, although he was anaemic last time and it just went away by itself. But compared with tuesday there's been a big improvement. Not out of the woods yet, and things could still nosedive again and I'm cautious about being too hopeful. But I may sleep a little better tonight.